Because of the inherent danger involved, wiring is the most loathed of all building tasks. It doesn't have to be that way. Unlike vintage cylinder heads, wiring (along with fuel tanks and lines, brake lines, brake master cylinders and tube tires) is something that no one should ever try and reuse in a car build. Old cloth wrapped wiring is something that needs to stay in the past. Here's the best modern substitute.
AFTERMARKET WIRING HARNESSES:
Above: left: A E-Z Wire 21-circuit harness. right: A close up of the fuse panel Photos from: E-Z Wire
A number of companies make a variety of fuse block type wiring harnesses. These harnesses are better in every way to what was used originally in classic cars. Allowing for individual fusing of multiple different systems, will ensure that nothing is ever over loaded or starving for power. This also helps with identifying shorts and isolating sub systems for repair.
Above: example of how the labeling on these aftermarket harnesses look. Both photos by: Chris Breeden
The best part about these wiring type of wiring harnesses is the fact that the wires function is printed on them. Spaced out in 6 inch intervals, this is the best advancement in automotive wiring since coated wiring. This printed identification allows you to run the wires as a bundle. Running wires as a bundle, as opposed to one at a time, saves hours in the installation process. It also will allow you to easily identify, with absolute certainty, what a wire does after being ran.
EZ wire installation instructions. Photo by: Chris Breeden
Clear and easy to read instructions come with everyone of these kits. They will even show you how to wire secondary components, like the distributor/coil and the starter.
THE VINTAGE LOOK:
Cloth look heat shrink wiring covers. Photo from: summitracing.com
I hear what you are saying, "I don't want that modern looking rainbow wire under my classics dashboard!" Well Summit Racing has got you... covered. A few years ago they introduced a type of heat shrink tubing that looks like cloth style wiring. This will allow you to have safe, modern wiring in your classic auto, but not distract from the cars beauty. This stuff is great and when purchased in different colors, can still help you keep wires separated and easily identifiable.
IT REALLY IS THAT SIMPLE!
So whats the secret to wiring a car in a weekend? A modern fused wiring harness. One of these units can help even the most inexperienced classic car owner, perform the once complicated task of wiring an entire car. These manufactures even have some harnesses made for specific cars and trucks. This will eliminate some to the early logistical issues experienced with universal harnesses.
Of all the things the aftermarket auto parts world has created, these wiring harnesses are one of the best!
Keep on Cruisin'!
Art by: Chris Breeden
Links to other articles in this series:
Part 1: Frames & Suspension
Part 2: Engines and Steering
About the Author:
"Chris Breeden is a Social Media content creator for Custom & Hot Rod Life on DRIVETRIBE, YouTube and Facebook. After spending 5 years in Southern California, a.k.a. Hot Rod Heaven, while serving as a jet engine mechanic in the United States Marine Corps, he moved back home to Tennessee with an even greater love for Hot Rodded Vintage Tin. Since then he has worked in retail sales and the transportation and logistics industry. In 2018, seeing a gap in Hot Rod and Custom Car coverage on DRIVETRIBE, Chris began advocating for their inclusion on the platform. During the summer months, he can be found all over the Tennessee region covering car shows, meets, and cruise-ins. During the winter months, he can be found in the garage working on his custom 1949 Ford two-door sedan and 1954 F100 truck."