6 Things to Think About When Buying a Classic Car Radio
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6 Things to Think About When Buying a Classic Car Radio


When buying a direct-fit, classic car radio, there are many different options, and the choices range from roughly $200 up to $800 for the radios themselves. However, we have created some questions that you can answer to help you determine the best radio for your vehicle and your application. There are several different factors and it isn't always black and white as to which one is best. We will go over the 5 things to think about as well as provide answers and direction based on you might respond.

  1. Do you want Bluetooth?
  2. How Original Does it HAVE to Look?
  3. Do want or need a USB Port?
  4. Do you care about sound quality?
  5. Do you NEED the GM or Ford Logo
  6. Do you want your radio to match your digital gauges or vehicle color?

Do you want Bluetooth?

All of the classic car radios either come with Bluetooth or can have Bluetooth added on. The Custom Autosound USA-740 and the Antique Automobile Radio OE Replica radios come with Bluetooth built-in. The OE Replica radio supports hands-free calling, and the microphone is hidden between the pushbuttons. With the USA-740, the radio comes with an external microphone that you plug into the radio and run to your vehicle's interior.

The Custom Autosound USA-630 and Slidebar radios require the addition of the BluKit to enable Bluetooth hands-free calling. The BluKit is sold separately and plugs into the CD changer port in the back of the radio. The BluKit has an additional Y plug so that you can install both the BluKit and the CD-1 CD player. You don't have to pick one or the other.

The final option is to use our 12V RCA Bluetooth adapter with the Custom Autosound USA-230. Our CCS12V-BT uses the 12V power antenna lead or remote wire on the radio for power and the RCA cables plug into the RCA auxiliary jack on the back of the radio. This converts your RCA AUX input into a Bluetooth streaming input. This method and device does not allow for hands-free calling. It only allows you to stream your music from your phone to the radio, and out your cars speakers.

Built In
  • USA-740
  • OE Replica
Add-On w/ Handsfree
  • USA-630
  • Slidebar
Streaming Only
  • USA-230

How Original Does it HAVE to Look?

Are you buidling a Concours vehicle and making sure that every detail looks exactly as it did when it left the showroom? Or, are you just picky and you want it to look like the original radio that came in the car, regardless of what has or has not been customized? If it HAS to be original, the Antique Automobile Radio OE Replica radios are probably your best bet. These radios are not available for every vehicle, but they have something that will fit in many of the most popular classic cars. The attention detail however, comes at a price. These radios start around $600 and go as much as $800+. You are definitely paying a premium for the OE Replica radios.

If the price point of the AAR radios is too steep for your budget, check out the Custom Autosound Slidebar radios. These radios are designed to look pretty close to original. The Slidebar radios have the slidebar (hence the name) that was originally used to switch between AM and FM. But, with these radios, that bar actuates a trap door, false-front, analog display that disappears to show you the modern, LCD screen. The Slidebar radios are not made to the exacting detail as the OE Replica radios, but they are also significantly less expensive.

OE Replica
USA-740
Slidebar
USA-630 & USA-230

Do you want a USB Port

If you want and need a USB port to charge your phone or to play songs off of a thumb drive, the Custom Autosound USA-740, USA-630, and Slidebar radios are your best options. The USA-230 does not come with a USB port and the AAR OE Replica radios do not have USB. Please Note - the USB port on the Custom Autosound radios will not play the music on your iPhone or Android. That is best handled via Bluetooth or AUX. However, it will charge your phone.

With USB
  • USA-740
  • Slidebar
  • USA-630
No USB
  • OE Replica
  • USA-230

Do you care about sound quality?

If you really care about sound quality, you should probably get an amplifier. But, if that isn't in the cards, there is a power difference between the USA-230 and all of the other radios. The USA-230 power output is 200 watts peak while all the other models put out 45W RMS. So, if you want it to sound good, get an amp. If you get an amp, you can skip reading the rest of this section. If you don't want to, or can't get an amp, don't get the USA-230. If you just want to fill the hole and listen to AM radio so that you have something to listen to, the USA-230 does the trick.

Sounds Great
Sounds OK
  • USA-740
  • OE Replica
  • Slidebar
  • USA-630
AM Radio/Fill the Hole
  • USA-230

Do you NEED to GM or Ford Logo?

If you are thinking of buying the AAR OE Replica radio, skip this section. It doesn't pertain to you. If you are thinking about a Custom Autosound Radio, the USA-230 and the USA-630 both come with either a GM or Ford officially licensed logo on the radio. The USA-740 and the Slidebar radio do not have the logo badge. If you absolutely want or need that logo, go with the USA-230 or the USA-630. In our opinion, the USA-740 radio and the Slidebar radio are better products, but they don't have the logo.

GM/Ford Logo
  • USA-230
  • USA-630
1967-1972 Chevy C/K Truck USA-230 Shown Above
1973-1979 Ford Truck USA-630 Shown Above
No Logo
  • USA-740
  • OE Replica
  • Slidebar
1967-1972 Chevy C/K Truck OE Replica Shown Above
1973-1979 Ford Truck USA-740 Shown Above

Do you want your radio to match your digital gauges or vehicle color?

If you want your radio to match your digital gauges' color or the color of your vehicle, the USA-740 or the Slidebar radios are the way to go. The USA-230 and the USA-630 have a negative LCD screen with a black (or very dark green) background with white LCD letters and numbers. With the USA-740 and the Slidebar radio, you can choose between 7 different colors, red, blue, white, green, cyan, magenta, and orange. The LCD color is purely an aesthetic choice. The higher-end radios have this feature; the lower end radios don't. The AAR radios illuminate in the color that the radio lit up originally.

Hopefully, these six questions have helped you decide which radio is the right one for you. As always, you can contact us below, and we will be more than happy to answer any further questions and help you get the best classic car radio for your vehicle.

7 Color LCD
  • USA-740
  • Slidebar
Black/White
  • USA-630
  • USA-230
Matches the Original
  • OE Replica
Need more info? We'd be happy to help.
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