Custom Mitsubishi EVO VIII Gauge Panel

Posted: March 2, 2013 in Custom Interior Fabrication, Toby Broadfield's Work
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Recently finished up a gauge panel for my good friend Damon Young. As most of you will know, he use to own the black S13 hatch that was on the cover of Modified Magazine along with mine. However, he has moved on from that and into an EVO VIII. He needed a killer place to install his (3) 52mm Defi gauges and I hooked him up with a nice solution. I typically like to make my custom interior pieces appear to be something the OEM manufacturer would have made… but weren’t cool enough to do so. When they see it, I want people who know nothing about cars to think it came from the manufacturer that way. I want it to look so integrated that it doesn’t look like I did much… even though I spent hours and hours modifying and fabricating it. Well, Damon’s gauge panel demonstrates this philosophy.

For this write-up, I also decided to strictly use my iPhone 5 to take the progress pics. It’s WAY easier than getting out my Canon 50D, setting it up, getting it dirty etc. It worked out great and I will continue to do this for all of my progress pics on future projects… except for my S13 project of course. It receives the full treatment at all times 🙂

Damon sent me his radio/HVAC trim piece to retrofit the gauges into. The radio is getting relocated which gave me a nice spot to mount the gauges. Here is the original piece that he sent me:

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The first thing I did was increase the size of the rectangular opening. The three gauges actually sit in the OEM opening fine, but they do not flush into the opening. When possible, I like to flush gauges into the panel I’m modifying. I think it gives an overall finished look and also keeps with the OEM theme. Sure it takes a lot longer to do it, but the results are always worth the hassle in my opinion. So I enlarged the opening on the top and bottom. Next I bonded in a piece of 1/4″ ABS with some Norton Speed Grip 5 minute. As usual, I roughed up all the edges to be bonded with some 80 grit or harsher sand paper prior to bonding. I made sure the ABS had a large enough footprint to squeeze the gauges in while not cutting into any of the surrounding OEM plastic. As you will notice, I had to work within the confinements of the recessed area in the OEM panel. It would have been easier to simply fill in the entire recessed area and then flush the gauges into that, but again, it will look MUCH more OEM if I keep the recessed area intact. Here is a shot of the ABS bonded into place:

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Next I sanded all the joints, ABS and the surrounding OEM plastic in the recessed area to give a nice smooth/seamless transition from the original plastic to the new plastic. This is going to receive a smooth finish for the final paint, so it needs to be perfect:

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Using a digital caliper, I carefully centered the gauges in the proper spots:

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I then used a hole saw to get the hole sized as close as possible. Since there isn’t a hole saw that is exactly the same diameter as the outside diameter of the Defi gauge, then I had to make it small and then enlarge it with a 50 grit sanding drum on an air grinder. I then sanded the hole by hand with 80 grit:

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Test fitting the gauges… I didn’t realize the following pic was blurry when I saved it, so sorry about that. It’s unacceptable to me, but it’s the only pic I have where I show them test fit straight on:

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Showing off the flushness… Zilvia would be proud. Well, except for the lack of stretched gauge bezels:

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I scuffed the entire trim piece down with a red 3M scuff pad. I then sprayed a heavy coat of Dupli-Color Cast Iron Engine Block enamel over the entire piece. I have found in the past that this paint color, Cast Iron, is a very close match to several OEM interior trim panels:

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After that dried I wet sand it with 500 grit. I then sprayed a heavy coat again and did the process a few times to get it perfect without any defects, dust etc:

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Damon is a very smart man and supplied me with brand new HVAC stickers to apply to the finished piece… and here it is with the gauges mounted in and stickers applied:

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Comments
  1. Kurt says:

    Incredible job, as always!

  2. Damon says:

    Can’t wait to install it… awesome job man!

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