4 Ways to Restore The Cracked Dash on Your Datsun Z Car

4 Ways to Restore The Cracked Dash on Your Datsun Z Car

If you have a Datsun 240Z, 260Z, or 280Z, it's obvious you have a love for car history. That unique car design takes you right back in time, and it still manages to turn heads today. These cars have a unique beauty about them.

But let's be real - isn't it a pain when the plastic dashboard cracks? It sure does show a car's age and delicacy; fellow car enthusiasts know this all too well. And it's a pretty visible part to crack, right where people both inside and outside of the car can see it.

I have some practical pointers for you to deal with your old dashboard's restoration. I'll talk about some hands-on, wallet-friendly ideas to give your Datsun's dashboard a new lease on life.

Let's talk about your options!

Disclaimer: This article is authored by a member of the Skillard community and reflects their personal views, not necessarily those of Skillard. We welcome your feedback and corrections in the comments to help us continually improve this content.

Why Does the Dash Crack so Easily?

Sunlight, you are one big cause of these dashboard cracks. A car's dashboard soaks up sunlight from the windshield, and this makes it vulnerable to damaging UV rays. The plastic just starts to dry out, gets all brittle, and then these cracks just start to appear.

In hotter places, heat makes the dashboard start cracking, too. Heat causes chemical changes in the dashboard's plastic, which makes it look like gray ash and prone to breaking. It's even worse if you leave your car outside without a sunshade.

Remember how old a vintage Datsun is and what sort of things they made it with? The materials they used then weren't as tough as the things they use now. This makes a difference in how the car stands up to time and the weather.

Dash Crack

Cleaning, adding car decorations, and just the regular jiggling and flexing of the car - all these things stress out the dashboard and speed up the cracking process. Spread that over 40-50 years, and, well, it starts to break apart, as do most things on a classic car like this.

There are things you can do to make this less of a problem, like using sun protection and finding shadier parking spots. And I think you should be extra careful when you're cleaning your car.

It's good to keep in mind, though, that when you own a Datsun, you might end up needing to fix or replace things. Lots of owners choose to put on dash caps or hire pros who specialize in restoration. These solutions can fix the problem - both looks and function - that come with a cracked dashboard, and they help keep these classic cars on the road.

Let's talk about some of them, starting with:

#1. Professional Dash Restoration or DIY

If you're thinking about giving the dashboard of your Datsun 240Z, 260Z, or 280Z a facelift, there are mainly two paths you can take: you can hand it over to the pros or take on the challenge yourself. Each choice comes with its own benefits and things to think through.

Let's talk about handing it over to the experts first. If you go for a professional restoration - usually done by firms who know this thing like the back of their hand - you're pretty much promised a top-tier job. These guys live and breathe Datsun dashboards. They'll whip it into shape using original or high-quality imitation parts. Think of companies like ZOCIETY; you'd be paying at least $2,500 depending on how beat up your dashboard is, what you want it to look like, and any extras you add on.

Professional Restoration

This might feel like a big chunk of change - but think about it. It's you trading cash for time and getting professional quality in return. If the mere thought of restoring a dashboard makes you sweat, this might be your best bet. These pros handle all the dirty work, even organizing how to get your beloved Z car to their workshop. But what about taking it on as a DIY project?

Going it alone with DIY means you call all the shots. From how much money you put aside, the materials you use, and which parts - if any - you farm out to the professionals. The whole deal with DIY is you get to look at your car and think, "I did that," while also learning a thing or two about your vehicle. But wait! Don't jump into it just yet.

Before you jump in, just keep in mind that DIY doesn't mean it's completely free. You'll need some skills and patience to avoid leaving it worse than you found it. That, and you'll also need to get your hands on the right gear and materials that might cost you some serious money, too. Time is another factor - you won't finish this on a Saturday afternoon. You're looking at lots of hours and hard work to get it right. If your calendar is already full, DIY might not be for you.

So, what's the takeaway from all this? Well, when you're tossing between a professional and a DIY dashboard restoration, weigh all the pros and cons carefully. Think about your budget, how much time you have, your skill set, and what you personally prefer. Whichever way you go, when it's done, hitting the road in your Datsun Z is going to feel just incredible with that newly spruced-up dashboard!

#2. Dash Covers for Datsun Z Cars

There's a simple solution as practical as it is good-looking: dashboard covers made just for your Datsun Z. These things are designed especially for the 240Z, 260Z, 280Z, and 300ZX models, are made from tough ABS plastic, are known for being long-lasting and UV resistant. Protecting your dashboard from sun and heat damage is a piece of cake, right?

Did I mention these covers come in a design that fits perfectly with your original dashboard? Think about that seamless match with your car's interior; it's a done deal! Getting these on your dashboard is as easy as pie. You just clean up the dash, apply the given adhesive, and fit the right cover in the right spot. You have to sort of press it into place to make sure the dash cover is pressing the glue nice and really to the old dash, but that's about it.

Dash Covers

There are some downsides here. One is that dash covers don't cover your entire dash; they cover most of it, but you can still see on the edges and the seams that this is a cover. Also, the glue can be messy, so you don't want to accidentally rub some of that on your gauges.

Also, they are still plastic. While modern polymers are a little tougher and more UV resistant, these will still fade and eventually crack with time.

Still, they're a pretty useful option. Besides keeping your vehicle looking new again, these covers are a great and easy fix and won't leave you broke on rigorous restoration work. They're pretty affordable, too.

#3. Flocking Your Dash to Hide Cracks

Picture this: tiny fibers coat the dashboard to have a suede-like finish. Cool right? It hides any flaws, it's cheap, and it's relatively easy.

