What's everyone doing for radios? | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)
  1. Wash your hands and do not touch your face, keep it safe and clean. Long live Feoa!

What's everyone doing for radios?

Discussion in 'Interior Modifications' started by nicholasalipaz, Jul 13, 2020.

  1. nicholasalipaz

    nicholasalipaz FEOA Member

    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    25
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I am trying to go the retro-mod route yet keeping period accurate aesthetics. I looked around and figured out what was in my car ('83 Ford EXP) originally. Seems like it had the same as the '83 Mustang.
    original-radio.jpg original-radio-2.jpg

    However, I am sure people upgraded these. That said I got into looking at what people would upgrade to. In '86 the Blaupunkt Bremen SQR 46 which Blaupunkt put out a re-release with modern features a few years back. They are still available on eBay for not much more than they were selling at re-release.
    blaupunkt.jpg

    I am leaning towards the Blaupunkt over most everything I looked at. To me, a lot of the vintage/classic car radio company stuff has a fake look to them. Looks like an imitation Coca-Cola to me... "like I guess that will do the trick, but I can tell and taste it ain't the real thing"

    I also looked at the Continental radio and it is pretty decent looking except that it is missing some features I desired, but price point is certainly nice.

    Next I thought about getting something with an led backup built in (no double din since those would just look out of place). I looked at the Porshe PCCM retro radio but I am unsure of what would go into installing it but likely it would work I believe. Good looking radio with great features but expensive as hell at around $1200+, I don't think I am willing to dish out that much...
    porsche.jpg

    I then found the SWM 7805 which is surprisingly inexpensive at under $60 on Amazon while having a decently plain aesthetic. Comes with a camera too... only two reviews and a few scattered YouTube reviews, some in other languages. Didn't seem very reassuring to me...
    swm-7805.jpg

    For styling I am still just leaning towards the Blaupunkt radio, would be curious what everyone else has done and what your opinions are?
  2. pextor

    pextor Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    6,008
    Likes Received:
    840
    Trophy Points:
    413
    Location:
    Lancaster, pa
    That Blaupunkt looks really nice. I don't have any experience with it, though.

    I used Kenwood stereos in my escorts and was very happy with them. Now I keep the factory in my focus because it's too much work to replace it and the factory one does all I want it to do (USB input)
  3. austin86

    austin86 That nut who spends way to much on a escort.

    Messages:
    1,120
    Likes Received:
    378
    Trophy Points:
    118
    Location:
    Ohio
    will an 85-90 escort radio fit and 83? if so I believe a may still have a few.
  4. pextor

    pextor Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    6,008
    Likes Received:
    840
    Trophy Points:
    413
    Location:
    Lancaster, pa
    I don't think so. His original radio was a "three hole" style, not a DIN style.
    austin86 likes this.
  5. Pizzaman5000

    Pizzaman5000 FEOA Donator

    Messages:
    1,502
    Likes Received:
    462
    Trophy Points:
    233
    Location:
    Central OH
    I don't know many "80's" looking head units I'd recommend, but my 90's choice is either alpine or Nakamichi.

    $$$$, but good quality by modern standards.

    If you wait till mid December, you can find STEALS on used hi-fi.
    images (4).jpeg images (3).jpeg

    We had some factory Porsche blaupunkts in my garage as a teen, I assume they werent the highest model head units. I was NOT impressed by them. Granted I don't remember preamp outputs. I ran some polks with a blaupunkt HU in a VW thing.. couldn't hear the stereo when moving. Lots of distortion. Again, was NOT running an amp, Soo.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
    nicholasalipaz and austin86 like this.
  6. nicholasalipaz

    nicholasalipaz FEOA Member

    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    25
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I believe they would, but I really want something with modern features rather than the original equipment. I appreciate it.
  7. nicholasalipaz

    nicholasalipaz FEOA Member

    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    25
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    It is three hole style but a single din fits fine, there is one in there now. It is a modern shiny-ass single-din with a flip up screen that gets jammed on the climate control knobs everytime you attempt to open it.
  8. nicholasalipaz

    nicholasalipaz FEOA Member

    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    25
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    You are mentioning these brands whilst suggesting buying an older 90's version of the head unit right? I don't think either of these companies offer newer models with the styling in those photos.

    To clarify, I am wanting the typical new car tech in an older looking head unit. DAB+, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, line for external mic maybe, adjustment of illumination color to match to other controls, things like that. Also it needs to be able to pump some music since these older cars can get pretty loud...

