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Thread: Dash modifications

  1. #1
    Champion Member Blueovalz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Little Rock, AR

    Dash modifications

    Recently I was asked about the dash modifications on my Mirage; the how's and what's of it. Basically I was unsatisfied with the OEM dash, but that was primarily due to the fact that it was integral with the entire front clip. In order to create a satisfactory tilt front end, I had to separate the dash, which then raised other issues of supporting the piece, among other things.

    I eventually segmented the front clip into three sections, the rear-most of which was the dash-cover/windshield section. Because it is now a completely separate piece, it must be supported by some type of structure, which wasn't difficult to conceive because I was wanting some kind of structure anyway to tie both sides of the chassis from over the top for added chassis rigidity. Thus this structure became the framing for the dash panel as well as a mounting structure for the dash-cover/windshield framing.

    Aesthetically, I wanted the dash to somewhat visually fit with the closely mounted steering wheel, so the idea came to me to fabricate an arched dash cover immediately adjacent to the steering wheel so that visually, from the driver's perspective, the dash arch and the steering wheel became concentric arches. This arch was accomplished by layering fiberglass over a 15" PVC irrigation pipe, then popping it off after it cured, and bonding that to the dash cover in place of the angular OEM portion of the dash. The actual dash structure itself is constructed of 3/4" steel 16 ga square tubing that bolts onto both side pods as well as the front suspension pickup points, to tie the entire front end together. This structure facing was covered with .060" aluminum sheet (to act as a shear panel), and then gauges were inserted into the aluminum sheet.

    These gauges were placed so that they were visible through and around the steering wheel with no portion of the gauges being blocked by the wheel. The gauges I chose were from Speedhut. They are a U.S. based company with the claim of "Manufactured in the U.S". for their gauges. These gauges were a bit expensive compared to others, but they are a very high quality, servo type, gauge that can be customized in many ways. For example, I have "McLaren" printed on each gauge.

    In the photo below, the dash and dash cover are nearly completed. Because I don't like sharp edges in a cockpit, I place a 1/2" radius rounded edge on the face of the dash cover to help transition the dash cover to the dash. I also extended this edge out 3" from the dash to help shadow the gauges from direct sun (no enclosed cockpit on this car). The matching curves of the dash to the steering wheel are somewhat evident in this photo:

    In the photo below, the section of curved fiberglass is fitted and bonded onto the dash cover along with a 3" extension of the cover toward the driver/passenger. After this photo was taken, I had cut the rear-most 12" or so off the front clip, and bonded the cut-offs to the dash-cover/windshield frame to make a single piece that could be removed very easily for dash maintenance. I think I timed it at about 10 minutes to completely unbolt and remove this section of bodywork (eight 1/4" bolts/screws). Once completed. The dash structure (the steel) could be removed in about 40 minutes, but everything under the dash (pedals, wiring, plumbing, etc) is accessible even with the structure in place, so removing it should be a rare event.

    The below photo shows the gauges I'm using, but I still have one or two I'd like to add later on. These are the Speedhut Revolution gauges, with some programmable logic, alert lights, and other features that make them very nice. Left and right fuel levels, water temp, speed and tach, oil pressure, and voltage. I'll likely add fuel pressure (high pressure side), and oil temp. Most of the power switches are in a panel to the far bottom-left in this photo. lastly, this photo shows a windshield framing stub to the far left of the dash cover. This is my "alternate" windshield configuration in which I can attach the remainder of the windshield hoop, and install the windshield with tabs and have a full face windshield, OR, or those car-show days, I can remove the windshield hoop, install finished caps in its place on each side, and install a Plexiglas half-height windscreen that better emulates the M8 windscreens (see the last photo).

    The structure below is the dash-cover support and dash structure tying both sides of the chassis, as well as the front chassis points, together. This also allows an easy means of attaching the steering column to the dash (or an EPAS later on if needed)

    With dash cover removed showing part of the structure behind the aluminum dash panel. Turn signal indicators (green), hot DC on (red), and headlights "on" (white) are some of the current indicator lights I've installed. The switch under the red indicator light is the left/right turn signal switch. Because the dash is close enough to the steering wheel, it was easier to install a simple switch here, rather than install an aftermarket column turn-signal wand. The switch ended up working quite well.

    The alternate windscreen configuration for those times when I want to better emulate the M8 configuration. Also visible in this photo is the separation of the rear-most portion of the front clip, and how this entire portion of the bodywork is bonded together behind the tilt front-end.

    Last edited by Blueovalz; 08-30-2014 at 11:23 AM.

  2. #2
    Champion Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Pretty much amazing work. ! ! !

  3. #3
    Administrator Sulley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Excellent work! I really like the dash pod arched vs. the factory Manta Mirage 'angled' unit.

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