Custom Everything – Even Custom Gauges – Wins a Ridler

Custom Car Gauges by Classic Instrument Motor Through Detroit

Recognize this car?

2012 Ridler Award Winner, Ridler Winner, 1955 Ford Thunderbird

This is the Peace family’s 1955 Ford Thunderbird that won the 2012 Ridler Award. If there’s one word to describe it, it’s CUSTOM. You could also say, “One-off” or even “One of a Kind”. All of those words would accurately describe the cars found in the “Great 8” contending for the Ridler. They’re all amazing- amazingly custom, all the way down to their custom gauges.

Rules for winning the Ridler read fairly simple: The cars should show: Creativity, Engineering and Workmanship. One of the accepted, maybe expected, ways to show creativity and workmanship is with one of a kind parts, like custom gauges. That’s why SEVEN of the “Great 8” cars from Detroit chose Classic Instruments.

Here’s where the Peace’s 55 T’Bird started and how it all ended up:

custom car gauges, custom guages, custom tachometer
Johnathan Peace is an Art Center student, so every part of this 55 was carefully planned, then perfected… then covered in gleaming red paint, leather or chrome! Keeping things simple, the Thunderbird now runs a single gauge, a custom tach. When finished, here’s how it looked:

custom tachometer, custom guages, classic instrumentscustom tachometer, custom gauges, classic instruments

custom car gauges, classic instruments, custom guages

If one of the “Great 8” chose Classic Instruments for their custom designed and fabricated gauges, that’d be respectable, but SEVEN! That’s domination!

Checking on the Classic Instruments website:, there’s a page for custom gauges and retrofit gauges. (I’ll be pushing Classic Instruments to walk us through a retrofit project… They have several gauge clusters in original, somewhat rough condition waiting to get new, electronic gauges to keep the classic look but with modern reliability.) So go to the Custom Gauges Page, then see some custom gauge examples, then fill out a detailed request form and you’re on your way to a one-of-a-kind setup for your ride. If you’ve got questions, an 800 number’s got an experienced tech to support.

So who else used Classic Instruments for their gauges? The 1932 Ford coupe called “XS Cash”.

1932 ford hot rod, hot rod 32 coupe, deuce coupe

I heard the owner talking at the show… he said the gauges use unique 100 dollar bills for each of the gauges. What? Yea!! Check this out:

custom gauges, hot rod gauges, classic instruments
Individual serial numbers… now that’s creativity! (not to mention XS Cash!) Here’s the rest of the gauges: (Click to see larger image)

custom car gauges, custom guages, custom gauge podCustom Speedometer, Custom tachometer, custom car gauges

Another Great 8 ride with Classic Instrument gauges was the 1955 Chevy called ZL-55. (you can guess what kind of engine it had)

1955 Chevy, custom 1955 chevy, custom car gauges

And here’s the gauges inside.

Gauge panel , custom 1955 chevy gauges, custom gauges

What do you think?

So what have we learned? First off, the Ridler cars are crazy custom, right down to their custom gauges. Got it. Then 4 of 8 chose Classic Instruments. Sounds like a safe bet… For inspiration, here’s a few more custom gauge sets. I’ll need help identifying what cars they went in… is your car shown here?

This one’s my favorite! The picture was titled, “Rad Rides” so that puts it on a short list…
Custom car gauges, custom gauges, hot rod gauges

custom car gauges, custom gauges, custom mustang gauge panelcustom car gauges, hot rod gauges

Let me know (with a comment below) if this pushed you over the edge of, “Do I make custom gauges or go off-the-shelf?” Either way, make it your way and you’ll have, “My Ride is Me”.

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