Classic Car Audio Buyers Guide

First, we want to say thank you for signing up and downloading our Classic Car Stereo buyer’s guide. This guide will explain the important components of your classic car stereo system and briefly go over the different options for all of the different components.

You have either spent numerous hours or likely thousands of dollars to restore your classic car and make it uniquely yours, whether that is a concours, original restoration, a mild custom, a pro-touring beast or a mixture in between. Usually the radio and the stereo system is something that comes up toward the end of the restoration when you are trying to button things up, or if it’s your daily driver, you are just looking to get some tunes to make driving and your commute more enjoyable. This guide contains information and tips so that you can make an informed decision on not only your radio, but all components for your classic car stereo system.

This buyer’s guide will help you in the following ways:

-          Determine Which Radio Model is Best For You

-          Explain the different dash speaker options and which one may best fit your needs

-          Explain Why people select Kick Panel Speakers

-          Things to think about when selecting your rear speakers or 6x9’s

-          What an amplifier does and why it helps

-          Explain the benefit of adding a subwoofer

About Classic Car Stereos: is the largest retailer of radio and audio products specifically for classic vehicles. We are the largest dealer for both Custom Autosound and Antique Automobile Radio and we are officially licensed dealer for Rockford Fosgate, Kicker, JL Audio, AAMP Global, Infinity, and JBL. Based on our specialized focus, we have the knowledge, experience and expertise to provide our customers with the right knowledge and information that will give them their desired result while working within their budget.

Picking Your Radio

Step1 – Has Your Dash Been Cut?

Many of the vehicles that our customers own are over 50 years old, with the newest vehicles being about 30 years old.  Most of these vehicles have changed hands at least once, many of them several times. It is important to know whether your dash has been cut to fit a different or more modern radio.

Figure 1

-          If your radio has 3 (sometimes 4) holes or openings, then it accommodates a tuner shaft radio and we will explain the options available to you.  

Figure 2

-          If your dash opening is roughly 7”x2”, there are no holes for the knobs, and it is not a VW or European make, chances are your dash has been cut.  If your dash has been cut, do not fear as we have several options to keep your dash looking classic while filling the hole in your dash.

If Your Dash Looks Like Image 1

1957 Chevy Radios Shown for Examples

Starting at $217

  • AM/FM
  • Aux
  • 200W Peak Power
  • Green/Black LCD
  • 4 Channel Amp Pre-Outs

Starting at $284

  • AM/FM
  • Aux
  • USB
  • Option to Add Bluetooth
  • Option to Add CD Player
  • 300W Peak Power
  • Black/White LCD
  • 4 Channel Amp Pre-Outs

Starting at $369

  • AM/FM
  • Bluetooth Built In
  • Front/Rear Aux
  • USB
  • Option to Add CD Player
  • 300W Peak Power
  • Customize Color of LCD Display
  • 4 Channel Amp Pre-Outs
  • Subwoofer Pre Out

Starting at $377

  • OE Look w/ Trap Door to Reveal Digital Display
  • AM/FM
  • Aux
  • USB
  • Bluetooth Built In
  • Option to Add CD Player
  • 300W Peak Power
  • Black/White LCD
  • 4 Channel Amp Pre-Outs
  • Subwoofer Pre-Out

Starting at $665

  • Most Original Looking
  • AM/FM
  • Bluetooth Built In
  • Rear Aux
  • 300W Peak Power
  • Working Mechanical Push Buttons
  • Dial Needle Actually Moves
  • 2 Channel Amp Pre-Out
  • Subwoofer Pre-Out

If Your Dash Looks Like Image 2

Starting at $235

  • Looks Classic
  • Chrome Finish
  • Detachable Face
  • Bluetooth Built In
  • CD Player Built In

Starting at $159.99

  • Full Feature Offerings
  • Bluetooth Built In
  • CD Player Built In
  • Customize LCD Colors
  • Remote/Phone Control Included
  • Sirius/XM Ready
  • Hide in Glovebox, Console or Under the Seat

Remotely Mount Radio Anywhere in Your Vehicle.

