want to keep yoiur dash stock?


Active Member
Here's a quality Zapco volume control item.


I'm mentioned this before to people who afraid of altering the stock look of their Buick dash.

This is a high-quality preamp (can be hidden anywhere)--that can take input from whatever a source--a CD changer, iPods, tape, etc.

The only thing visible is a volume control button, which can use a Buick trim knob for a stealth look.

There is NO reason why you can't have hi-fidelity in an old car with keeping the dash looking stock.


New Member
What about us 1955 Buick owners?

I read your comments with great interest. I own a 1955 Buick Special and would like to have AM/FM with CD or at least cassette player. Is there anything out there that will fit nicely in the dash?


Active Member
You can really do anything. I'd keep the stockradio in the '50's dash

and use a pre-amp (hidden anywhere) JL Audio Clean sweep or Zapco volume Line Driver----both of which only have ONE volume potentiometer showing. You can put a Buick knob on it.

All the sources (CD, Sirius, radio, tape, etc) are connected to the pre-amp, which has outputs (some caan be filtered for subs, HP speakers, etc.)

There's no reason why you can't keep you dash completely stock, and have modern tunes (speakers can be mounted in lower kickpanels, covered with stock material, or stock-looing carpet that lets sound through).


Active Member
I'm actually mad that I threw out the AM/FM stereo-eight track from my '73 riv. I see it's worth quite a bit on ebay!

What I'll describe first takes a bit of expertise. The second option is so easy, almost anyone can do it.

before the introduction to high-fidelity/low-noise mobile dedicated pre-amps (A few companies started by just making processors), some people took their stock AM or FM radio, gutted the insides -- except for the lighted dial. A control center was made and fab'ed to fit inside, with stock pushbuttons having different functions: source selection, track <<, <, >,>>, stop, pause and a volume knob.

That approach is actually fairly tedious, because you have to tear the new source unit apart, get its wiring diagram, and use the mechanical trigger of a radio pushbutton to correspond to the new unit's operation with relays or solenoids. That was done in the '80's for some purists who don't want their old car altered in appearance in anyway whatsoever.

Simplicity, again is to do the JL Audio "clean sweep" which takes the speaker-level inputs of the old radio, and has inputs for tape, CD, DVD, DAT, etc.--even digital inputs for a DVD or CD or DAT (no one uses digital audio tape anymore; maybe just me)

ironically the tape function is going to cost you $$$$. Most of the remaining tape units worth selling are Nakamichi--which are indisputably the best tape decks ( very, very few thing you can make that statement about)in their TD-500,-700, 1000 series.

I would assume most people with tapes and vinyl would convert them to CD-R or DVD-/+R. Almost anyone's computer can do that with an inexpensive soundcard, or most of the time pre-installed on a new computer.

Unless you're a purist, an analog aficionado, or just want your vinyl to sound like vinyl, a hideaway CD changer or Sirius receiver,or even a portable tape player Sony pro D6 or D7-10) Walkman DAT's can all plug into the cleansweep.

With its auto-set-up and the cleansweep's32 bit DSP, one just uses a microphone in a seating position,and it will automatically adjust EQ settings/time alignment for that position.

The reason i write about this unit so much is because it takes all the guess work/hardship out of tearing out your dash, installing something else--which will ruin the aesthetics of beautiful Buick dashes-- look at some of those beautiful old '50's radios--, and then having to deal with the lengthy process of tuning a stereo (no, bass and treble controls are nowhere nearly sufficient), and having to have some source-switching device to select CD, tape, radio.

This JL Audio clean sweep is the first processor to completely address all the issues of old car owners (or new car owners with integrated climate control/radio/tape/CD, which are all in a non- DIN (8" x 2" rectangular opening), who for the former, want to preserve the cosmetic integrity of the dash, and for the latter, to have a means to add an aftermarket system

Another cheaper alternative is a/d/s'642ix/642csi--which takes in speaker level outputs from your stock radio,and converts it to pre-amp level--allowing you to add any amp you want, and any SOURCES you want--which all remain hidden

On ebay, check out a/d/s to get some deals on these (~$20-30).

Stay away from FM modulators. why buy a digital source unit that transmits it to a radio frequency, which is received by your radio antenna? I always thought that was a convoluted way of introducing digital into old cars. The resulting sound will have less substantially less quality than the original digital source.

The hardest part of this is the labor of tearing your car apart. generally the trunk is where most audio electronic go, and wiring can quickly become a mess, if you don't label everything.

I finished the wiring for my '73 riv. Now I've got some work tomorrow making a template for the 1/2" plywood with a mass-dampening layer that will be bolted on top of the rear torpedo package shelf. Underneath the rear deck there are two factory 6x9 speakers holes WITH mounting nuts and bolts. All I have to do is make an MDF 6x9 template, cut out holes in that for component speakers,mark the bolt locations, use some more mass-dampening material on the mouting surface. I can fit a 6 1/2" woofer and 1" tweeter--which will soundbetter--and even handle more power than most 6x9, which are a big compromise.

