Buyer's Guide - The Best Classic Car Radio
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The Best Classic Car Radio for your Vintage Car

Buyer's Guide - The Best Classic Car Radio


Our classic car radios are brand new, modern radios that are designed to look old and fit in your original dash while providing you with the latest car audio technology. These radios allow you to keep your dash original without sacrificing the ability to play music from your phone, add an amplifier, or even listen to an AM or FM station without the needle jumping on you because you hit a bump in the road.

There are many different options available. In this buyer's guide we will explain the differences between each brand and radio model, give our recommendations, and provide you with the questions you need to ask yourself in order to choose the right radio for your classic car.

Custom Autosound vs. Antique Automobile Radio

Custom Autosound and Antique Automobile Radio are the two brands of classic car radios that we carry. And while they both serve the same market, they do it very differently.

Custom Autosound is the leader in modern radios that fit the dashes of classic vehicles. They manufacture four in-dash replacement radios for classic cars; the USA-230, USA-630, USA-740, and the Slidebar. Each radio has slightly different features, but they are all designed to fit directly into your car without having to cut the dashboard and they are all made to have a classic look with modern technology. Custom Autosound also offers the SST-V hidden radio that allows you to keep your dashboard completely original and have a remote controlled radio hidden wherever you choose.

Antique Automobile Radio OE Replica radios are designed to look as close as possible to the original radio that came in your vehicle and provide you with modern features. These radios come standard with Bluetooth built-in and an auxiliary input in the rear. This attention to detail on these radios is unbelievable. The displays have roll-over dials where appropriate. The pushbuttons work and feel like mechanical pushbuttons even though there is a digital tuner on the board to ensure you don't have the stations jumping on you. They are metal where they are supposed to be metal and plastic where they are supposed to be plastic.These radios are specifically tooled to fit the exact years that are specified. If you want the most original appearance possible, the AAR OE Replica is the way to go.

*Our Pick for Best Overall Classic Car Radio


  • Bluetooth Built-In
  • 5 Ch. Pre-Outs w/ Subwoofer Control
  • 7 Color LCD Display
  • Working Rear Knobs
  • AM/FM Digital Tuner w/ AUX

The USA-740 is the top of the line classic car radio from Custom Autosound. It has Bluetooth built-in, 5 channel pre-outs, dual AUX inputs (front 3.5mm and rear RCA), working rear knobs, and a 7 color LCD display to match your digital gauges or the color of your vehicle. In addition, the USA-740 also has the same featues you get on the lower priced radios including a 45W per channel output, the option to add a CD player, and a USB port on the back of the radio. This is the most popular Custom Autosound radio and it will fit in your original dash location without forcing you to hack up your dash. If you need a radio to fit in the dash of your classic car and you want Bluetooth, this is our "Go-to".

Recommended For

  • Classic car owners that want Bluetooth
  • Those that want separate subwoofer control/pre-out
  • Those that want the best value
  • Classic car owners that want their radio to match their gauges or vehicle color

Not Recommended For

  • Concours restorations that need the radio to look 100% like the original
  • Classic car owners that don't care about sound and just need somthing to, "Fill the hole"
  • Those that want a GM or Ford badge on the radio itself

*Our Pick for Most Original Looking Radio


  • Looks Nearly Identical to the Original
  • Bluetooth Built-In
  • Working, Mechanical Pushbuttons
  • AM/FM Digital Tuner
  • AUX Input

The Antique Automobile Radio OE Replica, or AAR radios are designed to look exactly like the original radio that came in your vehicle, yet provide you with the modern features and technology you expect today. These radios differ from the Custom Autosound radios in their attention to detail and year-specific differences. The AAR OE Replica radios are metal where they are supposed to metal, plastic where they are supposed to be plastic, and the knobs are year and model specific. These radios have Bluetooth built-in, and the microphone is hidden between the pushbuttons to keep things looking as close to original as possible. You don't need to add or see any wires running to a plug-in, external microphone. The needle on the tuner dial moves when you change stations, but the back-end of the radio is digital, you don't have to worry about the radio losing the station when you hit a bump in the road. If you are building a show quality classic car or if you have a Concours restoration, the OE Replica is the best classic car radio, in our opinion.

