Imperial Dashboard and Dash Pad Removal Tips


Imperial Home Page -> Repair -> Interior -> Dash


Question from Nate:

I got to looking at the sales brochure for the 1960 Crown, and I decided that I would like to change the interior color of mine from red to blue, which happens to be the original color. Since everything in the interior could use some help, I decided that I would slowly reupholster the entire thing, from the seats to the door panels, and that I would have to change the color of the dashboard too. Which brings me to my question; is it possible to have the padded part reupholstered, (or any equivalent process thereof), or do I need to replace the whole thing? (I only ask because it would be a major hassle to track one down that was in good condition and in the right shade of blue). If anyone could get back to me, I would greatly appreciate it.

Replies:

From Tom:

When I restored my 1960 New Yorker, the interior shop dyed vinyl to the correct color and recovered the dash.

From Mick:

I have a friend  who owns an interior shop and they send their dash work to Fryies in WA state. Also, Just Dashes is very good.


Question from Jan (1955):

I need to replace or recover the dash pad in my 1955 sedan. I have been offered a nice, original 1956 pad, will it interchange?

Reply from Paul:

I think that the '56 pad may fit in the '55 but there is a difference between the two years. In '56 there are extensions to the pad on the forward edge of the door panels on the front doors. I think that because of this, the ends of the dash pad are more squared off on '56 than on the '55. I have an example of each car in my storage garage. I will try to remember to look at them and report back.


Question from Bill (1955):

Is there a special trick I'm missing to remove the padded dash pad on the '55 Imperial? I removed all the screws and the pad can be moved around. But I can't seem to get it past the posts or pillars. I guess Chrysler might have installed it before installing the windshield.

Is there a way to removed the pad intact. Do I need to removed the windshield or cut the metal to get the dash pad past the posts?

Replies:

From Bob:

Just finished removing dash pad on my '55 Imperial 4 door sedan. It was not fun. You just have to try a hundred ways to jiggle and muscle it, but it definitely does come out without removing the windshield. The dash pad frame needs to be lifted straight up out of its vertical brackets which are right next to the windshield. Once that's done (and it's done by jiggling and force) you start maneuvering it. You need 2 people, one on each end, and some patience.

From Mark:

I am not familiar with the '55 dash, but recently I had trouble removing some of my dash and then I realized - the AC ducting was still attached. You probably aren't as stupid as I, but are you sure you have disconnected/unscrewed everything connected to the pad? Radio speaker? Vents?

From Roddy:

It has been a long time since I took one of these pads out. You don't need to take out the windshield or do any cutting. As I recall I removed the chrome trim on the posts on either side, all the screws and trim underneath and pulled it straight back and then up.

From Imperial68:

I trust you have removed the chrome garnish moldings from the interior "A" pillars. Pad should just slide forward slightly then up and out.

From Henry:

My guess would be no. We installed a new pad on my partner's C300. the dash is very similar to an Imperial for '55. I know we did not have to take out the windshield. However, we did not do it ourselves. An upholstery shop did it as part of installing the Gary Goers interior.

From Andree:

Probably the biggest mistake on the '55's was the dash pad design! The original (early) '55 Dash pad will not correctly go out or in unless the windshield is out. Since it curves around the windshield posts it will not budge enough to remove it! Just went through this on my latest St. Regis a few weeks ago. Lost track of how many times I have worked with '55 Dash Pads by now but has to be 1/2 dozen of my own cars I suppose. Removed many from parts cars also!

Years ago in my NOS Tango Red '55 Imperial the windshield side of the pad had started to lift and needed help. Couldn't get it out but could get it maybe two inches high above the metal shelf. Enough of the material was under so we fashioned a dozen or so fishhooks with nylon line to them and with my wife's small hands hooked them across the front side from underneath. we then proceeded to slowly pull the lines taunt and pull the material down while superglue the lined to the front underside of the dash pad. Still looks great near 20 years later.

There are a series of metal tabs cut out under the dash to hold the material but i have never seen it used on one of them. Instead the factory saved a nickel by putting a minimum amount to material over the edge and using a small amount of adhesive.

Some time later in '55 I believe they changed to what definitely was the '56 style dash pad which didn't go in front of the windshield pillars. This design goes back in almost all of my cars unless the windshield is removed. There is a different piece at the bottom of the post which covers the additional opening in front of the pillars. I pick these up wherever I can. Got a Pair from John Meyer in Denver a while back at a barbecue he had for 300 club meet and WPC members at his parts yard. Even got a decent back up lens for my '55 St. Regis while there. I have two different '55's which have the '56 pad when I bought them but not positive it is original. Earliest '55 pads are even two pieces of metal spot welded together in the middle and then they go to one piece sometime during the year. Looking at parts manual confuses issue for me but does not seem to show the '56 style used on '55. As much of a purist as I am it doesn't bother me to do this to improve the car. I will not remove a windshield and destroy the gasket unless the windshield has to go anyway.

