KG Works Instrument Panel Review

Stock cluster vs. KG Works cluster

Stock cluster vs. KG Works cluster

(It is SO hard to not gush like a school girl right now. I could probably type 10 pages of gushing. But I’m gonna try to remain composed. Please forgive me in advance if there are no coherent thoughts below. I’ve wanted this part for about 8 years. It’s every bit as good as I’d hoped.)

Time for another Parts Review. Up now: The KG Works Independent Look Instrument Panel in black. This cluster does away with the single piece of clear plastic covering the gauges and replaces it with individual pieces of glass surrounded by stainless rings. And, of course, the vintage indicator lights. I got the black version. KG Works also makes (made) wood, stainless, wavy aluminum, and perforated aluminum versions. I’ve always lusted after the black version. It just seemed “right” for my car and tastes.

This beauty hasn’t been produced for a number of years. I’ve lusted after it for as long as I’ve been into Miatas and I’ve seriously wanted one for about 8 of those years. I believe (might be wrong on this one) that they’ve not been produced since about 2006. I’ve been seriously hunting one for 18 months or so.

And now I have one.

A million thanks to Rod at Tetsuya Garage. He totally made this dream happen. And thanks to my buddy Coop for emailing me about this rare piece. I would have surely missed out without that email.

Weight difference between the two panel covers.

Weight difference between the two panel covers.

The first thing you notice when unpacking the KG Works cluster is the weight. It is amazingly heavy. 594 grams vs the stock 280 grams. That’s due to the glass and aluminum. Yes. Glass. Not plexi. Not acrylic. Real ground glass. I somehow never realized it was actual glass. I thought they were individual pieces of plastic for the past 10 years.

Beauty shot in the lightbox.

Beauty shot in the lightbox.

The front panel stands off from the stock plastic.

The front panel stands off from the stock plastic.

A few words on the construction. It comes as you see here. The front panel is bolted to a stock NA gauge cluster cover. You don’t have to take yours apart and put the KG overlay on yourself, they do it for you. This, to me, makes it really stand out from the other similar models on the market.

It also stands out away from the stock face by a few millimeters. I assume this is to give enough space for the needles to turn without hitting the glass. I initially turned my nose up a bit at this styling decision. I assumed it would look a little off once installed. Like an obvious add-on, and not something that came like that from the factory.

I’m happy to say, I was so so wrong. Once some gauges are in place behind it, this thing looks even better!

Installed. Photos don't do it justice.

Installed. Photos don't do it justice.

Flight Controls

Flight Controls

I’ve gazed at photos of this piece for years. I always thought it looked great in the photos. One thing that kept me from ordering for a few years was the worry that it was too subtle. Too small a change from the black cluster with shiny rings that I already had.

It is NOT subtle. At least not in person. This thing reaches out and smacks you around in a sorta loving, tender, vintage manner. And yet, it still looks like it belongs there. It doesn’t look out of place or like an aftermarket add-on, but rather like a panel out of a much finer and more expensive vehicle.

(Can you tell how much I love it?)

I made myself a new set of gauge faces and put them in at the same time as this panel. Different materials than I’ve ever used with my DIY gauges. I’m impressed.

Vintage tachometer face

Vintage tachometer face

39k on the clock

39k on the clock

Hand drawn oil can artwork

Hand drawn oil can artwork

You can see how deep the gauges sit.

You can see how deep the gauges sit.

Full tank

Full tank

I don’t want to toot my own horn (at least not too much) but I’m not sure if I could have chosen a more perfect style of gauge to go with this vintage panel. I’m just over the moon with how this combo looks.

But how do they look at night?

Nightvision 1

Nightvision 1

Nightvision 2

Nightvision 2

The KG Works cluster makes these gauges look even better at night. The light shining off the individual indicator housings just makes me smile.

Annnnnnnnd…. I’ve done poorly on my review. Let me catch up.

Build Quality: Extremely high. Could not be better. The cluster feels extremely solid and strong. No light leaks from anywhere. No gaps anywhere. It is perfection. A+

Installation: As far as installation goes, this IS essentially a stock cover. You pop off the old stock cover and replace it with this one. Same tabs in the same spots because KG Works just puts their parts on top of a donor cover. A+

Useability: The cluster hinders nothing. It works exactly like stock. The one possible down side is the replacement of the Check Engine Light with “EX HEAT” on the cluster. Some guys make a small sticker to put over that with the phrase “CHK ENG” when inspection time rolls around. I might do the same. Therefore, I cannot give it the A+. This category gets an A instead.

