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Mechanical vs. Electrical Gauges

One of the first decisions Classic Instruments™ made as a new company in 1977 was whether to continue the time-honored tradition of building mechanical gauge movements or step forward into the world of electronics.

Classic Instruments™ made that decision by determining to utilize the very latest technology in computer chips, servo motors, solenoids, remote sensors, and all the other components that are common-place today!

To make that decision was difficult in one respect. How do we convince generations of hot rodders and car-builders that electronics were the way to go? The first challenge to unravel was--just how did mechanical gauges get the reputation for accuracy and durability that they enjoyed?

We quickly found that...


1) Mechanicals had been the "only game in town" for decades, and . . .

2) Mechanicals were used by the competitive race car drivers and owners, and . . .

3) The perception was that mechanical gauges were more accurate than electrical instruments! This translated, at least for Classic, that "Yes-mechanicals had been the only game it town", and "Yes-they were being used by the best race drivers out there", and "Yes-they did appear to be more accurate than the electrical instruments that were available!"

"The only game in town" was true until the technology and know-how in remote electrical sensing became available and affordable, as it did in the 1970's!

"The race drivers and mechanics all used mechanicals." This is another true statement because quality electricals were not yet available, and because most race cars didn't even carry a battery. Remember the over-sized external rotary starters the pit-crews used to shove into the noses of the cars to get them started--and the magnetoes that were used instead of a "battery-powered" ignition system!

"Yes, mechanicals did appear to be more accurate," another true statement at the time! Since the mid 1970's, gains in electronic technology, component costs, and assembly methods have made electronic instruments available at a reasonable price and with an accuracy and reliability that rivals even the most expensive mechanical units.

Classic was the only choice when we decided to produce our own gauge design series. Their intense commitment to quality and innovative designs keep them ahead of everyone else.

- Boyd Coddington

Having seen almost every instrument out there, I would recommend that anyone wanting gauges to complement their own car check Classic Instruments. I chose Classic to give my own street rod the right finishing touch.

- Tom Gale

Instruments are as important to us as any other part of the car and we only use the best quality products available! Classic fits our requirements every time. And, the choice of design options is a bonus for us and our customers.

- Barry Lobeck

No matter what design direction we take on a car, I insist on using Classic Instruments. The hand made retro-fit `40 Ford gauge panel they built for the Poteet `32 five window is the perfect complement to our vision for the car.

- Dave Lane

From our 200 MPH Vintage Air Studebaker to the over 200,000 miles we have put on our old `39 Ford Sedan, the Classic Instruments have stood the test of relentless use and some serious speed.

- Jack Chisenhall

Classic has always been the trend setter for street rod and custom car instruments. We have been a Classic dealer since the `70s and know their passion for style, quality and innovation is equal to our own.

- Ken "Posie" Fenical

Classic did an amazing job retrofitting the instrument cluster for our `50 Woodie project. We chose Classic because of their reputation for quality, accuracy and reliability.

- Rick Love

Classic Instruments offers me the flexibility and creative avenue to add that complimenting custom touch in quality instrumentation to our complex rods and customs. Their products and services are second to none.

- Steve Frisbie