ProjectC70 Gets A Sweet & Classy Upgrade!!!

So for those of you who have stuck around from the beginning, you’ll know that I currently own a MY ’00’ Volvo C70 Coupé 2.0 Turbo Manual which is my first car and of which I’m currently restoring/upgrading, well over these last few days I’ve been doing just that as I can finally reveal that she now has chrome rings around her dials in the instrument cluster!


So how did these come about & why did I go for them for the C70?, well as you guys may know after the Aston Martin blog a few weeks ago, I’m a massive fan of Aston Martin’s and GT cars in general and if given the possibility, I’d happily own multiple GT cars throughout my life if given the chance, now one thing I’ve noticed with multiple modernish GT cars whether they’re Mercedes CL’s or Jag XK’s or even Maserati 3200GT’s, they all seem to have chrome around the dials in the instrument cluster to make them feel classy & upmarket, however, because Volvo aren’t as upmarket as those other brands, when the C70 was launched way back in 1996, chrome around dials were never added as standard nor as an option, weird really for a car which has massive GT car credentials.


This is where DidoTuning come into play, DidoTuning is a polish company which manufacture & create chrome rings for an array of different cars and they sell their products both on their website & on their eBay page so when I came across them after finding an extensively modified C70 over on Facebook & seeing fellow group members & friends apply these to their own cars, I just had to buy them for ProjectC70, overall they cost about £30 including shipping which to be honest wasn’t too bad.


After a hefty 2 week wait of mainly customs related issues they finally arrived, and I finally got to have a look at what I got for my £30, so essentially they are 3 chrome aluminium rings which are cut to shape of the cluster so in theory, they should clip in tightly & then have the ability to fold over so they don’t fall out, however, as with all aftermarket stuff, fitment just wasn’t quite right, especially on the two outer rings but I’ll get to that later – first of all, I had to remove the dash pad off my car and remove the actual cluster first!


Now for those who have been here from the beginning, it’s not been the first time that I’ve actually removed the dash pad from my car, the last time I did it was a good few years back when I replaced the interior centre console trim & dash trim which really wasn’t easy, however as I’d had no choice but to remove the dash pad before, I knew what I was doing.


After looking a bit online, there was no turning back, it just had to be done, the job entailed removing all the plastic trim like the air vents & speaker vents, a plethora of T25 screws, a few 10mm bolts & the removal of the glovebox itself as well as disconnecting the passenger airbag, as the battery was already removed I was safe enough to undo it.


To make things easier, I used a 18V drill with an extended T25 Screwbit, a 10mm Spanner to remove the 3 bolts under the dash & a small flathead screwdriver to both undo the electrical connections & remove the trim, with all those tools combined, it made getting the dash pad an absolute breeze to remove and even easier to remove the cluster itself, now sure I could’ve bought a trim removal tool or a bone tool from IPD but with the time it’d take to turn up, I wouldn’t be writing this article as of right now as it’d possibly take a few weeks to turn up from America.


I started by removing all the trim with the flathead screwdriver, it’s real easy to do, just pop the screwdriver under the trim & pull and hey presto it’s out, I did this all around the dash removing the front dash vents, the higher speaker grilles & two plastic inserts which fit into the side of the dash, that was step 1 done, now onto step 2.


Step 2 involved removing the T25 screws which hide behind the plastic trim, as mentioned above, this was made a breeze with the drill & screw bit, one zap on the drill and the screws were slowly but surely coming out one by one which brings me onto the step 3 – The glovebox removal.


Step 3 was the removal of the glovebox innings, this again was really easy on my car, a few T25 screws on the outside & then a few more T25 screws once it was removed and once again, the glovebox came out and now I was in sight of the fabled passenger airbag, as I was working, it was vital that the battery was either disconnected from the car or a cable was removed, due to the C70’s battery being removed to stop drainage this wasn’t an issue whatsoever.


