Brightening Mustang Gauges Up With Drake Muscle Cars' LED Bulb Conversion

10 min read

Brightening Mustang Gauges Up With Drake Muscle Cars' LED Bulb Conversion

10 min read

Gauge lights are underrated...right up until you realize that you can't see a thing except for maybe the faintest glow possible that might show you a gauge needle. Is the engine hot? How much fuel is left? If you are finding that the answer to those questions won't be found until you find the flashlight or your phone, then it's time to do something about the lighting of your gauges. For some, it's a purely aesthetic move that makes time behind the wheel all the more enjoyable.

This 1980 Ford Mustang is a one-family car that has been kept fairly well over it's lifetime. But one part of the car has been problematic - the gauge lights have been little more than a very faint olive-green glow, with only the fuel gauge being anywhere near readable at a quick glance. On the car's last road-trip out of state, this caused problems when the engine's thermostat stuck while making our way to a show. We didn't know what was going on until we came to a stop light and the radiator started venting out, leaving us cooling our heels at four in the morning. That's unacceptable, especially for a car that is destined to get a freshly-built engine soon. So the decision was made to upgrade the gauge lights. Instead of putting in brand-new 194 light bulbs and calling it a day, we decided to use a Drake Muscle Cars 1979-1993 Mustang LED gauge light conversion kit. We chose white bulbs because we didn't want to change or alter the Mustang's neat aqua blue gauge color. With only a Philips screwdriver, we were able to make the conversion in about two hours...and that included taking off the dash "cap", which isn't entirely necessary, and a few minutes fighting the stubborn speedometer cable. Follow along as we show you what is involved!

Find More Mustang Restoration Parts At Scott Drake!

Your Mustang deserves great restoration parts, and Scott Drake is ready to supply you with items such as interior parts, weatherstrip, replacement body panels and more. Click the image to the left to learn more.
Drake LED before shot

Doesn't look too bad, right? Think again. This is a five-second exposure photograph, which is what it took to show any kind of gauge lighting in this car. Regular photos didn't even show the lights. It's well beyond time to brighten up the behind-the-wheel view in this four-eye Fox.

Drake LED dash disassembly 1

The first step is simple enough: remove the face plate for the gauges by removing the screws holding it into place, all at the top of the plate. Then pull the top gently towards you while pulling the face up and out of the dash.

Drake LED gauge disassembly 2

With the plate out of the way, remove the four screws that hold the gauge pod into place (orange arrows)

Drake LED 1987-89 Cluster

Removing the cluster out of a 1987-1993 Mustang is similar in scope: the goal is to get the gauge cluster out of the car and accessible. The outer shell is removed, which requires the removal and disconnection of the left and right switch pods. Then the gauge face (right of the cluster) is removed, and finally the cluster itself, which comes out in much the same manner as the 1979-1986 unit. The only real difference is the location of the connectors, which are at each end of the cluster. Take special note of the fuel slosh chip (upper left on the cluster) not hurt that chip or you'll have a bad day.

Drake LED lens cleaning

Now is a good time to assess the health of your gauge lens as well. Years of swirl marks and dull plastic can be reversed with a new instrument panel lens (D9ZZ-10887-A for 1979-86 Mustang and Mercury Capri, E7ZZ-10887-A for 1987-89 Mustang, and F0ZZ-10887-A for 1990-93 Mustang).

More Gauge Products And Services From Classic Instruments

Whoever decided that a Ford Mustang should only come with an 85-MPH speedometer should've been smacked. Even the Mustang II had a 120-MPH unit! If you want to correct that mistake, or maybe update the look of your Mustang's cluster, check out Classic Instruments! Their in-house team can both retrofit modern technology into your cluster, or if you want to go for broke, can completely revamp your gauges! Click the image to the left to learn more.


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