1970 Barracuda Custom Center Console

When I got the car, the previous owner had installed a B&M Hammer shifter, which didn't fit in the stock center console, so he removed it. I really like this shifter, so I plan to keep it. I also would really like a center console, mostly to have a place to put my gauges. While I'm at it, why not add some cupholders to a car that never had them? (Sorry, those tiny rings on the back of the glove box door do NOT count as cupholders!) :-) Maybe a storage area too?

This is the first time I have tackled anything even remotely like this, so this could get interesting. :-) Also, this is one of those projects which is more of an art than a science. I am terrible at "artsy" stuff! If the console comes out anywhere close to the image I have in my head, I will be happy.

Click on any pic to bring up the full sized version. Note: it may take a little while for this page to load, depending on your browser. Its set up as a table, and some browsers wait until the whole table has been loaded before displaying it. Just give it some time. :-)
001.jpg - 71 KB Fri 3/22/02

Here's what I'm starting with... Basically nothing. Here we go! :-)
001 - 71 KB
002.jpg - 70 KB Fri 3/22/02

I measured the distance between the seat backs, and cut a piece of cardboard to fit between them, while allowing enough clearance. I've cut a hole in the position where the shifter needs to come up through.
002 - 70 KB
003.jpg - 61 KB Fri 3/22/02

Here's an idea which I am planning to use for the console somehow... These Autozone exhaust resonators with a 2" ID fit my Nordskog digital gauges perfectly, and they're only a few bucks apiece. Hopefully I can use them to make some sort of unique gauge pod.
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004.jpg - 63 KB Fri 3/22/02

Another shot of the gauge in the resonator. I couldn't ask for a better fit!
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005.jpg - 82 KB Sat 3/23/02

This is just something I rigged up to try and figure out about how much room the gauges were going to need on the console itself. I decided to incline the gauges at about a 35 degree angle. (Using the oh so scientific method of holding a yardstick up to my eye level then down at the approximate location of the gauges and measuring the angle...) :-)
005 - 82 KB
006.jpg - 70 KB Sat 3/23/02

I decided that now that I had the overall shape of the top down, it was time to start working with something a bit less flimsy than cardboard. I went to the hardware store today and picked up a few items - a couple sheets of 3/8" plywood, a box of flat head 1/4-20 x 1" machine screws, a one box each of the appropriate washers, split lock washers, and nuts for those screws. This is the cardboard template; I've put it on a sheet of plywood, and I've marked the corners. I then used a straight-edge to connect the dots. (With the cardboard template, I didn't care about straight lines too much, now that I'm working with the final product, I do...
006 - 70 KB
007.jpg - 73 KB Sat 3/23/02

Here's the trial fit of the plywood top section.
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008.jpg - 71 KB Sat 3/23/02

I used a cardboard template and a measuring tape to figure out the approximate size of the side piece, and cut it out. Here, I'm doing a trial fit.
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009.jpg - 80 KB Sat 3/23/02

Time to attach the side to the top. One other item I picked up at the hardware store was a couple of those pieces of galvanized steel "angle iron" which already have a bunch of holes and slots in them. I'm planning to use this to join the sides to the top. I could have glued it or something I suppose, but I really prefer things that bolt together (and more importantly, un-bolt when you want to take them apart!) :-) The driver's side of the console needs to angle out a bit, so I hammered on the angle to widen it out a bit.
009 - 80 KB
010.jpg - 72 KB Sat 3/23/02

I cut the angle to the appropriate size on the bandsaw, then used a couple of clamps to hold it in the correct orientation while I marked all of the circles (not the slots) - the circles are approximately 3" apart. Then I centerpunched the marks, drilled them out, countersunk the other side, and attached the angle to the board using the machine screws, washers, lock washers, and nuts. (Speaking of "nuts"... :-))
010 - 72 KB
011.jpg - 71 KB Sat 3/23/02

Like so...
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012.jpg - 72 KB Sat 3/23/02

Here's a trial fit of the top and the left side - starting to look like a console!! :-) The screwdriver is holding the console in the "approximately correct" orientation - I drilled a couple of holes in the top piece which I will probably eventually use as a couple of extra anchor points - to the place on the shifter where the shifter top used to bolt on. There's actually an old dremel "wire wheel" bit through the console and into the front hole of the shifter, but its hard to see. (Couldn't find another screwdriver small enough or an actual screw with the right threads.)
012 - 72 KB
013.jpg - 70 KB Sat 3/23/02