    The new Blaupunkt seems to have a built-in 18 watts RMS/50 peak x 4 channels amplifier and outputs: 6-channel preamp outputs (4-volt front, rear, and sub). Still not sold on this one in particular but it seems like it may be of better quality than the ones from days of yore.
  9. austin86

    austin86 That nut who spends way to much on a escort.

    Messages:
    1,120
    Likes Received:
    378
    Trophy Points:
    118
    Location:
    Ohio
    understood. You can put a blue though piggy back on the wiring. But I never dealt with them so I can say how well they work.
  10. nicholasalipaz

    nicholasalipaz FEOA Member

    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    25
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Bluetooth is really only one factor in getting something more modern. I know it would work well to allow piping music from phone to radio speakers but it doesn't accomplish much of the other things you get out of a modern radio. But thanks for the idea, I do wish there were something that looked like the OEM and had modern features.

    Sadly it seems this is a very poorly catered to market. Porsche seems to be the only one doing it fairly well from what I can tell, but I have issues with their implementation to some extent. The companies that I have found seem to be a bit behind on their tech, continuing to pump out the same radios over the last 10 years with very few feature upgrades. Not to mention they just look kitsch.

    One such company is Custom Autosounds. The design is close, but maybe more accurate for cars that are a bit older. If I were to do it I would certainly add the little details like am/fm buttons, and cassette deck to get a more authentic look. Then make those things do other features like cassette door opens to expose line in/usb ports (Blaupunkt does this) and am/fm could have a subtle indicator they are for other functions like bluetooth or source changing. Maybe make one of the buttons fold down the front display to expose an actual LED screen behind it that has more features. Not sure why companies can't get with the times, pretty sure this is a solid market. I will keep hunting.
    customaudio.jpg
    This is one of Custom Autosounds radios.
  11. nicholasalipaz

    nicholasalipaz FEOA Member

    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    25
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Word on the web is the Custom Autosounds stuff is garbage, as is most of the vintage-looking head units.
    Pizzaman5000 likes this.
  12. Joey_Twowagons

    Joey_Twowagons FEOA Member

    Messages:
    2,537
    Likes Received:
    1,193
    Trophy Points:
    413
    Location:
    Vancouver Island, Canada
    I'm using the original stock radio (well actually it turns out to be a factory warranty replacement) in my '92.

    I did fix the volume switch and the cassette mechanism.
  13. Pizzaman5000

    Pizzaman5000 FEOA Donator

    Messages:
    1,502
    Likes Received:
    462
    Trophy Points:
    233
    Location:
    Central OH
    Yes, I'm saying that aside from time alignment, these 90's-2000 units have excellent sound quality. I mean EXCELLENT sound quality.
    Alpine CD players peaked in the early 90's. I think Nakamichi peaked in the late 90's.
    These, with amplifiers will blow away a modern "premium sound" factory stereo... Though I admit, OEM stereos are getting pretty decent lately.
    The technology was there 30 years ago, trust me. It's been mostly downhill ever since. There were plenty of car CD players in the 90's that were getting every bit out of a CD.

    And no Bluetooth though, which is fine by me. I lose my shit when people interrupt good songs. I also run a separate GPS. I don't like my music being cut off for my GPS to remind me to merge at the end of an on-ramp...

    Yeah I took the "vintage look" as ACTUALLY vintage.
    Idk about the alpines, but the nak's have selectable colors. I have orange buttons and a green screen right now. On my Escort, the factory lighting is more teal than green however.
    In the late 2000's, I read about guys soldering in new LED's in some Denons and eclipse units to make them match their cars perfectly.

    Whatever you do, I would use the preamps. I don't consider anything "decent" if it doesn't have external amps. In fact I would say people should buy a four channel amp for every car stereo, yet most don't.

    For my Escort I got (used):
    Nakamichi CD-500 ($230 shipped). You would be hard pressed to find a better quality head unit for less than $1500 new. It was manufactured in 2003.

    Alpine's 7909 was made since like 1992, still excellent by today's standards. The only alpine to ever conclusively sound better was a $2500 DVD audio unit with imprint (time alignment and auto eq).

    I'm not all knowing, or dogging new units... I'm just saying if you want a retro look, just buy the best stuff from the era. It's just that much more authentic.

    When A coworker saw my nak deck, he said it made him remember selling crack in the 90's, and pulling out his alpine and carrying it like a briefcase, next to his pager. Something to be said for that. These were real objects of desire in that era. Even having a lower model that LOOKED like a 7909j was good enough. My millennial coworkers didn't get why I was so proud of my Nakamichi system.
    My boss said "Shhiit, Nakamichi ain't no punk".

