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The period-correct stereo in my ’91 Firebird is music to my ears—and eyes

OK, I’ll admit it. I have a pet peeve when it comes to cars, and it’s seeing an out-of-place CD player sticking out of an otherwise stock dash. Some of those things look like a Vegas slot machine, and all those blue lights and dancing numerals make me crazy.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/06/12/period-correct-stereo-install-in-91-firebird

WOW - great article, brad until the last paragraph “I’ll be rocking my playlist on the iPod…” What? After all that work you’re going to cheat with new technology? Perish the thought…you need to get some cassettes, turn on the Dolby, and experience the real thing!

Rick Norris

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I always loved this era of AC Delco radios. They were simple, nice to look at and they sounded great. In high school, I had a stack of them in my basement workshop. People who were chopping up late-80s and early-90s GM cars to put in modern CD players were just giving them away, and I was the guy taking them. Unfortunately, my dad made me get rid of them. Anyway, I scored a free '96 Olds wagon a couple of years ago, and the best thing about that car was its still-working tape deck. Out came the high school mix tapes and I was rocking to Deep Purple and Sublime all over again!

@annienorris - For now, Brad is cheating a bit–but you can bet the first flea market on the side of the road he will be stopping and trying to pick up a few good cassettes!

Awesome, and I thank God everyday my 924S still has her Blaupunkt cassette!

DUDE MAKE MIX TAPES. Forget this “playlist” nonsense. Cassettes are widely available on eBay, new in box, either vintage, unopened or still manufactured! You gotta go ERA CORRECT! Start making tapes of late 80’s to '91/'92 - rock, pop, metal, dance, whatever! There’s also tons of online resources of all the biggest songs of those years. Making cassettes is incredibly fun and rewarding. From the joy of unwrapping the fresh cassette, sealed since 1992, the mind spins at the possibilities, to writing the final track selection on the J-Card (hint, just write on paper while you’re still making it!) to taking that first drive with a new cassette (weekly here!) it’s all wonderful, and will take you back.

You did the first part of the experience, the proper stereo.

Not get dubbin’

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Absolutely. I just went off!

I’m currently working on a mix from '82 - I discovered the KROQ 106.7 LA top 80 of the 80’s lists, year by year. Totally awesome- new wave, punk, alternative, pop… find it online and start dubbing.

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How can one play ipod on this radio when I see no input stereo jack connection on the face?

Absolutley. I upgraded my 1973 Mach 1 with a period correct AM/FM 8 track in 1978. Love it every time I jump in the car, and I keep a matchbook close by for those sound adjustments as needed. !

BTW…while i see no connection input for ipod on the new install of the 91 Firebird above, myself, on my 88 Classic, I too have cassette player …but my old cassettes are too old/dry now, they just dont last and now my cassette player is strained; not playing right/slipping/jamming turning to reverse every second…so ya…ipod would be the way to go, but I have nowhere to connect? ( and I dont really intend to change the radio as all originals since 1988, with 14000 orig. miles

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Totally with you on this one. To me, you just can’t beat the look of a factory radio in its home where it belongs.
If anyone was to question my dedication to this, I’d simply direct their attention to the factory radio I recently reinstalled in my ‘76 GMC pickup. AM only, and single speaker in the dash, haha!
Like you, I was very fortunate in that the dash/wiring hadn’t been hacked up. Sorting that out when it’s happened can be a real nightmare.

I’ve kept the stock Bose in my 96 Vette, but also installed an iSimple Bluetooth adapter hidden out of site. While I prefer stock look and the Bose still sounds great…having Waze for traffic alerts and Pandora for music is my today’s go to.

Nice score, it took me ages back in the late 90’s to get the correct stereo for my Fiero with the red back lighting. A tip on these stereos that a lot of people don’t know is that if you press two adjacent buttons together (at the same time) it acts as an additional preset. You set it the same as a regular preset, pres the two buttons together and hold. Also the belts in these are dead simple to replace, you should be able to buy them on line.

I tell people this all the time and your story proves it, when you install a stereo never cut the car or its wiring, always use an install kit because you never know when you will want to change the stereo either to keep your aftermarket unit when you sell the car or because the aftermarket unit failed.

@hope1 - The easiest way to use an Ipod or similar device is to utilize a tape adapter. It goes into the tape player and has a small cord which plugs into the Ipod. I don’t understand the wizardry inside it, but I know they work!

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Right! The trusty matchbook azimuth adjuster.
A few of my old friends still put a “stop/break” in songs we sing, mimicking the switching of the tracks.

This is one of the first things I do in all of my classic cars. Nothing looks better than the original(in my opinion) radio.

Great story Brad - glad the installer did a great job with the Pioneer; much easier when you leave the OE wiring harness. And I agree with all, the 80’s and 90’s GM stuff was easy to work on and quite straight forward. I used to trade out the stereo almost daily on our family GM stuff - felt quite proud of my 16/17 year old self… :slight_smile:

Thanks Kyle…I WAS HOPING IT WOULD EXIST …

My '81 AMC Spirit still has the factory AM/FM stereo… and it still works! It’s all I need.

As usual, HK is spot on with helpful suggestions…

As non-HK, I would also add if your ride doesn’t have the cassette tape thingy, you can purchase usually a small FM rebroadcaster, these usually plug into your cigarette lighter and have a cord that plugs into your iPod and then some sort of digital readout where you can choose the frequency you are broadcasting on (taking liberties to avoid commonly used ones in your area, of course.) Then, you just tune in your classic radio to that station.

Not sure if they make AM rebroadcasters or not, probably not.

Right on!!!-My 77 AMX Hornet is the same,factory am/FM with factory front and back speakers,definitely has the 70’s,80’s sound to it.