I’d like better wiring terminals

August 1, 2011 | By Richard Prince


I recently built a new wiring harness from under dash to engine compartment for my 1954 Ford convertible using a harness salvaged from a similar junked car for a pattern.

While working with the old wiring I noticed that the original terminals were much sturdier than the ones commonly available today. They seem to be solid copper and if you try to bend one of them between your thumb and forefinger you might break one of the fingers before the terminal bends! By comparison, the terminals they sell today bend like tinsel. I have found some new ones

that are a little more robust than others but they are still lacking compared to the ones used in 1954. I just don’t think that the new ones have as much metal and consequently as good a current-carrying ability as those vintage ones. I wonder if terminals like those old ones are available anywhere on the market.


In general, the simple male and female spade connectors used in your 1954 Ford and millions of other vintage cars went out of style many years ago. Modern cars use more sophisticated electrical connectors that do a much better job of resisting corrosion, sealing against the elements, and so on. The same is true for military vehicles and equipment, aircraft and other applications that have a lot of electrical content. This is largely the reason why it’s very difficult to find high-quality connectors that are like the ones that came in your ’54 Ford.

Having said that, there are various sources for complete reproduction wiring harnesses and many (but not all) of the repro harnesses use terminals that are virtually identical to the terminals used originally. And if you try hard enough you can buy high-quality terminals to repair or buildyour own harness. Painless Performance Products (www.painlessperformance.com; 2501 Ludelle St., Fort Worth, TX 76105) sellsa wide variety of high-quality, American-made terminals and other electrical system components.