Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
November 1, 1999
Photos By: Chuck James

Step By Step

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Custom Autosound’s USA-5 receiver, wrapped up front with a patented surround bezel for a perfect fit in 1965-68 Mustangs, is a modern unit with an electronic tuner for AM/FM stations, auto-reverse cassette player, 60 watts of power, and built-in CD controls. The Mustang unit comes with vintage-style knobs.
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The Custom Autosound six-disc CD changer can be mounted in a number of locations, although a trunk-mount beneath the rear deck offers easy accessibility. With the USA-5 receiver, the CD changer is an easy plug-in with Custom Autosound’s DIN cable.
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For 1965-68 Mustang coupe owners who want to add more punch to their music, Custom Autosound’s Back Seat Driver provides a 120-watt amplifier (recently upped to 200 watts) and a pair of 8-inch subwoofers. Made from high-density pressboard and covered with black cloth for a finished appearance, the Back Seat Driver replaces the flimsy cardboard behind the rear seat. In addition to the bass boost, the Back Seat Driver also provides some extra protection from fuel splash in a rear-end collision.
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On 1965-66 Mustangs with factory-style air conditioning, the receiver can be accessed through the glove compartment after unbolting, folding, and removing the cardboard liner, as demonstrated by Mustang Monthly’s Mark Houlahan, who we "borrowed" to show the sound system installation. On non-A/C cars, the radio can be removed from under the instrument panel.
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The receiver is retained in the instru-ment panel with nuts at the outboard controls, located behind the knobs. There should also be a support strap at the back of the unit.
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After disconnecting the wiring, our older Custom Autosound receiver/cassette unit was slipped out through the glove compartment. With nearly 15 years of reliable service until a cassette stuck in the player, it was time to upgrade to the higher-powered, technically-advanced USA-5 receiver.
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The USA-5 receiver slides right into the factory radio opening, with no cutting required thanks to Custom Autosound’s surround bezel. Factory-style control knobs are included with the kit.
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For quick connecting, Custom Autosound supplies crimp-on male/female connectors for power and speaker wiring.
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With the terminals crimped on, the power, ground, lighting, and speaker leads can be connected to the USA-5’s harness, which simply plugs into the back of the receiver. The harness wires are clearly marked, making the connections to our kick panel and rear deck speakers a breeze.
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The receiver’s dimmer wiring (for dimming the LEDs when the headlights are on) connects to this triple-plug behind the instrument cluster. The power wire goes to a similar plug on the other side of the steering column, while ground is screwed to a brace (seen right above and behind the hand). The wiring for full-time power (for maintaining the clock setting) is attached to the cigarette lighter.
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After deciding to mount the six-disc CD changer beneath the rear deck for accessibility in the trunk, the supplied brackets were attached to the changer.
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The Custom Autosound remote CD changer comes with a special DIN cable that connects the changer to the USA-5 receiver. To connect the CD unit, simply run the cable under the door sill and back seat. There are no other wires to attach.
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After drilling holes and mounting the upper bracket with self-tapping screws, the CD changer unit was mounted to the studs with the supplied wing nuts for quick and easy removal for theft prevention. Regular nuts may also be used.
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To prepare for the installation of the Back Seat Driver, the rear seat cushion and back must be removed.
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The Back Seat Driver mounts from the interior side, with the high-density pressboard slipping behind the seat back brackets. Although the wiring is not as neat on this side as it is from the trunk side, it will all be covered by the rear seat back.
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The Back Seat Driver comes with enough wiring to run to the receiver (for the speaker leads) and to the starter solenoid in the engine compartment for power. With so many wires running from the rear, including speaker and CD changer leads, we elected to run the Back Seat Driver wiring beneath the carpet alongside the rocker panel on the passenger side.
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At the solenoid, the Back Seat Driver power lead connects to the starter solenoid via this fuse holder and harness. The plastic wire wrap is supplied with the kit for a factory-look installation.

Stereo technology has come a long way, baby, since the 1960s. Back when Ford was cranking out record numbers of Mustangs, AM radios were the norm, with AM/FM and AM/8-track stereos available as rarely-ordered options. A single, tinny-sounding speaker on top of the instrument panel blared out the AM sounds, while the stereo cars got a small speaker in each door. Great for the time; not so great for today. More wattage, better speakers, and CD technology has transformed automotive sound systems, both OEM and aftermarket, over the past 30 years.

Unfortunately, most high-output components offered for today’s late-model cars typically don’t fit early-model Mustangs, or other vintage Fords, with their small instrument panel radio openings and restricted speaker/amplifier locations. But that’s where Custom Autosound comes in. For the past couple of decades, Custom Autosound has been "repackaging" modern stereos, speakers, CD players, and other sound system components for early Fords, primarily 1965-68 Mustangs but with offerings for other models as well, like Fairlanes, Galaxies, and Falcons. With Custom Autosound systems, early Mustangs can benefit from today’s sound technology, yet the designs either meld into the car’s vintage personality or they simply hide away unobtrusively for the perfect restomod look.

Actually, our subject 1966 Mustang GT coupe was equipped with an older Custom Autosound system, consisting of a Pioneer AM/FM/cassette receiver (with Custom Autosound’s patented "Mustang" surround bezel for proper fit), kick panel speakers, and a pair of rear deck-mounted 6x9s. While the speakers continued to work fine, the tape portion of the head unit, installed back in the early 1980s, finally succumbed to a stuck cassette, making for a great opportunity to upgrade to Custom Autosound’s newer USA-5 AM/FM/cassette receiver with built-in CD controls for a trunk-mounted changer. At the same time, we opted for more bass-for-the-bang with Custom Autosound’s Back Seat Driver, a custom panel with a 120-watt amp (newer versions upgraded to 200 watts) and a pair of 8-inch subwoofers designed to fit behind the back seat of 1965-68 Mustang coupes.

The larger subwoofers handle most of the bass load, leaving the mid-range and treble for the smaller kick panel and rear deck speakers. Of course, you can go with the front kick panel speakers only, but since the rear 6x9s were already installed in our coupe, we decided to keep them for a fuller interior sound. With the Custom Autosound system, our 1966 Mustang coupe pumps out music more like a 1996 Mustang. The Back Seat Driver provides the bottom end that’s typically missing from older Mustangs, and the clarity from the CD player seems almost surreal when driving down the road in a vintage car. The bottom line is that the Custom Autosound USA-5 receiver/CD changer/Back Seat Driver/ kick panel speaker combination adds more driving pleasure to a car that’s already a pleasure to drive.