Same thing for the right side - cardboard template, measuring tape, skil saw... Here's a test fit.
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014.jpg - 75 KB Sat 3/23/02

"Second verse, same as the first..." The right side gets measured, marked, drilled, countersunk, and bolted on.
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015.jpg - 74 KB Sat 3/23/02

And here's another test fit in the car. Looking a lot like a center console now! :-) The right side needed some extra trimming, and I trimmed a bit on the left side too. I still need to take the right side off and bend the angle out a bit, but its fitting fairly good! Weight so far? 17lbs. This thing just might negate the performance increase of the aluminum heads! :-) Nah... I expect it should come in somewhere around 30 lbs or so once its all said and done. (Maybe even less.) The convenience will certainly more than make up for the extra weight. Oh, and hopefully it'll look OK too. :-)
015 - 74 KB
016.jpg - 62 KB Sun 3/24/02

I've cut the end off one of the exhaust resonators at a 35 degree angle (well, really a 55 degree angle, to result in the face pointing 35 degrees up...)
016 - 62 KB
017.jpg - 68 KB Sun 3/24/02

Here's a gauge installed in the makeshift pod. (Yes, the bottom of the mounting surface will need to be cut out somewhat in order to allow the gauge to protrude below it, but I was planning on this - I could have cut it longer to eliminate that requirement, but I wanted the gauges to sit down lower. Besides, the surface will need a hole at the very least (for the wires), so it shouldn't be too bad to just widen that hole with a nibbler.)
017 - 68 KB
018.jpg - 80 KB Sun 3/24/02

I've cut another pod out and I'm just figuring out how much space they will take up. The piece of cardboard they are sitting on was my estimate from earlier calculations - came pretty close! In fact, the gauges will take up slightly less space than I had planned on - I will be able to place them closer together than I originally thought. No doubt due to the 35 degree angle and low profile.
018 - 80 KB
019.jpg - 54 KB Tue 3/26/02

There are actually a few pictures missing here - the darn $5 digital camera stopped working. :-( So, I lost the pics that were in it, but I figured out how to use a camcorder to produce a still image, so this will have to do for now...

I cut out a piece of sheet metal, measured and marked it up for the gauges, then drilled pilot holes for the air nibbler. (What a great tool!) The reason they all look rather uneven and distorted is because I really only care about the front edge of the hole, the rest is all under the pod anyway, so it doesn't matter what it looks like. The fronts of all the holes (to the left in this pic) are all pretty much the same.
019 - 54 KB
020.jpg - 56 KB Tue 3/26/02

I've got three of the pods welded up...
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021.jpg - 63 KB Tue 3/26/02

Another pic. It was actually a bit of a pain trying to get them to line up right - had to try and get them as close as possible, then hold a pod down with one hand, put the gloved hand on it, then put the other welding glove on with one hand and make a few tack welds. Once they were all tacked on, I welded a bead around the back. There are also a few small "filler" and tack welds along the front, from the bottom.
021 - 63 KB
022.jpg - 62 KB Tue 3/26/02

All six are welded up, here's a shot of what a gauge looks like mounted in a pod.
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023.jpg - 61 KB Tue 3/26/02

The underside of the panel. I'm not real happy with the appearance of my welds - a TIG would be nice for this, but all I have is a MIG. That combined with my relative lack of experience welding with sheet metal... Oh well, it may not be pretty, but at least its functional. :-)
023 - 61 KB
024.jpg - 60 KB Tue 3/26/02

Getting closer... :-)
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025.jpg - 66 KB Sat 3/30/02

I've cut out an access hole for the gauge pod with a jig saw.
025 - 66 KB
026.jpg - 60 KB Sat 3/30/02

Same thing for the storage compartment. (The opening is narrow because I decided to make it only as wide as the frame underneath so I didn't have to cut the frame there. That should keep it stronger.)
026 - 60 KB
027.jpg - 70 KB Sat 3/30/02

Now for the fun part... The cup holders! Here, I've clamped a piece of sheet metal over the cup holder area, and I am about to use a 3" bi-metal hole saw to cut the holes in both the sheet metal and the console at the same time. (I figured that'd lessen the opportunity for error somewhat...)
027 - 70 KB
028.jpg - 65 KB Sat 3/30/02

