Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
January 30, 2007
Photos By: Patrick Hill

The hassle with installing aftermarket stereos in '65-'66 Mustangs has always been created by the small, rectangular opening in the sheetmetal instrument panel. In the '60s and '70s, owners regularly hacked up the dash to enlarge the opening for cassette units and newer AM/FM stereos. Thankfully, Custom Autosound rushed to the rescue in the '80s with its AM/FM/cassette units specifically designed to fit the first-generation Mustang's instrument-panel opening. Take a look inside early Mustangs today and most likely you'll find one of Custom Autosound's USA stereo systems, many with CA's CD changer in the trunk.

Custom Autosound's latest USA-66 adds a new twist to the lineup. While most of the USA head units are modern in appearance with digital faces and small function buttons, the new unit looks identical to the '65-'66 Mustang's optional AM/FM stereo, right down to the sliding AM/FM bar, push buttons, and analog dial. But behind the USA-66's original appearance lies 200 watts of stereo power along with a dedicated input for CA's 10-disc USA-CD10 CD changer, an auxiliary input for iPods and other MP3 players, and line-out connections for an amplifier.

While the USA-66 adds a truly vintage vibe to a '65-'66 interior, it doesn't operate like an original AM/FM. Yes, turning the knob on the left controls on/off and volume, and the right knob tunes the radio, just like on originals, but the pushbuttons don't operate as presets. Instead, the left button selects between radio, CD changer, and auxiliary, while the other four control a remote CD changer. Pushing the radio knobs also switches their function for bass and treble, balance, and front/rear fader. A small LED in the bottom left of the dial changes colors to indicate radio, CD, or auxiliary functions.

For us, giving up radio presets for a direct iPod connection was not a problem. With an iPod, there's not much reason to listen to the radio anyway.

We've had one of Custom Autosound's USA-5 stereos in a '66 GT hardtop for several years, and it has served us well. But with no need for a cassette deck any longer, Matt Simmons at Classic Creations of Central Florida swapped out the USA-5 for the new USA-66, connecting it to our complement of CA kick-panel speakers, rear deck speakers, Back-Seat Driver subwoofer and amp, and CD changer. It's the best sound we've ever had in our '66, especially with the direct iPod connection eliminating the need for a less-than-ideal FM transmitter.