Recommended For

  • Concours restorations
  • Classic car owners that want the most original looking radio
  • Those that have the budget to spend $600+ on a radio

Not Recommended For

  • Budget minded, classic car owners
  • Those that don't want to spend less than $600 on a radio
  • Resto-mods that have complete, custom interiors

Custom Autosound USA-230

*Our Pick for Best Budget Classic Car Radio


  • AM/FM Digital Tuner
  • AUX Input
  • "Fills the Hole"

The Custom Autosound USA-230 is the best radio for the budget-minded, classic car owner simply looking to fill the hole. The USA-230 has the basic features you might expect in a modern radio. The sound quality of the USA-230 is going to be worse than both the USA-630 and the USA-740. But, if you just need something, it will do the trick. It is also possible to add Bluetooth to the USA-230, but you will not get hands-free calling. We offer a 12V RCA, Bluetooth adapter that will convert your AUX input to a Bluetooth connection, so if you just need some sound and you want Bluetooth on a budget, the USA-230, and the CCS-12VBT will do the trick.

Recommended For

  • Budget-minded classic car owners
  • Classic car owners looking to "Fill the Hole"
  • Classic car owners that only listen to AM radio
  • Classic car owners that aren't concerned about sound quality

Not Recommended For

  • Concours resotrations
  • Classic car owners that want Bluetooth hands-free calling
  • High-end restorations looking for the most original appearance
  • Classic car owners that want the best sound without using an external amplifier

*Our Pick for Most Original Looking Radio for Less


  • "Trap Door" Digital Display
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • AM/FM Digital Tuner
  • USB Port
  • Option to Add a CD Player (Sold Separately)
  • Limited Applications

The Custom Autosound Slidebar is the best classic car radio if you are looking for something that looks very close to the original, but you don't want to spend the $600+ on an AAR OE Replica radio. The Slidebar radios have a trap door design that shows a classic looking, analog dial that disappears and re-appears when you push the slidebar to the left or right. The Slidebar radio has many of the same features as the USA-740, including built-in Bluetooth. The Slidebar radio has limited fitment offerings, which is a drawback, but if it's available for your car, it is one of the best options you have. From a features standpoint, the Slidebar has an AM/FM digital tuner, built-in Bluetooth, USB port, AUX input, subwoofer pre-out and control, a 7 color LCD display, and working rear knobs. The Slidebar radio is a more original looking USA-740.

Recommended For

  • Classic car owners that want as close to original appearance, but don't want to pay $600+.
  • Classic car owners that want a more original appearance than the USA-740
  • Value-minded customers
  • Classic car owners that want their radio to match their gauges or vehicle color

Not Recommended For

  • Concours restorations
  • Classic car owners that want their radio to look 100% original
  • Classic car owners looking to simply "Fill the hole"

Custom Autosound USA-630

*Our Pick for Best Radio without Bluetooth


  • USB Port
  • Option to Add Bluetooth with BluKit (Sold Separately)
  • Option to Add CD-1 External CD Player
  • Officially Licensed GM & Ford Logo
  • AM/FM Digital Tuner with AUX

The USA-630 is the middle-tier radio from Custom Autosound and features an AM/FM digital tuner, auxiliary input, and a USB port. The USA-630 will also allow you to add hands-free Bluetooth technology when you purchase the BluKit (sold separately). In addition to adding Bluetooth, you can also add a CD player with the CD-1 external CD player, which can mount in the glove box, under your dash, under a seat, or in the trunk. The USA-630 comes with an officially licensed GM or Ford logo for those specific vehicles which the USA-740 does not. The display on the USA-630 is a negative LCD display that has white letters and numbers with a black background.

