I've been told that all dashboards in 5th generation El Camino's are the same dash. Can someone confirm this, or at least give me the correct answer as to which dashboards will "swap out" with a correct match for this generation El Camino?
Not all 5th gen dashes are the same, they will all fit in a 78 up g body, but the 78-81 dashs are a slightly different style then the 82-87s....the 78-81 are pretty much feature less right infront of the passanger seat cept for the glove box and maybe an El camino SS logo, the 82 and ups have a plaque accross this area. Also the 78-81 dashes are a lot harder to come by.
There are two different style dashpads (actually 4 if you take speaker location into account), all will fit no matter what year 5th gen they came out of. Trim style on passenger side of dash (bezel) is the biggest notable difference, some have the dash bezel, older models do not. Also some have an air conditioning vent all the way to the right and some do not. Radio bezels differ...but simple to modify to the 86-87 version. Gauge pods differ (older models have the wide sweeping speedometer newer models have the round gauges...but this really has no bearing on the dashpad itself. Although mine looks like an original dash for an 84, it was not actually produced. It was assembled using various parts from different years, a Woodgrain (Conquista) dash bezel with an SS dash plaque, a radio bezel from an 87 with a 95 Trans Am digital stereo with graphic equalizer, and I'm still searching for a blue SS 4 spoke steering wheel in excellent shape to complete it. I am very happy with the way its turned out, because it's different than all the others but not obvious.
The gage cluster could be wired differently for the later "G" bodies. In swapping them out, just the dashes, you'll want to make sure you get the attachments also. Like everyone has already said the newer dashes have some other stuff that the early models didn't so don’t walk off without taking those also.
I have mentioned this before but.....
It is possible that a dash from a 90s model Chevrolet Pickup could be fitted into the Elkys of the 5th generation. I was looking at the one in my 93 and noticed a lot of similarities. I am not 100% sure about this they could be too wide but it doesn't look like it. I haven't measured it.
I had wondered what all it would take to update the dash of a 5th generation to something more electronic like the one in the 93 Pickup I have. Rip off the AC venting and all. No vacuum pots that I can tell to operate the vents they seem to be electronic also. Who knows, maybe a future project?