You're asking yourself, "But, what does flocking really entail?" Well, aside from making your car's interior look new again, flocking also has practical benefits. It neatly covers cracks and delivers a smooth finish - your car gets a high-end makeover. And here's something you might not see coming: it can even cut down glare on the dashboard thanks to the non-reflective nature of the flocking material.

But flocking isn't all rainbows and sunshine. There are a few negatives.

It can be a bit of a monster to keep a flocked surface clean; it loves to attract dust and dirt. The entire flocking process requires sharp attention to detail, and any mistakes could mess up the surfaces. Want to fix a messed-up flocked surface? Brace yourself - it can be a tough mission to get the color and texture back to the way they were.

Flocked Dash

It might end up looking patchy, as the old flocking will have changed colors and taken some UV damage, and the new flocking will look a deeper black color.

What about installation? Here are the steps you'll need to follow if you choose to flock. First, remove the dashboard from the vehicle, then kick off by cleaning your dashboard with soap and water - you have to get rid of that dirt and grease. Do you have serious cracks? Fill 'em up with a plastic welder or filler, and create a sleek surface ready for flocking. You can sand this, too, so you have a nice, smooth surface.

What is your next move? Just spread a particular adhesive - one that gets along with flocking fibers - evenly across the dashboard. While it's still wet, use a tool to hand out these flocking fibers evenly, which makes sure they properly attach to the surface.

Then comes the hard part - waiting. Give your adhesive enough time to fully cure; you need at least 48 hours here, but it's not a bad idea to wait even longer than that, especially if it's cold where the part is settling (like a shop or a garage), and the glue is taking a while to cure. Remember to keep it warm and dry during this period. If it's cold out or in the wintertime, it can take up to a week for some types of glue to cure.

So, how long will this want-to-flocked dashboard last? It all hinges on the quality of materials you choose and how closely you stick to the application rules. Flocking does tend to come off over time, so as long as you're easy on it, it should last you a couple of years before you have to re-apply it again to hide any bald patches or scratches in the flocking.

#4. An Aluminum Dash Upgrade

Want to fix a busted dash in your Datsun Z Car? Check out our aluminum dash replacements. These useful alternatives are tailor-made for the Datsun S30 series - that's the 240Z, 260Z, and 280Z models. Lighter and more racing-inspired than the steep 20 lbs OEM dashes, ours weighs in at just 5 lbs!

Black Dash

How about customizing your own dash? Grab a raw dash and DIY your custom gauge holes, or pick pre-cut vents and holes. Our cutouts mimic the OEM placement. As far as sizes, large holes are 4.25 inches in diameter - perfect for most 4.5-inch aftermarket gauges. Smaller holes are 2.6 inches and are ideal for the most 2 5/8 inch gauges.


Choose a sleek, uncoated aluminum dash, or why not select a beautiful black powder-coated finish? You choose. As for installing it, it's easy - all the hardware you need, we'll give you. Also, our design has two useful removable end caps, giving you quick access to behind the dash area.

Also, to keep your car's interior consistent, we have aluminum center consoles that coordinate with our dash, with options that fit the 240Z (series one and series two), as well as the 260Z and 280Z. To tie in the restomod look for your cockpit, our S30 door cards are available in the same material and finishes. Best of all, this is all finished in high-quality aluminum, not plastic.

What a difference in appearance and durability!

The right dash version depends on your car's production date. Is it an early 260Z model? I'd go with the 240Z option. Later model? Go with the 280Z version instead. Still unsure? Contact us, and just send us a photo of your OEM dash, and we'll guide you.


Fair warning - our cool, custom-made items like aluminum dash replacements might not always be in stock. Out-of-stock items typically have a waiting period of 3-4 weeks from order to ship. Want to know our product availability? Feel free to reach out directly.

How to Prevent Future Dash Damage

Want to keep your Datsun Z car's dashboard safe from the harsh effects of sunlight? It's important for vehicle upkeep!

First, you can use simple tools like sunshades or window shades to block harmful sun rays. This cuts down the strain on your air conditioner - bonus points for preventing cracks on your dashboard!

Also, considering more impressive protection, I suggest you think about window tinting or sticking a protective film on your dashboard. These strong polyester films are awesome at blocking heat and nasty UV rays! Just make sure you're following the local rules about tint darkness and where you can put it.

Are you aware dashboard mats add an extra layer of sun protection? Tailored covers crafted from vinyl or fabric give steep sun protection while keeping your vents clear - and cool, right?

Let's talk about parking now. Where you decide to park your car is super important. Try to park in the shade or angle your car so the dashboard doesn't get direct sunlight. Car covers cut down UV exposure even further, and they're great at preserving your car's exterior paint job.

Park in Shade

It comes down to this - regular, proper cleaning is the way to go. Cleaners like Turtle Wax Dash & Glass will keep your dashboard clean and battle dust and grime, too! Also, it leaves a UV protective layer behind. Regular use of suitable protectants and conditioners for your dashboard and other hard surfaces inside your car could slow down damage from the sun. Choose these protectants wisely, though; you want to be sure not to accidentally harm your dashboard.

If you ask me, one smart game plan is to cut down on the long hours your car sits in the sun - try to park in the shade! If you choose window tinting or protective films, make sure to get them professionally installed for the best results.

Making these habits part of your schedule can stop damage to your dashboard. You'll keep your car looking sharp and hold onto its value - now that's a wise investment!

But remember - keeping your Datsun in good looks is one thing; making it work better is something else. Skillard has a variety of custom parts designed just for Datsun models. This is for all you Datsun fans who are looking to upgrade your rides. Do you need anything from bumpers to aluminum door cards, center consoles, and spoilers? We have it all in our collection! Each item shows our commitment to high-quality and fresh ideas.

Start your Datsun makeover with Skillard and pick the parts that make your classic car dream come true.

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