Gauge Replacement

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    Ok.  I know this is a tired subject but I’ve searched the site and can’t find what I’m looking for so I’m going to ask directly.

    Which gauge replaces the original VW speedo and tach of a 71 beetle?  If I buy a VDO gauge do I have to have some kind of converter for the mechanical cable?  If so does it come with the gauge?

    What specific models have others used?  Specifics will be very helpful.

    I’m finishing up my rewiring and have reached the point of needing the new gauges to wrap it up and I don’t know which ones to buy.

    Appreciate your help.

    Larry Murphy


      As you probably already know, the VW’s speedometer drive is off the left front wheel. The VW speedometer also runs at a different ratio as compared to most other cars which drive the speedometer off the transmission. Most mechanical speedometers made today require an adapter to correct the ratio to give accurate readings.Back when our cars were made in the 80s the manufacturers were able to find speedometers of the correct ratio for the VW but I tried to find one a while back and was told that they were no longer available.

    Edsnova recently reworked a VW speedometer with a new face and also found a matching tach. Both are larger than the speedometers and tachs seen on most TD replicas and are much like the speedo and tach on the original MG. Ed also fitted his car with a center panel from a MG and the result was really nice. All this is in Ed’s photo gallery  along with a detailed description of how he did it. Don’t know if you want to go this route or if you prefer the typical guages using the smaller gauges.
    edward ericson


    Rocky: You can try to match what you’ve got, which are likely aftermarket VDOs with mechanical movement (for the speedo) or you can go all new. To get  one that matches, look at the label on what you have and then call the mfg. VDO is here. Their Cockpit Royale style appears to be a close match for what most of our cars got originally. Looks like the new speedos read to 120 mph–not bad.

    Most new hotrod speedometers I have seen read to 140 mph, minimum.

    It is my belief that no one is making anything like what most of us have (or started with), which were those wretched 85-MPH / 120 KPH abominations that required a gear ratio adjuster to be screwed into the back of them. Mine didn’t have that and so read 1/5 LOWER than my actual speed. That is the main reason I replaced it.

    What you can get today is an electronic speedo that you can dial in.

    If I were doing a whole set of “stock replica TD” sized gauges today I’d strongly consider Dolphin Gauges. (That’s a link to their new “shark” series; here’s the link to a variety page). I saw them on a very well-presented Porsche last year and they look sharp. Reportedly work very well too, and you’re all done (tach, speedo, fuel, oil pressure, volts and, I think, temp–could be oil temp) for under $250. They’ll be about 3 3/8 and fit into the holes you have in your dash. The speedo has to be “programmed” but they make it easy enough for a duffer, supposedly.

    My car started with Classic Instruments 3 3/8 tach and speedo. They’ve got a lot of new options now too, and here’s a link to their setup instructions. If you go with new 3 3/8-inch Classics I have a “White Hot” style tach you can have for less than the going price. I got it by accident from a shifty reseller who dodged and ducked me when I went to return it.

    I ended up using a stock VW speedometer from a ’73 Beetle, set next to a 5-inch “White Hot” Classic Instruments tach.

    I covered what I did on my blog, here, and here. I also have a chrome bezel to add to the old VW speedo to match it up a bit better to the tach. I highly recommend this conversion to anyone, as the speedo is absolutely “right” for the car, includes a fuel gauge that is also correct for the car, and reads accurate to the correct (for a TD) 100 mph. The cost for a used one was under $50. It needed an “exciter” for the fuel gauge to work right and I think that was about $25 [EDIT: $50] additional. Getting an aftermarket 100 mph speedo these days is always a custom job and costs money–I believe $400 or so was the quote I got from Classic Instruments.

    I am very happy with the 5-inch tach from that maker.

    My tach and speedo absolutely do not “match” but they are both white-faced and that’s close enough for govt work. The real bomb would be to get new silver-green faces made in matching fonts for the tach, speedo and the others, and adjust the pointers so they look more alike. That’s a level of detail I’m not ready to tackle quite yet.

    PM me if you need any advice or counsel.

    edsnova2012-05-28 20:04:18




    Thats a nice set of gauges at a nice price. Thumbs Up



    VDO Speedometer black face red pointer 0-120 mph 3 3/8″ diameter on E bay $36 free shipping  If interested. It is like original speedometer with Fiberfab kit. 

       I am planning on using Opel Speedometer and Tach on my Fiberfab Replica. Gages are 5 1/4″ diameter have black face. Better readability than the 3 3/* ” Ones.
    edward ericson


    post pics of the opel stuff.

    And show & tell how you hook it up too.



    George, thanks for the lead….bought it.  It’s almost like the one that came with the car so it’ll be an easy quick hook up.  I’m not sure if I’ll use it long term but for $36 it keeps the wiring project going.


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