(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 revlimiter.net 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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.