1971 VW Super Beetle - Padded Dashboard Installation:
Installing a padded dashboard is something that a lot of people have a hard time with. It requires test fitting, trimming, test fitting, heating and shaping, test fitting, and gluing to get right. Did we mention test fitting is required? Follow along with our tech as he covers the steps we take to install an aftermarket dashboard, then we install aftermarket gauge panels, gauges and a one complete custom speedometer mount that our tech made.
Dashboard prep: 1:03
Facia vents installation: 1:13
Dash mounted wiper switch modification: 2:20
Dashboard test fitment: 3:46
Dash vents installation: 4:38
Dashboard installation: 5:10
Glove box trim ring installation: 6:00
Glove box lid installation: 7:03
Speedometer trim ring installation: 8:10
Gauge panels installation: 8:31
Tools used in this video:
3/8” Drive Ratchet
3/8” Drive Extension
3/8” Drive 13mm Socket
1/4” Socket Driver
1/4” Drive Deep Well 10mm Socket
#2 Phillips Screwdriver
Small Phillips Screwdriver
Flat Blade Screwdriver
Short Flat Blade Screwdriver
Small Flat Blade Screwdriver
Needle Nose Pliers
Chisel & Punches
Large Socket (used as a dolly when installing dash vents)
Small Socket (used as a punch guide when installing glovebox ring rivets)
We're in the midst of reassembling our 1971 Euro Look Super Beetle and with the headliner in and the doors installed, we'll continue the restoration by installing a new padded dashboard.
Installing the dashboard isn't hard but does require test fitting, forming, and trimming to get a good fit.
Since our car is an early model 1971, which was actually made in October of 1970, we'll have some additional trimming to do for the dash-mounted wiper switch.
We start at our workbench so we can get the fascia vents installed.
Looking at the backside of the dash, we use a knife or a razor blade to carefully trim and scrape back the foam to the left and right sides of the vent, to expose the metal braces.
The braces have holes that will hold the plastic vents in place and once we locate the holes,
we use a small screwdriver to poke straight through the foam, and very carefully through the vinyl face of the dash. We flip the dash over and use the same screwdriver to press through the same holes we just made on the face of the dash, and we'll open up the holes slightly.
Now, we can press the new fascia vent through the dashboard and work the posts at either side into the foam and into the holes in the metal braces.
We trim the opening in the dash if necessary so the vent fits well.
Once both posts are in place, we use a soldering iron to melt the posts down and flatten them out to hold the vent to the dashboard.
With both vents in place, we can now test fit the dash so that we can trim the hole for the wiper switch.
This step is only required if your wiper switch is on the dash and not on the column.
We could also cut the dash for the dash grab handle as well, but we prefer the look of a cleaner dash so we'll leave the grab handle out just like VW did a few weeks after this car was made.
Once the dash was set in place, we can poke through the backside of the dash with a screwdriver,
using the wiper switch hole as a guide up to, but not through the dash face. We just want to mark the vinyl face.
Then on the face, we poke the screwdriver through the mark to give us a center point for the new hole.
We pull the dash out and at our bench, we use a piece of masking tape to make a template for our hole.
We line the top edge at the crease, cut a hole in the tape using the headlight switch hole as a guide,
and we make a mark on our radio trim crease so that we can align our template on the opposite side.
The template is pulled up and aligned over the hole we poked.
Then, using a razor blade, we score the dash using the template and remove the tape.
Very carefully [we] cut the scored mark in our vinyl dash and peel off the piece. Use a razor blade to cut through the foam and with that, we have a hole in our dash for the wiper switch. Now with our dash trimmed and ready to install, we clean the mold release off the backside of the dash with some acetone so that spray adhesive will stick better.
Then, we temporarily install the dashboard and attach it to the top with two screws.
We also install the screws along the bottom side underneath the glove box opening.
We do all this so that we can heat up the dashboard at the glove box opening and form it to the metal there.
This often-overlooked step is very important to get a good fit for the glove box trim ring and the glove box lid.