Starting at $350

  • Hidden Radio with 10' Cord to LCD Display
  • LCD Measures 2"(H)  x 5"(W) x .75"(D)
  • AM/FM
  • Aux
  • Option to Add Bluetooth
  • Option to Add CD Player
  • Flush Mount or Bracket Mount LCD Display
  • Hockey Puck Remote Included

Starting at $149.99 Not Including Amplifier

  • Great Sound Quality with Minimal Equipment Required
  • Stream Music from Your Phone Directly Into Amplifier
  • Option to Have Dash Control or Only Control from Your Phone

We offer the largest selection of mono to stereo dash speakers in the United States. Most classic cars came with a mono radio and only had a single speaker in the dash. All of our new radios play in stereo. This problem is solved with dual dash mount and dual voice coil dash speakers which play in stereo from a single dash location.

Starting at $45

  • (2) 3.5" or 4" Speakers Mounted On a Plate
  • Available to Fit 6x9, 4x10 & 5x7 Dash Speaker Applications
  • Kicker, Kenwood & Rockford Fosgate Upgrades Available
  • Kicker/Rockford Upgrade Speakers Recommended for Best Sound Quality

Starting at $45

  • Same As Dual Dash Mount But Include a Bracket Mounted to the Speaker for Installation
  • Typically Vehicle Specific
  • Kicker, Kenwood & Rockford Upgrades Available

Starting at $59.95

  • 2 Tweeters on a Single Speaker to Handle Left & Right Channels
  • Available to Fit 6x9, 4x10 & 5x7 Dash Speaker Applications
  • Standard & Premium Low Profile Options Available

Starting at $64.95

  • Same As Dual Voice Coil But Include a Bracket Mounted to the Speaker for Installation
  • Typically Vehicle Specific
  • Standard Profile Only
  • Low Profile Speakers Include 24" Of Metal Brackets that you bend to fabricate yourself

Dual Dash Mount

We offer dual dash mount and bracketed dual dash mount speakers with a variety of options, depending on your preference and/or stereo system. We offer the two in one dash speakers with Kicker speakers, Kenwood speakers and Custom Autosound speakers. We searched far and wide to find speakers that will fit the standard size plates yet still fit behind the dash as many have tweeters that stick out really far or the speaker itself is too deep. We have had remarkable success with the Kicker dual dash mount speakers and the customer feedback has been really good and for this reason, we recommend Kicker Dual Dash mount speakers. If you are just running your radio off of your amplifier, we recommend the CS series, if you are running an amplifier go with the KS series

Dual Voice Coil

Our dual voice coil dash speakers serve the same purpose as the dual dash mount but do it in a little bit different fashion. Instead of two speakers mounted to a plate, our dual voice coil dash speakers are single speakers that have two tweeters and two sets of connections on them, one for the left channel and one for the right. The dual voice coil speakers typically have more cone surface area and can produce better mid range than some dual dash mount speakers, but much of it depends on music, and which two speakers you are comparing. We offer two different brands of dual voice coil speakers, Custom Autosound and Antique Automobile Radio. The Antique Automobile Radio dual voice coil dash speakers have a much shallower mounting depth than the Custom Autosound ones do. As a result, there are some applications where the Custom Autosound dual voice coil dash speakers do not fit because they are too deep, but when you visit our site, these speakers will not show as available for those specific years, makes, and models.

We offer kick panel speakers for several vehicles. Kick panel speakers provide a mounting location that provides better acoustics than many dash speakers and they allow you to mount 6.5” speakers instead of 3.5” or 4” speakers. We offer speaker kick panels that come pre-loaded as well as empty. For speaker options, we off Kicker, JBL, Infinity, Pioneer and Custom Autosound speaker options. It is important to note the speaker depth as well as the tweeter/grille protrusion to make sure that any speakers you may add will fit if you order them empty. When you order them from us, we know that they fit.


