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  • Writer's pictureJim Cathey

Vintage Vibes: Reviving Classic Charm with Modern Car Audio Upgrades

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

As a car and audio enthusiast with a passion for vintage automobiles, there's nothing quite like blending the timeless charm of a classic car with the cutting-edge performance of modern audio systems. The journey began with a well-thought-out plan (details in my previous blog), but as we all know, even the best-laid plans can change - and change they did.

The initial plan for my vintage car audio upgrade involved a straightforward speaker and amplifier setup featuring Sony RSX-GS9 with its high-resolution built-in DAC as the head unit, supporting 192 kHz/24 bit. However, after reevaluating the project, it became apparent that to truly achieve the ultimate audio experience, I needed to overhaul the entire system, starting with the most crucial component: power, continuing with the speaker selection and final locations for the fabricator.

The Alternator was again upgraded to a custom with 160-amp capability, significantly outperforming the stock 45-amp alternator. The 0-gauge oxygen-free cable remained in place, but the car battery was replaced with a Stinger SP1200 (2600 AMP) while retaining the dedicated stereo battery, the XS Power XP750. Positioned directly before the JL Audio Amplifiers is now an XS Power SB500-34 Supercapacitor Battery, offering 4000W and 500 Farad support. After consulting with an XS Power factory rep, we agreed this was the optimal power solution to support the audio system.

To further enhance the audio experience given the final speaker locations, the total speaker count was increased to 11, including the subwoofer. The JL Audio 10W6v3-D4 subwoofer joined ten Focal Utopia cabin speakers with active crossovers connected to the upgraded JL Audio amps - the VX600/6i and VX1000/5i models.

Custom cabinets were meticulously crafted to integrate the speakers into the car's classic interior, maintaining its aesthetics in a super-tight space while providing state-of-the-art audio quality. The Focal speakers were placed in the rear quarter panels, the footwells of the driver and passenger, and the rear cockpit was modified to accommodate the JL Audio subwoofer and other electronics.

The custom work continued. The trunk was transformed into an audiophile's dream, featuring an amp wall, a dedicated stereo battery, and a "beauty bar" to maintain a seamless look. Trunk quarter panels were fabricated to house the SB500-34 Supercapacitor battery and ensure symmetry. A massive shout-out to the San Diego Car Stereo team for their incredible work in designing, installing, and customizing this system while respecting the vintage charm of the classic roadster.

Of course, plans change. During the audio upgrade, the fuel pump gave out. With no engine start, the desired 14v+ for the final tuning needed to be attainable. So, it was back to the drawing board, replacing the fuel pump and the old carburettor and adding a supercharger. Once completed, it's back to the audio shop for that final touch of perfection via the tuning of the audio system in an outside environment, given it's a convertible and with 14v+ power.

Take a moment to admire some initial photos showcasing the stunning interior work by Stuttgart Upholstery in Santee, CA. Their craftsmanship is second to none, with every inch of the car's interior is hand-wrapped in leather while keeping the classic charm of the vintage vehicle.

1976 MGB Roaster Jim Cathey MySoundFiles
Amp Rack
1976 MGB Roaster Jim Cathey MySoundFiles
Trunk with Amp Rack and Beauty Bar

1976 MGB Roaster Jim Cathey MySoundFiles
Trunk Quarter Panel
1976 MGB Roaster Jim Cathey MySoundFiles
Rear Cockpit

1976 MGB Roaster Jim Cathey MySoundFiles
Passenger Footwell

So, my fellow car and audio aficionados, always bear in mind that even the best plans may alter along the way. Welcome those changes and pursue the ideal balance between vintage charm and contemporary performance. Stay tuned for updates after the final tweaks and restoration are wrapped up.


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