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Article & Photos Courtesy of Paul Latour 

Early C3 Corvettes had both mono and stereo radio units. They were available in AM or AM-FM stereo as an option. No eight-tracks, cassettes, etc. Needless to say their performance was ... OK? The 1968-69 model years had two 10-ohm speakers located in the kick panels. Those were moved to the upper dash pad in 1970.

When I bought my 1974 in early 2008 it had been "upgraded" to a Kenwood 15W x 4 head unit. Wimpy performance is the best way to describe that unit.

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One of my first tasks was to get some quality sound into the car. There were several steps to this. I will describe the end result for 2009.

 The first step is to get a head unit that will fit the gauge bezel and its old-fashioned post adjusting knobs. I opted for a KHE-300 (Ken Harrison Enterprises) from Corvette Central. The power level is 50W x 4. I hoped this was adequate as I wished to avoid an amp. It does not have a cassette player as many of these old/new radios do. It does have an IPod jack on the front and a CD AUX at the back. My target was the IPod front as I did not wish to install a CD player. I chose Pioneer 4 x 6" speakers for the upper dash.

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 Getting the upper dash out is a bit of a trick as they tend to snap in half and there goes $400US. But with a little care it was removed and the Pioneers installed.

This coincided with a blown heater core job. No comment on the pain associated with that. Let me just say a local GM dealer refused to take on the work: they did not have anyone who knew how to do it.

As well whoever installed the Kenwood butchered the gauge bezel so a new one was purchased.

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OK, so the upper dash speakers are in. Next step was the kick panels for four-channel sound. I chose Polk 6.5" DB651 speakers for that location. It's pretty tight there and they have the proper magnet width and depth. I got a couple of kick panels off EBay for $25.00 as I was unsure of my measuring and cutting abilities. The originals have been retained in the basement. So here's the rough cut with a chisel and hammer. The disk is a mock-up measuring guide.

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That plastic is pretty thin but the speakers come with reinforcing adapters. Dynamat closes off the holes in the panel and offers additional reinforcement.

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And here is the final product. Hosie & Brown mixes up the interior dye for me: code 425 oxblood.

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Looks OK so far but will they fit in the birdcage? I am happy to report that they do...with a great sense of relief.

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I then added a Blaupunkt 8" subwoofer in the back for some bass. It has an integrated amp and is connected directly to the battery so there is no power draw from the head unit.

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I use an old IPod Shuffle with about 60 tunes on it. I have a Nano but it is too complicated to operate while driving. The sound of this system is excellent without distortion. The rear convertible deck can be made to move about 1/2" with the subwoofer.  I am happy with the outcome of this project. Modern technology and a modern sound.

 

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