Starting at $184.95

Starting at $209.95

Starting at $149.95

Starting at $174.95

Don’t forget to add Wavebreaker pads behind your kick panels. They remove the backwave distortion that cancels out your music and will make your speaker sound much much better. Spend the $30 and don’t look back!

6x9 speakers are among the most popular items we sell and are and were pretty standard in most vehicles from the 1950’s to now. We offer a wide range of 6x9 speakers to match the preferences and budgets of all customers. There are a couple things to think about when selecting your 6x9 speakers

Will you be mounting them on top of the package tray with the speaker grille showing or will you mount them below the package tray and use an OE perforated package tray or use some classic, flat looking grilles

  • All of Our 6x9's Speakers Can be Top Mounted
  • Only Select 6x9's Can Be Bottom Mounted
  • JL Audio C2-690tx - $259.99
  • Kicker CS Series - $89.99
  • Kicker KS Series - $89.99

We offers a couple different under seat speaker options which work great in customs, hot rods, trucks, convertibles and other cars which may not have a rear package tray. Our best sellers are the Undercover I and the Undercover II. The difference between them is the size of the woofer and the tweeter material. If you are using the USA-230, we generally recommend the Undercover I’s. Any of the other radios, or if you are using an amplifier, the Undercover II’s are the way to go. They actually sound much better than you would expect and provide a good amount of midrange and mid bass response.


  • Best with USA-230 Radio & USA-4 DIN
  • Single 5.25" Midrange Drivers


  • Recommended for USA-630, USA-740, Slidebar, OE Replica, Modern DIN Radios
  • Recommended if You are Using an External Amplifier
  • 8" Midrange Driver

An amplifier increases the amount of power that is sent to your speakers. Generally speaking, the more power going to your speakers, the better they will sound. There is no exact science to determine amp output, but we base it on constant, RMS power, not peak power. In addition, not all amps with the same number of watts sound the same.

  • Your radio says it puts out 45 or 50 watts per channel.  It doesn't!  Not anything to really worry about, but 45 watts from an amp and 45 watts from a radio are not even in the same ball park in terms of sound quality.  #0 watts from an amp will blow away 50 watts from a radio.  Radios all base their power rating on the peak power output and our amplifiers are based off of constant, or RMS, power output
  • Amplifiers do require thick power wire directly to the battery (Usually 10-4 AWG)
  • There are 4 types of amplifiers which are listed below in the chart
  • Designed For Subwoofers - Single Channel
  • Bass is not in Stereo
  • Range from 250-2500 Watts
  • Ensure Impedance Rating at 1, 2 or 4 Ohm Stable
  • Plays in 2 Channel Stereo
  • Typically Designed to Power 2 Speakers
  • Can Power 4 Speakers if 2 Ohm Stable
  • Can Power a Subwoofer if Bridgeable

  • Plays in 4 Channel Stereo (Front/Rear & Left/Right)
  • Typically Designed to Power 4 Speakers
  • Can Power 2 Speakers and a Subwoofer if Bridgeable (3 Channel)
  • Can Power 2 Speakers if Bridgeable
  • Popular Choice for Classic Cars
  • Plays in 4 Channel Stereo (Front/Rear & Left/Right) + 1 Channel for a Subwoofer
  • Most Can Sum Inputs for the Subwoofer so that you do not need a Subwoofer Pre-Out
  • Usually Between 600-1000 Watts RMS
  • Double Check Subwoofer Channel Ohm Rating
  • Most Popular for Classic Cars

Here is our take on amplifiers. You have invested time and money into restoring your classic car. Usually these vehicles are 5 or 6 digit investments. Spend a couple extra hundred dollars and get the amp. It will sound clear, it will sound clean, it won’t distort, you can turn it up and it doesn’t hurt your ears. It will just make driving your car that much more enjoyable.

