History of obsolete car audio, part 5: What’s old is new (or, at least, in vogue)


In the century-long history of car audio, there were misses (home-radio conversions and record players), hits (8-Track tapes), and home runs (cassettes). When cassettes arrived—and metal tape and Dolby noise reduction combined with aftermarket decks, amplifiers, and speakers—you not only could hear your pre-selected music in your car, but you could crank it and it would sound great. It was visceral.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/01/08/obsolete-car-audio-part-5


Fortunately for me all of my late 60’s cars came unmolested, unfortunately all were AM only and 1 of which worked. I enjoyed the AM in my 69 C-10 for a few years, but have just removed it & sent it to S&M Electro-Tech (http://www.turnswitch.com/) to convert it to AM/FM with aux input. At that time I will replace the mono center dash speaker with a dual stereo speaker that they also have created to mount as the original. In my 20’s I had the insight to retain the original AM radio in my 69 Charger, opting to install an under-dash aftermarket CD player while still only using the original speaker locations. That has since been converted by S&M and looks completely original and they also have a dual speaker that mounts in the original center dash location. I guess in my older age all I want is a little classic rock playing lightly in the background on those occasions that I have to hit the highway, otherwise on the back roads and city streets I’d much rather listen to the car.


I’ll suggest another possible solution, small powered speakers, like the JBL Charge 2+ I use in my little TR3. I explored a retro style radio, even a mid 60s AM/FM push button unit, but keeping my Triumph positive ground limited my options.

The JBL is small, sounds relatively decent, and keeps its charge for quite a while, so it’s not powered from the car. I found a small open mesh ladies undergarment laundry bag that fits the JBL to a tee, and tucked that back under the heater, so it’s nearly out of sight, unless one is looking for it. Hung between the heater vents, it sounds pretty good for the rare time I plug in the iPod.

Like Rob, I had a nice Nakamichi 250/ADS 2002 system back innthe day in my ‘74 2002, but these days, simple suits me fine.


@kpbrowne I used a similar method with my Honda Beat on a road trip. With the top up, engine noise fills the cabin, especially as it’s geared for 5000 rpm at highway speeds. A Bluetooth speaker resting on the dash was actually louder and more clear than the factory door speakers. Most of the time, though, I just use a Bluetooth cassette adapter.


I have a 1977 and 1986 original


Another great option is to use your phone and a portable rechargeable Bluetooth speaker. I have one like this, and it’ll run over 12 hours on a single charge, or can be charged or plugged in via usb. And the sound isn’t bad.