How to… fit a new stereo into your classic car

| 28 Apr 2021
Classic & Sports Car – How to… fit a new stereo into your classic car

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There will probably come a time when most enthusiasts wish they had something other than their classic car’s engine noise as accompaniment on longer journeys. A period radio looks the part, but it can’t really compete with modern equipment in terms of performance.

We’re not suggesting you pop a modern head-unit in the middle of your dash. The art of concealment is our preferred method, so we will be fitting a state-of-the-art system into a vacant glovebox.

Modern stereos run much hotter than classic units, so make sure that you get as much ventilation to it as possible. This may mean cutting out the back of a glovebox, for example, or removing the lining.

They are also intended to run a four-speaker system. If you want to use just two, you can pair up the front and rear connections, but you will need to allow for the increased output.

For the best sound, you are attempting to create an enclosed box behind the speaker, so fitting them in trim cavities can work well. If space is limited, you can always make your own boxes out of MDF and trim to suit the car’s interior.

Thanks to Clarion for supplying the head-unit and speakers for this installation


1: FIND A POWER SOURCE

Classic & Sports Car – How to… fit a new stereo into your classic car

Take a feed from a power source that is ignition-switched and run a wire of suitable amperage to your intended location.

Fit an inline fuse close to the power source on this wire; the size is determined by the maximum power requirements of the unit. Never use a fuse rated higher than the unit or its wiring.

2: POWER BACK-UP WIRE

Classic & Sports Car – How to… fit a new stereo into your classic car

Take a wire from a permanent feed, such as a battery terminal, so your radio retains your preset stations.

Fit another inline fuse close to the take-off point.

Finally, run an earth cable from a suitable point on the chassis/body. This will be connected to the stereo’s black earth wire.

3: FIT THE WIRING ADAPTOR

Classic & Sports Car – How to… fit a new stereo into your classic car

Your radio will come with a block connector. Chop the wires or buy a suitable adaptor if you don’t want to invalidate the warranty.

Using the circuit diagram, hard-wire the power, power back-up and earth cable to those you have already prepared. Use insulated connectors for all power-source wires.

4: INSTALL THE SPEAKERS

Classic & Sports Car – How to… fit a new stereo into your classic car

 It is always worth fitting new speaker cables. Choose a speaker that is rated as suitable for the head-unit in order to avoid sound distortion.

Some classic cars will have bespoke fitments already provided behind door trims – if not, you may have to cut the panels or even fabricate your own boxes.

5: FIT THE AERIAL

Classic & Sports Car – How to… fit a new stereo into your classic car

If your vehicle doesn’t already have an aerial, choose a suitable location – the roof is generally better than a wing top.

Carefully drill through the bodywork, using masking tape to stop the drill bit wandering. If you don’t want to take a power tool to your bodywork, windscreen-mounted aerials are available.

6: MAKE A FASCIA PANEL

Classic & Sports Car – How to… fit a new stereo into your classic car

If you are concealing the stereo within a glovebox, for example, fabricate a fascia out of MDF. Use the cradle that comes with the head-unit as a template for the mounting hole.

Cover the fascia in vinyl or trim, and then mount into the space available. Ensure you allow for enough ventilation.

7: FIT THE STEREO

Classic & Sports Car – How to… fit a new stereo into your classic car

Locate the cradle into the fascia hole and bend over the securing tabs. Feed the connector block through the fascia and plug into the rear of the head-unit.

Attach the aerial (you may need an adaptor for this), and then slide the unit into the fascia until it clicks into position in the cradle.

8: WHAT NEXT?

Classic & Sports Car – How to… fit a new stereo into your classic car

If you get interference while the car is running, you may need to fit a noise suppressor. This wires onto the coil terminal and will eradicate interference from the ignition system.

If you need more bass, you can fit a subwoofer. Small powered versions can easily be concealed under a seat or in the boot.


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