New instruments, stage 1

MG TD replicas have smaller tachs and speedometers than the real deal. A lot of guys are not bothered by this; the instruments in a typical replica, made by VDO, Classic Instruments or Vintage Gauges, are clear, easy to read and, usually, quite a bit more reliable than the TD’s.

But the TD had bigger gauges.

That means, to a discerning eye, replicas look like, well, replicas.

In the case of VW-based cars, the tragedy is compounded. Turns out the VW’s speedometer was just about the same size as a TD’s. Lots of them read to the correct 100 mph, too.

So when I noticed, last summer, that Bridget’s speedo was, in fact, reading about 20 percent low (40 mph on the gauge meant 50 mph over the road), the gears inside my head started turning.

What if, I reasoned, I replaced Bridget’s 30 year old Classic instruments speedometer, which is not quite four inches in diameter, with a proper 40 year old Beetle unit?

The Beetle speedo would appear to offer some advantages. The size is more correct. It is made to use the cable already in it, without the ratio adapter that the previous owner apparently forgot to install. Plus there’s a fuel gauge built in. Bridget’s fuel gauge was close enough to close (never reads full, but seems to accurately depict empty). But the gauge was taking up a space on the dash for which TDs reserved either an oil pressure gauge or a combination oil pressure/water temp gauge.

An oil pressure gauge would go nice there, I reasoned.

Looking at Classic Instruments catalogue I spied a 4 5/8-inch tach which looked pretty close to the right size as well. Bridget’s tach has recently been a bit off too.

You can see where this is going….

More on how we got here later. That center cluster? $300 or so at Moss–switches and gauges not included. Got mine on Ebay for considerably less, with several of the lights and pulls and such still attached. But that’s just the start of the work.

Pretty good so far, eh? To me it looks more correctly TD-ish than this one:

This dash, with the non-standard tach and horn delete, is in a club-racer 1951 TD


About stuntmidget

I'm a poor mechanic and general wisenheimer. I love old cars and the stories behind them, true or not.
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