What to do with the radio

Started by Joe Bento #20081, February 06, 2007, 04:31:20 PM

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Joe Bento #20081

Okay, so I have the original radio for my 1940 Cadillac series 72.  

I am keeping everything original on this car, but here is where I might make an exception.  An old tube type, AM radio doesnt appeal to me.  I still want the original appearance of the radio, but something FM, with maybe an iPod jack would be very nice.  Seems to me the going rate to do the conversion is over $600.00 (Yikes!)

I have seen a couple of these offered recently on e-bay for big money, so it seems counter intuitive to me to gut something worth about $500.00 +, and then spend $600.00 to change it.

Whats yalls advice?  Suggestions? Sources?



Fred #23106

Not a bad idea, but what about the voltage. Are the conversions made for 6 volt radios?


Joe Bento #20081

It costs another $100.00, but yes, it would remain 6v + ground.

Barry M. Wheeler #2189

Joe, why spend the money? How much time are you going to spend in the car? Cant you put up with AM for that short a time? When youre driving, youre going to be on pins and needles most of the time glancing towards the oil pressure and heat indicator anyway. "What was that noise?" "There it goes again..."

If youve got modern noise bashing your ear drums, you may miss hearing something important. LEAVE IT ALONE! Spend the money on the important parts of the car. Remember, the next owner may not like the conversion, even though it "looks the same." It is NOT the same. A fine radio has been trashed.

(This post will be continued when Doug Houston reads it...You think IVE jumped on you???)

john fotakis

Ill put in my two bobs worth before Doug gets too upset. Maybe if you tune the radio to a couple of stations that plays old time music it will add to the ambience and the driving experience.Im sure your passengers would love the quaintness of it as well. Hey, youll spend the majority of your time in modern cars and can listen to FM all you like then. Besides if I ended up buying the car off you Id go crazy trying to restore the original radio and you wouldnt want that, would you?

Doug Houston

Responding to Barry Wheelers kind invitation, HERE I AM.

The majority of "conversions" that are offered are a process of gutting the radio case, and installing a circuit board that has solid state AM-FM electronics on it. Once gutted, the original radio is gone, and theres no going back, should anyone want to in the future.

There is no support for these new electronics, and should there be a failure in the circuitry, the remedy is a new board. Sure, the warranty for the conversion is a whole year. How many hours a year does the typical car enthusiast have his radio going????  That translates to possibly a whole hour of listening.

One of our Detroit area members called me once, and was thrilled at the idea of doing this. He asked me what I thought of doing it. I answered: "dumb". Then, he said that hed had it done. A few months later, he was lamenting that it worked poorly on AM, and that when trying to get the "craftsman" to make good, the guy told him what to do with the set.(an impractical and painful idea) He lamented further that hed blown the better part of a grand on it. My advice was to ask first, next time.

But, its your set. do whatever you want to it. Right now, the 40 radios are nice sets, and play well when theyre done right. I might recommend that if you do have the set hot-rodded, you might want to paint it pearlescent purple, and have yellow flames painted on the case. Youll love the sound.  

Joe Bento #20081

Quote from: Doug HoustonMy advice was to ask first, next time.  

And that is exactly what I have done :)

Okay, I think you have me convinced.

So all that said, can anyone name a shop to do a proper restoration?



Bill Gauch

Well, I was going to suggest some possibilities for you, but if you are convinced... Actually, if you use a fully restored AM radio, you can get a short-range AM transmitter to hook to your iPod. You can either make one up from many plans on the net if you have the most basic of soldering ability. Alternately, you can buy a kit or a fully assembled, packaged in a nice box version.

Alternately, I will say that you dont have to throw out the guts of the radio if you "re-fit" it. In fact, if you are a tinkerer, you could probably come up with some way to control the internal parts with the external controls.

Personally, I am not afraid to do my own electronics work, so I plan to make/buy something to allow me to do just what you want for my 38. The easiest thing would be to throw together a simple 6V power amplifier with a standard line-in connector, hook it to the single speaker and leave the internals of the radio on the shelf. I also plan to restore the original internals for eventual future use. My feeling is that there is nothing wrong with "personal use" modifications, as long as they are, A) not visible; and B) reversable. Of course, that is just my opinion.

Barry M. Wheeler #2189

Joe, Re: the special paint on the case...

Some thirty years ago, when I was proposing painting my 1938 Cad "60" coupe olive, with black fenders and orange wheels, to mimic Brent Shores 1932 Cad coupe, Doug said he was sending me a pair of 1949 Plymouth bumpers to put on the car.

Our Authenticity Guru certainly does have a turn for the colorful phrase...

I do know a good guy for radio repair. Les Freed, Lafayette, IN. 765 572-2425, or Lefreed1@hotmail.com. Be sure to mention my name.

Harry Carlson #16432


Im so glad you decided to keep the old radio.

If you are trying to have an authentic original car, whats the point in installing a modern radio?  If you were doing a rat rod, then of course go for the new, big sound.  

I recently had the 8-track radio in my 76 Eldo convertible driver repaired at Royal Radio in Royal Oak, Michigan.

I toyed with the idea of a modern radio also, but I just couldnt do it.  I would rather buy a big portable boom box and keep it in the car than give up listening to Neil Diamond on the 8-track.  Not to mention, installing good speakers would involve some cutting on the car, which I couldnt bring myself to do.

I called Royal Radio and they said they could repair a tube radio if the tubes are still available.  They would need it shipped to them and there is a $100 service fee for looking at it.  They estimated a typical repair including replacing old broken wires and cleaning corroded sockets at about $250, typically.  They have done auto company warranty work for decades, going back to tube radio days.  Their number in Royal Oak, Michigan is: (248) 548-8711.

Good luck!  Let us know what you do!