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Dash Restoration Step by
step dash removal from a 1969 GTO by Jeff Klein
I purchased my 1969 Midnight Green GTO hardtop back in 1991. The dash was cracked pretty
badly on the top on the passenger side. I finally decided to fix the cracks in the dash.
I called Just Dashes out of Van Nuys, California to get a quote. They agreed to recover
my dash and re-dye my glove compartment door, ashtray door, and other miscellaneous
dash pieces all to match. The following is the entire process of dash removal from a
1969 GTO with manual transmission and air conditioning.
It is possible to remove the dash without removing the front seats, but I hate lying
on my back on the floor squeezed between the seat and the door. It was easier for me
to pull out the seats. They come out easy. Just remove three bolts and one nut from
each of the four seat legs. I have hidden speakers mounted to the front of the seats,
so I had to disconnect the wires to them too. After the seats have been disconnected,
fold the backs over and remove them.
After both seats are removed, it is now time to remove the console. There are five
bolts holding the console to the floor. Four of them are under the storage compartment
liner. Remove the storage compartment lid. It has two Phillips head screws holding the
lid to the hinge. Once the lid is out of the way, you can remove the liner. Under the
liner are four hex bolts. Remove them using a ratchet with a long extension. The fifth
bolt is at the very front of the console under the dash. For this bolt you will need a
stubby Phillips head screwdriver. The console should now be loose. It will not easily
come out with the transmission in reverse (manual). You must set the parking brake,
turn the key to run, and put it into 2nd or 4th.
Remove Main AC Duct:
See, doesn't this look like a much more comfortable position then squeezed between
the front seat and door? The next step is to remove as much as I can so that I can
reach the top bolts holding in the dash. First, remove the air conditioning main
duct. The passenger side floor interior light is bolted to the corner of the duct.
It must be removed first. You can see it hanging to the far right of the dash.
There are three or four Phillips screws holding it in. There is also one holding
on the duct that heads off to the far driver's side vent. Remove that one too.
Lower the air conditioning duct and remove from the car.
Remove Glove Compartment:
The glove compartment is removed next. Un-attach the wires that hold the door open.
Then remove the Phillips screws around the outer edge of the glove compartment liner.
I also had to disconnect my hidden radio that I installed in my glove compartment.
Pull the liner out. You will have to compress the top to clear the latch. Next
remove the screws that hold the glove compartment door.
The next step is to remove the radio. Mine still has the original functional AM/FM push
button radio. Pull the knobs being careful to capture the springs between the center
and base knobs on each side. Use a deep socket to remove the knob retaining nuts.
Disconnect the wiring harness and antenna connector from the back. Lastly, remove
the rear bolt holding up the rear of the radio. You can reach this through the glove
compartment hole. The radio should now come out. Put the knobs and rear bolt back onto
the radio. This way you will not lose them. Remove the cigarette lighter too.
Unscrewing the back does this. If you have any accessory switches on this side of
the steering wheel, remove the connector from the rear of each. The bolts that hold
the switches in are hidden under the plastic wood grained dash piece. A bolt stud near
the steering column holds this piece in. It is difficult to reach until the steering
column is dropped later.
Remove Headlight Switch:
Next I remove the items on the left side of the steering column. I have hideaway headlights
so it is difficult to just remove the wire and vacuum hose connections from the rear of the
headlight switch. I found it easier to just remove the headlight switch and push it out of the way. Pull off the
knob. Then use two screwdrivers to turn off the retaining collar. Pull off the connector for
the wiper switch as well. As you can tell from my
watch, it was 10:20pm. I do a lot of work out in the garage later at night after the kids
go to bed.
Remove Left Wood Grain Dash Panel:
In my GTO the headlight switch was about the only thing holding on the plastic wood-grained dash accent
piece. There are supposed to be two studs coming out of the rear of this panel next to the wiper
switch. These studs not only hold in the dash piece, they also hold in the wiper switch. If you still have
these studs, wait until after the dash is out of the car to remove this dash panel.
Remove Steering Column Access Panel:
Now we have to get the steering column out of the way. It is bolted to the dash. To access
the bolts, you have to remove the little access panel under the steering column. Just remove
the two Phillips head screws. The two holes next to my screwdriver are for an add-on gauge
that I removed when I first purchased the car. See the Phillips head bolt off to the left
near the parking brake release. You'll want to remove that one too. It holds the buzzer
whose wire will mess you up when you try to remove the dash with it still connected.