Recommended For

  • Those that want a Vehicle Logo Badge
  • Those that want a CD player but don't care about Bluetooth
  • Budget minded customers that care about sound, but not Bluetooth

Not Recommended For

  • Concours restorations that need the radio to look 100% like the original
  • Those looking for the cheapest option to "Fill the Hole"
  • Classic car owners that want to add a subwoofer
  • Classic car owners that want their radio to match their gauges or vehicle color
  • Those that want a Bluetooth radio and don't care about the badge

Custom Autosound SST-V

*Our Pick for Best Hidden Radio


  • "Black Box" Radio w/ 2" x 5" x 1" LCD Display
  • Display Mounts with a Bracket or Flush Mount Bezel Included
  • AM/FM Digital Tuner
  • Bluetooth Built In
  • USB Port
  • Option to Add a CD Player (Sold Separately)
  • Hockey Puck Style Remote Included

The Custom Autosound SecretAudio is the original hidden, classic car radio. The SecretAudio SST-V is the latest version and includes Bluetooth built-in. The SecretAudio SST-V consists of a "Black Box" style radio that can be mounted under a seat, in the drunk, in the glovebox, or wherever else you may have room. Then, an LCD display connects to the black box and you can mount the display by your dash, in your dash, in the glovebox, or in a console for a sleek, hidden appearance. The SecretAudio SST-V allows you to keep your factory radio in the dash, or allows you to install a radio without cutting a hole if you have an older street rod that never came with a radio.

In terms of features, the SST-V has virtually everything you would want with an AM/FM digital tuner, Bluetooth, USB, and AUX. You can add a CD player by purchasing the CD-1 separately. In order to get AM/FM reception, you will need to ensure that your antenna cable reaches the black box, or you can opt for our hidden amplified antenna. The box itself measures 6.5" (D) x 6.7" (W) x 1.96" (H). The display measures 2" (H) x 5" (W) x 1" (D) and it connects to the SST-V with a 10 foot long cable. If you need a longer cable we offer extension cords. Finally, the SST-V comes with a hockey-puck style remote control which allows you to turn the unit on and off, adjust volume, and adjust tracks.

Recommended For

  • Those that want to leave their original radio in the dash, but still have a modern radio.
  • Those that have a vehicle that never came with a radio and they don't want to cut a hole.
  • Those that have a custom, shaved dash and don't like the look of a radio in the dash.
  • Classic car owners that want their radio to match their gauges or vehicle color

Not Recommended For

  • Those that a functioning, original looking radio in the dash.
  • Classic car owners looking to simply "Fill the hole"

Which Classic Car Radio is Right for You?

Classic Car Radios Comparison Chart

The above chart details the different features for each radio. There are several factors to consider and it isn't always black and white as to which one is best. However, we have created some questions that you can answer to help determine the best radio for your vehicle and your application.

How Important is Bluetooth to You?

Bluetooth is the new standard for car audio. All of the classic car radios either come with Bluetooth or can have Bluetooth added on. However, you may not feel you need built-in Bluetooth on a classic car that is rarely driven.

The OE Replica, USA-740, Slidebar, and SST-V radios include built-in Bluetooth for making hands-free calls and for streaming music.

For the USA-630 the BluKit can be added and it supports hands-free calling and music streaming.

For the USA-230 the CCS12V-BT can be added. It supports music streaming, but it does not support hands-free calling.

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.

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.

Do You Need 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.

Do You Want to Play CDs?

None of the radios we sell include a CD player. However, we do offer the CD-1 add-on CD player that can be connected to the USA-740, USA-630, Slidebar, or SST-V radios. It cannot be connected to the USA-230 or the OE Replica radios.

How Much 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 don't want to, or can't get an amp, don't get the USA-230. You won't get enough power from the USA-230.

Do You Need the 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.

Do You Want to Match Your Digital Gauges or Car 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.

What is Your Timeframe?

This question only applies if the AAR or Custom Autosound radios are out of stock. But, if you need a radio soon and the AAR radio is out of stock, you may not get it in time. The lead times for AAR radios can run six months or longer. It would be best if you went with a Custom Autosound radio.


Ultimately, the decision of which classic car radio to buy hinges on individual preferences such as budget, the importance of key features, and the desire for an original look. Whether pursuing concours restorations, original appearances, or modern conveniences, the diverse range of classic car radios ensures there is a suitable option for every enthusiast. If you need additional information or help buying your classic car radio, we are here to help! Contact us using the links listed below.

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