Have good friends who removed the pad from their '55 St. Regis by buckling up in the middle and then after recovering the dash they installed it by cutting and hinging the ends up and bending down after installation. worked fairly well but couldn't completely get extra material to lay down at corners.

Follow-up from Bill:

Andree, I thank you for all the dash information. You are right I have the '55 dash pad the wraps around the "A" pillar. Before I bend it or remove the edges I'm going to remove the windlace. Then one last time I'm going to use three guys and try to muscle it around the pillar. I will keep you posted as to progress.


Question from Roger (1955):

I am confused by my dash pad. The build date on the car is April 1955 but it has a pad that defies removal from the car without removing the windshield or so it appears to me. It also is made in two pieces connected at the center. Can anyone who has had the experience enlighten me on the pad removal strategy?

Replies:

From Ted:

I've removed mine more times than I can to remember!. The vinyl keeps coming loose, and I keep trying to tighten it up. It's a losing battle. Anyway, remove the vertical trim pieces on either side. These are the chrome ones alongside your windshield. Then look under the pad and you will see another strip of chrome with a number of counter-sunk screws. Remove these also. Hang onto your chrome screws. The little rascals like to roll under the front seats. Actually there are two strips joined at the middle.

Now comes the HARD part. The pad is a VERY tight fit. You may find it necessary as I have to remove the steering column molding (under the dash and drop the column a few inches, by loosening or removing the bolts holding the column to the brace under the dash. This will lower your steering wheel making it a little easier to get the pad out. Now, pull one end of the pad forward and up towards you. Once you have an end out the rest will follow! To re-install reverse your steps. BUT I warn you-- -getting it back in is difficult also, you have to "work" it in. Be careful not to snag or otherwise tear the vinyl pad cover. Under the cover is a foam pad that usually shrinks with the years. This has a steel backing and the cover is glued to the underside of the steel base. The glue also works loose from sun and heat. Be sure and fasten your steering column back in place, and re-install the cover over it.

Correction from Roger:

A minor correction--not all '55 dash pads are like the '56s. The early '55 dash pads can only be removed thru the windshield opening. Yes, Virginia, that means the windshield has to be removed first. Sometime in '55 a very bright bulb went off and they changed the interior windshield "A" pillar molding to a "foot" that extend straight forward to the windshield so that the pad can be slid toward the rear to remove.

From Roger:

Unfortunately, your '55 is an early production and you'll have to remove the windshield to remove/install your dash pad. On later 55's and '56's, the A- pillar molding "foot" extends straight forward allowing the pad to be removed by sliding it toward the rear. The break in the center of your pad is someone's solution to removing the pad without removing the windshield.

From Terry:

The early '55's had different rim panels on the sides and the panel can not be pulled out toward you. It can only be removed by having the windshield out or bent up in the center to make it shorter to fit around the windshield posts. Been there done that!!!


Question from Kerry (1957):

I have spent the better part of the day trying to get the dash off and instruments out of my '57. I did get the glove box, radio, and the lower fairing below the instruments but that only because someone had already broken it where the unreachable bolts were. I stopped before I broke something. The shop manual is useless as usual. Can someone offer me some guidance. I want to pull as much as possible including the dash itself.

Replies:

From Philippe:

I’ve removed my '57 dash 2 years ago so I don’t remember all the process but I think I’ll tell you the essential. You remove radio, glove box, all heater cables, heater ducts (lower duct and the two upper dash ducts : there’s a screw you reach through the louvers of the round dash grilles, often rusted..). the upper dash ducts (from lower duct to grilles) are screwed to the firewall. Best is to remove the steering before removing the dash : there’s behind the dash a bracket attached to upper firewall, nearly impossible to access with steering… This bracket is located behind the clock. Remove windshield wipers motor and links. If you've AC car, you have to remove the power piston and heater door. You must also removed the master cylinder / bellow plate because emergency brake is bolted on some of nuts.. and you must remove the hand brake at firewall attachments.. Disconnect all wirings from engine, lights etc.. so you’ll be able to remove the dash with the wirings. Disconnect trans. cable at trans. , unscrewed speedo cable. Dash is secured to lower windshield frame with numerous screws and to A panel with two bolts on each side : remove them. And PULL…

From Mark:

YES! My sentiments exactly. If you want an exercise in frustration, try working on your dash. My hands are not THAT big, but every time I go under there they get cut to pieces and I create a WHOLE NEW VOCABULARY which I cheerfully share with the entire neighborhood, or anyone within earshot.

