Updated: Jun 11
In the mid-50's very few vehicles included tachometers from the factory. Only the high end cars like the Thunderbirds or maybe heavy duty trucks came with such an instrument for your dash assembly. These all tended to be mechanically driven tachs via a cable that ran from the distributor to the rear of the tachometer housing. Lately, I have had the desire to add a tachometer. Without a tachometer there is really no way to tell true engine rpm while shifting gears or especially at cruise when the overdrive is engaged. Sure, I could hook up an engine analyzer only temporarily, make some test runs, and then log the data, but where is the fun in that? Why not install a tachometer?
The unit I chose to use was an Auto Meter 2304 - a very standard aftermarket option with a plastic chrome bezel and cup. These tachometers are readily available at most any parts store and especially through companies like Summit Racing or Jegs.
Wiring up a tachometer is a simple, straightforward affair. For this model, there are 4 wires that lead from the rear of the housing - one for the coil, one for ACC power, one for ground, and one for your dash light circuit. As long as you can contort your body into a pretzel several times during the process then you can get under the dash and run the wires! However, the issue with mid-50's cars is the mounting location. While the video below tells the story with clearer detail, I ended up choosing my dummy shift shaft as a base.
I do wish the parts were metal and not plastic, but you know how it is these days with so much being made in far away places and lack of investment in parts longevity. Be that as it may, I do like the location of the tach.
Video of Auto Meter 2304 Tachometer Installation
The Hot Rod Reverend
aka Daniel Jessup