Our Mustang’s Audio System (Pt. 1)

One part of our Mustang which was never going to be stock (or even look like stock) was the audio system. There are a handful of reasons for this:

  • The original radio was already long gone when my wife first got the car;
  • I love a great-sounding car stereo, and “stock” was never that;
  • Reproduction “looks like factory” radios are absolute crap compared to the products of Alpine, JVC, and so on.

My History With Car Audio

You have to know this: I love good car audio. There’s just something about driving around, with good music playing through a good system, that feels right. Yeah, you can have a great-sounding home system (and we do), but it’s just . . . different . . . when you’re cranking out clean Billy Joel, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughn on the road. No, I don’t know why it’s different. But it is.

In high school, you could hear my ’83 Buick Regal — and its two 12-inch MTX subs — coming from blocks away. That car’s system sounded nice, and was far louder than any sensible parent would approve of.

But I got older, got married, and the Regal got traded in. For years, the car-audio lover in me was pushed to the shed out back. Had to make way for automotive reliability, family, fuel mileage, and stuff like that. (Plus the fact that decent car audio systems aren’t exactly cheap. When you’re young, paying off student loans and building savings are far more important than making sure crystal-clear “Layla” guitar riffs scream from your windows at stop lights.)

In any case, I’d done a few audio installs with friends in my younger days, and built a few speaker boxes. It was always fun, sometimes frustrating, and I learned enough that “car audio” was the one part of an automobile’s makeup that didn’t scare me to death.

Once we decided to restore the ’67 Mustang, and its body and powertrain were taken care of, I knew I’d have a great opportunity to get back to the road music I loved.

What Was Already There

The original radio had long since been removed from our Mustang. In its place was a scratched-up, non-working Audiovox cassette player with a green LED display similar to what you’d see on a digital alarm clock. If I had to guess, I’d say it was an early 1980s or late 1970s tape deck.

The rear package tray held a pair of Roadmaster two-way 6x9s. Whether they worked or not, I don’t know. They’d been beaten and scuffed-up over the years, the once-black speaker cones now faded to brown paper.

In the engine compartment was a small amplifier, mounted to the passenger-side wall. There was no recognizable brand name, but it was marked as “Distributed by JC Penney.”

I don’t know when J.C. Penney stopped selling car-audio components, but I bet it’s been a while. (Early 1980s?)

A New Head Unit

Pioneer DEH-6300UB

I’ve always had great luck with Pioneer head units, so they were my first choice for the new Mustang system. I watched local sales ads, and eventually picked up a Pioneer DEH-6300UB CD receiver for the Mustang. The fact that it had customizable button- and LCD-display colors helped me decide on the 6300UB, as I thought it’d be neat to see if I could get the unit’s display colors to closely match the glowy green-blue light of the Mustang’s dash gauges.

With the DIN dash adapter (part number RB12) from CJ Pony Parts, the head-unit installation was pretty simple. Plumber’s strap from Home Depot came in handy when it was time to secure the rear of the Pioneer deck to the frame of the dash.

Kick Panel Speakers

Kick Panel: Infinity 6.5in Speakers

Admittedly, your vehicle’s kick panels are not an optimal place to mount speakers. The location tends to be low, and if your kick-panel speakers don’t have component (read: separately-mounted) tweeters, then you can lose a lot of your music’s high notes. After all, those very directional high frequencies will be aimed right at your lower legs, most likely. In a perfect world, you’d want them aimed toward your ears, or close to it.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many other places to mount front-speaker pairs in 1967 Mustang coupes. Door panels might work, if you don’t mind cutting metal — but that’s something which I avoid if at all possible. Outside of that, there’s the dash, where the vehicle originally had one speaker mounted right smack in the middle. Not exactly an audio-friendly setup there, either.

Kick Panel: Infinity 6.5in Speakers

So kick panels it was. Thankfully, there are reproduction kick panels made which already have openings for 6.5″ speakers. Even better, because the Mustang has metal body panels directly behind its stock kick panels, those repro kick-panel openings slope outward and allow for (1) a decent bit of depth for the speaker to mount in, and (2) a slight angle toward the driver and front passenger listening zones.

As with most of my restoration parts, my kick panels came from CJ Pony (part number SPK22). They looked good, and felt sturdy enough. Into them, I mounted a pair of Infinity Reference 6032si 6.5-Inch shallow-mount speakers. Additionally, I mounted a pair of similarly-sized foam baffles behind the speakers. (Speakers and baffles purchased from Amazon.com.)

By themselves, without grilles, the Infinity speaker bodies (which are actually a bit larger than 6.5″) fit the kick panels almost perfectly. However, once I installed the Infinity grilles (sold separately), which are even wider, problems arose.

Because the grilles did not line up well with the kick-panel openings, I was left with a roughly half-inch gap between the speaker grilles and the kick-panels themselves. This turned out to be an easy fix, though. A quick trip to Michael’s Arts & Crafts store allowed me to pick up a small (less than 20″) sheet of thin rubber foam. From this I was able to cut two strips which I wrapped around the speaker bodies — they’re the lighter-gray strips you see in the accompanying pics. These foam-rubber strips, when cut just a tad wider than half-inch, secured into and filled the speaker gaps nicely.

Rear Deck Speakers

Rear Deck (Covered)

For the rear package tray, I mounted a pair of Infinity Reference 9633cf 6×9-inch speakers (bought from Amazon.com) from the underside. This required drilling a few new holes from which to mount the speakers to the metal package-tray support.

I didn’t want the speakers to show back here, so I purchased a new package tray (CJ Pony Parts part number PT1) and cut openings for the 6x9s using a jigsaw. My wife and I then covered the tray with black speaker cloth purchased from Parts Express (part number 260-335). We used spray adhesive (plus super-heavy tape on the underside) to hold the fabric secure against the board while we installed it.

And In the Trunk? That’s the Next Post!

Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll discuss “What’s in the trunk?” as well as various aspects of wiring all this stuff up!

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