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9/10/12 12:49am - Original Message: 'My low buck Delco radio resto/upgrade story'
daveo76
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Vancouver, WA - USA

Vette(s):
1976 Silver/Firethorn. L48, 4spd. Original 2 bolt, vortec heads, 9.4:1 CR, Speed Pro Cam: 224/224@0.050, 112 LSA, Eagle Steel Crank.

Joined: 8/25/2005
Posts: 831
I've gotten a lot from C3VR over the years.  My resto is more or less done now (OK, they're never done, but at least I can drive the thing now) so I'd like to start trying to give something back to the community.  This story will not apply to most of you, but maybe there's someone out there that will benefit from this.  First you may want to watch the video:


I went through a lot of debate with myself about what to do with the radio.  The original worked OK, but it only had two speakers that didn't have good sound quality and it didn't have any way to play an external source such as an Ipod (really the only way to listen to music now for me).  I looked at all the aftermarket options available, I wanted a stock look with the original bezel (and knobs) so that left few options.  The only one I really wanted was the one that a few of the vendors sell that looks and works identical to the Delco, but has Ipod hookups and four speaker outputs (some have been converted to digital).  Those were $500 - $600 so that option was out for me.  (too many other things to spend $600 on).  My next option was to have the original refurbed with some upgrades added like an aux input and possibly pre-amp outputs.  I even started talking at length with a Delco radio rebuilder via email and thought we came up with a deal, but it just became too complicated and expensive so that plan was scrapped.  So here's what I ended up doing:

First, I converted to a four speaker system.  The original Delcos really need speakers that are rated at 8-10 ohms.  The vast majority of speakers sold today are 4 ohms.  If you just swap out the two original speakers for two better aftermarket ones it's possible to fry the amp inside the Delco.  BUT, and here's the beautiful part, two 4 ohm speakers, wired in series, add up to 8 ohms.  So, I ended up adding two speakers in the back so now I have a left channel with 8 ohms resistance and a right channel with 8 ohms resistance - the head unit doesn't know the difference.  For the speakers I used some medium quality 3x5 Pioneers in the front (original dash locations) and some medium quality JBL 5x7's in the back.  In a '76, there is room right in front of the rear wheel well behind an interior panel.  The wiring in series part is important and a bit unusual; speakers are normally wired in parallel.  Let me know if you want more info.  The sound of the 4 speaker system is pretty good - you won't win any awards at a stereo competition, but it sounds pretty good to me while driving.  

Second, I wanted an aux input so I can play my Ipod.  In other cars I've tried the the FM modulators that broadcast to a specific FM channel with very limited success.  In an urban area, they are almost unusable.  I doubted that would work in an old Delco with a manual tuning knob.  But, I had known for sometime that there were similar devices that worked using a direct inline connection to the antenna port on the OEM radio.  This is the device I settled on:


Notice how inexpensive!  And it works great, far better than my expectations.  It comes with everything needed, including a switch panel with a port for a 1/8" headphone type plug, but you may have noticed from my video that I did something a little different.  I rewired the unit so I have a female jack inside my ashtray that a male 1/8" plug goes into.  Also, I replaced the included switch with one from radio shack that exactly fits the hole where my rear defroster switch goes.  (I never have need for the rear defroster and I don't think it's functional or even wired in my car anymore).  These mods required some soldering and other wiring skills, but the unit could easily be used as supplied.  I just wanted it to be less obtrusive.  As you can see from the video it works pretty slick and sounds decent.  

Probably not a good alternative for someone that wants a kickin' sound system or someone that doesn't already have a working original Delco (check on ebay, it seems like folks usually want around $300 for 'em!)  But if you just want a totally stock look but want some decent sound, this may be a good option.  I'm probably at around $130 or so for the whole set up.  Again, let me know if you'd like more info.  


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1976 Silver/Firethorn.  L48, 4spd.  Original 2 bolt, vortec heads, 9.4:1 CR, Speed Pro Cam: 224/224@0.050, 112 LSA, Eagle Steel Crank.
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9/10/12 6:00am - Reply: 'Re: My low buck Delco radio resto/upgrade story'
rod7515 Lifetime Member
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Red Lion, PA - USA

Vette(s):
1974 White 350 Corvette, TH400 Automatic 1972 Tangerine /Go Mango Convertible 383 Stroker, 2004r Automatic

Joined: 10/27/2006
Posts: 1172
thats really neat. Wish you would have had this up a year ago before I went for on of those aftermarket radios. Thanks for the info! Im sure others will follow you with this.
Rodney


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9/10/12 10:36am - Reply: 'Re: My low buck Delco radio resto/upgrade story'
Willis76 Lifetime Member
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Rockland, MA - USA

Vette(s):
76, L48, 4spd & 09, LS3, 6spd

Joined: 1/30/2003
Posts: 578
Great post - this will be be very helpful to anyone thinking about going to an after market radio. I wish I would have known about it too, but I do now. Thanks! Thumbs Up

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9/10/12 9:28pm - Reply: 'Re: My low buck Delco radio resto/upgrade story'
Sarge81 Lifetime Member
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WEST SENECA, NY - USA

Vette(s):
1981 Blue Ice Met. w/pearl ghost flames TKO500 5speed. LS1 Swap 3.45 Dana 44.

Joined: 12/3/2001
Posts: 2376
Good info! Thanks. I think I going to put one of these in so I can install one of Michele's XM/Sirius satellite radio docks in. I'm liking my no frills vintage Delco stereo, but this would be a bonus for the long trips cross country.

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GEN III 5.7L "LS6" Engine swap
TKO500 5 spd.
3.54 Dana 44
'69 "N11" Sidepipes
Borgeson Steering Box
Born 8/1981
Sequence #3975




Click here to see more pics of my Vette on CarDomain.


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9/14/12 7:59pm - Reply: 'Re: My low buck Delco radio resto/upgrade story'
daveo76
Standard Member
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Vancouver, WA - USA

Vette(s):
1976 Silver/Firethorn. L48, 4spd. Original 2 bolt, vortec heads, 9.4:1 CR, Speed Pro Cam: 224/224@0.050, 112 LSA, Eagle Steel Crank.

Joined: 8/25/2005
Posts: 831
Got to test the system out with the top off today.  Sounded pretty good, even at freeway speeds!  Gotta love cruisin' with the top off blasting away to Great White's "Rock Me"!  And we're enjoying a nice spate of good Sept weather here in the Pacific NW.  (Sorry, I know some regions aren't having as much luck right now).

Sarge, let us know how the Sirius thing goes, would love to know!


|UPDATED|9/14/2012 5:59:03 PM (AZT)|/UPDATED|


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1976 Silver/Firethorn.  L48, 4spd.  Original 2 bolt, vortec heads, 9.4:1 CR, Speed Pro Cam: 224/224@0.050, 112 LSA, Eagle Steel Crank.
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