Remove Steering Column Nuts:
Next remove the two nuts on each side of the steering column. This will drop the steering
column. The hoses to the left are from the rear of the light switch that I pushed back
into the dash. The red and black wires tied off to the steering column are for my add-on
temperature gauge and hidden radio.
Lower Steering Column:
The steering column is now loose. I put it on a bucket. I also put a towel on the column to keep
from scratching the paint when pulling the dash. I put back the two nuts that held the steering
column back onto their studs. I didn't want to lose them.
Remove Speedometer Cable:
Now that the steering column is out of the way, you can reach the speedometer cable. Reach
up behind the center instrument pod and depress a tab on the speedometer and push the cable
back. The tab is at the base of the speedometer which is the silver cylinder just to the
left and behind the cable I am holding. The black piece is an instrument gauge lamp.
Remove Dash Retainer Set 1:
Now we begin to remove the four sets of dash fasteners. The first set is three Phillips head
screws that are found one in each of the three gauge pods. Use your stubby screwdriver to
get them out. I don't know about you, but I've always wondered what these holes were for.
I had to examine the GM Maintenance Manual to figure out where these are. Save these
screws in a zip lock bag for later.
Remove Dash Retainer Set 2:
The second set of fasteners holding the dash in place can be reached through the glove
compartment opening. There are three studs pointing down on the transition between the
dash pad and the rear dash ledge. Two of them hold wire loops as shown in the picture.
You can see one of the other three behind it. You can get a better idea of where these
studs are by looking at this shot of the dash removed from the car. Remove these nuts
and place them in the zip lock with the other dash screws. Hey, you can also see my
creative wooden bracket that holds a replacement speaker for the stock radio.
Remove Dash Retainer Set 3:
The third set of dash fasteners is at the ends of the dash underneath. Remove the bolts with
a ratchet and put them into the zip lock bag. The picture is of the passenger side. When you
remove the driver's side, remove the interior door lamp too.
Remove Dash Retainer Set 4:
The last of the four dash fasteners are at the steering column again. There are two more bolts
that connect the dash to the steering column bracket. Once removed, put back the rag covering
the steering column.
The dash is finally ready to be pulled out a bit. Pull it straight out toward the backseat.
Do not pull it too far out, there are still a few items to disconnect. In this shot you can
see the cracks in my dash. The cracks are only on the passenger topside. This GTO spent
most of its early years up till 1989 in Texas.
Remove Main Electrical Harness Retainers:
Before removing the dash the rest of the way, you have to remove connections to the instruments.
This shot shows the two bolts that hold the main wire harness to the top of the instrument cluster.
I wound up breaking the plastic on the second one to the right before removing it.
Remove Ventilation Controls:
It is now easy to remove the center air conditioning vent and ventilation controls. The air
conditioning vent has two nuts. Check out this shot of the back of the dash to get a better
idea of where these fasteners are. Pull it out of the car when loose. The ventilation control
has four nuts to the front of the dash and one screw to the bottom of the dash. Push it back
under the dash when loose. In the picture, I am taking off one of the nuts on the center
air conditioning vent. You can see one of the nuts for the ventilation control below it.
Remove Instrument Lamps:
Remove the two lamps from the back of the clock. Here I am removing the top one. Remove them
by firmly pulling straight toward the engine. Next remove the power wire to the clock, seen
with the blue shield. Remove the lamp at the top of the speedometer. This one takes a quarter
turn to remove. Check out this view of the rear of the instrument cluster with these locations
highlighted. There is a fiber-optic cable on the socket of this lamp going to the ashtray.
Untangle it from the ventilation controls. Lastly, remove the main wire harness connector
from behind the first instrument pod.
Remove Dash from Goat:
Finally, the dash is ready to be taken out of the car.
View of the Rear of the Dash:
Here is a view of all the mounting locations behind the dash from a much better view. I
show the two studs that hold the center air vent for an AC equipped goat. There are four
studs in the dash that hold the climate controls. I've labeled the fiber optic cable that
connects the instrument panel lamp to the ashtray. Lastly, I marked all four retainer sets
that hold the dash in. Set one are three screws which are one on each instrument pod. Set
two are three studs over the glove compartment. Set three are two bolts, one in each lower
corner. Set four are two bolts next to the steering column.
