Bill W's 1964 Plymouth Belvedere
A classic stereo for a classic ride
Dominic J. DeVito has been a member of the Crutchfield A/V writing squad since 2006. He was born and raised in Staunton, Virginia, and attended the University of Notre Dame, where he earned a degree in chemical engineering. During that time he developed a passionate obsession for experiencing music, both live and recorded, which he parlayed into a 15-year stint in record retail (much to the chagrin of his very patient parents) and a long-running tenure as a rock DJ at WTJU. His expositions can be found in back issues of Plan 9's 9X Magazine as well as Schools That Rock: The Rolling Stone College Guide. He's been to more concerts than he can remember.
More from Dominic DeVito
Bill W. from Upland, CA, loves classic cars, his 1964 Plymouth Belvedere hardtop coupe in particular. It's got over 306,000 miles on the odometer and is still going strong. However, he was tired of having his music selection limited by the cassettes he had on hand, so he asked Crutchfield to help him move into the present era with a stereo that would still preserve the old-school look of his Belvedere's dash. That's when we pointed him to our offerings by RetroSound, who specialize in stereos for vintage vehicles.
Bill's baby blue Belvedere sports classic lines, and now boasts a retro-looking stereo.
- RetroSound Model One digital media receiver for classic cars (black)
- RetroSound faceplate and knob kit (black front knobs, chome back knobs, and black plate)
Classic looks with modern sound
Bill picked up a RetroSound Model One receiver and one of their nearly universal faceplate and knob kits that's designed primarily for European cars but would fit the Belvedere's dash. Bill told us that he had an older $25 tape deck stolen from the car in the past, and the damage done to the car was far worse than the value of the deck, so he was trying to avoid tempting potential evildoers further. The Model One looks like an ordinary AM/FM radio with an auxiliary input and a digital display, but behind the scenes it has a control box with a USB input and SD memory card reader which can live in the glove compartment or another convenient spot.
Bill's RetroSound Model One in the dash of his '64 Belvedere after the first installation
Bill describes his initial installation to us: "It took me about four hours to get the old radio/cassette deck pulled out and the new radio in. It wasn't actually too difficult. It's just that I took some time to measure things several times and try my best to get the radio's side brackets and shafts mounted on the radio and adjusted to where I would not have to be pulling the radio out several times to fine-tune the amount the shafts and radio protruded through the dash of my car. The time was well spent, though, as the radio went in smoothly and I did not need to pull it back out and reposition the shafts or brackets. Once that was done, the rest of the job of connecting the wires was simple (I decided to just use crimp-on connectors on this installation, rather than soldering them).
A flawless finished installation
You might not be able to notice it but in the first dash picture the faceplate's crooked by just a hair. Bill explains: "I noticed that the faceplate isn't matched up quite perfectly in the recess of the original radio trim plate. The new faceplate's left end is very slightly lower than the right side. What I'm going to do to level it out will be to take the new faceplate off for a few minutes, loosen up the shaft nuts, and then put a very small shim in the bottom of the left shaft hole in the dash opening to raise the left shaft up that tiny bit to get the faceplate level. I actually had a little shim in that hole with the old radio, and I guess I should have just left it there when I put the new one in! In the dash's metal openings, the right shaft has a plain round hole, while the left one has a hole that's a vertical oval shape (probably done by the factory to allow the radio's alignment in the dash to be adjusted if necessary)."
The RetroSound's display tells us that guitar wizards are welcome in Bill's Belvedere.
Bill made the adjustments and now has a great-looking stereo in his dash. "I like the fact that the Retrosound radio looks pretty plain, even though it has modern circuitry including the USB/SD card inputs. I'm especially happy about being able to load up a bunch of my favorite albums onto a 32GB flash drive and then play the songs directly from that."
Bill and his '64 Plymouth Belvedere turn heads at the speedway.
We were so glad to be able to help Bill with his dilemma of getting a 21st-century listening experience from a 50-year-old car. And we can't wait to see how many more miles he can get out his vintage vehicle. If you've got a classic car that's in need of a stereo upgrade or overhaul, we can help you find the best solution for great sound with complementary styling. Get in touch with us by phone or online for gear recommendations and installation help for do-it-yourselfers like Bill W.
Vehicles in the Custom Car Showroom are submitted by customers and fans, and edited by Crutchfield writing staff. You can find more of these articles on the Showroom main page.