Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
November 1, 2001
Our USA6 arrived along with the Custom Autosound CD changer and a full complement of speakers to convert our hardtop into a rolling sound stage. Except for a few solderless terminals and some speaker wire, we were ready to crank up the tunes. Inset: The Custom Autosound 6x9 speaker grilles look the vintage part and stay low-key--just as we wanted.

After recently assembling Project '66's dash, we were left with a nice hole in the center of it where the stock AM radio formerly resided. We wanted the stock look, but couldn't bear the thought of listening to AM stations. I mean, I'm only 32! That's way too young to start listening to AM talk radio. So we needed some quality audio relief for cruising, car shows, and those occasional trips to work.

Our first thought was Custom Autosound Manufacturing, the unchallenged leader in vintage car audio. Throughout the years, we've worked with Carl Sprague and his band of audio experts to outfit several project cars, and we wanted to have the Custom Autosound quality in our Project '66 as well. Throughout the years, we've ordered many products from Custom Autosound's catalog. In fact, the popular USA1 and USA5 models have graced several of our projects, but we wanted to try something new.

1 We know it looks like spaghetti right now, but these few wires aren't really that intimidating. Before mounting your stereo (which makes it harder to wire and circuit-test everything), prewire the stereo on the floor. Here we've begun to route our speaker wires and we've connected our antenna, which was previously installed.

Our basic premise for the audio solution for our hardtop was a near-stock audio system look, but we wanted modern audio-sound quality, options, and power output. Our selection of the stereo, or head unit, was based on what we wanted to listen to. Since our cassette collection went the way of 45s, we wanted to listen to only CDs and FM broadcast signals. Though the new Secret Audio from Custom Autosound is a great idea, we wanted to completely conceal the full, modern audio from normal view (great for Concours cars), so we opted for the new USA6. This stereo has the great look of a vintage AM radio bezel and tuner and has a digital tuner face mounted behind it. At first glance (with the radio off), it looks just like an old AM radio! Besides modern features, such as separate base and treble controls, a fader, and more, the USA6 will control a Custom Autosound six-disc CD changer as well; problem solved.

2 You'll have to find several connections in your dash for the stereo. This photo shows the radio illumination circuit. Connect it to the three-way plug near the headlight switch.

However, the speaker placement had us scratching our heads. Though Custom Autosound's kick-panel speakers are great, we wanted to maintain our stock-looking Deluxe interior kick panels with their carpet and stainless trims. Installing a dual-voice coil 4x10 speaker in the dash was our first thought for the front half of our speaker selection. We ultimately decided upon adding the optional eight-track stereo speakers and grilles to our door shells. We'd already cut holes for Deluxe interior courtesy lights, so what's another hole for speakers. At this point, our front speaker locations and mounting would look totally stock, but high-quality Custom Autosound speakers would be hidden behind the grilles. Upon looking at the package tray, the '66 hardtop had room for only one centrally located 6x9-inch speaker. We thought about a Custom Autosound dual-voice coil speaker for this location, but Custom Autosound's Mike Daughtery advised against this because we wouldn't have a clear stereo separation. If we could live with the nonstock look, Mike suggested a pair of Custom Autosound 6x9s with their vintage-looking grilles. We took Mike's advice and we're glad we did. The grilles have a certain vintage flair to them, they don't detract from the look of the car, and the audio system sounds impeccable! For a little more than $600, we have all the components to produce quality audio output in our Project '66 for years to come. Check out Custom Autosound's Web site or call to locate a dealer near you for more information on the USA6 and other Custom Autosound audio solutions.

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