I believe that all dash work can be easy - IF you have a trained Spider Monkey who knows how to read an FSM - or if you are a trained Spider Monkey yourself (I am not, though I do have some Chimpanzee blood in me).

However, I have found 2 things that help:

1) A lot of the wires and stuff back there are easier to disconnect reaching up from underneath the dash with the dash still in place. Go find or buy a good mirror in a plastic frame that you can place on the floorboard under the dash, and then find/buy a flashlight that can sit flat on the floor and shine up under the dash (so you don't have to hold it). It's tough working backwards in a mirror, but easier than being upside-down sometimes. I have one that is about 6"x 9".

2) Follow the directions in the FSM, if there are any, pretty closely. I have found if you follow their directions and not get impatient (like me) and try to skip ahead, it's easier.

3) One thing that hung me up was an AC hose. I couldn't pull out my dash very far because I had ignored the part in the FSM where it said to disconnect the AC hose (see above entry on impatience). Once I freed it of that I could pull the dash out a lot further to get at the connectors.

4) Buy a little magnet doohickey or magnetized tools for the nuts you will invariably lose behind/under the dash. A smaller, dentist-type mirror helps for retrieving those, too. (So I've heard. I myself have never dropped anything and been unable to find it.)

5) A lot of those bolts you're talking about are meant to be reached once you get the whole thing off and on a bench (contradicts #1, I know). You'd be amazed at how much easier they are to get to once you have the dash on a bench!

6) A rolled up washcloth or rubber doggie toy (washed) between the teeth helps.


Question from Dave (1958):

Does anybody have any experience repairing dashboards. I have a '58 Southampton and a lot of the interior (even the exterior paint) is not factory but relatively nice. My dashboard is old and cracked (one large gaping hole at the IP transition bump). I do not want to pull the dashboard nor pay $650+S&H to get an authentic looking one. I would like to just get this one cleaned and possibly covered. Has anybody ever done something like this or have suggestions??

Replies:

From Bill:

For about $35.00 you can have a pad made to fit your 60 dash, they look good and cover any imperfections.

Here is one maker of hard plastic dash covers.  http://www.dashtops.com/

Follow-up from John:

I believe you are referring to a dash cover. That's a very popular item out here in Arizona. I actually did see one on a 60 at The Good Guy's show in Scottsdale in '02. It did look pretty decent.

From Luke:

I used one of their dash-top covers on an Alfa Romeo convertible last year. It looked fantastic. nobody would have known it was a cover if I hadn't told them or they were looking for it. I was only like $110, and well worth the money.

You COULD see the edge where the dash cover ends, but in the model I had (Alfa Romeo Spider) the edge of the dash cover was just on the underside of the dash roll, making it less obvious. Yes you could see it once you knew it was there, or was looking for it, but so many people once I told them about it were totally surprised. And it is not near the cost of a professionally repadded dash. The dash cover was very thin vacuum formed plastic (probably only .040-.050" thick) so it even had the realistic texture and proper surface shine so it looked very real. It came with instructions that said you can paint it the color you wanted and I even had a friend with a body shop mix me a special color to try, but I was concerned about the finish over the long haul, and cleaners, scratches, etc... so I wiped the paint off and went black. I never looked back once it was on (which does take a good 3-4 hands, and some patience and planning) the cover was held in place with some clear silicone adhesive (pure silicone caulk basically) I guess it depends on what the car is for. if it is driven and you are on a budget, and you want it to look good, then a dash cover will probably do well for you. If you got the money (and don't mind spending it on the dash) then go ahead and have it professionally repadded.


Question from Mel (1959):

As I stated previously I have a "challenge" facing me with respect to the dash on my '59 LeBaron. I see two possible sources for repairs, namely American Classic Restorations (Uxbridge, MA) and Just Dashes (Van Nuys, CA). Does anyone have any comments/recommendations regarding these two? Others? Also can someone tell me what was originally embossed in the all leather seats (front and back). I have pictures showing two crowns on the backside of the rear seats (all the pictures appear consistent concerning the rear...the crowns are always there). The inconsistency is the front where some pictures show two crowns and some show none. The front seats presently in the car (which appear to be the originals) have none. Are there other details that will assure "close to" original replacement?

Reply from Arran:

Why don't you check out your local automotive upholsterers before you go to those other guys? From what I remember a 59' Imperial only has a dash pad to deal with, and a fairly plain one at that. Once all of the grilles and vents are removed all that you really have is some vinyl and cardboard with some padding in between. With one of the later ones, aka. late 60's/ early seventies cars, the dash pads are molded and the dashes plastic so they are more complicated to fix. You might save yourself a fortune just by sending it to the upholsterer, along with the seats and door panels, rather then taking it to a specialty outfit. It is amazing what they can fix with some spray on contact cement and a little hand work.


