Classic Car Radios

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Buying Guide

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:

ClassicCarSteros.com 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.

Recommended

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.

$135

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

$175

  • 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 info@classiccarstereos.com or call us at 888-789-7297. We are here Monday through Friday, from 8am to 5pm Pacific Time.




Best Radio
The Best Classic Car Radio for your Vintage Car

Buyer's Guide - The Best Classic Car Radio


Introduction

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

Highlights

  • 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

Highlights

  • 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

Highlights

  • 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

Highlights

  • "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

Highlights

  • 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

Highlights

  • "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.



Conclusion

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.



Install Tips
Before Installing Your Classic Car Radio

Tips For Installing Your Classic Car Radio


Tips Before Installation

1. Bench Test Your Radio

All of our radios are tested before they leave the factory. However, SHIP HAPPENS. During the shipping process, your radio may fall 3 feet on the conveyor belt and there is a chance that a small, but dense, say 20 lb package could fall directly on top of that. We try to protect the packages as best as possible without going to the extreme, but radios do get damaged in shipping. It has happened and will likely continue to happen. In order to make sure your radio works out of the box, we recommend bench testing it. To bench test your radio, take the following steps:

A. Unpack the radio

B. Connect the power harness to the back of the radio

C. You must connect both the B+ and ACC wire to the positive side of your battery, jump starter, or any other 12V source

D. Connect the black, ground wire to the negative side of your battery, 12V source

E. Press the left tuner shaft knob in

F. The radio should light up. If it doesn't, make sure that you have all three wires connected properly

G. If it still doesn't light up, it means something went bad in the shipping process and we can replace your radio for you

2. Test Your Speaker Connections

Before connecting your speaker wires to the speaker wire harness, make sure you have a good connection running through your vehicle. The easiest way to do this is with a AA battery.

A. Touch the + speaker wire to the positive side of the battery

B. Touch the - speaker wire to the negative side of the battery

You should hear a slight "Pop" sound when contact is made to both + and -. If this happens, then you have good speaker connections and you can connect the speaker wires to the speaker wire harness that is included with the radio. If you do not hear a pop, double check the connections on the speaker itself. Our radios are designed to work on 4 ohm stereos and they do not operate with common ground speakers (speakers where the negative wire goes to the body).

3. Do Not Over-Tighten The Shaft Nuts

One of the easiest ways to ensure that your radio never turns on is by over-tightening the nuts on each tuner shaft. The tuner shafts are made from pot metal. If you over tighten the nut, it will crush the pot metal and the tuner shaft will stop working properly. When this happens, there are three likely outcomes.

A. The radio will not power on

B. The volume will jump when turning it up or down

C. The right station tuning shaft will jump all over the place when trying to tune to a station

4. Use Connectors with A Proper Crimp

There is no reason to twist wires and use electrical tape. Do not use wire nuts.  Wire nuts are good for your house which doesn't vibrate when it goes down the road.  The connection will go bad or come undone and when it does, it will likely short out the radio. For a couple of dollars, don't be lazy. Get some butt connectors and ensure that you have a good crimp on both ends.


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