Installing an Invisible Radio

Over the years and over thousands of miles, Katherine and I fantasized as to what it must be like to tour in style.  When it was cold or rainy, we would gaze longingly at our friends on tour in their cozy sedans.  Some even had a stereo to listen to!  Snug and dry!  To be sure, our 1929 Roadster has been a faithful, even enthusiastic tour car.  But even with its formfitting side curtains, we were often less than comfortable.

In July of 1999, I purchased a 1929 Murray Town Sedan from a fellow who had disassembled it to begin to restore it years ago.  Over the next 5 months, a new engine was installed, body secured and before long I was ordering an interior kit from LeBaron Bonney.  My longing for comfort and style befitting a man of my position (?) was actually coming true!

Wanting to preserve the integrity of the Town Sedan interior, I found myself pondering how to include an AM/FM Stereo/Cassette and CB unit in my new “Limo” without having ANY of it visible to the casual observer.  Well, with the exposed interior staring me in the face, it was now or never.

Where to put the speakers??  I don’t want them visible!  What about that little space under the rear quarter windows?  A four inch speaker will fit nicely there just above where the side arm rest is mounted.  There is plenty of depth for the speaker and if I recess the speaker mount enough, the upholstery material will act as speaker cloth with nothing visible.  I mounted four small “L” brackets in the enclosure.  Next, I mounted the speakers on heavy board and secured them to the “L” brackets, fastening them with pop rivets.

Okay, so now the speakers are hidden.  Yes, that was easy.  Now how do you position a modern 12 V AM/FM Stereo/Cassette deck so it is not visible?

With my town sedan, the only logical place I could identify was under the front seat, in the floor pan.  But wait!  How do you get the radio to turn it on/off, change channels, etc.?  Not to worry!  Such radios are routinely sold with remote controls.  Unfortunately, they are all wireless remotes that would not work with the unit concealed under the seat.  However, SONY makes a system with a wired-remote control (SONY model XR-C8200).  The control is pictured is only slightly larger than the size of a man’s thumb.  It plugs into the rear of the radio unit and when not in use, I can stow it under the seat cushion.  I had to fabricate a bracket to mount the radio unit on the floor pan being attentive to vertical clearance.  I don’t want it to interfere with the adjustable seat I have been longing for.

OK, we have successfully hidden the radio and speakers, but what about an antenna?  Everyone knows that to work properly, a radio must have an antenna.  There are several types of antennas available that do not require a visible antenna mast.  Some work better with FM and some are best with AM.  I tried an “invisible” AM/FM antenna and I found that radio stations were equally invisible.  So I made a bracket and now I have a conventional broadcast antenna mounted on the rear bumper mount opposite the new CB antenna.  Speaking of the CB antenna, I also wanted my CB to be “invisible”.  I installed a Cobra 75WX, which is a completely self-contained unit about the size of a large CB microphone.  It uses a connector box (also mounted under the seat in the pan) that I installed under the seat of my Roadster too!  Whichever “A” I am taking on the latest outing, I just plug the CB into the box of that car and go!

Every Model “A” body type presents a unique situation if you want to add the accessories I did.  Perhaps this story will trigger your imagination as to how you can discreetly make your “A” more (gag!) modern.

This tech tip was originally provided by Von Wolfe and printed in the July 2000 “A” Quail Call.

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