By Chirag Asaravala
The problem with old cars is having to compromise vintage
aesthetics for modern technology. Often times there is no
way around it, as in the case of monitoring vital engine parameters.
The factory gauges were either overly simplified, or in many
cases just non-exisitant. (It's still a wonder why so many
new cars fail to come with something as so basic as a oil
pressure gauge!) Since most of us aren't willing to risk our
engines on the account of maintaining a stock "look",
we resort to buying modern, more precise and accurate, gauges
and hanging them off the steering column, under the dash,
or where-ever dash space allows. The end result is a something
resembling the workshop of a deranged clocksmith.
But what other choice is there? If you are imaginative you've
probably often stared at those pretty aftermarket gauges and
wished they'd magically reside in the stock instrument cluster.
(If you are innovative you've probably figured out a way to
make this happen.) Well fortunately for those of us lacking
the fabrication skills, JME Enterprises has the solution.
The Southern California based Mustang parts and modification
business has a reputation for engineering worthwhile mods
for these early cars. A few years back they came up with a
way to not only put high-quality Autometer gauges into the
stock 65-68 instrument panels, but to wire it up in such a
way that the end result is clean and factory like.
Here's the JME Enterprises 67-68 gauge cluster we'll be
installing in our 1967 Mustang. We specifically asked
for full-sweep Autometer Ultra-Lite gauges in a black
camera-case bezel. The gauges are an electronic speedometer,
10,000 rpm tach, fuel-level, and full-sweep electric oil
pressure and water temperature. The JME gauge cluster
retains use of the factory wiper switch, turn signal indicators
and brake warning light.
The real beauty of the JME cluster is how JME integrates
the gauges into a wiring harness that is plug-and-play
with the factory underdash harness. The only wiring you
have to deal with is grounding the cluster, the tachometer
(green wire) and if you opted for the electronic speedometer
(red and gray wires.) Of course you also need to install
your water temperature and oil pressure sensors.
This is another companies 67-68 gauge cluster. Actually
they just sell the plastic bezel, you put in the Autometer
gauges. The end result is a bundle of snakes as shown.
If you weren't using electric oil pressure and water temperature
sensor gauges then you'll need to install the supplied
sensors and route the wiring through your firewall.
The supplied sensors simply install in the place of
the existing water temperature and oil temperature sensors.
Use some telflon tape to ensure a leak free seal. Route
your wiring through the firewall using a grommet and
make the connections.
We opted for an Autometer electronic/programmable speedometer
rather than using a conventional gear and cable drive
system. This enables precise mph readings regardless of
gearing or tire size. The gauge uses a vehicle speed sensor
(VSS) on the end of the driven gear in the transmission
case to send a signal to the gauge. The VSS can be obtained
from a late-model Ford (shown in hand) or new from Autometer.
The VSS installs in the side of the transmission as shown
here. . It doesn't really matter what gear you use on
the end as you'll be able to program the speedometer to
precisely your vehicle gearing and tire. The programming
is a simply process of putting the speedometer gauge into
program mode (pushing the trip odometer button while starting
the engine) and then driving a 2 mile distance at about
a constant 45mph.
Doing away with the stock gauge cluster is merely a matter
of removing the five mounting screws and disconnecting
the electrical connectors and speedometer. Two of the
screws are located below (shown) and three along the top
of the cluster.
With the screws removed, pull the cluster forward and
reach behind to disconnect the wiper switch connector.
From the underside of the cluster access and remove the
retaining nut for the speedometer cable.
Finally, the gauge can be tilted face-down on the steering
column to allow access to the two connectors to the underdash
With all of the connections removed the factory cluster
can be pulled out from the dash.
A comparison of the stock and JME gauge clusters for 67-68
Mustangs. Note how well JME wires up the Autometer gauges
to match the factory harness.
Prior to installing the new cluster you'll need to transfer
over the window wiper switch from the stock cluster as
We also upgraded the light bulbs in the Autometer gauges
to green-LED's to retain the stock green glow and use
Installation is simply reverse of removal, except there
is no speedometer cable to connect.
Be sure to connect the ground wire, we used a factory
grounding point on the dash metal behind the instrument
Before we permanently secure the new cluster into the
dash we flipped the headlight switch to check all the
gauges were getting power.