Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsProject Vehicles
1988 Ford Mustang GT Project Hypersilver - Sound System
Livin' Loud - Kicker and Soundwaves of Tampa install a killer sound system in Hypersilver.
We've been talking about it since the inception of this project, and it's finally here—our sound system install. Sure, it's not something that we usually do as part of a project car or on its own. It's just not our style. But when we outlined the build plan for Hypersilver, we couldn't ignore the fact that a high-end street Stang, especially one that would debut at SEMA, should have a banging system.
We like listening to music as much as the next guy, but sound systems are heavy. We have done countless stories swapping stock components for lighter, stronger replacements in an effort to lower e.t.'s. We've ditched passenger seats, sway bars, wheels, sheetmetal, and just about anything you could think of in the name of lightening our projects. A sound system just goes against all that. A regular stereo is one thing, but a big speaker box, amplifier, and subwoofers?
This project is different, though. We realize that we're not going to break any records—on the open track or dragstrip—but that's not our goal anyway. We wanted a super-nice Fox street car with the capabilities to attend a car show, drag race, or road course, and do each with absolutely no shame. And we're well on our way to just that. Even with the heavy sound system, we expect Hypersilver to weigh about 3,200 pounds.
So how do we incorporate a full sound system into a Mustang that is going to see both open track and dragstrip duties? Well, that's where Kicker comes in. Kicker is one of the most recognizable names in personal, car, and home audio. What started as a two-man operation in a one-car garage in 1973 has grown into a multi-faceted audio company that specializes in products that push the limits of technology and performance. It's current home in Stillwater, Oklahoma, features a 280,000-square-foot facility.
Though only 200 highly skilled workers are employed at the facility, it has a far-reaching dealer network to support its products. Kicker has about 1,200 authorized dealers in the U.S. alone, and another 2,000-plus dealers worldwide. It offers products for car audio, home audio, personal audio, marine audio, and even power sports audio. With such a comprehensive line of products, we knew it had to have something that would fit our build.
Indeed it did. After exchanging a few emails with John Myers, Kicker's global trainer and product specialist, he knew exactly what we needed. Kicker's CompRT subwoofers are low-profile subs that work in tight spaces like a small (light) box. They run $169.95 each, so we snagged two. To power them, Myers suggested the IX1000.5 five-channel amplifier. This amp ($649.99) offers enough oomphto power our entire system, which is ideal for us, since we're not well-versed in audio.
With the bass handled, we needed something to offset it with mid- and high-range sound. The solution came in a pair of Kicker QS65.2 component speakers ($499.99). “The speaker system features the top of the line Kicker QS652 components, set up front with a pair of 30mm tweeters with a sealed chamber like a sealed subwoofer enclosure would use for the smoothest high-frequency response and the Trilaminate midranges that use a carbon-fiber cone and Kevlar backing sandwiched with a foam core for the absolute best frequency response,” said Myers.
01. Kicker hooked us up with a huge assortment of subwoofers, mids, and highs, as well as an amp and all the necessary wiring and accessories.
02. For subwoofers, we went with Kicker’s CompRT 10-inch, low-profile pieces. These are made specifically for low-profile mounts like our Fox.
03. Soundwaves of Tampa handled the install. Box guru Scott Nelson started by assembling a sealed box that would double as our rear-seat delete.
04. He’s already made the holes where our subs will reside.
05. Nelson then installed the box and fastened it to the floor. He left room on either side for components like our Optima battery. He also made sure to keep the box low enough to match up with the rest of the floor.
06. Chris Ott began his job of mounting the iPad mini, which turned out to be the most difficult part of the install. Here he’s sizing up the hole in our center stack.
07. Using plastic, he formed a pocket that will hold the iPad.
08. Then he whittled away at it until it fit.
09. He does a final fitment with every piece wrapped in masking tape.
10. Next, he filled in all the gaps with resin. Later, he added texture with flocking and painted everything to match our interior.
11. Ott then moved onto the kick panels. He used the part of the original kick panel that contains the mounting points and cut the rest off. He glued a piece of pressboard to the remaining piece of kick panel.
12. He cut a hole in each panel for the speaker and dressed it up by using templates to cut out matching patterns.
To drive all of this output equipment, we needed an input, like a stereo head unit. But that would be just too plain and boring. We opted for Kicker's PXi50.2 ($199.95). This two-channel amplifier and controller for i-devices allows your iPhone, iPad, or iPod to provide the input, and the PXi50.2 delivers the signal directly to the amplifier without the need for a head unit. “Kicker also offers the PXiBT502, which communicates through bluetooth, so it can be used with any device that has bluetooth capability,” said Myers. The result is a clean-looking dash with no clumsy head unit. Sure, we won't have terrestrial radio, but who cares?
Kicker also included all of the necessary wiring and accessories necessary for installation, but there was no way that we were going to tackle this one ourselves. Instead, we turned to Soundwaves of Tampa, which is only about five minutes from our headquarters. We talked to owner Peter Ruiz, told him what we wanted to accomplish, and he jumped right on board.
On a strict timeline (a week before the Reliable transport truck was to arrive), he didn't waste any time diving in. Ruiz has a team of renown installers in the car audio world, including Scott Nelson and Chris Ott. Nelson's specialty is building boxes. He dove in first, assembling a sub box in the first day. Ott, on the other hand, spent the next four days working on fabricating the rest of the system. First on his list was the dash mount for the PXi50.2.
At the direction of Ruiz and Ott, we chose an iPad Mini. It fit the blank spot in the center stack almost perfectly, provides plenty of versatility for other uses, and offers a look that few have seen, especially in a Fox-body Mustang. In fact, we haven't seen another one yet. Ott spent the first two days fabbing up the iPad Mini mount, which incorporates a removable faceplate. He also incorporated the cable into the mount, allowing for ease of installation and removal of the iPad.
He then made custom kick panels for the QS65.2 mids, mounted the amp, and trimmed out the rest of the hatch area around the subs, amp, and our fuel cell. Then they wired it up, put the iPad Mini in place, and powered it up for the first time. I chose Beastie Boys' “Sabotage.” It combines rock guitar rifts combined with drums, yelling, and everything in between. As expected, it sounded amazing.
It seems all of our hard work installing sound-deadening and new seals paid off. There were none of the rattles you would expect from a 25-year-old Fox-body—just clean, loud music.
For awesome video of the installation and finished product, check out www.mustang-360.com, which is live now. There are three other videos on this build, so go check them out!
13. He then began tying in the subwoofer box to the rest of the floor using thin pressboard.
14. Using the same style of template, Ott made a pedestal for the amplifier and a trim ring for the subs and amp.
15. Next, Ott and owner Peter Ruiz upholstered everything using fabric supplied by TMI Products so it would match the rest of our interior perfectly.
16. Before final assembly, Ruiz routed all of the wiring, which was supplied by Kicker.
17. Ott permanently mounted the subs and amp.
18. He also installed the console and kick panels.
19. Here’s the rear finished. Boy, are we glad we didn’t attempt this ourselves. Even after watching the pros at Soundwaves work their magic, it’s still beyond our skill level.
20. Ruiz went ahead and adjusted the switches and knobs. It’s all Greek to us.
21. Our two 10-inch subs hit hard! Ruiz attributes that to a properly built box, sufficient wiring, and having all of the components working with each other properly.
22. Here’s a finished kick panel.
23. The coolest part of this system is the iPad Mini. Ott did an amazing job mounting it, and the Kicker PXi50.2 does a great job transferring our iTunes to the amplifier and through the speakers.