Subwoofer are large, usually 8” or bigger speakers that only produce low-end sub bass response. In most instances they need to be installed in an enclosure and they require an amplifier to power them. Adding a subwoofer to your car’s stereo system, much like the amplifier stated above is worth the investment. It will just sound that much better. We are not talking about shaking the earth or bumping at a stoplight, or waking up the neighbors. We offer subwoofers and can walk you through the gain settings so that it fills in that bottom end of your music and gives you home theatre quality sound in your classic car. Chances are you home stereo system has a subwoofer of some sort. It is designed and matched well so that your music sounds amazing and natural. Same thing with your car, just need to pick the right ones

  • Available in 8", 10", 12 & 15" Diameter
  • Most Require Mounting in a Box
  • Single & Dual Voice Coil Available
  • Available in 8", 10", 12 & 15" Diameter
  • Subwoofer and Box come Pre-Assembled 
  • Ensure Amp Can Handle Wired Impedance
  • Sealed & Ported Enclosures Available

  • Available in 8", 10", 12" Diamter
  • Subwoofer and Box come Pre-Assembled 
  • Typically less than 7" Deep for Flexible Mounting
  • Allow You to Still Use Your Trunk
  • Can Be Mounted Inside Truck Cab
  • Available in 8", 10", 12" Diameter
  • Subwoofer, Amplifier and Enclosure are all in One Box
  • Easiest Way to Add Bass
  • Offered in Low-Profile Packages as shallow as only 3" for Under Seat Mounting

We offer a wide range of accessories that either complete or enhance your classic car stereo system. Many of these accessories are simply things that go unnoticed until you actual know that they exist and once you do, they make things much easier and simpler.

  • Hidden & Mast Antennas Available
  • Hidden Antenna is one of our most popular items
  • Converts Your Cigarette Lighter Dash Opening to a 3.5mm Auxiliary Jack & USB Port (Radio USB Port Req'd)
  • Clean & Simple Installation
  • Don't Need to Access Rear of the Radio to Chage Thumb Drive, Charge Phone, etc.

  • Add Bluetooth to any of our radios to stream Bluetooth music to your phone
  • BluKit for USA-630, Slidebar & Secretaudio allows for Handsfree Calling
  • Required to Connect Speakers to Radio or Amplifier
  • Available in 25 Foot Lengths
  • 16 AWG is Sufficient for Most Speakers & Subwoofers
  • 500+ Watts for Subwoofer Should use 12 AWG

Installing sound deadening in your vehicle does two different things, first as you expect, it helps keep the cart quiet and literally deadens the sound. The sound insulation helps improve the sound quality of your stereo system as it adds mass and a barrier to your vehicle's metal surfaces well as it keeps road, engine, vibration and other noise out. The second advantage of sound deadening is that it acts as a thermal insulator to keep both heat and cold out of your vehicle. Heat is the main issue with classic cars as they are primarily driven in clear, warm(ish) weather. Most exhausts are run underneath the car and the heat transfer from the exhaust to the floor board and into the car is actually pretty significant.

  • Gives you the exact square footage needed to fully sound deaden the entire vehicle - Floor Firewall, Doors, Trunk, Roof (except for under the actual hood)
  • Available with Black or Silver Backing
  • Includes Material to Cover the Roof
  • 58 Sq. Ft of Sound Deadening Material
  • Available with Black or Silver Backing

  • 2 Sq. Feet
  • Perfect for Installing Behind Kick Panels or Dash Speaker
  • Eliminates Backwave Distortion
  • Perfect for Behind Kick Panels
  • Drastically Improves Sound Quality
  • Only $30 for a Pair
  • They Work and they are worth it - Trust Us
We have basically every aspect and component of a classic car stereo system. We hope that you have found this guide helpful and useful in your search for audio for your vehicle. We try to keep this guide as up to date as possible with the ever changing technology of our world today and smart phones. If you have any further questions regarding a stereo for your vehicle, please do not hesitate to contact us. You can email us at or call us at 888-789-7297. We are here Monday through Friday, from 8am to 5pm Pacific Time.