Dash pad reproductions are padded dashboard covers that are not made by the same manufacturer as the original covers. Although most recent models of cars have padded dashboards as a standard safety element, dash pad reproductions are especially used in restoring and maintaining older muscle cars from the 1960s or prior.
Dash pads were optional accessories for cars in the mid-20th century. They were advocated for by physician Claire L. Straith, a plastic surgeon who treated car crash survivors. Starting in the 1940s, one could buy a car with a standard dashboard surface made out of hard metal, or a padded dashboard made out of vinyl and foam. In 1968, safety concerns led to padded dashboards becoming standard on all cars sold in the United States.
Dash pads on older models of car were formed using a vacuum process to exactly mold foam in the shape of the standard metal dashboard. The foam would then be covered with plastic vinyl and secured to the underlying metal. Because the molded vacuum process is, as of 2015, not accessible to consumers performing home repairs, there are several companies that manufacture dash pad reproductions for these models of cars. These companies include Just Dashes, a car restoration company, and Impala Bob's, Inc., a company that focuses on Chevy Impala restoration.
Reproductions are especially useful as the vinyl used on dash pads has a tendency to crack and fade due to sun damage. In some cases, plastic dash caps can be installed over damaged dash pads to give the interior a cleaner appearance. In other cases, the vinyl is replaced, rather than the entire pad.