68 XR7 interior refresh Part - 2

I have been dying to rip out my old dash pad so dove into pulling our the dash front, cluster, and pad this weekend. While under there I got a better view of the rust and other areas that need help. I pulled the glove box , air ducts, radio etc. to clear the path to do some work. I am wonder if I should tackle the heater core and box but not sure I have any issues with it. I don’t have a/c so it should not be to difficult to pull out but not sure what to disconnect in the engine bay area? Is it worth doing now while in there even though it may be fine or is it a given that since it has sat so long it will have issues?
Also, I watched WCCC video on removing the dash and how to prep the panels to get the edges and dash areas rechromed but was not happy to find out they don’t have the wood grain decals or do the re-chroming any more. Does anyone have a good contact for that? And where to find the wood grain decals for the XR7? Has anyone had any luck with using a chrome type paint on this area? Just not sure on my options here. This is not going to be a show car but I like to get details done as much as possible within my budget. :sunglasses:


If you’re looking for correct wood grain decals there are none. Critter Creek Cougars will vacuum plate the bezels for you, but he’s extremely expensive IMO. I have a place bookmarked on my office computer that seemed reasonable, but I haven’t used them so I can’t vouch for the work. If you like I’ll get you the website address. I’ve heard of guys using paint and being satisfied with it, but I personally would not do it if you’re going for original.

There have been several threads on here where people have used other methods to “restore” the chrome on their dash bezels. Some used paint, some found other products. Do a search and those threads should come up.

Since you are taking things apart I would recommend removing the heater box as well. A new heater core and a heater box seal kit will only be about $50 so it is not expensive. Plus this way you can clean out the box. Leaves get in it through the cowl and it is not unusual to find critters nests and/or bees nests in there as well. Removing it will also give you a chance to test the blower motor and to lube all the moving parts.

Randy Goodling
CCOA #95

Al,Thank you for your reply. I am not 100% on staying with the wood grain now that I know they are not as available as I thought. But if I do decide to stay original I will IM you.
Are there any photos on here that someone used paint or another alternative? (ie: leather grain),


Randy, thanks, I will try that search sugestion. Also I am inclined to agree with you on the heater box.


You will find several threads on here where people swapped out the woodgrain for something different. Some used paint, some used vinyl. I seem to recall one that had a carbon fiber look.

Randy Goodling
CCOA #95

Google dash woodgraining for early 40’s and 50’s cars- there are guys out there that use a paint process that really looks like real wood. One guy who does this shows up at the Iola Old Car show here in Wisconsin every year and his samples look amazing. The finish is smooth and glossy, unlike the original vinyl so it wouldn’t be “correct” but it would look so good no one would care.

Here is an example: http://classicautoservices.com/wood%20graining.htm

Don’t give up just yet on the vinyl woodgrain overlays. WCCC is working on a better pattern that is actually based on the original stuff. Not sure when they’ll be available for purchase, but we have samples in hand and it looks very good. Here’s a sneak peek:

Knowing him I would suspect that he doesn’t actually do the plating in-house, he likely sends them to a vacuum plating shop and then upcharges the customer for it.

I got a quote from Vacuum Orna-Metal and they were reasonable (compared to some), around $400 to do the two big pieces (strip, plate, and do black detail paint) and about 5 weeks turnaround. I’m actually tempted to send in a set and have that done, because I think the results would be much better than the blemished spray chrome pieces I got.

wow those new patterns for the XR7 dash overlays are looking great. I almost had a local vinyl wrap place here in town scan some of my dash pieces since they are in un-faded condition as well since I have other dash pieces sitting in my garage.

Thanks Andrew, that’s the place I was thinking of. If it matters to you, I’ll be biting the bullet and sending them a set in the near future. I’ll play the role of guinea pig. Unless someone else here has already tried them.

Hard to say from your picture how close it really is, but that looks a lot better than the burl pattern you guys were offering.

Cool, definitely post with your results! They should be nice. I talked to them and they use an automotive clear coat over the plating, so they should hold up well. I remember hearing that was one of the issues with vacuum plating, that it was too easy to scratch or flake off. I got the impression these guys know what they’re doing though. I actually sent them a couple small pieces that I’ll be getting back soon - the '68 steering wheel center emblem and the rectangular bezel for the A/C vent in the dash.

And yes, the burl is a close match for 69-70 XR-7 but way off for 67-8. The new pattern is a result of scanning several original pieces and creating a new seamless pattern. The only drawback I can see so far is that it doesn’t have the pressed-in texture like the other stuff, it’s just smooth.

Wow, I hope these overlays are as good in person. Is there a timeframe for the potential release Don?

I simply painted mine since a previous owner had already painted it black to begin with. I did not have much to loose trying it. I do think it came out looking pretty good but not as nice as having it chrome like it’s supposed to be. I may do something different down the road but this was free and a big improvement on what I had.

Thanks for that note. I wish whoever I spoke to would have said that. It is encouraging to hear.
I have been considering all the alternatives mentioned here. I am almost leaning to a black leather vinal film type wrap so if I want to change it or just don’t like it, it wouldn’t be hard.
I did run into an issue though today when I got my new toggle switch tips. They are too big and don’t fit correctly. Any suggestions on those?



Sounds like you have 1967 replacement knobs and are trying to install them on 1968 switches.

Royce, very astute of you that did turn out to be the issue. I have to take the blame as I thought I ordered 68 but did give the 67 part number. Junior at WCCC was great to send me out the right ones while I in turn mailed him back the wrong ones.
They look great and work great. I did break the purist protocol though on my dash refresh.
I ditched the wood grain look! I will load some photos of how my newly painted dash inserts turned out. I used a metal grey look with some texture.
I think it will give the car a newer cleaner modern look.


The “wood grain look” was only for XR7 models. That dash looks like a standard cougar. Am I looking at something different?

I tried the Spaz Stix chrome with an air brush on my passenger side dash panel. I thought it did a close enough job for a driver quality car.

That is DieselD’s painted dash, not mine for my 68 XR7.

Looks like it turned out well! Nice job. I know how hard it is painting these.