Came out pretty nice!
028 - 65 KB
029.jpg - 62 KB Sat 3/30/02

Now for the cup holder walls - this is an idea I had back when I started on the console, I guess I'll find out how it works! :-) What you're looking at is a piece of 3" aluminized exhaust tubing. I'm cutting it to a length of 3". I've set the stop against this piece so I don't have to measure for the other cupholder - they will both be the exact same length.
029 - 62 KB
030.jpg - 42 KB Sat 3/30/02

A test fit - hey, this just might work! :-)
030 - 42 KB
031.jpg - 48 KB Sat 3/30/02

I've welded up the cupholders. I just used spot welds all the way around the top (from underneath) to try to minimise distortion of the top plate.
031 - 48 KB
032.jpg - 51 KB Sat 3/30/02

Here's another angle. For the bottom of the cupholders, I used the pieces that the hole saw cut out when I cut the holes in the top plate.
032 - 51 KB
033.jpg - 52 KB Sat 3/30/02

Due to the welds around the top of the cup holders, I beveled the tops of the holes in the wood, so the top plate would sit flush. If you have a sharp eye, you may have noticed that the bolt holes aren't countersunk. What this means is that you are looking at the bottom of the console. Yes, I have just beveled the wrong side of the board! I am an idiot. Hey, I warned you that I was no good at this stuff! :-) Fortunately, I was able to bevel the top side of the board as well, so all turned out well. Whew!
033 - 52 KB
034.jpg - 62 KB Sat 3/30/02

Here's a shot of the cup holders sitting in the console.
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035.jpg - 62 KB Sat 3/30/02

The shifter boot has four little catches on the bottom, that aren't really going to hook into the wood very well due to the wood being too thick. So, I've cut the shifter hole larger and made a plate out of sheet metal which I will attach to the top, and the shifter boot will hook into that.
035 - 62 KB
036.jpg - 75 KB Sat 3/30/02

Here's a view of the console top - all the holes are cut.
036 - 75 KB
037.jpg - 73 KB Sat 3/30/02

I needed to cut away the frame to allow room for the cup holders and the gauge pod. Unfortunately, I tried to do this with my air nibbler, and the gauge was just a bit too much - the bit broke just as I was starting the last cut. The plasma cutter didn't have any trouble finishing the job. :-)
037 - 73 KB
038.jpg - 61 KB Sat 3/30/02

Here's a shot of a test fit of the console in the car. I'm so close I can almost taste it! :-) All that remains is a back piece, the storage compartment and lid, then the carpeting.
038 - 61 KB
039.jpg - 64 KB Tue 4/02/02

I've cut a floor for the storge compartment and screwed it in place. The floor also has a couple of holes in it so I can attach it to the mounts below it on the trans tunnel.
039 - 64 KB
040.jpg - 68 KB Tue 4/02/02

Another piece forms the front of the compartment
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041.jpg - 63 KB Tue 4/02/02

Another piece for the back - it still needs to be trimmed to fit in the car though.
041 - 63 KB
042.jpg - 65 KB Tue 4/02/02

I've cut the corners out here for seatbelt clearance. The piece of cardboard to the left is a template I was using to figure out the shape of the back piece.
042 - 65 KB
043.jpg - 58 KB Tue 4/02/02

As you can see, I needed quite a bit more clearance for the seat belts! I decided to just cut it flush with the floor of the storage compartment. That simplifies the back piece too.
043 - 58 KB
044.jpg - 60 KB Tue 4/02/02

I've screwed the back piece in place and attached the hinges to the lid.
044 - 60 KB
045.jpg - 66 KB Tue 4/02/02

I'm marking the locations for the hinges on the back of the console.
045 - 66 KB
046.jpg - 58 KB Tue 4/02/02

A hardware store catch to keep the lid closed. I just used a piece of scrap to give it a mounting point. The screws that came with the catch are really bad though - I pretty much stripped the heads just getting them in there - what do they make these things out of, solder?? Anyway, I'll pick up some real screws for it later.
046 - 58 KB
047.jpg - 54 KB Tue 4/02/02

I've mounted this plunger at the back, which I plan to use to turn on some lights on the inside of the storage compartment when the lid is opened.
047 - 54 KB
048.jpg - 70 KB Tue 4/02/02

Preparing the cupholders to be drilled through for the screws.
048 - 70 KB
049.jpg - 43 KB Tue 4/02/02

