Weird clicking noise from behind instrument panel in 78???help "driving" me crazy!

by Mike
(Hollywood, CA)


Im at my wits end so im hoping some corvette guys out there can help me. First off im an australian and moved to the US, while here i thought i would cross something off the bucket list and own a classic corvette...although many people will say a 78 isnt a "classic" but its as classic as my budget will allow.
So im not familiar with Corvettes qas in Australia to own one your either very rich or imported the car yourself...very expensive as they have never sold corvettes new in Australia..damn aussie import laws.
To the problem, I have a 1978 Corvette, the smaller of the 2 engines, 26k original miles and basically a "survivor" car with all original parts etc.
The noise itself sounds like its coming from behind the stereo or behind the gas/clock/oil gauges, the stereo is not connected.
It sounds like a connection is clicking on and off, like a electric diode switching or shorting. The noise started when i noticed a piece of metal paper wedged into my lighter socket(the type you rip out of a cigarette packet..damn smokers) now i had tried to plug in my GPS multiple times before i noticed this metal like paper wedged into the lighter socket and I believe this "clicking noise" was going into overdrive when I was trying to remove the paper while driving down the road.
So I waited until I got home and turned the battery off(another gremlin in the car drains the battery so I have a quick release switch) and removed the paper out of the lighter socket.
Then next time driving I hear the same "electrical shorting clicking noise" infrequently as i drive down the road, it is very very annoying. For anyone out there with the same car and an original stereo it sort of sounds like if you flick the preset buttons...a high pitched "CLICK"
This noise can happen multiple times or just stop for miles...but it never stops, now I've looked for absolutely anything in the dash that may be loose or coming apart, Ive played around with the stereo and made sure it wasn't anything moving in there and no matter how hard i try i cant determine where the noise is coming from. I haven't taken the dash apart yet? any advice on how to get behind the gauges?

Does anyone know if the lighter socket connection can make a noise like that? if its shorting or something? or can any of the gauges make a noise? Im really getting frustrated and don't want to take a "phantom" noise into a mechanic...i will have $1000s worth of hours and Im positive they wont find it(I cant find a good mechanic for my vette :(....)

So here I am at my last resort, fellow corvette owners & mechanically minded people like YOU! any help would be greatly appreciated

PS SAVE THE WAVE! as an aussie I think that's one of the coolest things I have experienced while driving my lil' vette! I do notice though especially where I live its mainly the older cars that partake...many of the newer vette owners either don't know or don't care..either way I wave away!

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