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There are few traditions as beloved as customizing a classic car. Whether it’s a traditional hot rod, a mild custom cruiser, a vintage off-roader or even a restored race car, generations have set the standard for what timeless customs should look, perform and sound like. And choosing the right set of gauges to complement a particular style is one of the great joys of custom car projects.

Stewart-Warner has not only been making automotive gauges for more than 115 years, but we’ve set the standard for accuracy, longevity and performance. And a classic S-W gauge in, under or way out in front of a dashboard says as much about the build as the taste of the builder. After all these years, there’s a good chance we’ve helped put the finishing touches on some of your favorite cars.


There are three main decisions to make when choosing the right gauges for your project. With more styles, types and functions to choose from than ever before, the wrong gauge can not only ruin the continuity and look of your build, but cause some serious damage if it fails, too. Follow this guide and, like your dad always said, “Make good choices:”

  • Era-correct. Traditional hot rod? ’60s custom? Gasser? Post-war saltflats racer or muscle car? There’s a gauge that complements each category: do some online sleuthing to find photos of your favorite cars and take note of their gauges. Each has unique characteristics specific to its era.
  • Properly-working. Gauge failure can be an expensive lesson to learn for such a relatively inexpensive solution. You found the perfect used gauge, but does it work properly? An inaccurate oil pressure gauge can ruin a freshly-rebuilt engine. Ouch.
  • One-stop shop. Gauges rely on hardware behind their faces to function. Use parts specifically from the maker to install the gauge you just bought: keeping sender units, sensors, fasteners and even wiring native to the manufacturer ensures that it not only works correctly, but mounts well, too.

Whenever possible, source new gauges as the perfect finishing touches to your project and rest easier at night.

Learn more about which Stewart-Warner line best suits your custom car project.

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