Once the lower edge has been heated up, we form it to the metal and we hold it in place firmly while the material cools.
Once it has, we use a piece of masking tape to hold it in place and we use the same method at the top and the sides of the glove box opening.
While the dash is cooling, we get our center, left, and right dash vents and ducts mocked up and ready.
Then, we pull off the dash and set the left duct in place lining it up with the face vent first then popping in the dash vent to hold it in place. The installation is the same at the right side. Then, we snap the center dash vent into place and snap the ductwork in place underneath it.
Now we'll tape off the dash, the vent, and the areas around the glove box opening and we note the holes for the grab handle if you were to choose to cut the dash to install one.
We apply spray glue to the dash metal and to the back of the dashboard opening, around the glove box opening. Then, once the glue is tacked up, we can install the dashboard.
The two screws at either side of the center dash vent,
the two nuts along with the spacers and the washers at the back corners of the trunk, and the seven screws across the bottom of the dash, hold the dashboard to the body. We use our heat gun once again to further form the dash and open up the cutouts, at the left and the right sides, for the glove box hinges.
At our bench, we install the glove box stops into the glove box trim ring then set it in place at the dash opening.
A small punch or screwdriver is used to make sure the trim ring holes line up with the dash, then we install the seven rivets to hold the ring in place. There are four small plastic rivets that install at the top and the sides.
First, we break off the post, we insert the post into the head of the rivet,
and then we push the rivet into place through the trim ring, the vinyl, and the metal dash.
Finally, we push the plastic post into the rivet.
Using a small socket as a press and a guide, and a punch to push the post helps.
The larger pins at the bottom are installed in a similar way while using a socket to press the rivet down, but there is no room for a punch.
We pull the socket out and use a brass hammer to tap the post in since our rubber mallet has grown legs.
Next, we can install a new glove box latch into our glove box lid.
After unthreading the latch nut and pressing down the latch to remove it, the latch can be installed into the lid. The latch is pressed down again, and the nut is threaded down, and the nut is tightened to hold it in place to the glove box lid.
Before we install the lid to the dash,
we notice that the lip on the dash where the latch catches has been flattened which is probably why the previous owner had used a screw to hold the lid in place. We use a screwdriver to pry back the metal and then a pair of pliers are used to flatten and reshape the metal.
The glove box lid is set in place over the hinges, a punch helps align the screw holes,
all the screws are threaded in, the lid is shut which takes some force with our new glove box stops,
the glove box is lined up with the dash face opening, and the screws in the backside are tightened.
Now we'll get to work on the driver's side of the dash where we will install some aftermarket gauge panels after we install a new speedometer trim ring.
Note that the trim ring is not symmetrical so after test fitting it to verify the alignment, we heat the dashboard around the speedometer and insert the trim ring into the dash. An easy point of reference is that the two tabs at the left and right will be under the speedometer mounting screws on the backside of the dash.
Next, we'll install the gauge panels which will install just like the original panels would.
We use a small flat blade screwdriver to punch through the dash for the panel tabs.
We use a heat gun as needed to further shape the dash for the panels.
Once the panels are in place, the tabs on the backside are bent over or twisted to secure the panels to the dash.
We mount all of our gauges in the panels after cutting the dash material and once we have the gauges on the left and right installed, we install an aftermarket speedometer and a custom gauge adapter, that I came up with, that also holds five indicator lights. We wrap up by setting the [dash] switch bezel in place, installing the ashtray, and bolting the steering column back to the bottom side of the dash.
With that, we can set our Volante steering wheel in place on the column, and we're done with this video.
Unfortunately, VDO is discontinuing gauges regularly so some of the gauges we installed are no longer available.
In fact, we got lucky and found the tachometer on an online forum as we couldn't locate it new anywhere.
Wiring up the gauges is something that will carry over to most aftermarket gauges. That portion, along with some other wiring in the car, is what we plan on covering next.
Thanks for watching!
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