Gone are the days of stick-on fake wood dashes with the appearance of cardboard and cheap varnish. Today's custom truck requires a look of elegance and sophistication, without looking tacky and store bought. Custom and cheap really don't mix. No new truck is driven off the lot without an excessive amount of plastic inside, which provides a cold and uninviting interior. In an effort to keep profits high and expenses low, new truck manufacturers use plastics, rather than other materials, even though many interiors lack visual appeal. When building a custom truck, you can't have a stock dash with boring plastics abounding inside.

Answering our call to a custom interior without breaking the bank, Phoenix Imaging of Tyler, Texas, transformed our stock interior into a work of art. It's really pretty simple, you choose the color or pattern, remove the pieces you want coated, and wait. After a couple of days, sometimes weeks depending on scheduling, you receive your factory-fitting plastics with a look that is totally show-truck custom. Coated in a hydrographic process, almost any hard surface can be transformed by Phoenix Imaging. Finished in a clear coat and polished to a high shine, the interior can easily be updated to match the paint code, seat pattern, or even a custom design. We contacted Phoenix Imaging to help us with one of our project F-150s. The end result is a not too-over-the-top interior, but still yields questions such as, "That looks cool, how did you do that?"

Finishing off the interior, we upgraded our factory gauge cluster with one of the nicest gauge assemblies we ever installed. Manufactured by Simco Limited, these entire assemblies, not just overlays, use OE Ford parts with custom gauges to provide a look that is comparable to the new gauges found on the '08 Ford F-150. Our gauge cluster came in silver with chrome rings and glows indiglo green at night for a really custom look. The instrument cluster was pre-calibrated for a literal plug-'n'-play install. The before and after looks are incomparable, and it was nice to see the Ford faithful finally can have an upgraded cluster like the Chevy guys have been doing with Cadillac clusters for years.

Check out the photos of just how easy it was to make our '02 Ford F-150 look like a custom truck through some simple interior upgrades.

From the Driver Seat

We've installed dozens of dash overlays, but this all-in-one complete cluster from Simco is the best solution to a gauge upgrade for a Ford we've used. Easy to install and really nice looking, the new unit instantly upgrades the dash from the boring all-black factory equipment. Our interior definitely looks first-class now with the addition of the Phoenix Imaging pieces. The pieces are coated and not altered in any other way, they fit just like factory pieces, because they are the factory Ford pieces. We did have to wait longer than expected, but now that everything is back in place, it was worth the wait.

Your Questions Answered

Time spent workng: Approximately 3 hours (Although, we did wait for the parts for about 3 weeks)

Degree of difficulty: Beginner

Tools Needed: Interior trim removal tool, Torx bits, screwdrivers, and pliers

Parts Used:Phoenix Imaging straight grain black brushed aluminum interior coating: Price varies

Simco Limited Silver Series instrument cluster 2026-704 $349.99

Sources:

Phoenix Imaging(903) 939-3369www.phoenix-image.com

Simco Ltd.(810) 245-0188www.simcoltd.com

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