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Has anyone had luck with these dash pad covers? I currently have an old school black carpet cover on my Camel tan cracked dash and I've never been happy with it. I see now they make pad covers with stock colors like my camel tan. What do you recommend? Would the color match or would I have to paint it? Also I've seen that some guys have to take a razor blade to fit it good. This is the link that seemed to have my color in stock without having to paint it. 1978-1980 El Camino Molded Dash Pad Outer Shell, Full Cover, With Center Speaker Cut-Out, Assorted Colors

Current old black pad. Yuck!
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I have one on my medium blue interior. It’s a lot better than the dash that’s under it and neatly installed enough that most people don’t notice. Car people do notice, but considering the cost of a new dash I’m fine with it. Don’t let ‘perfect be the enemy of good’.
Patrick
 

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1987 GMC Caballero, 350, Holley Sniper EFI, 200-4R
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I trimmed the cracked areas on my dash before installing the full cover. I have a little wave in the middle/ top, that's my fault, but it does look way better. I recommend it & would do it again.
 

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Here is an article that I had that should help you a bit and give you an idea of what has to be done.

84 El Camino Rebuild and Simular Stuff: Dash pad cover installation
DAY, NOVEMBER 07, 2005
Dash pad cover installation







“El Camino Dash Pad Restoration, 101”
Like any "Decades Old Vehicle" my El Camino has started to show it's age. Many things are easy to repair and the parts are readily available at the local auto parts store or via the Internet. A replacement dash isn't one of them. After my search for an "NOS Replacement Dash Pad" struck out, I decided to try one of the Dash Caps that are available all over the Internet. What follows is my story of the installation of said "Dash Cap".

A Dash Cap is a thin shell of ABS plastic that is molded in the exact shape of the existing (and probably pretty trashed) factory dash pad. The Dash Cap adheres over the factory dash pad and the idea is that it will look as close to stock as possible when you finish the installation.

Part one of the installation consists of finding the Dash Cap as well as the supplies necessary to complete the installation. I searched the Internet High & Low for the best price and finally found the cover at www.1aauto.com . The cover itself is made by ACC and they seem to be the manufacturer of choice for most suppliers. So other than price there isn't really anything to separate one web vendor from another. I paid $95 plus shipping.

The next step is to find the proper paint and color for your installation. I checked all the chat rooms and found that the most highly recommended paint was hands down, "SEM Color Coat” spray paint. Now that I knew which brand of paint to use, I still needed to pick a color. Many of the vendors had digital color pallets available over the web to help with your color choice but they aren't really much help. What I did was to ask for a color sample brochure of all of the SEM color choices. Lucky for me there were many suppliers happy to comply and a week later I had the actual paint samples in hand. I chose a color that was a great match to my factory interior, Blue Mist #15213. Perfect match! I bought 3 cans of paint and 1 can each of vinyl and plastic prep (the extra paint will be used on the other interior parts, more on this later). I purchased the paint supplies from www.levineautoparts.com for $10.99 a can plus $6.95 shipping, total cost $61.45.

Note: I was a little skeptical of the SEM Plastic Paint’s ability to hold up over the long haul, so I decided to do a test project first. I bought a factory sport steering wheel off EBay for the test. I followed the manufacturer instructions and painted over the Tan Steering Wheel with the new blue color. The results were amazing, not only did it match the factory color but after 6 months, it shows NO WEAR at all. You can not tell that the wheel was painted, it looks perfect.

The last step of the procurement process is to make sure you have the proper tools you’ll need to complete the installation. A good set of hand tools is a must and I knew from the Dash Cap instructions that I was going to need some stuff I don't normally keep in my toolbox. What I needed a large supply of bungee cords and spring clamps to hold down the edges of the cap. Trust me if you think you'll only need a dozen of each, better think again. You can always return those you don't use. I also recommend the use of a caulking gun to dispense the Silicone Sealant; you’ll use to adhere the Dash cap in place (more on this later). You will also a large corrugated cardboard box to cut into (1” x 6”) strips. The strips will be folded down to make the wedges that you will use at the base of the windshield.

