It cost us a total of $900-$100...
It cost us a total of $900-$100 for a used Laguna dash and $800 for the Just Dashes restoration service-to get our dash in like-new condition. The restored dash is indistinguishable from a brand-new one. (Note how the Laguna dash is divided into two parts-a soft upper pad and a hard plastic section.) Read on to see how Just Dashes performs this miracle.
Whether you like PHR's
or not, you will be able to appreciate the sheer impossibility of finding a reproduction dashpad. Even more daunting is finding-and paying for-an NOS piece in the case of a really rare muscle car where a reproduction part is not available. Even in this day of online auctions, it seems like finding the right dashpad in serviceable shape is next to impossible. We looked everywhere for our Laguna, and only found used ones in poor condition. Fortunately, an old, beat-up dash is all you need to start with if you elect to use the services of Just Dashes in Van Nuys, California.
Just Dashes can completely refurbish any old dashpad (or instrument panel too), and you won't be able to tell the difference between the restored one and a brand-new one. The cost isn't cheap-it ran $800 to restore our Laguna's dash and companion plastic dash panel-but it's far less expensive than tracking down and buying a NOS part for three or four times that amount. For many muscle car projects, this is the only viable option, short of building a custom dash.
This before and after comparison...
This before and after comparison shows how far our interior-and the dash in particular-has come since we bought the '75 Laguna a year and a half ago. Other key changes include Procar Rally 1000 seats from Scat, a Stewart Warner Maximum Performance tach, Summit Racing supplemental gauges, new carpet from OPG, and lots of rattle can work. We picked up this nice looking, used billet steering wheel from a swap meet for $50, but discovered it was too large, and it burned our hands in the sun. Check out the wood Grant Classic steering wheel toward the end of the story to see the updated wheel.
The turnaround time on our project was only a couple of weeks, not including shipping time. Moreover, all the parts were meticulously packed by Just Dashes, and clearly labeled. Our dash actually consists of two parts, the padded upper portion, and the hard plastic lower portion, which Just Dashes cleaned, and applied matching dye to. We did need to find a used dash first, since Just Dashes does not stock these, and we wanted to keep our car driveable in the interim. We located one from fellow Laguna lover, Steve Yoder, for $100, and had him ship it directly to Just Dashes for us. Once restored, the Just Dashes piece went in perfectly without any hang-ups, and the visual impact was immediate and dramatic. As an unexpected bonus, the Laguna even smells like a new car again, because all the vinyl and foam is new.
To finish off the interior, we added one of Grant's Classic-style walnut steering wheels. Grant seems to really understand the muscle car guy, because they offer a wide selection of classic and nostalgic steering wheels that have a period-correct look, but with the sizes and features desired by modern drivers. For instance, we really dig Grant's walnut wood wheel for its look and feel, but we also like the fact that the metal rivets that hold the wood-and the metal part of the rim-are recessed to prevent burned or frozen hands. When we saw that Grant made a small-diameter walnut wheel with satin black three-hole spokes, we realized it fit the vibe of the car perfectly, and we ordered one. It matches our satin black paintjob and the rest of our interior perfectly, and our days of burning our hands on a metal rim are over.
In just one day, we completely transformed Project Laguna. Granted, the exterior is the most memorable visual feature of any car, it is the interior that makes it easy to live with on a day-to-day basis. Nowhere is this more manifest than the dashpad and instrument panel. Interestingly, it is now the interior that garners the most compliments from our Laguna, and that's saying something.