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Can You Install New Speakers in Old Car?

It’s not uncommon for people to want to change up the sound system in their cars. The answer is yes if you’re wondering if you can install new speakers in a car.

But can you install new speakers in an old car? Let’s find out.

You can install new speakers in old cars. The most suitable speakers for old cars are those that are designed to fit the specific make and model of the vehicle. If you want to add new speakers to the old car, you may need to add adapter rings since most of the new speakers have a different size than those installed originally.

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Tip: Most old cars have installed speakers of different than modern sizes.

If you do not want to mess with the car’s original look and keep it classic, you may need to install speakers from Retro Manufacturing (link to Amazon).

In their offer, you will find, in addition to standard 6×9″ or 6.5″ also those with more unusual dimensions like 4×8 or 4×10 installed like dash speakers in 73 Dodge Pickup or 1970 AMX.

In the article below, you will find more tips on choosing and installing speakers for your old car.

How to Install New Speakers in Old Cars?

Installing speakers in old cars is not different from modern cars and, in most cases, it is simpler. The main thing you need to be aware of is the different size speakers.

Installing speakers in old cars usually involves removing the old drivers and installing the new ones in their place.

Retro Manufacturing D-412 4" x 10" Replacement Dash Speaker for Classic Vehicles

In some cases, you may need to make modifications to the car to accommodate the new speakers, and I am not talking here about cutting additional holes for the car speakers but installing special adapters that will allow you to correctly and firmly place the new drivers of a different size.

Although you can drill new holes for the speakers, you should be careful not to damage the car when making modifications, especially if you have a valuable classic model.

If you are not sure how to install speakers in your old car, it is best to consult a professional who can help you with the installation but if you want to do it yourself, below are a few simple steps to follow:

#1. Remove the old speakers from their place.

This often involves removing door panels and dashboards or dismounting other interior elements.

When you have the interior in pieces, check the quality of the wiring as it may be time for a replacement.

#2. Install the new speakers in the original places.

Make sure you have the correct size speakers and that they fit snugly into place.

In some cases, you may need to add soundproofing panels to reduce the vibrations behind the speakers, especially for those mounted in doors.

#3. Connect the speakers to the car stereo.

This usually involves running new wires from the head unit to the speakers.

Make sure you use high-quality wire that can handle the amperage of your speakers.

Although many manufacturers have recommendations for the speaker wires, I recommend using not less than AWG16, mainly if you use an amplifier. Excellent quality are Knukonceptz wires (link to Amazon).

#4. Test the speakers to make sure they are working correctly.

Testing speakers means playing music through them at a moderate volume to make sure they sound good and aren’t distorting.

#5. Reassemble the car interior.

There should be no problem for the speakers placed in the factory places, but when you mount larger than factory speakers, you may need to make some modifications to the door panels or dash.

Which Speakers Are Good for Old Cars?

Many speakers are on the market, but not all are good for old cars. The speakers that are most suitable for old vehicles are those that are designed to fit the specific make and model of the car.

If you want to add new speakers to the old car, you may need to add adapter rings since most of the new speakers have a different size than those installed originally.

For example, when installing new 5.25″ Kicker 43DSC504 (link to Amazon) for your 1972 Mustang, which are deeper than the original ones, you may need to place them on the spacer rings (link to Amazon). Otherwise, the magnet will hit the metal of the door.

On the other hand, you may decide to buy R-525N speakers that are specifically designed for 1972 Mustang or other models from Retro Manufacturing (links to Amazon) and match them with your specific vehicle make and year.

RetroSound R-525N 5.25" Stereo Replacement Speaker

What Do I Need to Install Speakers in Old Cars?

Installing speakers in an old car is not difficult and also does not require any special tooling. The ones you will need are:

#1. Wire stripper/cutter tool

#2. Drill and bits (if you need to make new holes for the speakers)

#3. Screwdriver

#4. Panel removal tool (to remove door panels without damaging them)

In addition, you will need speakers, speaker wire, some connectors and any other brackets or hardware required to install the speakers in your car.

Should I Add Kickpanels to the Old Car?

Adding kick panels to an old car is not required, but it can improve the sound quality of the speakers. Kick panels are designed to hold speakers in the lower part of the door, close to the floor.

This way, the speakers are less exposed to the outside noise, and the sound quality is improved, especially if you add those designed specifically for your car, like Retro Manufacturing (link to Amazon).

Retro Manufacturing KP-C59-6772 Blank Replacement Kick Panel for Chevrolet/GMC Trucks

The downside of adding kick panels is that it may be difficult to find ones that fit your specific car model and year.

In addition, they can be pretty expensive if fully customized.

How to Wire Speakers to the Radio in Old Car?

There are two ways to wire speakers to the radio in an old car.

#1. The first one is to use the existing wires if they are in good condition.

#2. The second way is to run new wires from the head unit to the speakers.

This is usually the best option, as it ensures the speakers have enough power for optimal performance and good sound quality.

Running new wires from the radio to the speakers is much easier in old cars than in modern models. This is because the old vehicles usually have large openings behind the dash, making it easy to access the back of the head unit.

In addition, running new wires is an excellent way to ensure that the speakers are correctly powered and that the sound quality is good, especially if the car has been kept in a dirty environment and the factory wires can be rusty.

Do I Need Amplifier for Speakers in Old Cars?

In most cases, speakers in old cars do not require an amplifier.

This is because the speakers in old cars are usually much smaller than those in new vehicles, and they don’t require as much power to produce good sound quality.

However, there are some cases where you may need an amplifier. For example, if you add larger speakers that require more than 60W RMS.

In those cases, I suggest adding an amplifier automatically because typical car radios cannot power them efficiently.

If you want to keep the whole car audio system classic, there are also a few simple amplifiers made by Retro Manufacturing that are worth checking out (link to Amazon)

How Much Does It Cost to Install Speakers in Old Cars?

The cost of installing speakers in an old car will depend on the type and number of speakers you install and the labour costs.

Generally speaking, the cost of installing speakers in an old car can range from $100 to $500, mainly depending on the speakers.

You can install the speakers yourself to reduce this cost, but this requires some knowledge and skills.

I do not recommend reducing costs by purchasing low-quality speakers or other equipment. Although this will slightly benefit your wallet at the time of the purchase, prepare yourself to repeat this in a short time.

Remember that quality comes with the price, especially for the “you name me” brands.

Conclusion

Installing speakers in old cars is not difficult and do not require any special tooling.

With the right speakers and some wire, you can improve the sound quality of your car without spending a lot of money.

Keep in mind that running new wires from the radio to the speakers is usually the best option, as it ensures that the speakers have enough power and that the sound quality is good.

Finally, don’t forget to factor in the cost of the speakers when budgeting for this project.

For example, in a 1967 Chevrolet Impala without AC, you can install 6×9 speakers in the dash without any modification, but they must be shallow mounted models.

Instead of buying modern speakers with heavy magnets, the better solution will be to purchase designated ones at Retro Manufacturing (link to Amazon).