V8 Staff

I’ve always been into music, and being in radio and TV have studied sound and acoustics at the university level. I understand great sound and what it takes to make it. At the same time, I did not want to cut this car up to get there, and I didn’t want to spend a million dollars, either.

The goal was to have a great sounding audio system that played modern formats, all in a package that didn’t involve cutting any holes in the car. I also didn’t want to have to reach over into the glove box to operate a hidden modern radio.

The head unit was the starting point. We have been installing quite a few of these Custom Autosound units in customer cars at the shop, and I’ve been very happy with the features, quality, and performance of the USA-630 models. In addition, each one is made for the particular car, so the shaft spacing and controls fit the dash without cutting, and they look the part. They are not intended to be exact replicas of the original radio, but they are close enough to not look out of place like a modern DIN style unit.

The USA-630 shows a simulated AM dial when it is off, and then an LCD display lights through the AM scale when powered on. These play AM, FM, MP3s and WMAs via USB input, have an AUX in port, and they also control iPod and iPhone devices as well as CD changers. They have a built-in 4-channel amp and DSP EQ settings, but we’ll be using an amp to power our speakers.

USB and antenna connectors

iPhone and AUX connectors

Installation is easy in these old cars, just pull the knobs and retaining nuts and unbolt the braces attaching the original radio to the dash.

Original brace and stock power harness in the dash

The new radio installed. Outside of the “Buick” badge, it looks pretty inconspicuous. The little notes printed on the pushbuttons are not very noticeable, but control radio presets as well as tracks on digital devices and USB drives.

We might re-create the Sonomatic logo and affix it in place of the Buick logo to further the illusion a bit.

We’re also going wrinkle-coat the new knobs (right) to look like the originals on the left.

Cool texture on original knob

Kevin Oeste