To keep the blog going while Michael recovers from the man-flu, here is a small spiel about my planned RX-7 retro audio installation. Overly ambitious? Perhaps, but by some small stroke of luck the vehicle happened to come with vintage Pioneer speakers already installed in the boot area (I’ve always been a sucker for Pioneer gear) so it makes the next few steps even more relevant.

These vintage TS-1200s go for around US$150 on the Japanese second hand market. Crazy.

with full tweeter angle adjustment (“Tilt Axial Two-Way”) these puppies are the epitome of 80s tech… and although 10W nominal power is nothing compared to the output of modern-day speakers, it doesn’t matter because I have a cunning plan:

Check it, 30 watts MAX POWER and up to 60 degrees of tilt!

Thanks to Ewan @ hayatonka I managed to secure myself some cheap Lonesome Car-boy cassette decks with matching EQ and amplifier gear. Again, top of the line stuff nearly three decades ago, and very smart looking in brushed aluminium finish – they sure don’t make ‘em like they used to. I flicked through some of my retro magazines from the era (Car Graphic, Japan Car & Driver et al) and the list prices in the ads for the KP-series cassette players rival those of some of the flashest gear available today, and that’s even before inflation is taken into account…

it was somewhat fashionable back in the ’80s to market high-end audio gear as “Component” systems with separate tape (and later CD), tuner, EQ and amplifier decks to mimic home audio setups. The aim is to open one of the non-functional decks in the first photo below and somehow figure out a way of tapping a standard auxiliary cable into the pre-amp channels; this way I can attach an external music player and still have treble/bass, volume and fader controls.

Two cassette decks, an EQ, and a spare GM-4 amp. The decks have broken motors but are fine otherwise.

And if I fail spectacularly at this task, I’m hoping I can just fall back to a “standard” retro setup with a functioning tape deck. Most of my old cassettes and mix-tapes are long gone but I’m sure a visit to Real Groovy or some other 2nd hand record store will net me a whole swag of cheap tapes!

Another KP-series deck. Note the oddball FF/REW slider setup.

Interesting to see how amps originally came as separate half- and single-DIN components, but as time progressed they eventually became incorporated into the headunits themselves, or spun off into even bigger and bigger enclosures as power ratings steadily increased and subwoofers became more common.

flagship GM-D8 main amp with 30W+30W continuous power output.

So there you have it, this is the long-term plan for the banana and should keep me busy during the lulls in Skyline development. I’m yet to figure out what subwoofer/amp combo will be most suitable for the task; pre-90s equipment is scarce and I may end up ‘cheating’ (for lack of a better term) by equipping a small 10″ DD or other high-quality sub to provide a bit of much-needed fill – those paper cone speakers are not known for glorious bass response!

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