One last thing to consider buying is a set of replacement speakers. The Dash Cap has holes drilled in it over the speaker grates but once the cap is in place the speakers are sealed in forever. I decided to replace the 20 year old speakers with new factory units. I bought a set from www.ecparts.net. They have many levels of speakers that will bolt in so you might need to call them to decide which brand to buy. Like I said, I went with the factory set and they cost around $50 with shipping.

I gave myself a long weekend to complete the project, although I ended up splitting it up between two weekends.

The 1st step was to check the fit of the cap to my dash and trimming any problem spots. You can do this with the steering wheel and other stuff in place but I recommend that you remove everything that is bolted onto the dash prior to the actual installation. I removed all the trim pieces, as well as the steering wheel, instrument cluster, gear shift & turn signal lever, glove box and radio. Getting everything right now will save you heartache later, so take your time.

Now it is time to paint the Dash Cap to match your interior color. Start by thoroughly cleaning the shell inside and out with the SEM plastic prep you purchased. After the initial cleaning wash the pad with soap and water and then rinse thoroughly. Hit it once more with the plastic prep and let the dash Cap dry completely before spray painting. I used 3 thin coats with great results. Allow the paint to dry for 24 hrs.

While the paint dries, use the time to disassemble any other parts of the interior you would like to refinish. I painted the glove box, instrument cluster, ect, I also painted as many of my other plastic interior parts at this time. Just remember to follow the same cleaning and prep procedures and you’ll get the same great results on the old parts as you did on your new dash cap.

Important Note #1: Silicone uses the moisture in the air to cure. The more humid the conditions the faster the product cures. The weekend I did mine it was raining, so I had NO TIME to waste in between applying the adhesive and getting the cap in place. Please don’t repeat my mistake, wait for a weekend that does not include rain in the forecast.

So now it’s time to adhere the cap to the dash pad. After one last test fit, it’s time to clean the existing dash pad. I used lacquer thinner to do this because I wanted to make sure the silicone would have a good clean surface to adhere to. I decided to use a tube of silicone in a caulking gun rather than the small tub supplied with the Dash Cap. I felt the gun gave me better control of the product and besides, I didn’t want to run out in the middle of the installation. I used 20 year Clear 100% Silicone, that I purchased at Home Depot.

At this point you need to move fast! Apply silicone to the existing dash pad along the perimeter and air vents only, but stay a ¼” away from the edges to allow for ooze. (Do Not apply silicone to the entire dash surface; this will ruin the cap as it needs the ability to expand with temperature changes). As soon as you get the silicone applied get the Dash Cap into position and get ready to bungee, clamp and wedge it as tightly as possible to the existing dash pad.

Important Note #2: Be sure to slip the edge of the Dash Cap under the VIN TAG located in the front driver’s side corner of the dash. Otherwise Mister Policeman will make your life quite miserable!

The 1st area to address is along the bottom of the windshield. Place the folded cardboard wedges all along this area. The more the better! Remember, the tighter the fit the better the end result. I used close to 30 wedges in this area.

Now use the clamps and bungee’s to hold the rest of the cap’s edges in place. You’ll need to get creative at this point and believe me you can’t use to many. Not to harp on the subject but tighter is better! Now you can wipe clean any excess silicone that has oozed past the edges. You’ll be able to rub off any silicone you miss after it dries so don’t freak out and spend too much time cleaning up now.

At this point sit back, have a beer and gaze at your hard work. Oh by the way the real work is yet to come, so get some rest and give the silicone over night to cure completely.

Now it’s time to remove the clamps and bungees as well as cleaning off any silicone you may have missed. It’s also time to reinstall the components you removed prior to the installation.

I started with the Instrument Cluster. By test fitting and trimming the Dash Cap at any pressure points you encounter, you will end up with a perfect fit. Take your time and only remove small amounts at a time. It took me 5 or 6 attempts to get it right. You can also install the steering wheel and gear shift at this time.

