If there’s anything I HATE it’s a vintage car with a crappy, modern, aftermarket radio. It’s like looking at one of those cougars on Real Housewives, who would’ve looked fine if she left herself alone, but decided to opt for Meg Ryan’s lips and a giant set of boobs. Until recently, however, the choices for better tunes were pretty limited. But the options today are much better. Here’s how you avoid making your dash look dumb:
A few manufacturers like RetroSound offer decent electronic tuners in dual DIN format, but digital readouts still look lame, and I’d like the look of a vintage 1970s Chevy radio to match the dash in my ’79 Blazer. It’s got an old Pioneer SuperTuner in it now, which I guess is kind of “period correct,” but I’m going to find an appropriate 1979 AM radio and have it modified.
I used Precision Stereo Repair to do the same thing in my 1968 Buick Riviera. You can read the whole story I wrote about it here.
Robert Pacini runs the company in a tiny little corner of a strip mall in New Hartford, New York, way out near Utica. He’s been in the vintage radio repair business for 35 years and says he can repair any vintage radio or aftermarket stereo, up until those manufactured around 2001. It’s a warren of vintage audio equipment of every shape and size.
Now that I think about it, he’s probably got one exactly like I’m looking for, just sitting on this shelf ready to slip into a box.
When I had Robert work on my Buick’s “Sonomatic” radio, for just $50, he simply added an input jack to the AM radio.
With an input jack in place, I just plugged my iPhone (or my old MP3 player) in and I could listen to anything I wanted to, including all my favorite podcasts. Robert wired it up so whatever you plug into the input just overpowers the AM signal, so there’s no other switches or unsightly modifications to make.
For another $50, Robert suggested “hot rodding” the AM radio with a few tricks to increase its output, which definitely delivered better sound both on the AM band and through the MP3 player.
If you’re doing a full-on restoration (which I’m not), Robert can also completely restore your radio for about a hundred bucks. He cleans all the controls and switches, aligns the coils for the best reception, checks every circuit, cleans inside the dial window and repaints the dial pointer.
Robert added a six-foot lead to the radio. At first, I had it running through where the cigar lighter used to be, but when I restored the console, I had plenty of lead to run it through a hole in the console storage box, just like in a modern car.
It was the best hundred bucks I ever spent on that car. It made driving the car a whole lot more pleasant.
Precision Stereo Repair
8441 Seneca Turnpike
New Hartford, New York 13413