Q: Alternatives to Cutting Holes for Sound System Upgrades
What are my options for adding an aftermarket stereo system to my first generatin Firebird?
A: One way to add to your first gen sound system without doing ANY drilling, screwing, cutting, etc. WHATSOEVER to the interior or anywhere on the car for that matter:
Find a vintage Audiovox AM-FM converter. My car had AM radio only from the factory. I found that the Audiovox unit fits perfectly inside the ashtray. The wires out the back run directly up to the back of the factory AM unit. To change from AM to FM or to change FM channels, just open the ashtray, and voila!
I know, I know, you audiophiles scoff at the lousy sound out of the single 32 year old dash speaker. But I already have a killer auto sound system in my daily driver. With the top down and the oldies FM station on, I’m turning back the clock 30 years! And, more importantly, I haven’t made a single new hole that wasn’t there the day it came out of the factory. For us sticklers for originality that’s important. And the Audiovox units are cheap, easy to find, and even correct for the era.
A: I used to install car stereos when I was in college and have done many custom jobs. I wanted to install a system in my 1968 that could be removed without a trace and minimize space taken but still have a good sounding system. I achieved about 80% of my goal and I’m quite pleased with the results.
I installed a Sony system (most tolerant to engine and alternator noise). The dash has the receiver/tape deck. Below the dash behind and above the console clock I installed and EQ which is actually bracketed to the ash tray brackets. Below the EQ are 3 mini gauges which are bracketed to the EQ. The whole setup is very attractive (lights look great at night) and can be removed without a trace. The console clock does block viewing the center gauge a bit. Need to change my angle of view and I can see it.
I installed a pair of 5 1/4″ flush mount speakers in the location where the dash mono speaker is located. These are the type that don’t have an extruded ring that allow a speaker grill to be snapped on, they must be screwed on. I tried the after market speaker kit but found that the bracketing doesn’t support the speakers well and the 4″ speakers are too small to run with an amp (got it from Classic and wasn’t worth it). I bolted the speakers side by side using some sheet steel and found a location under the dash to slip the speaker sheet steel between the firewall and the dash. The whole thing is held in place using another brace that bolts from the speakers to spot behind the location where a factory installed center air conditioning port would be located if it were installed (no a/c in my car). 1/3 of each speaker is blocked by the opening of the mono speaker opening but it still sounds pretty good. I need to add a baffle to get more bass response.
In the trunk, I mounted 2 6×9 speaker enclosures I bought from Wall Mart for $13 each. There’re suspended from the stationary part of the trunk deck using metal brackets and angled somewhat upward to push sound over the rear seat. They are spaced apart from each other with enough room to mount CD changer between them (which I’ll add later). The boot muffles the sound a bit and it really gets muffled when the top is down. The way the speakers are mounted, I could cut an opening into the boot and mount the speaker grill over it giving it a nice finished look and exposing the speaker grill. This is a far better approach then installing those “factory” speaker brackets because there is an enclosed baffle for bass response to develop. The way the speaker enclosures are mounted, they don’t interfere with the trunk spring bar and allow access to removal of the spare tire. They also maximize trunk space.
Lastly, I have two Sony amps in the trunk. One 100 W amp for the front speakers mounted on the floor next to the passenger side cocktail shaker, and one 200 W amp for the rear speakers mounted on the vertical brace holding the passenger side cocktail shaker. Together, there is enough power to get good bass response with the top up or down, and there is almost no modification to the car (other than drilling some holes for mounting screws).
I might add that in this system I didn’t need any noise suppression adapters. Why? Because good quality systems have them built in.
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Content last modified: January 24, 2014 at 11:00 pm