Dakota Digital’s Retro Series Gauges For First Gen C/K Series Trucks

We were fortunate enough to get one of the first Dakota Digital RTX gauge panels for the 1960-1963 Chevy C-series trucks. We left the protective plastic covering on the lens to prevent any damage. You’ll have to come back and read the installation article to see the dash panel in its full glory.

If you are the proud owner of a first-generation Chevy C/K series truck from the first three years (1960-1962), then you already know there is a dearth of aftermarket parts for your truck. Considered the orphan of the C-Series trucks, these models featured torsion bar front suspensions with trailing arm rear suspension. Many owners choose to change their suspensions and body panels to the 1965-and-later parts simply for availability. Those of us too stubborn to change, just make do with what is on the market, or what we already have.

When a manufacturer comes out with a new product for our much overlooked series of truck, it gives us a cause to celebrate. In the case of Dakota Digital’s new RTX series gauges for the first generation C-series trucks, it is much more than just a new product release. It is exactly what we have been asking for.

Our stock dash set looked alright, but there was hazing in the lens with a crack on the lower right side. The needles were faded and numbers were worn off of the odometer. For a 59-year-old part, it wasn’t bad, but we could do better.

Digital Or Analog?

Let’s get right to the heart of the matter. There is a stigma attached to the word “digital” when it comes to automotive gauges. Most of the “seasoned” generation of hot rodders hear digital gauges and immediately think of the early-1980s Toyota displays.

Not exactly what you want in your vintage car or truck in most cases. If the motif and theme suits those gauges, we understand. But in the case of our project truck Geronimo, we just want a set of gauges with modern technology, yet looks like the stuff that rolled out of the factory.

Don’t get us wrong, traditional analog gauges and meters have their place in the world. Most are direct reading devices and require no power to the gauge for display. Water temp, oil pressure, fuel level are all direct reading from the sending units and easily displayed on a needle gauge. They are easy for most technicians to diagnose and repair. They also have a mature, traditional look that many hot rodders like.

When the old unit was taken apart so the bezel could be used on the new dash panel, the years of service really showed.

Digital gauges are more precise and the displays tend to be more compact. A single digital display can replace an entire group of analog gauges, with very sophisticated features which old school gauges could never achieve. As a result, digital gauges can be presented in a variety of different styles.

A comparison between the old (top) and the new (bottom) gauge panel clearly shows how Dakota Digital has kept the OEM styling that many of the early C10 truck owners like.

What Dakota Digital has done is combine the two technologies into a hybrid circuit. Using micro controllers to interface with analog circuits using analog-to-digital converters and digital-to-analog converters, Dakota Digital captures the best of both worlds.

The RTX Series

Dakota Digital’s RTX line of gauges, while incorporating the modern technology, is focused on retaining the stock look of the original instruments. The design crew has painstakingly duplicated the OEM design, with all the original design elements, right down to the stock layout, face styling, and indicators.

One of the favorite features of Dakota Digital fans is the clean look behind the panel. The wire clutter is eliminated. Anyone that has ever had to dig around behind the dash of one of these old trucks can appreciate this benefit.

There is no visual difference noticeable when looking at the replacement panel. Only when the system is powered up is there a change. The backlighting and color scheme gives away the technology behind the panel.   

We peeled back a little of the protective plastic to show what the panel looks like in its real form. You’ll have to check back for the installation article to see how our upgrade turned out.

Stay tuned as we continue our project upgrades on our 1960 C20 Apache Project Truck we call Geronimo. The Dakota Digital RTX dash panel is our next upgrade. We’ll show you how easy it is to install and what differences you can expect. Let us just throw this teaser at you: The dash panel has blue tooth connectivity, and you can change things on the fly from your cell phone!

Article Sources

About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
Read My Articles

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