    Imagine someone going "man, I miss my old Escort" then they look inside, and see the head unit they couldn't afford back then. It's a nice detail imho.

    My dad is trying to find "cricket" 6x9's. He said they were really cool in his day. I appreciate that, I like accessories to be from an era within a couple years of the car being released.
    nicholasalipaz likes this.
  14. nicholasalipaz

    nicholasalipaz FEOA Member

    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    25
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    @Pizzaman5000 you make a lot of great points with some good humor sprinkled in too, intentional or not on the humor I enjoyed reading. Your train of thought is what brought me to the Blaupunkt actually. I do like the nak’s and they seem great. I wouldn’t mind that for sure. I am starting to re-evaluate what all features I really see as important in the retromod of this. I will see what features I might be able to integrate through peripherals as well, Bluetooth as mentioned prior, handsfree calling that pipes through car speakers with external mic line, and similar. I am sure I can do most of these things with an older head unit, just have to buy extra products and be stealthy about their installation. I will start my hunt for the nak most likely, thanks for all the advice everyone. I would have gone a different, more expensive route and likely been less happy without ya’lls help.
    Pizzaman5000 likes this.
  15. nicholasalipaz

    nicholasalipaz FEOA Member

    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    25
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I might actually go with a tape deck model that has ability to be a controller for an external cd changer. Now that will be very retro looking and really speak to the times. That was during the shift from cassette to cd.
  16. nicholasalipaz

    nicholasalipaz FEOA Member

    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    25
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I just saw the TD-1200... wow! That is glorious and has that same 2-knob styling as the stock radio. Will be hard to find one for a good price with how rare that model is, but I am gonna persist on finding one of these.
    Pizzaman5000 likes this.
  17. Pizzaman5000

    Pizzaman5000 FEOA Donator

    Messages:
    1,502
    Likes Received:
    462
    Trophy Points:
    233
    Location:
    Central OH
    The td-1200 was their flagship, that was like the head unit from the cover of magazines. Last I checked, they still cost a fortune. But I haven't looked at "Dragon" prices. But it was about $1000+ back then :/

    That would definitely be a period-correct object of desire!
    And it has line level inputs I'd bet, maybe CD changer controls too?

    I didn't mean to come off snarky about people texting me or GPS.. I literally use a 5th gen iPod classic specifically to avoid interruptions.

    FYI, I bought my Nakamichi and alpine stuff mid December.... Nobody bid against me ;) that's how I got a $500+ head unit for $230 shipped. It has Japanese radio frequncies, but IDC. It picks up the one AM station I want, so I'm happy.
    nicholasalipaz likes this.
  18. Pizzaman5000

    Pizzaman5000 FEOA Donator

    Messages:
    1,502
    Likes Received:
    462
    Trophy Points:
    233
    Location:
    Central OH
    Btw, yeah the td1200 prices are outrageous.... But they had lesser numbers. Like 500 and 700. You could probably find one with CD changer controls or at least aux for a much more reasonable price.
    nicholasalipaz likes this.
  19. nicholasalipaz

    nicholasalipaz FEOA Member

    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    25
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    No I didn’t think you were snarky, just voicing your opinions and preferences. I think you are spot on. I am gonna keep hunting and thanks for the recommendations. Will ping back once I finally pull the trigger on something.
  20. novanutcase

    novanutcase FEOA Member

    Messages:
    2,608
    Likes Received:
    622
    Trophy Points:
    263
    I understand your wanting period matching gear but the best sounding HU I've heard up until now is the Pioneer DEH-P99RS.

    https://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Car/Stage4/DEX-P99RS

    Just the adjustability and quality of components used makes it worth the price but when you hear it set up and adjusted it sounds freaking amazing. The fact that it has it's own 31 band digital EQ and internal crossovers is great but Pioneer included custom caps exclusive to the HU!

    I got to listen to Beethovens Symphony No. 9 in D minor(Ode to Joy) performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and it was an almost religious experience. The sound was that amazing. I decided to go to the other side of the musical spectrum just to see the kind of range the unit had and proceeded to blast Black Sabbaths "Sweet Leaf". The clarity and quality of sound at both low and high levels was beyond impressive. Just to round it out we played "Crazy" by Patsy Cline. Again, amazing audio.

    To me this is a true audiophile head unit made for a car. Granted it was paired with some very high end amps and speakers(Mosconi amps and Morel Speakers) but the purity was truly amazing and at high volume the clarity was unparalleled.

    This is the unit I want to use when I get back onto my Nova build unless a better upgraded version gets put out but to date this is the best head unit I've heard so far.

    John

Share This Page