Question from Denise (1961 - 1963):

When I purchased my car, only the battery gage worked. When I took the screws out of the covering over the dash, the other gages all began to work. Unfortunately, I think that they are just stuck at the other end of the gages. Anyway, I left the screws out in hopes that they were really working but I can't figure out how to get behind the dash. I took out all the visible screws but I cant get the cover off to take a look at everything. How do you get to the gages, clock, etc.?

Reply from Jay:

The design of the '61 - '63 dash is such that you don't have to work on the instrument cluster or clock while there are mounted in the dash.

Getting to the dash cluster in the '61 -'63 Imperial is relatively easy. From the front of the cluster, remove the five Phillip-head screws that hold the chrome molding part of the cluster to the dash. there are three on top and two on the bottom. Note that the two that are slightly longer are the bottom screws.

Reach up under the dash and through the wires (there is more room back there than you think) and feel around for the speedometer cable. Follow the cable to the back of the dash cluster and unscrew the collar.

To avoid scratching the dash, place a towel across the painted surface just in front of the cluster. You will be pulling the cluster out, flipping it upside-down, and laying it on top of the dash. You my want to place another towel across the dash above the cluster.

With the 5 screws out and the speedometer cable disconnected, the cluster is now free to be pulled out toward the steering wheel.

With your palms facing up, and your thumbs on top of the dash, grip the upper part of the cluster with your eight remaining fingers and slide the cluster toward you and set it on the towel. When you get it out far enough to grip it from the sides, change your grip so you can hold the cluster at each end, flip it up and lay it on the dash.

The clock is separate from the instrument cluster. It remains in the dash but can be removed just as easily once the cluster is out of the way. There are two nuts on either side of the clock that hold it on the back of the dash. I don't know the size of wrench that is needed since I was using (I know I'm gonna catch flak for this) a small 9 or 10 mm combination wrench. Disconnect the illumination lead (white wire, red connector) and power lead (? color wire, but it has a black connector), remove the two nuts, slide the clock back, and out it comes.

After removing/installing the instrument cluster a couple of times, you'll be amazed how fast you can get it out of the car. I have done this at least 6 times so far and I can get the cluster completely out of the car in under 2 minutes (that includes disconnecting the gauge connections)


Question from Patrick (1964):

On my '64 Crown Coupe the top of my dash and it overhang is warped, I'm sure not unlike some others I have seen... Is there anyone who has the capability to remanufacture one or restore the existing one I have presently in my car?

Replies:

From Ken:

Just Dashes is a good company for dashboards.

From Henry:

I know Just Dashes is used by many, but I had a unpleasant experience years ago with them. I found Dash Specialists at 1910 Redbud Lane in Medford, OR 97504 541 776-0040. They did a beautiful job on the dash of my first 60 Imp and on the current one. My partner just received the redone dash for his 61 and it is excellent $650 plus shipping. Beautifully and carefully packed and received today, took less than three months.

Try 'em if you get tired of Just Dashes or just as an alternative. I recommend Dash Specialists highly.


Question from Ken (1964):

I am currently in the process of restoring my '64 crown 4-door. The dash-pad is in pretty bad shape and needs to be recovered. I was wondering if anyone can give me some advice on the best way to remove the pad.

Reply from Chris:

All the screws are accessible EXCEPT the one behind the radio faceplate. You either have the remove that plate - sheer misery - or break off the tab.

Otherwise it is simple to remove the instrument cluster trim and the glove box liner to get at the other screws. Loosen (or remove) the 3 pieces of trim at the base of the windshield, plus the speaker/vent grill and the panel will lift right off.


Question from Tom (1966):

I'm restoring a '66 crown convertible, white/light blue and am having a heck of a time trying to figure out how to remove the bottom two driver's trim panels and the woodgrained trim piece immediately to the left of the dash cluster. The bottom pieces are the vinyl covered ones to the left and right of the metal steering column cover (underside). I got the small trim piece off on the left (the piece that flatly faces the
door panel when the door is closed), and was able to get the lower nut off the backside of the woodgrained trim piece that way but how do I get the top nut off??? I've also taken a few nuts off the bottom two trim pieces and removed the four (two each side) phillips flathead machine screws off the bottom of these pieces but they still do not budge. I dropped the steering column and removed the metal trim bezels for the switch clusters but still no access. What am I not seeing?

Reply from Chris:

It can't be done.

