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Thread: Z8 gauges

  1. #1
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    Z8 gauges

    While the Z8 was universally praised upon its introduction, one part of its design proved quite controversial: the tach and speedometer located in the center of the dash instead of the more traditional placement in front of the driver. While I love the symmetry of the centrally placed instrument binnacle, I have grown up watching the tach while driving in a spirited manner and find the view of the tach in the Z8 too far off line to be practical. I understand that the designers of the Z8 wanted to provide an unobstructed view while driving, and it is possible to monitor the engine's performance by "ear", but I prefer to have the option of monitoring the tach. Its far right placement makes it virtually superfluous. If you would prefer to have your tach closer to your line of site, please know that the 2 gauges can be swapped while retaining an unmolested "factory" appearance. The procedure is a bit tricky and not for the timid, but it is reversible if you want to return to the stock layout. I have done this on my Z8 and now find that watching the tach is much easier.

    What I did was swap the positions of the tach and the speedo so now the tach is closer to my line of sight. This required removal of the instrument housing, unplugging and rerouting (minor) the wiring harness, swapping the tach and speedo, then reinstalling everything. The mounting tabs for the tach and speedo are not the same so the swap required creating new mounting points on the back side of the dash for both instruments, but this was not that difficult. You also must insure that the tach and speedo are properly aligned to match the angle of the fuel gauge and temp gauge. When finished, it looks like it came that way from the factory. One more thing: when you reconnect the wiring harness, you will end up with the airbag warning symbol coming on and staying on. Apparently the airbag system interprets the disconnection as a problem in the system. Your dealer can reset this for you.

    While unusual, the Z8's gauge layout is not unique. Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful Ferraris ever built, the 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso is also one of the most desireable to drive. Interestingly enough, its gauge layout is similiar to that of the Z8, with the large speedometer and tach placed to the right of the driver towards the middle of the dash. I'm told styling was once again the motivating factor in this choice however Ferrari chose to put the tach closest to the driver and the speedo to its right. The Z8's layout is made possible because the rev limiter will preclude engine damage from over-revving while accelerating (the Ferrari did not enjoy this protection) and for most street driving in our crowded modern world, knowing your speed may be more valuable information than engine revs. Do remember that the rev limiter in the Z8 cannot protect the engine from over-revving when you are downshifting since its mechanical link to the transmission gears will force the rpms to rise even when the limiter is activated. This type of downshift, usually the result of skipping a couple of gears by mistake, can be very expensive! Quickly depressing the clutch pedal is the best way to try to save your engine from going ballistic.
    Grease Monkey


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    GregJ
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    Re: Z8 gauges

    I totally understand your wanting to position the tach into a better line of sight. The '56 Jaguar D-Type I have took the issue one step further. The factory race team decided that they did not want the driver to be distracted by looking at a speedo so they installed on the dash only a tach just left of the steering column (right-hand drive). The only other guages deemed necessary were coolant temp. and oil temp and pressure. The only problem with the set-up is knowing how fast you are going at any particulr RPM and gear. For that I keepo a portable GPS just below the tach to keep red lights from poping up behind me.

    GregJ

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    Re: Z8 gauges

    Wow, a D-Type! What a glorious machine! I have pictures of one owned by Bruce Meyer and it has a 180 MPH speedo mounted on the dash just to the left of the steering wheel with an 8000 RPM tach further to the left and 2 smaller gauges (coolant temp and oil temp/pressure) to the right of the steering wheel. I assume there were lots of variations on these cars since they were built for competition but at least one had both gauges. Congratulations on owning such an icon.Grease Monkey

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    Re: Z8 gauges

    GM,

    Can you give some general information on how to get the entire instrument housing up? Is the housing clipped into place or screwed?

    I am pretty comfortable about removing panels and such but don't want to attempt prying off the instrument housing and possibly damaging it without have at least some basic information on how it is secured on there.

    dpz8

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    GregJ
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    Re: Z8 gauges

    Hi GM,

    The D-Types were pretty straight forward on equipment as there were only about 50+ of them. I am very familiar with Bruce's former car as it is now owned by Denis Varney and was on the C&D Type tour we took last month(The car is running fine and Denis makes sure the plugs are kept very clean).

    The shortnose cars were all configured as you saw in Bruce's/Denis' car. The longnose cars (just 10 were built) were all configured with the tach only arrangement. The longnose cars were strictly works race cars and built in '55 and '56. Just a little Jag lore.

    I am enjoying your Z8 input and love for the car.

    GregJ

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    Re: Z8 gauges

    To remove the instrument cluster, begin by disconnecting the battery. Next you will pry out the two dash panels on either side of the instrument cluster. BMW makes a special tool for this procedure but it's really just a plastic screwdriver/spatula-like tool. If you check with an automotive parts store that caters to body shops, they should have an assortment of similiar tools which are used for interior panel removal. You can also try one of those thin plastic scraper/spreaders available at most hardware stores. Using some sort of plastic (non-marring) pry tool (the wider the better), you just gently lift one end of the panel until it pops out. Putting some tape on the edge of the adjacent panel will help prevent scratches. The left panel can just be set aside after you disconnect the wiring pigtail. The right panel is the cover for the passenger airbag and once it is pryed up, there are a couple of screws which must be removed before the panel can be set aside. Be very careful when working around the airbag so that you don't damage it in any way. With both side panels removed, you can unscrew the instrument cluster to gain access to its rear side. You will need to disconnect the wiring harness to remove the panel entirely and you will need to re-route some of the wires slightly to facilitate re-attachment in the new locations. The technique I used for mounting the speedo and tach in their new locations was to find the correct orientation so that they match the angle of the smaller gauges then drill tiny pilot holes through the existing mounting tabs into the rim of the housing. This will allow you to fasten them in place with very small screws. Let me know if you need more information. Grease Monkey

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    Caution

    A word of caution- when my dealer had to remove the instrument panel for a repair, they let the right dashboard panel with the passenger airbag hang without removing it. The pressure dented the backing of the leather requiring the services of a leather restoration specialist. It cost me a few grey hairs and some stomach lining.

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    Re: Caution

    GM/KenZ8,

    Just the info I needed. If things go as i hope i will post pics.

    Thanks,

    dpz8

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