A customer from Baltimore came to us with a 1969 Chevy Chevelle SS 396 4-speed. We were in love at hello. He loved his car but wanted to improve the sound system. He had three goals for the car. He wanted it to sound really good, he did not want to cut up the car, and he wanted it to look like a custom job. We were thrilled with what he wanted and took the car into the shop. This customer bought this car with the present stereo system already installed. The first thing we did was go over the car to see exactly what we were working with. We found that the previous installation was pretty poor. The existing CD Player had actually been glued into the dash. Not a good idea. Someone had also taken the original kickpanels and tried to modify them to hold some small speakers. That did not go well either. The original kickpanels were very brittle and cracked a lot while they were trying to fit the speakers. As you can see from the picture below the final result looked very bad. So we knew we were going to order him new kickpanels. We also knew we were going to install a new CD Player once we could get the existing unit out without damaging the dash. Then we looked at the back of the car. The rear deck shelf was in very poor condition and someone had tried to install speakers into it and had the same result as the kickpanels. Bad. So we knew we were going to build him a new rear deck as well. We started disassembling the car. Once we got out all of the old equipment we went over a game plan for the car. The customer was interested in having some custom work done in the trunk and we promised not to cut anything up in any way. When we looked at the trunk we saw that it was in very good shape and had the usual very fine surface rust and dirt that you get in a car 40 years old. So we decided to do a custom enclosure in the trunk underneath the rear deck. We were going to flush the JL Audio amplifier between the 2 JL Audio 10WO subwoofers. Based on the condition of the trunk floor we decided to make trim panels to flush all of the equipment into the trunk and make a new trunk mat out of the same material as the trim panels. This worked out really well as you can see from the pictures. The trunk now has a fresh, clean, modern look while still looking like a muscle car should.
We then put our attention on the rear deck. We made the customer a new rear deck and we cleaned up the holes previously done to hold the JL Audio C2-690TX rear speakers. This turned out really well. For the front speakers we chose kickpanels from Custom Autosound and they fit great. We installed JL Audio C2-650x speakers in them. In the dash we chose a Kenwood Excelon KDC-X595 CD Player as the black gloss complimented his dash well and now gives him control for an iPod or thumbdrive loaded with music. We ran all new wiring in the vehicle as you do not want to fool around with 40 year old wiring. We installed several sheets of Hushmat dampening material to eliminate any vibration and rattling that may be caused by the new sound system. The finishing touch in the trunk was the chrome speaker grills. That really set the whole thing off.
The customer drives this car. It is not a trailer queen. So it gets its fair share of sunlight. We suggested installing tint to protect the interior from fading and cracking while keeping the passengers much cooler. Now this is a muscle car so dark tint was out. We chose a 40% Dark Matter tint from GeoShield as it does a great job protecting the interior while only slightly darkening the windows. We installed Llumar AirBlue80 tint on the windshield which is basically invisible to the naked eye yet blocks over 50% of the sun’s heat and protects the dash from harmful UV rays.
When the customer came to pick up the car saying he was happy would be an understatement. He was thrilled. His pride and joy now had a sound system that improved the looks of his car and played sweet sounding music. He loved the look of the tint as it did not detract from the mean look of the car. When you work on a classic car you are always going to find hidden things going on. But the end result is wonderful. Watching the look on an owner’s face when they first see it and then seeing their smile when you turn it on is what makes this job so much fun.