Actually, I did it once, but never want to repeat the experience again. I removed the LH wood & chrome applique from my parts car, not caring what was broken or scratched in the process. From that experience I decided to never attempt it again on one of my good cars. There may be a relatively simple way to do this, but I couldn't figure it out. I suspect those end pieces were installed before the dash was installed in the car.

If the chrome is decent in yours, I would refinish or replace the wood without removing the piece. You'll be glad you chose that route.


Question from Bob (1966):

I need access behind the dashboard of my '66 to fix a few minor problems and followed my shop manual, which says to remove the bezel, etc.. I assume this means the chrome surround for the dash. It's easily enough unscrewed and loosened, but it doesn't clear the steering column at the bottom. Is there a technique to this?

How about access from the rear of the dash - just remove the fuse block?

Replies:

From John:

Try dropping the steering column. There is a bracket with two bolts holding the column to the dash. I pulled a cluster from a '66 a few weeks ago and that's how I did it.

From Wayne:

In order to clear the steering wheel, I lower the steering column by disconnecting it from the dash board. First remove the dash panel under the column (about 4 screws). Next remove the two bolts on the bracket that holds the column to the dashboard. The steering wheel then drops down and rests on the seat, while you remove the dashboard bezel. It is not all that difficult.


Question from  Bob (1966):

I hope you '66 owners have patience for more questions on this task - my second try got more parts off, but I ran out of time and skill and reversed my work Sunday. It wasn't an entire waste, at least everything is cleaner and shinier.

I want to fix my clock, check my odometer reset and replace the gear indicator cable and assumed that I need access from the front of the dash. Correct?

1. I got the bezel and heater controls faceplate off, but can't figure out how the clock adjuster comes off - this must be simple, but not evident to me.

2. After taking out all the visible screws, the dash was still pretty firmly attached. What haven't I noticed?

As much "step-by-step" that you can describe will be greatly appreciated. 

Replies:

From Stu:

To take the clock knob off there is a very small hole in the middle of the knob. Take a standard screwdriver and put it in the hole it will go in about 1/8th deep. Unscrew the fastener and the knob will pull off. Make sure you don't lose the little hold fastener.

From Dick:

I don't know anything specific about 66's, but most clock knobs are held on with a teeny screw in the center of the knob. You have to hold the knob in one hand or with a leather lined plier jaw, and turn out the center slot screw with a jeweler's screw driver. Then the knob will pull off.

From Jay:

I hope you '66 owners have patience for more questions on this task - my second try got more parts off, but I ran out of time and skill and reversed my work Sunday. It wasn't an entire waste, at least everything is cleaner and shinier. I want to fix my clock, check my odometer reset and replace the gear indicator cable and assumed that I need access from the front of the dash. Correct?

Correct as far as I know.

1. I got the bezel and heater controls faceplate off, but can't figure out how the clock adjuster comes off - this must be simple, but not evident  to me.

Look into the end of the adjuster knob. There is a tiny screw in there. Using a jeweler's screwdriver, back this screw out. Be careful not to drop it or you may never see it again! This may be the smallest fastener in the entire car (save the carburetor).

2. After taking out all the visible screws, the dash was still pretty firmly attached. What haven't I noticed?

Did you disconnect the speedo cable? Our '66 speedo cable didn't have enough slack to remove the cluster without breaking the bayonet mount where the other end enters the Auto-Pilot (Whoops!)

Some of the dash bulbs have leads - some twist into the back and use a circuit board for electrical connectivity. Be sure to disconnect the leaded bulbs. You might want to label them. It would be a drag to signal for a left hand turn and have to look at a flashing Sentry Signal or HIGH BEAM indicator.

Over the years, the shrinkage/movement of the dash pad may have it pinching the instrument cluster into place. Time and patience are a virtue in removing the cluster. Try pushing the dash pad upward while simultaneously pulling on the cluster. Take your time and you will be duly rewarded.


Question from Bob (1966):

Twice I've made a (feeble) attempt to get the clock out of my '66 dashboard, so if anyone has a step-by-step set of directions, I'll promise to give it a third shot

Replies:

From Norm:

This is not a "feeble" repair. You have to take out the dash fascia, taking extra care not to lose the screw that holds the clock stem knob on and also being careful to remove the shift cable attachment at the lower end. It is very straightforward from there with only one or two screws holding the clock in place. Any man who can drive and maintain a car from the land of "FIAT" can certainly find it within his ability to perform this non-metric activity.

From Stu:

To take the clock knob off there is a very small hole in the middle of the knob. take a standard screwdriver and put it in the hole it will go in about 1/8th deep. Unscrew the fastener and the knob will pull off. Make sure you don't lose the little hold fastener.