Style: It’s got it. A++

Overall: You know how it is when you’ve wanted something for a long time and when you actually get it, it isn’t quite as good as you hoped? Yeah, the KG Works Independent Instrument Cluster is nothing like that. It exceeded my (extremely high) expectations. I really should have treated myself to this part many years ago. A+

Again, thanks to Rod at Tetsuya Garage. He’s always a pleasure to buy parts from. I very highly recommend his services.

If anyone out there would like one of these to call their own, my sources inform me that Rspeed will soon have a small shipment of these black clusters in stock. Hit the order button and reserve yours before they’re all gone.

Sharka's cockpit

Sharka's cockpit

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  • mk2tmr2 says:

    Sexay! Makes me jealous…

    • revlimiter says:

      They *do* make one for the NB, ya know….

      • Elaine Bird says:

        Hi Adam,

        New to the blog and first time Miata owner. I would love for my 2001’s cockpit to look like Sharka’s. Where should I start? And how would I find a mechanic in northern VA to install everything?

        Thanks for your help! Newly obsessed to ypur website.

  • ric says:

    Dammit, that looks great.

  • Tim Allen says:

    The KG Work stuff is awesome, huh? I have the wavy aluminum version on my Roadster and I love, love, love it! Good job on your interior! I like the 3-guages above the radio as well!

    • revlimiter says:

      Thanks Tim! Yeah, I desired and appreciated this piece so much that I put off my whole turbo install so I could put this thing in, photograph it, and drive around for a week. And it was worth it. 😀

      Far less work to put in this cluster than the turbo too.

  • sully says:

    Adam- Damn! Beautiful combo. You have nailed the gauge design. Clean, sweet with the retro touches looks perfect. I mean it the combo looks sublime.
    When you start producing some sets,I am in line.
    I will just have to live with this void I am feeling until then.

  • Earl Hooper says:

    I assume original warning lights just for the factory panel shine through the new warning light location on the new panel. Is there sufficent illumination for this to work effectively.

    • revlimiter says:

      Oh yes. Plenty of light shines through. They’re quite bright in the daytime. Except for the high beam indicator. That one was blinding in the daytime and BLINDING at night. I had to take the cluster apart again to put a filter on that high beam light. Now it glows blue just a little brighter than the stock light.

  • BOOTZ says:

    Looks the Ducks naks but did you ever consider cream dials like NB8B. Also would like to see a feature on how you made the vintage faces, pretty handy.

    Hate to rain on your parade but price?
    Sigh, send the robots out to rob another bank.
    Oh and does it fit an NB?

  • BOOTZ says:

    Oh read your comments and the japanese dream garage. NB available somewhere in cyberspace. I guess the price you paid was around $300, quite excellent for the effect.

    Still think cream dials would be the go.

  • BOOTZ says:

    Hi again, just read your feature about the making of guage faces. Didn’t I earlier say this Blog was like War and Peace without the boring bits.

    Love the robots. Time for bed.

  • BOOTZ says:

    I have to get an NB one installed to show you how nice cream instruments are

  • revlimiter says:

    Damn. 4 comments? =)

    Price: I paid around $250 shipped from Japan. An excellent price IMHO.

    Gauges: I make and sell my own. I’ve never had any luck with white or lighter gauges. Too much light shines through them and makes them look awful. I have no idea how the NB white gauges are made. My wife’s 2001 has a set. They look decent.

    Sadly, I hate anything but black gauges. It’s just personal preference. I’m not really a fan of colored or white ones. I think the black look is timeless. So, that’s what I make. =)

    • Rick says:

      Now that I see you’re producing gauge faces, I’m in! I think they’re spot on for a vintage look. And I’m old enough to remember! Been lusting for a while.

      Just ordered, so how can I get the same black ordered? I love your sophisticated, yet understated look. This of course sets back my Prototipo search/buy and the quick release mechanism! Oh, well.
      So, please put me on the list as well. As an artist, I appreciate the time and effort it takes to get this right.

  • Chris Evans says:

    Thanks for the information this is on my wish list. Knowing that this can be had at $250 I think I will pass on the ClubRoadster group buy. Was planning on interior work in 2012 did not want to switch my plans.


