Retro Look — Modern Sounds
Looking for an updated stereo system, but don’t want to lose your VW’s classic appearance? Look no further than RetroSound’s latest systems, now available from So. Cal. Imports
Sometimes we are faced with a dilemma. Do we want a fast car, or one that gives good gas mileage? Do we want a plush comfortable interior, or do we want race-style buckets? Do we want a vintage looking dash, or do we want a stereo system that cranks out some serious tunes? That last item is of particular interest to people who drive their VWs regularly, because in the past if you wanted to retain a stock appearing dash your options were to either stick with the stock Sapphire radio for marginal sounds, or run a radio delete plate for no tunes at all. But in this age of iPhones and instant information, there is now a way to have a modern radio in the dash of your classic VW Bug, while retaining its vintage appearance.
RetroSound, a division of Retro Manufacturing based in Chino, California, has recently developed a system to install their modern Model One, Model Two or Classic Sound stereo systems into the dash of a classic VW Beetle — whether it’s the pre-1967 style with steel dash of 1968-later with the padded dash — while retaining a new stock appearance. The key to this system is their head units, which features “InfiniMount” adjustable shafts that allow you to place them literally anywhere in the dash that you want. The Classic Sound system features a powerful AM/FM tuner with 30 presets, a built-in amplifier with 22 watts RMS/60 peak x 4 channels, four equalizer presets plus user-controlled bass/treble/fader/balance adjustment, front mounted auxiliary input (for iPod), 4-channel preamp outputs (front and rear), separate power antenna and amp turn on leads, adjustable angle LCD display, electronic clock function, and optional remote. The Model One, which was used for this article, goes one step further with standard IR remote, and USB port in the rear for flash drive mp3/WMA file use. These are quite potent systems, especially for a “stock appearing” radio. And to make it even more compatible with a variety of different vehicles, it is also available with either a chrome or black face.
Of course, that in itself is only half the solution. To match the VW dash, RetroSound also developed faceplates that closely resemble the factory VW radio plates — no more cutting your dash to install a high performance radio! For 1958-1967 Beetles they offer the New Replica Sapphire 1-6 bezel, which is a chrome plated version of the early faceplate. The late 1968-1979 model faceplate comes in either chrome or black, and fits the later Beetles, as well as buses and Karmann Ghias. There is also a 1946-1957 version for the really early crowd. All the different faceplates — which fit either of RetroSound’s head units — can be ordered with chrome, black, or a combination of chrome and black knobs to customize your look.
To get an idea of just how the installation of this stereo goes, we visited RetroSound’s newest distributor, So. Cal. Imports in Long Beach, California, where RetroSound Tech Manager Chris Peterson was installing a Model One system into Ross Houseman’s ‘58 Cal Look style Beetle. Previously, Ross had been running a radio delete plate in his dash, and wanted to upgrade to a modern stereo system without cutting the dash. As you can see from the accompanying photos, it’s a clean, straightforward operation that not only retains astock appearance, it also provides high output and versatility to produce the quality sounds that today’s VW enthusiasts demand.