Tips from Dan (1967):

The dash on my '67 Crown Coupe 2 dr hdtp had a severe bend in it - nearly 2" right in the center. Obviously it's not possible, but it looked like someone sat on it! Because the vinyl is in good shape, with no cracks, I thought I'd try to straighten it before looking for a replacement. I made a 2x4 "T" about 24" wide with the leg 15", long enough to reach a scissor jack on the floor. I gradually applied up pressure while using a heat gun on the top and bottom of the dash. I pushed it up until it created a "bow" with the center about 1" above level. I left it there for about 4 hours, then removed the jack to check it. To my surprise it was Perfect!! It's held it's new shape all day so I think it's a permanent fix.


Question from Craig (1967):

I have found a '67 Imperial that I will have one day to strip. I would like to remove the entire dash assembly as a unit. Is this possible? I will also be removing the windshield and the steering column.

Replies:

From Dick:

The dash can be removed as a unit once the windshield is removed. There are a row of screws just inside the glass, and there are some side supports behind the upholstery on each side. Then there are some braces and the like at the steering column. If you remove the seats first so you can lay on your back and look up under the dash with a good light, you will see all these fasteners.

The whole dash assembly is quite heavy - you'll need help with it. Things will go much easier if you remove the steering column first - that is the way I did it.

From Ken:

There are bolts on both sides and screws are also located in the vents -  this is doable.


Question from Mark (1968):

The '68s have a very prominent "brow" or sunshade above the dash. It's made out of vinyl and extends maybe 6" all the way across the top of the dash.

On one of my cars this is perfect, but on the other one it's kind of droopy. If you were to look at it from the backseat, you would see it dips down on the driver's side. Not much, maybe only an inch or two. And in some Imperials I've seen the brow will be kind of bent in the middle, or really sagging.

Is there a way to straighten this? I was thinking of putting a 2x4 under there and somehow bracing it along the length (by putting something b/n the 2x4 and the floor) and then just leaving it there for awhile to see if it would help, but . . . I'm doubtful this will help much.

Replies:

From Chris:

There is metal under the dash pad. It is not simply a big vinyl coated foam pillow, and what tends to sag is the entire structure. It's a very long unsupported span for a thin dash visor (and the visor is even more prominent in '68 than '67), so the thing tends to just sink in the middle under its own weight.

I would imagine you'd need to bend the sheet metal framework under the vinyl pad to remove the sag.

I would also be very leery of heating up 35-year-old vinyl... I would seem too easy to ruin a perfectly nice looking dash pad that way, not to mention baking the foam inside to a brittle state.

Just my two cents... I don't have any suggestions to make it look new, but maybe leaving well enough along might be the best course of action (or inaction). Or maybe park the car upside down for 15-17 years and see if it rights itself? :) Seriously, I'd ask a professional (or keep hoping for an answer here from someone who's successfully fixed this problem in a '68) before trying anything, since it's not something you need to fix right away.

From Dick:

I haven't fixed this problem, but I did look it straight in the eye when I was changing the dash pad on my 67. The metal is somewhat droopy in the center of the dash, as are most I have seen. The metal is cast "pot" metal, which cannot take any kind of force without cracking, unless it is carefully and evenly heated to just the right temperature - too hot and it turns to liquid with no warning; too cold and it will crack.

My solution: leave it alone!


Question from Trevor (1968):

Are the dash mats for the '68 4-door sedan the same as the dashes for the '68 convertible?

Reply from Dick:

On my '67 Convertible, I recently changed a dash pad and used one from a car with the Twilight Sentinel, thinking I could just disguise the old hole somehow. After installation, it really bothered me, so I obtained a whole Twilight Sentinel system and am in the process of installing it, just so the hole in the dash pad looks right! This is a lot of work, and for very little reward (although I do like the operation of the TS system on my other cars).


Question from Ed (1968):

Are there specific instructions for the removal of the dash bezel on the '68? I have discovered a leak which has dripped into the headlamp switch and also rusted the parking break. I would like to disassemble the switch and correct the problem but with the Auto Pilot in the way, getting in there from the bottom seems to be impossible. Any suggestions?

I am not ready to pull the windshield out as I have a fair amount of work that needs to come first. I will do the Mickey Mouse silicon along the offending edge of the windshield molding and stop the leak (if I'm lucky). But I need the headlights to work for inspection.

Reply from Dave:

Yes, there are specific instructions to remove the bezel and instrument cluster from the '68 dash. I recently removed the bezel from my '68 Crown convertible.

It begins with removing the cover from beneath the steering column. Out come the lower A/C ducts. Then down comes the steering column. Remove the lower screws that hold the instrument bezel at the bottom. The upper screws are visible just beneath the dash pad at the top. Place a protective covering over the steering wheel before removing the bezel.

