5.0 Mustang & Super FordsProject Vehicles
Fox 500 Project: Audio Upgrade - Sound & Fury
Closing out our 1988 Ford Mustang LX Fox 500 project with an audio upgrade from KDezines and Kicker
If you've lost track of our GT500 Fox project Fox 500, we forgive you. Life, deadlines, and other projects have kept it from making progress for quite a while. In reality, it was really close to completion, but before we can consider it a truly complete car, we need tunes. And a car like this can't get by with a basic sound system. It needs something special to carry out it's unique theme.
To put a bow on the project, we turned to Keith Doughty, the main man at KDezines, to create a custom hatch enclosure for the Fox 500. Keith is a genius at rear-seat deletes and custom audio creations for Mustangs. By simply sharing a few photos and measurements with Keith, he was able to create an incredible custom setup for the hatch of our '88 T-top LX. The system installs in a logical fashion, and it gives our audio system the custom look it deserves.
Filling that enclosure with top-shelf audio gear was crucial as well. We chose Kicker's renowned gear to get the job done.
Obviously we picked out the gear first so Keith could design the enclosure to fit our system exactly. We've had great luck with Kicker gear in the past, but it was a unique product that really drove the choice.
Lifted from its Power Sports product line, the PXi50.2 is a unit designed to easily add an iOS device to any number of small vehicles. It controls music coming in from the Apple device and outputs it to a pair of small speakers. It also features the necessary connections to serve as the head unit for an audio system. It perfectly suits our quest to have a simple, clean, mobile-centric audio system in the Fox 500.
All told, the system sounds and looks great, just like the Fox 500. The photos and captions show how we closed out the project by adding sound to its fury.
01. To carry the sound to and from the kicker speakers and amps, we ordered up the necessary Scosche EFX Hexad RCA interconnects and speaker wire. If you are looking for an easy way to order audio gear like ours, just point your browser over to Crutchfield.com.
02. We ran the speaker wire down both sides of the car under the carpet to feed the door speakers, while the Scosche RCAs routed right down the middle of the car and under the passenger-side seat.
03. The Kicker KS 5.2 component woofers are a bit smaller than the factory rear speakers, but they include this simple adapter which allows them to mate with the factory speaker grille. We mounted the component tweeters by modifying the shoulder belt bezels in our ’90-’93 hatch panels, as we didn’t update the rear belts in our ’88.
04. After removing the inner door pull and carefully popping off the door panel, we installed the Kicker KS 65 speakers in the door. These are slightly large for the factory opening, but with a little massaging the fit. Of course, the factory mounting holes don’t quite line up, so we had to carefully drill some new holes.
05. Since we were forgoing a traditional head unit, we mounted the Kicker PXi50.2 inside the centerstack where the factory radio guts once lived, and covered the hole with a simple block-off plate. Sometime down the line we hope to upgrade to the new Bluetooth version (see Horse Sense) and fill that spot with an iPad mini, but for now we just want some tunes. After all, project cars are never really finished.
06. We also opted to install Kicker DSC35 3.5-inch speakers in the dash and feed them with audio right from the PXi50.2. Not only does this placement deliver more even sound in front, it really helped to have a simple way to test the system during setup. If you really wanted a simple, lightweight audio system, you could just run the PXi50.2 and a pair of speakers. It wouldn’t sound as good as our system, but it would put tunes in your ride without much extra weight.
07. Primarily designed to help tweak a factory audio system to work with aftermarket speakers and amps, the Front Row digital sound processor is a crucial piece of the Fox 500 audio puzzle. It not only allowed us to split the single preamp channel from the PXi50.2 into three channels to suit the needs of our two amplifiers, but it also allowed us to tweak the sound of the system to our liking. Sure you could just plug a music player right into an amp, but you won’t have the tuning capability delivered by the Front Row. We can’t recommend it highly enough for a system like this.
08. Not only does the Front Row offer numerous adjustments on the main box, it allows you to further tweak it with this remote, which we placed in the Fox 500’s glovebox. Not only can you tweak the bass level with this remote, you can adjust the sound staging and surround to place the music in the sweet spot for the intended listener, typically the driver.
09. With all the speakers mounted and the wiring routed, it was time to install the KDezines enclosure. Keith fabbed this box to fit the factory spare tire well and serve as the foundation for the entire audio system presentation.
10. The box fits snugly in the tire well, but it is further secured to the car via two screws into the rear of the well. There is little danger of a conflict there, but be sure to crawl under your car and check before you drill the holes and mount the enclosure.
11. After routing the power and speaker wires to the tirewell enclosure, we placed the new KDezines hatch floor/amp rack into place. It not only serves to finish the hatch, but it hides the wiring to the amps and cooling fans.
12. Next we wired up the Kicker KX1200.1 and KX400.4 amps and mounted them to the KDezines enclosure. We also opted to hide the Kicker crossovers for the rear-channel speakers inside the sub box for a clean, easily accessible solution.
13. The Kicker KX1200.1 is a mono unit, so the subs are wired in series. Keith at KDezines wired and sealed the box for this arrangement, so we just had to install the wires and mount the subs.
14. Keith also designed the beauty cover to match the graphite-carbon-fiber inserts in our TMI Products upholstery. It hides all the wiring and looks good doing it.
15. The finishing touch of the amp and sub display is a Plexiglas cover emblazoned with the KDezines logo. We carefully placed it over the carbon cover, removed the protective sheet, and screwed it in place.
16. The KDezines enclosure isn’t all about showing off. To keep things a bit stealthy and protect the system during everyday use, this speaker grille just pops into place. Combined with the 5.0&SF-logo’d battery box cover and the Fox 500 rear-seat panels, the KDezines gear really gives the Fox 500 a proper finish.
17. Here’s one last peek-a-boo in the daylight with the LED lights on. Keith at KDezines really outdid himself with this custom audio solution, and the Kicker gear fills the Fox 500 with loud, clear rock ’n roll.
18. The whole system is controlled via the PXi50.2 remote, which we mounted in place of the factory ashtray. All we need to do to hide its capabilities is close the ashtray door and unplug our iPhone.
If you don't want to deal with a cable, Kicker has a cool new addition to its Power Sports lineup, the PXiBT50.2. This unit is much like the unit we chose, but instead of using cable, it links to your phone or music player wirelessly via Bluetooth. It even features a USB charging port, so you can plug in and keep your device juiced if you so choose.