How to get an iPod to work in my 26 year old AM radio only car
July 5, 2007 6:51 PM   Subscribe

Please help me banish AM radio from my car.

I drive a 1981 Honda Civic. This car still has the original fully functioning AM ONLY factory radio in it. No cassette, no "auxillary plug". Just radio and I get just one station. This radio has two simple wires running directly into the back of the radio. In order to work it also has to have a good glass fuse on the back. When I first got the car the fuse was blown but replacing it restored the radio. Is it possible to rig it so that I can plug in my iPod directly to my car speakers or am I just dreaming crazy daydreams as I drive around unhappily listening to talk radio?

I have seen the other answers to questions about IPodding your car that have been asked here but they all involve cars that are under 26 years old and at least have FM radios.
posted by hecho de la basura to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
Response by poster: It's *kind* of like this one but mine is smaller and the back is completely closed except for the two wires.
posted by hecho de la basura at 6:52 PM on July 5, 2007

Your choices: get a better radio, or keep dreaming crazy daydreams.

There is no way you'll get listenable volume out of an iPod wired directly to car speakers. You need some kind of amplifier in between, and your cheapest option there is going to be a second-hand radio/cassette from a wrecker's and a cassette adaptor for the iPod.
posted by flabdablet at 6:54 PM on July 5, 2007

The time and expense putting making that happen is not going to be worth it. I'm with flabdablet, check out a salvage yard. Wal-Mart/Pep Boys and the like used to have cheap shaft-style stereos, but not sure you're going to have any luck there anymore.

Maybe a cheap boombox and a cassette adapter?
posted by pupdog at 6:59 PM on July 5, 2007

Well according to Crutchfield, the 1981 Honda Civic sedan has a dash opening that's 6-13/16" deep; aka "Size code E." According to their configurator, this tape deck would fit, and then you could just use an iPod tape adapter. Or if you wanted to spend a few more bucks, you could probably get one with a 1/8" line-in.

You could give Crutchfield a call when you have the dash opened up, if you think something's not right back there on the factory radio -- I'd think you'd have to at least have wires for the speakers, the power input, and the antenna. If you can't locate those (I'm not sure what you mean by it only having two can't possibly work and produce sound out of the speakers with only two wires, I don't think).
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:07 PM on July 5, 2007

On a re-read, the tape deck linked to above (the $40 one) has an aux input.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:11 PM on July 5, 2007

Crutchfield. What Kadin said.
posted by unixrat at 7:35 PM on July 5, 2007

Weird, I checked the hatchback, and it's completely different - shallower, and a different size code. I guess the question that needs to be answered is 'which Civic is it?'.
posted by pupdog at 7:36 PM on July 5, 2007

Response by poster: It is a hatchback indeed, not a sedan.

It may indeed have three wires. It's been at least a year since i popped it out of the dash and messed with it at all.

I realize that I need an amplifier in order to gain anything listenable. I was hoping to find out that it would be possible to utilize a simple amplifier and install it sort of behind the radio so i could keep the radio intact (it's in mint condition and goes well with my near mint interior). Otherwise I'm going the cheap route and getting cheap iPod speakers and just sitting them on my dash. Or even better: one of those GIANT boomboxes from the 80's for the front passenger floor!

Thank you all so much who have already responded!!
posted by hecho de la basura at 7:53 PM on July 5, 2007

Stop by a pawn shop, pick up a $20 boombok, and drop $20-30 on a tape adapter and lighter adapter. The cheap iPod speakers aren't going to put out anywhere near enough sound, plus with the right cheap boombox, you might get CD and cassette option as well.
posted by pupdog at 8:03 PM on July 5, 2007

Or even better: one of those GIANT boomboxes from the 80's for the front passenger floor!

Oh, yeah.
posted by nanojath at 8:58 PM on July 5, 2007

Call Crutchfield, and they will have something for less than $50. You want anything with an auxiliary input on the front panel. If it isn't the one linked above, it'll be something similar. They'll send it to you along with all the hardware and instructions you need. If you know how to use tools, you won't have a problem. You don't really need to be "handy" or anything, it's like putting together a bookshelf from Ikea or something.

And you're done.
posted by YoungAmerican at 9:19 PM on July 5, 2007

Make sure that you have enough voltage coming out to drive an aftermarket stereo, Hondas from the early eighties may not put out enough juice to produce listenable volume.
posted by wonderwisdom at 7:47 AM on July 6, 2007

I don't know where you are, but I just saw a Honda stereo with aux-in option for the taking on Freecycle LA. I bet you can find one in your area with a small amount of effort, and it will still match the trim.
posted by mzurer at 8:03 AM on July 6, 2007

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