The "gotchya" in the procedure is the flexible A/C duct to the driver side A/C vent. It's attached to the bezel by a screw, and really holds on. It is a difficult thing to extend the fragile ducting far enough to clear the dash pad to make space for the screwdriver. The shorter the driver the better.

Disconnect the various electrical connectors and you're home free.

The instrument cluster is then clear for removal. I've left mine in place for now.


Tips from Kerry on removing the dash on the 1972-1973's:

Removing anything under the dash on a 72-73 is a real pain but it can be done.

1- Get a good flashlight that will stand up by itself.

2- Put on some good safety glasses as 'stuff' will fall down in you eyes.

3- Open the passenger door and move both seats as far back as possible

4- Remove the AC duct that goes from the center plenum directly below the radio to the drivers side. There are two Phillips screws one on each end of the 3' long plastic piece. The left side drops down and you can then pull it out.

5- Remove the flex hose from the right side of the plenum. It slips off like a dryer vent.

6- Remove 5 - 5/16 screws that hold the AC plenum in. There are three on the bottom and one at the upper corner of each side. The upper ones are a bear to get to. It takes a stubby nut driver or a 1/4 ratchet with a short extension.

7- As soon as you get the plenum out, you can see and get to the radio and the clock.


Question from Terry (1973):

The dash on my '73 has cracked and peeled back pretty bad (it gets HOT here in Oklahoma) and I was wondering how would be the best go about fixing it. As I see it, I have a few options.

1. Go to Just Dashes (or another vendor)and get a new one made and shell out some bucks
2. Try to find one in a salvage yard, clean and paint it black (if not already black)
3. Try to find one from a "sister car" such as a New Yorker (would they fit?)

What do you all think? Has anyone done the Just Dashes thing?

Replies:

From Elijah:

I think Just Dashes may be pretty pricey.

> 2. Try to find one in a salvage yard, clean and paint it black (if not already black)

This is probably your best option. Any '71 - '73 Imperial dash pad will work, and re-dying it black should be a relatively easy procedure (just make sure it's as CLEAN as possible first). I expect a rescued dash pad will be much cheaper than a "new" one from Just Dashes.

> 3. Try to find one from a "sister car" such as a New Yorker (would they fit?)

Unfortunately, the New Yorker dash pad is quite different. I think it might physically fit, but you would lose that wonderful ledge along the lower part of the dash.

Most of the '71-'73 dash pads I've seen over the years -- even in junkyards -- have held up pretty well, so I bet you can find a decent used one to work with. :o)

From Mel:

I am completely restoring my 1959 LeBaron and had the dash redone by Just Dashes. It was returned to me last Friday (June 18/04). My first impression is very good. They appear to have done an excellent job. They also padded the horn ring.

Yes, they are expensive. Expect to pay something north of $1000 (and they only do the padding).


Question from Wayne (1977):

My '77 NYB has a dashboard full of burned out lights, only one or two work. Is there an easy way to replace them all, or should I continue disassembling the dash? Someone said something about pulling the dash pad to reach them.

Replies:

From John:

The metal panel on top of the dash removes for access below. There are several tabs that mate with slots below.  To remove, carefully pry up from the side closest to the pad, use something such as a small putty knife to do this. I found out the panel came off when I brought the car to have the radio serviced.

From Matt:

By dash lights I'm assuming you mean the main instrument cluster (speedometer, alt, temp, fuel gauges) which are all part of the same cluster. This cluster is lit by bulbs mounted in little black housings that twist into a copper circuit board on the clusters back.1) From the front remove all the "wood" trim.2) From behind, remove the speedometer cable ( if you remove the dash pad you may be able to reach it through the center speaker hole). 3) Remove the black hex head ( maybe Phillips) screws holding in the cluster.4) Carefully remove the cluster and swap bulbs to your hearts content. Replace the cluster in reverse order and you're set. Note: I can't remember if you need to remove the gear select needle as well... If you do, it's just a matter of removing the set screw ( on the column - just trace back on the needle and you'll see it) The A/C, Wiper, Defrost, Headlights and radio all have their own bulbs in their own clusters - Just track down the orange wires to find them - These bulb have blue rubber condoms on them that YOU MUST RE-USE or your dash lights won't be that soothing blue / green color that we all love.