I next installed the Radio and trim piece. You will need to use a good amount of pressure to get the trim piece past the Dash Cap but not too much, you don’t want to break it. With the radio in place go ahead and install the large trim piece into the passenger side area of dash.

The last area to address is the glove box door. You will need to trim the door down quite a bit to get a good fit. Go slow and take off small amounts at a time. I used a wood rasp and orbital power sander with medium paper to get this done. When the door fits the opening perfectly, touch up door and allow paint to dry. You will probably find it necessary to shim the door out at the hinge and latch for a flush fit.

Well that’s it. Was it worth it? Hell Yea! What was a cracked and faded dash is now beautiful! Sure if you look closely you can see that it’s not the original dash pad but you’ll need to get real close. As I sit in the car driving I can’t tell.

Next up: The El Camino gets Ceramic Coated Headers, Flow Masters & 2 ½” Dual Exhaust!
 

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VinnyD... This one of the best how-to posts I've ever seen in a car forum. Items included:
  • Where to order
  • Prices
  • Extra materials and tools needed
  • Brand names
  • What works, what doesn't
  • Pictures
  • Time needed
  • What can go wrong
  • Appearance after a long time has elapsed
 

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This is an old article so I wouldn't pay attention to prices and vendor info.
But it is a good reference and gives you an idea of what to do.
I found it online several years ago and held onto it. This dash cap question always comes up every once in a while.
Replacement dashes are very expensive and hard to find.
 

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87 Caballero Amarillo, stock 305/200R4/QJ
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Wish whomever did the pad in my Cabby had had such detailed and thoughtful directions, dude didn't do it right and the fit is terrible, plenty of royal blue shining out from under the edges of the black pad.

Patience is seriously a virtue, and attention to detail a must, because you Will see the imperfections if you do a half-ssed job.
 

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I have had a cap on mine for overs 15 years now with no problems. Just make sure you glue it down well.
 

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I used the 3M weatherstrip adhesive.
In the video they said it was better than the silicone. I also used a heat gun lightly. I was in an unheated garage. I would think warm weather and in the sun would be all you need. Lots of clamps!
Tom
 

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I believe the ones that I've used are Coverlay, which I have in my El Camino and in my Monte Carlos. I did like Hat Trick with the 3M and heat gun. Mine all worked great!
 

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Has anyone had luck with these dash pad covers? I currently have an old school black carpet cover on my Camel tan cracked dash and I've never been happy with it. I see now they make pad covers with stock colors like my camel tan. What do you recommend? Would the color match or would I have to paint it? Also I've seen that some guys have to take a razor blade to fit it good. This is the link that seemed to have my color in stock without having to paint it. 1978-1980 El Camino Molded Dash Pad Outer Shell, Full Cover, With Center Speaker Cut-Out, Assorted Colors

Current old black pad. Yuck!
View attachment 144329
Has anyone had luck with these dash pad covers? I currently have an old school black carpet cover on my Camel tan cracked dash and I've never been happy with it. I see now they make pad covers with stock colors like my camel tan. What do you recommend? Would the color match or would I have to paint it? Also I've seen that some guys have to take a razor blade to fit it good. This is the link that seemed to have my color in stock without having to paint it. 1978-1980 El Camino Molded Dash Pad Outer Shell, Full Cover, With Center Speaker Cut-Out, Assorted Colors

Current old black pad. Yuck!
View attachment 144329
I bought my dash pad from mikesmonte.com Painted it to match my interior and I am happy with the results.
 

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The amount of time it takes depends on whether or not you have full control of your kitchen.
It can be particular messy as you should really trim down the edges.
Here are two of Robert (HkdUp87) images from his thread.
Office equipment Bumper Gas Drawer Machine


Using tools to trim the edges on the old dash to fit.
Furniture Hood Automotive tire Motor vehicle Automotive lighting
 
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