This is a lot of work just searching parts--like getting a material that looks like the stock carpeting, which allows sound to go through; or perforated vinyl; or speaker grill material.

I don't want to sound snobby, but one thing recently deflated my impression of beautiful Buicks. The owner had FOUR 6x9 speakers with gaudy grilles on the package self.

Sonically, it's wrong--speaker should remain up front; although sometimes--like my Boattail, it's easier to use existing 6x9 holes in back, and not having anything showing on the inside.

(on my '63 there were no speakerson the package shelf-except for one between the rear bucket seats. I had to cut 7" holes for 2 subs and a 5" hole in the lowest door panel location possible. Just saying that I know will freak people out. The whole deck was reinforced, silicone sealed, covered in three layers of dynamat-like stuff).

And cosmetically, it looks tacky--especially with that high-tech Grey/silver plastic speaker grilles showing.
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Active Member
There's an a/d/s 642is on ebay.

This will alllow you to keep you factory radio/tape, use speaker-level wire into the 642ix--which is totally versatile and can mnake a 6-channel, tri-amplified system, or most anything you want.

I use this in my '63's system. because i have a/d/s speakers and the stock filters are made for their speakers.

someone on ebay is also selling the 642ix's X-over modules (which are RARE, for different speaker configuations). These are electroic X-overs, not passive; so, you will need separate amps for each set of speakers, or one amp for one set, or two amps for 6 speakers, etc.

Like I said, it is very versatile

anyway it's on ebay now for ~$50. it was $279 new


Active Member
Now on ebay, there's a $800 JL/Audioclean-sweepnostalgiakeepAudio clean-sweep that's listed in credibly cheap, ~$275, which is a bargain, considering that is what you'd pay for that cheap "old-looking" trash.


For all you nostalgia buffs-- and I can understand it, too, when I made the first cut in my '63 riv--this IS the item that will allow you to keep the stock radio (and, in simple language, actually clean-up the sound of the factory system, while enabling you to add CD, DVD or Sirius with a sophisticated 32 bit DSP that will automatically equalize the acoustics of your Buick. What could be easier? There is no reason for bad sound, or those cheap twin knob Chinese radios, that some claim look more stock.

Keep your beautiful BUICK dash!!!

Also at Zapco'stheprocessorappropriate site, they have a more purist approach of using the factory set-up, but with an audiophile Volume potentiometer, connected to a hidden power supply and any signal processor.The only thing that shows is a black, precision pot--which can be disguised using an appropriate Buick knob.

You know, I probably would not have gone with a the Zapco pre-amp or Clean-sweep, when I started mobile audio with my '63 rib since the early '80's. The head units i chose had a very simply, all-black-look, with few buttons; and in the stock location, make it easy to access.

I have to correct myself: a DIN cut-out is 7" x 2"
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Active Member
I'm posting more in this section, than "all-out-sound", because one of my foremost goals is to cosmetically integrate with the car's interior.

This picture has been shown before, but for new people who ant to get ideas what to do, I think it serves its purpose:

I'm not the best installer, or claim to be; car audio is a hobby I enjoy after work, like any other car project. And I hate to come off sounding snooty, but the things I saw when i was a professional installer appalled me.

Now after college, and working with a mechanical Engineering Degree, car audio still remains a hobby. Something I will only work on by myself. There a lot of hacks out there, and doing it yourself ensures that your work meets your standards. Initially I made many mistakes; but like everything else, you learn from them.

Don't let a simple install frighten you, or make you think your car will be irreparably damaged.

In my '63, this VERY expensive $2,200 Nak CD700II CD player (I got for much less on ebay--NEW, because the best units are only available in the Orient). The unit fits very well in the original Sonomatic space; and is the only thing visible inside.

Yes, I would have loved the McIntosh, but--even I have to live within my means!
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Active Member

It's all in what u want or can afford.I'm in the process of installing a stereo i put a pioneer supertuner D under the dash and i made a small pine box to hide the sides of the stereo,pioneer 6x9's in the rear dash 51/2 in the doors and a 12in. sub in the trunk not sure i'll use that but i can turn it off seems i like to hear the rumble of the exhaust more than the stereo.I have that same problem in my truck.I've seen some dashboard hack jobs when i was looking for this car,come to think of it i've seen some real butcher jobs from 1 end to the other.I want to keep the car as original as possible.



I put a very modern Kenwood deck with remote control in my '53 special. I used the space where the original radio box was. I kept the original radio deck top from the '53, removed it from the box with tubes, fabricated a mounting plate from a hurricane roof tie, that secures the new kenwood directly under the the old lid in the spot where the speaker would have been. i have direct control of the new stereo with the remote. it has aux. input for mp3and other options like HD radio. complete sleeper. has the origanal look. and is hidden by the dash grill.changing CD's though is a real pain in the rear. the deck is a Kenwood KDC-MP335..... Here is to sharing a good idea:thumbsup: