How did we get here?
There's nothing quite like a new body and paint job on an old car. People look your way when you drive by, and you attract attention anytime you stop. But there's also nothing quite like jumping into a shiny old car and staring into a 40-year-old, dirty, and decaying dash. So, as part of this '66 GTO's restoration, we're making the inside shiny, too. One key step was to restore the dash bezel, where our wood veneer was badly faded, cracked, and peeling off in some areas. The chrome surround trim was also hurting.
Our plan was to pull out the entire dash while the rest of the Pontiac was apart, disassemble it, send the bezel away for vacuum metallizing (to restore the chrome trim), repaint the areas that needed paint, and stick on a new wood veneer. Then we would reassemble the entire dash, and put it all back in the car as one unit-except for the radio.
This particular GTO, according to the PHS info, left the Pontiac plant without a radio option. When we bought the GTO many years later, however, it had the correct AM radio installed, plus rear seat speaker and rear power antenna options. Along with those last two items came the correct dash-mounted switches.
Was our documentation wrong? Not really, since our GTO (both our '66s actually) had radios and other accessories added at the dealer. This is most evident when we compared the radio and rear speaker installations in both our cars, and found the installations to not only be different, but also quite sloppy. Definitely something that wouldn't pass a quality inspection at the factory. For example, on our other GTO, the rear speaker switch was installed in the bottom of the dash, instead of under the ledge at the top. Another, almost comical, issue is the power rear antenna was installed on the wrong side of the car.
We decided to return this GTO to the way it left the factory, so we sourced out an actual '66 GTO radio block-off plate for the dash (how cool is that?). We also removed the power antenna and rear speaker switches, but now had the two holes in the dash bezel to fill. As luck would have it, because our other '66 GTO had the rear speaker switch mistakenly installed under the dash, its dash bezel had never been drilled for any accessory holes. Since our plan with that car was to leave the radio in, but correct the speaker switch problem, we also decided the power antenna could go into that car, too. We simply switched dash bezels between the two cars, and no repairs or modifications were then required.
So, that's the background info. Now, how did we restore the bezel? Again, the short version is: remove it, rechrome it, repaint it, reveneer it, and reinstall it. The long version wasn't quite so simple. Follow along with the pictures and captions to see how it was done. In the end, our dash looked better than brand-new. We can't wait to see how it looks with the speedo pegged.
The first step is removing the dash, which sounds easy, but isn't. We decided to take out
Here's what the backside of the dash assembly looks like. We took several close-up picture
In order to restore the plastic bezel, we had to first completely strip it. The gauge clus
Before sending out the bare plastic dash bezel for vacuum metalizing (to restore the chrom
and had rather poorly defined boundaries between the chrome areas and painted area, as sho
When the bezels are vacuum metallized, the entire bezel gets chromed. This is how ours loo