Question from Leo (1983):

I am in the process of replacing the worn out upholstery material covering the A & B (I think) posts and the upper window trim and have everything out except the D--- "A" post. How do you get it out from under the padded dash. Do you have to remove the padded part of the dash? I have the plastic cover out between the dash pad and the windshield. Everything is loose but caught under the dash pad on the end. I know several of you have removed them from reading some old posts but nobody says how to get it out from under the padded dash. BTW, I assume the "A" post is the one at the windshield and the "B" post is the one at the back of the door??? It goes in Friday to have the seat back repaired. Is the passenger seat cushion the same size as the drivers side? I just found a hole in it also.

Replies:

From Neil:

The only way to remove the A post trim is to be brave grab it at the top and pull it away from the post, that is the easy bit, now to get the thing all the way out you have to undo the 3 hex head screws that hold the dash to the body around the windscreen aperture after removing the plastic filler that has the air vents, then undo the two bolts (one each side) that bolt the dash to the side of the body below the dash in front of the doors, they are about 12" - 18" from floor level. With all the bolts out the dash should move around a bit which is all you need to get the A post covers off, pull the dash away from the windscreen (windshield) and wiggle/ pry the A post cover out, it is only with the dash floating that you get enough leeway to get the post covers out.

Once you have the covers off the A post you will never struggle again as it is just a matter of brawn and brain that gets these damn things off.

From Dave:

I have removed the dash in my '81 more times than I care to admit to and it is a one piece unit, the padded top cannot be removed. I haven't tried to remove the other parts yet as the interior is the last item on my list to replace.

From Roger:

First of all, pop up each end of the plastic dash cover by gently prying at the END of the panel, on the side closest to the padding and farthest away from the windshield. There are spring clips which hold this piece on to the dash. It does not need to be completely removed.

Next, take off the trim pieces above the doors and above the windshield.

The "A" pillar trim can be removed by lifting and twisting it in towards the center of the car and up. That is, on the driver's side the trim top is moved towards the passenger side and twisted slightly clockwise. As the piece comes up, move it further toward the center of the car.

Follow-up question from Leo:

Am I correct that the "A" pillar does NOT fit under the padded dash? I tried briefly yesterday to remove it according to your instructions but was unsuccessful. 

Reply from Roger:

Kee-wrecked, the A pillar cover does not go under the padding, it buts up against the padding. However, the A pillar cover goes under the plastic dash cover which houses the speakers, just far enough that this piece needs to be popped loose at the ends.

I forgot to mention that the kick panel in front of the door and under the dash side needs to be loosened too. That enables the bottom of the A pillar to be moved.

I wouldn't use too much "persuasion;" it's more a matter of getting the right combination of pull and angles. Be content to move it upwards and inwards about 1/4" to 1/2" at a time until the A pillar cover is free of the dash. The inward part is to get the tab under the plastic dash pad more-or-less vertical so it will slip free.

The second side will be easier!

From Dick:

I'll add that the plastic top pad of the dash gets very brittle with age, so as you pop it out of it's retainer clips, be very gentle with it, and spread the prying force over a wide area of the top pad, else you'll crack it. A good tool is a very wide spatula or drywall paste spreader knife - the wider the better, but at least 4 inches. (Please don't ask how I know this.)

Follow-ups from Leo:

I got my dash out yesterday. Used a small pry bar under the rear edge of the part on the dash, pried it up about 1/2" (to clear the padded dash) and then it just twisted right out! My upholstery shop that I ordered the covering from says the original had a foam backing on it and the new material will also. Is this correct? Will the foam present any problems re-installing everything?

Reply from Neil:

Yes the original did have a foam backing and so should the new cloth, the only thing to ensure the trimmers do a good job is to make sure all remnants of the old foam, which you will see as a brownish dust is removed completely, don't waste any time attempting to remove all traces of the original contact adhesive though.

Reply from Roger:

The original was a 1/8" foam backing. We used 1/4" foam backing and it worked fine. Looks the same when installed. Just watch that you don't tear the foam when putting everything back together.

Those A pillars are a bear to cover, it takes a lot more cloth than you might expect and it has to be glued and stretched a little at a time.

Reply from Dick:

The original foam backing was about 1/16 to 3/32 thick. If the new stuff is that thin, it won't present a problem. If it is like the new stuff I've seen in the upholstery suppliers lately, it will be 1/4 thick, and that will definitely not fit right. I was told the old thin foam backed headliner was NLA.

Reply from Paul:

If the upholstery shop ordered headlining material, the foam will be very close to the original thickness. Headlining material after about 1975 is foam backed and also tends to separate when it gets old. I have replaced this type of headliner in three of the other name brand cars that I have from 1980 and 1981. I think that is what they used to cover the trim in your Imperial also.

A tip from one who has been there: be sure to use the correct 3M Brand adhesive, and also Scotch Guard the material once it is installed on the trim pieces. This will prevent water staining.


This page last updated September 13, 2004.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club.