These days, building a full-tilt street-car is merely a matter of choosing an off-the-shelf item from your favorite, online speed shop and installing it. The best part, most of the hard part is already completed. Yes, that’s correct. Aftermarket companies go through great pains to assure that you’re replacement part or in our case, a Dakota Digital Dash, will fit just like the factory pieces.

Putting On A New Face

If you're looking for custom gauge panels for your street rod or vintage muscle car, look no further than Covan's Classic (PN 140-69-50901). These non-drilled gauge panels are application-specific, so you get a perfect fit, with the freedom to add the gauges like our Dakota Digital, for a totally customized dash. They're available in a variety of finishes, so whether you want a sporty, classic, or luxurious look, there's a Covan's Classic panel to suit your ride and your style

The days of hand-forming and piecing together completely custom parts and components for your street car are almost things of the past.

Now, it only takes a couple screws,  some backyard knowledge, and viola you’re done. Although we haven’t revealed what our Nova is currently sporting in the way of new skin, don’t worry.

We’ll be illustrating that in the next couple updates. For the time being, if you aren’t up to speed on “Swinger” or just want to play catch up, you can pick up on where we left off last month here.

Case in point, when it came down to supplying Project Swinger, our ’71 Nova, with an appropriate method for viewing all of the vehicles important life signs, we didn’t even bat an eye.

Our Dakota Digital Dashboard came chalked full of everything we needed for a high-tech dash unit. The Control Box is the brains behind the entire operation and provides straightforward wiring for ease of installation. Sensors are also included and send signals to the Control Box, which show up on the dash.

We immediately knew that with an LSA engine swap, and Tremec TKO600 6-speed manual backing this Mule, information was imperative. With tons of power on tap, every piece of information on what the powertrain is doing becomes vital.

Precision Instrumentation

Our complete unit upgrades our interior and gives us a birds eye view of nearly every parameter with the digital display.

Like a trained fighter-pilot, gauges are the necessary lifeblood of any high-performance machine. In the heat of battle, pilots must learn to soak up information about the status of their machine, quickly.

Pilots only have a split second to take their eyes from the sky to gain important knowledge on what the plane is doing and how well its performing under stressful situations.

The same can be said while in the drivers seat, too, behind the wheel. Drivers are fixated and focused on the road and what may lie ahead. Wheeling isn’t just about being able to handle triple-digit speeds. It also involves soaking up information and using it to your advantage. It’s all about feeding the driver crucial bits of information.

Updates and stats from the dash can then be translated and applied to the steering wheel, and the more efficient the driver can become. It’s full circle. If all goes well, this will mean a faster lap time and possibly even a more enjoyable ride. It’s like feeding a military gunner an unlimited amount of ammo.

Installing the completed unit into Swinger took nothing more than a little bit of elbow grease. Once it was set into place, Goude locked it down with some fasteners.

The more information at the drivers fingertips, literally, could mean fun blasts on the streets or pulling it in early to prevent a catastrophic event. These days, pulling out all the stops on a build of this scale is necessary. With so much at stake, we left nothing to chance for our all business cockpit.

With Dakota Digital (PN VFD3-69C-NOV-Z) backing our dash in the form of their VFD system for ’69-79 Novas, we’ll not only benefit from a set of high-tech digital gauges but can guarantee it, too, with a factory fit.

Installation Made Easy

Sean Goude, our in-house tech maniac showed us just how easy Dakota Digital has made it. Beginning with the Covan’s Classic dash, Goude clearanced a hole and then fitted the Dakota display into the dash using the supplied hardware.

Easy to read lettering and quick disconnect fittings for the wiring harness make wiring and installation a breeze.

For illustration purposes, we've only connected what was necessary to get our dash lit. However, you can see here that wiring the completed dash is straightforward with most connections only requiring a ground output and sensor input.

From there, it was only a matter of bolting up the completed unit into “Swinger.” Taking it a step further, Goude plugged in the included harness to the Control Box and gave us a glimpse of what was to come.

We’ve left nothing to chance and the Dakota Dash setup will keep us informed, instantly as we’re cruising or battling it out during open track events. Of course, we’ll have a full install on this unit in a future story and cover what makes this unit so unique, so stay tuned!