  • Paul says:

    I love this gauge cluster. A truly beautiful classic piece. I do have a question though: Do you know how this compares with a very similar-looking product by RS Products, available from Rev9?

    • revlimiter says:

      The rumor is that they are made by the same house. That the RS Products meter housing IS the KG Works meter housing. That rumor comes from Rev9 themselves, so I’d put some faith into it. I had plans to buy the RS version with no regrets until Rod (Tetsuya Garage) found this one for me.

  • Mike says:

    First off, your interior is awesome. I love the vintage look you have.

    I’ve read through your DIY gauge post and noticed that here you mention that you used a new material for this set. Might I ask what new material you used? They turned out very well.

    You also mentioned that you sell custom gauges. Where do you sell these and do you make sets for cars other than the miata?


    • revlimiter says:

      Sorry, but I don’t publish exactly what types of materials I use to make the gauge faces. I’ve gone through literally years of trial and error to get this product to where it is and I’m not giving up my recipe.

      I do sell the gauges, but on a private basis. I don’t have a shop anywhere. Just via direct email. It takes me weeks to make a single set and I have a backlog of customers as it is. And right now, it’s for NA Miatas only.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • BOOTZ says:

    Thanks for the reply. Sharka has a truly exceptional owner

  • Chris says:

    I just received my black face cluster in the mail yesterday. While it will be a few days before I get home, I’m confident in knowing that it is going to look fantastic. Not only will I get to look at the new cluster, I also have a set of Revolver gauges waiting for me as well. Hopefully my interior will be half as nice as Sharka’s when I’m “done” with it.

  • Mindsucker says:

    A question about the lights, are there any bulbs in the panel itself or does it use the lights from the oem cluster?

    • revlimiter says:

      Indeed you’re right. The lights come from the OEM panel. The bulbs in the KG piece are just pretty covers that receive light from the stock bulbs. It’s pretty amazing that they do this and have no light leaks to nearby bulbs.

      • Mindsucker says:

        Thanks for a quick respond! Might try make my own if i manage to find covers that are pretty enough.

      • Vu says:

        I got a set of your gauges from you for Christmas and still waiting for the KG Works cluster to come off of back order. Hopefully I can get both installed by the end of summer.
        I was wondering if I have to cut the plastic off the back to let the light through as instructed in the install of the gauge face on your website. Please let me know. Thanks.

  • Tom says:

    So, I inadvertently got deeper into the dashboard of my recently inherited ’95 NA when the cluster hood sort of self destructed while driving (one cracking noise and the whole thing just fell off. Anyway, it took away a lot of the nervousness of messing with the dash away because it was so easy to fix.

    Anyway, I really like the look of the KG panel with Warbird Gauges – did you also have to modify the wiring to move the ‘airbag’ and ‘headlight up’ indicators to the ‘ABS’ and ‘washer level’ lamp positions to work with the updated, opaque gauge faces?

  • Todd says:

    Just wanted to point out that the black KGWorks unit sold by RSpeed in late 2014 says “CH-ENG” now instead of “EX-HEAT”. Will be installing mine in the next week, hopefully.

  • Gail Domenget says:

    The contents are masterwork.

  • Mo says:

    Do you think KG Works is selling their instrument panels again? I went to their website, and it seems… sketchy but I don’t know maybe they just don’t know web design.

    • Klaus says:

      Yes, they sell it again. Got mine about a week ago from IL Motorsport. Isn’t as high class as earlier versions (the dummy lights are no longer made of metal and screwed in, but of plastic) but still extremely beautyful. If you want one, get one – imho worth every penny.

      Btw if you get crazy (like me) you not only order a set of Adam’s gauge faces, but also his lenses for the cluster. I changed them even before I installed it into my little car!

  • Greg says:

    How hard would it be to remove and anodize all the metal bits around the lights and the rings?

    • revlimiter says:

      Probably not too easy and depending on the metal it can’t be anodized.

      Some anodizers are better than others. Mine destroys about 1/3 of the parts I bring them.

  • Chef Alan says:

    Me again, does not look like there are any available, not sure if I want to pay and wait 6 months, although if I can sign up for an alert…..
    Might have found a wood dash pod, which would (pardon the pun) work with my SE all wood interior, even if the match is not perfect. But at $450+, I’m not sure.
    How long did the job take, to do your first one??
    (I’m sure your faster now!!)

  • Israel says:

    Hey Adam do you happen to make the replacement text for the kg clusters mine are coming off 🙁

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