I got these sockets at Radio Shack, and mounted them to the front section of the storage compartment.
049 - 43 KB
050.jpg - 70 KB Tue 4/02/02

The cupholders, gauge pod, and shifter plate have been drilled for screws, and I've got them attached temporarily. Still need to do some wiring and of course, figure out how to carpet this thing!
050 - 70 KB
051.jpg - 52 KB Thu 4/04/02

I found some 6x3 foot sections of carpet at Autozone for just under $9. I've laid the console upside down on this one to try and figure out how to cover it. I marked around the edge and around the holes on the inside so that I can locate the console properly later.
051 - 52 KB
052.jpg - 66 KB Thu 4/04/02

I've got the carpet cut up, and held in place with clamps.
052 - 66 KB
053.jpg - 60 KB Thu 4/04/02

No, I haven't started tanning animals... That's the underside of the carpet with adhesive sprayed on it.
053 - 60 KB
054.jpg - 61 KB Thu 4/04/02

I've got the gauge pod and cup holder screws in the top, just so I can find them later. I've covered the lid separately, and attached it. Good thing I bought two rolls of carpet!
054 - 61 KB
055.jpg - 69 KB Thu 4/04/02

Here's what the console looks like so far. The shifter boot is in place, and I've just set the cup holders and gauge pod on top temporarily. Those still need to be powdercoated - that's next.
055 - 69 KB
056.jpg - 57 KB Thu 4/04/02

A shot of the storage compartment. I've carpeted the floor, but I left the sides, front and rear alone for now.
056 - 57 KB
057.jpg - 67 KB Sat 4/06/02

I've powdercoated the cup holders and gauge pods, and installed them with some brass screws.
057 - 67 KB
058.jpg - 59 KB Sat 4/06/02

Here's what it looks like in the car.
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059.jpg - 59 KB Sat 4/06/02

Another shot in the car.
059 - 59 KB
060.jpg - 50 KB Tue 4/09/02

I didn't really like how the brass hardware stood out against the black console, so I picked up some screw head covers to hide the screws. Much cleaner looking, IMHO.
060 - 50 KB
061.jpg - 77 KB Sat 6/1/02

I've laid out the gauges and am attaching quick-connect fittings to the three that don't already have them.
061 - 77 KB
062.jpg - 92 KB Sat 6/1/02

Now I've got the gauges in the pod (the hardest part was deciding what order to put them in!) For now, the back row is volts, fuel pressure, A/F ratio, and the front row is oil temp, water temp and trans temp.
062 - 92 KB
063.jpg - 119 KB Sat 6/1/02

While I was making some electrical connections for the gauges, I noticed a broadcast sheet under my seats, so I pulled them ASAP to check it out. :-) Unfortunately it wasn't for my car since these seats came from a different car, but it was a fun treasure hunt anyway. :-) The interior wiring is all set now for the gauges and the light in the console. I also got a different style switch for the auxiliary fuel pump and put that below the dash next to the map light switch. The only wires for the console that aren't run yet are the signal wires for the A/F ratio, trans temp and oil temp. I plan to do that once I actually install the senders for those.
063 - 119 KB
064.jpg - 113 KB Mon 8/12/02

The center console got put on hold for a while as I worked on "Project Horsepower" but now that I'm just about ready to fire up the "new" engine, I slapped the seats back in and need to hook the console up so that I can monitor various gauges during the cam break-in.

Mmmm spaghetti! :-)
064 - 113 KB
065.jpg - 53 KB Mon 8/12/02

Here's a pic of what the gauges look like all powered up. All of the gauges are hooked up except for the oil and tranny temp. Those two have wires run to the engine compartment, but I haven't installed the senders yet.
065 - 53 KB
066.jpg - 101 KB Mon 8/12/02

Another view of the console in place and the gauges lit up.
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067.jpg - 81 KB Mon 8/12/02

A shot of the storage compartment, which lights up nicely when the lid is raised. (As long as the ignition is on...)
067 - 81 KB
068.jpg - 84 KB Mon 8/12/02

Ummm... Since I had rewired several items in the car I was testing them out. I happened to flip the surge tank fuel pump switch and about a second later remembered that the surge tank wasn't actually hooked up! Oops. :-( Fortunately, it didn't spray too much fuel into the trunk - I wiped most of it up with paper towels and stuck a fan in there right away to evaporate the rest. (Idiot...)
068 - 84 KB

This page was last updated Tue Aug 13 00:10:40 EDT 2002