Disconnecting the airbag was really easy with the battery removed, it was just a matter of disconnecting the connector & removing the 3 10mm bolts nearby and that was all it took for the removal of the dash pad, however, I wasn’t finished there.


With the dash pad removed I had to remove the cluster itself, this included removing yet another two T25 screws prior to removing the pad itself, once they were undone, I just had to unclip the 4 connectors both on top and behind & the two metal clips on the top of the cluster and with a slight yank it was freed from it’s slumber.


With both the cluster & pad inside, it was time for the disassembly of the cluster itself, however before that, I wanted to check the bulbs while I was at it as they can easily blow so with it out it only made sense to check all the bulbs and I’m glad to report back no blown bulbs whatsoever, with that out the way it was to business.


Stripping down the cluster took a bit of figuring out as it’s held in with tiny little screws as well as a multitude of black clips holding it altogether, I was also worried of not breaking it as I’d never removed or worked on a cluster prior to this point before in my life, after gingerly removing the screws and slowly but surely separating the clips, it slowly came apart into two separate pieces, now the main part I was interested in was the front bit as it held the slots for the chrome rings, however as I’m about to reveal, it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park.


So what was the problem exactly? Well, with my car like many, it has 3 sets of dials, it has a dial for the fuel level & coolant level which sits on the left of the cluster, it has the speedo in the middle & lastly the rev counter on the right side with the middle dial being bigger than the two outer ones, now while the rings were size specific with the middle one being bigger than the other two, it made it easy to figure out where it went, however, the two outer rings weren’t wanting to play ball whatsoever and kept popping out of place & with a lack of knowledge & overall patience it wound up that after a while we started to notice deep scratch marks which would block my vision when fitted back into place.


This meant that I had to order a second used cluster off Ebay to work with with the intention of just swapping the screen part while already using the existing dials & original to the car cluster electrics, this meant that I could keep the original mileage which was the most important bit in the whole change up, after ringing up both Volvo Parks Ayr and Volvo specialists M.J. Motors over in a village not far from me called Auchinleck, they said that if I kept the electrics the same it will keep the original mileage so I ordered the second cluster with everything crossed that it’d work.


With my trust in both the specialist & dealer, when the new cluster came in earlier today, we instantly got to work stripping it down, fitting the new chrome rings and then refitting, I decided to let my stepdad fit the dials as he is stronger than myself and also has more patience than me as well, it wasn’t easy as the two outer rings kept popping out which was the issue I had a few days prior, however, he persevered and finally got them to fit, after putting the cluster back together, it was time to put the car back together.


The cluster was just a matter of screws & clips so nothing really difficult, I had to be careful however as with the ill fitting outer rings, it was very easy for it to go belly up and I wasn’t wanting that to happen as we’d be back to square one, however this time everything went back together smoothly and it was ready for refitting time.


Refitting was the reversal of removal, so first of all the cluster went back in, then it got connected up, after that, the dash pad got put back in place, the airbag got reconnected, the 3x 10mm bolts were next to go in and then once they were in, the glovebox was lined up and refitted, once that was back in the rest of the T25 screws got put back in and then last but not least, the trim & vents went back in and hey presto – ProjectC70 was now fitted with chrome rings around the dials & what a difference!!!


Now, I’ll be honest, cheap aftermarket parts don’t really interest me as a whole as they tend to look tacky or be made from really crappy material and it can really show and can ruin an otherwise nice car, however, to give DidoTuning their due, these rings look absolutely amazing and because they are actually aluminium instead of chromed plastic, they really suit the car a lot, in fact I’d say that they look factory which isn’t something you can say about a lot of the stuff you see for sale online.


So would I recommend them? well it all depends really, they look fantastic and really suit the car, however, with some of the parts ill fitting & really tight spaces to work with, it isn’t the easiest job to do, however, if you take it easy, it will be do-able and the results will be fantastic.


Hope You Enjoy!

By Alex Jebson

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