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Early-Model Mustang Radio Revamp

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by Lee Mathias  More from Author

Pump Up The Volume With Kicker Audio.

An original 1969 Mustang convertible had two options for “in-car” entertainment; an AM radio with one dash speaker, or an AM/FM with door speakers. Rob Huting’s ’69 had been upgraded many years ago with a state-of-the-art (at that time) AM/FM cassette and two door speakers. Since Rob drives his ’69 every day, he wanted more entertainment than the AM/FM cassette unit, but was not ready to go as far as headrest TVs, a trunk full of bells and whistles or a back seat that looks like the demo room at a major car audio store. Rob will be attending the 45th Anniversary Mustang Roundup at Barber Motorsport Park in Birmingham, Alabama, to display his ’69. A new Kicker system would add even more enjoyment to the drive.

Rob selected an Alpine CDA 9886 head unit with a peak power of 50W, 6 channel preamp output, wireless remote, USB input with a memory card slot, Ipod connection and a detachable flip down face for security. The Kicker system he chose has two KS6502 speakers, two KS502 speakers, a VS10L7 sub with enclosure and a ZX700.5 five channel amp. He obtained an assortment of Kicker cables and connectors to tie it all together. The system will give him the entertainment he wants and the capability to expand it later with plug and play components.

Rob wanted a reliable system that would cause the least intrusion into a stock appearance. No major cutting would be done that would affect the collector value of the Mustang. The ’69 already had door speakers, so the openings simply had to be reshaped. The rear quarter speakers could be installed with the vinyl covering on the quarter-panel trims functioning as a speaker cover – this completely hides the speakers. We chose to use the speaker grills provided in the kit since they matched the fronts. The dash simply required modifying the radio cover plate to fit the Alpine unit.

Installing the sub was a little different. To keep the enclosure from taking up too much space, we fabricated a sub enclosure and mounting panel for the amp that preserved trunk space and could be easily removed without damage to the original convertible body. All the wires were run through the door sill areas and behind panels, rubber grommets were used when going through holes, the wire ends were tinned with solder before installation, and all the wiring was fastened securely to the car’s structure. Power for the system comes directly from the battery with an inline fuse at the battery connection. The system ground is a bolt welded in the trunk area and holds a ground from each component. For reliable performance, proper installation of the wiring is essential.
Thanks to Kicker, Rob’s Mustang now has a modern audio system without sacrificing the stock look he enjoys.




The Alpine head unit, Kicker system components and a classic ’69 Mustang Convertible.



Add a spare and you have no trunk. Even notching the speaker enclosure would not provide usable trunk space. The only alternative was to fabricate a custom woofer box and amp mount. The new trunk board that mounts the amp will be removable with four bolts to access the area for future service.



A full-size cardboard cutout gives us the basic dimensions. The speaker and sound chamber from the original enclosure were fitted into this mockup. A trip to Home Depot for supplies and we were ready to begin.



In order to provide more clearance for the enclosure, we welded up the original bulb holes in the taillight housings and relocated them to the bottom. This allows access for changing the bulbs without removing the system. New bulb holders came from Advance Auto Parts and the modified housings were detailed.



The new enclosure and amp mounts are installed. The taillight housings and spare tire are installed for a test fit.



All the hidden wiring has been installed. The mounting board is drilled for the wires to come from behind. Be sure and make the holes large enough for the preinstalled ends. The covering will have a slit for each wire and hide the hole when it is installed.



The power supply wires come from the battery under the hood. They run to the trunk through the door sill. Be sure to run the power wires down one side of the car and the speaker wires down the other side. This prevents electronic interference and gives you more room to work.



Details count. We painted the trunk hinge area with a grey splatter paint that compliments the original style trunk mat. We covered the mounting boards with the same material as the mat to give them a factory look. Notice how the wires come through the slits, hiding the holes we drilled. Clean and neat.



The original radio faceplate has been trimmed to fit the head unit. The cage that mounts the radio is installed where the original AM lived. The wires can be easily run by removing only the dash pad on this Mustang.



The finished dash installation is clean and neat. The radio looks like a factory install except it has no knobs



The tweeters offered the option of mounting remote from the speakers. The original radio speaker hole in the dash pad was a perfect location. We fabricated a plate for the opening and installed them.



The doors had been previously cut for speakers, so we simply modified the openings in the sheetmetal for the new Kickers.


 
The door panels also had to be opened up for the new speakers to fit.


Here is where the speaker wires pass from inside the car into the door. The sleeve prevents chafing as the door opens and closes. Don’t forget to use rubber grommets when wires pass through metal holes. We reused the factory sleeves, but some heat shrink tubing and generic grommets would also protect the wires.



The installed door speakers look nice, but would look better behind the original door speaker grills in the deluxe door panels. This is where we were limited by the location of the previous speakers and lack of original grills. To make it more original would have meant new door panels, grills chrome trim and carpet. The rear quarter-panel speakers were mounted externally to match the look of the door speakers. We mounted the woofer control near the ignition switch to easily control the thump. Under the hood the power supply comes directly off the positive battery post with an in line fuse supplied by Kicker. Remember, always put the fuse as close to the battery as possible, always route the wiring neatly and tie it to the engine compartment walls. Never use crimp on connectors without solder, vibration over time will cause loose connections and degraded performance. That does it. A few simple rules, good components and you can pump up the volume and go.


SOURCES
Kicker Audio
www.kicker.com

Kelley’s Restorations
(404) 966-4004
www.kelleysrestorations.com

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