View of the Lamps in the Instrument Cluster:
Have you ever wondered which lamp to replace when you have one burnt out? Here is a view of
the backside of the instrument cluster. This instrument cluster has the non-Rally gauges in
the first pod (to the right in the picture). In the third pod (to the left in this picture)
is the optional Rally clock. The lamps on the third pod (clock) are removed by firmly
pulling them straight out. The lamps on the first and middle pods are removed with a little
turn to the left (like loosening a screw).
Pull the ashtray out so that the ashtray slides can be removed. Then remove the fiber
optic instrument cluster lamp. Two screws hold in the metal dash colored trim over the
ashtray. It is made of metal so that hot ashes do not burn the soft dash material when
placed in the ashtray. You can see that mine is discolored from some past smoker. When
the metal trim is removed, the third screw on this end is visible. A fourth screw is
in the back holding a bracket to the bottom edge of the dash.
Remove Wiper, Wood Grain Trim, and Loosen Instruments:
There are two nuts holding in the wiper switch. These nuts also hold the smaller wood grain dash
panel. You also have to remove an instrument pad
nut (#5 in the picture) to remove the switch and panel. There is one nut holding in the wood grain
trim piece around the radio. There are two nuts held with black electrical tape that are
hung over little holes in the dash to hold the steering column access panel. Remove this
tape and attached nuts. Lastly, remove the remaining four nuts holding in the instrument
Remove Instrument Cluster:
Carefully pull the instrument cluster from the dash. While it is out you may want to replace
any blown lamps, polish the plastic lenses, and get a quartz movement for the broken clock.
Remove Vent Pipes & Vents:
There are four nuts holding each of the vent pipes at the ends of the dash. Once they
are removed, the vent deflector can be removed along with their trim plates.
Remove Remaining Items:
Remove the bracket for the glove compartment latch. Remove the two trim pieces around
the center air conditioning vent and climate controls. Be careful not to break them.
Scan the dash for other items that still need to be removed and remove them.
Ready to Ship:
Here are all the dash pieces I sent to Just Dashes; dash, steering column access panel,
ashtray, metal ashtray dash protector trim, and the glove compartment door. This thing
is huge and I didn't want to find a box myself so I took the parts to a "Pack n Mail"
company who packaged it and mailed it for me. The dash only weighs about 14 pounds,
but it was too long for US mail. I sent it UPS oversize.
Send out other Components too:
While waiting for my dash to return, I ran into Performance Restorations at the 2006 GTOAA
Nationals. They showed me some of the air conditioning vents they had restored. I contacted them
and sent these to them.
(As the GM Maintenance Manuals state) Installation is reverse of removal. Just kidding. I
will post a few more shots and instructions when I get the dash back and attempt to install it.
Unpack and Examine:
I finally got my dash back in the mail. I am very happy with the way it looks. The four extra
dash pieces I sent along also look great and match perfectly. Iím a bit unhappy about the
delivery time. They quoted me 8 weeks the first time then 12 weeks when I sent it in. It took
17 weeks after a bunch of phone calls.
A bit of Trimming:
The only thing I had to do was a little trimming around the air conditioning vents. The vents
snap onto the metal back part of the dash. I just trimmed the dash material flush with this
metal around the openings so the vents snap in securely. I was worried that the dash would
not be formed correctly around the vents and I would have to cut more material, but they fit
great. Just Dashes must have a very accurate form which they create the dash from.
Re-chromed AC Vents:
The air conditioning vents are back from Performance Restorations. They took the adjustable
vents apart (drilling out the pop rivets) and sent the housings out for plastic chroming. Once
back, they painted the inside of the housings and louvers flat black. The center vent was easier,
they just sent it out for new chrome. The vents look great. I'm glad I wasn't in a hurry. It was
suppose to take 4 weeks, but wound up taking 12 weeks!
More Pictures when I get my dash back in.
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Here's a comment from a recent visitor...
Says Jeffrey N. Meyer (Jefflerna.@ucd.net) - "I'm out here in the middle of the Pacific on the Island of Guam. I'm a GTO/Pontiac fan! Ever since my Dad owned a Green '68 GTO when I was young. There are 2 GTO's on this Island of 150 thousand people, I've seen or heard of a black '69 convertible, and heard of a (story) of a '64 stashed away somewhere. So maybe if I get rich someday (hee,hee) or if I go back to the states. I'll certainly buy a '68 or a '69 GTO!"