I’ve had many lives – many jobs, many groups of people, friends, associates. One of these lives was as a car audio installer. I’ve worked for several private shops in New York and Atlanta, all very high end, as well as Best Buy, and (before their demise) Circuit City. I found the work to be exciting at first, and then the people aspect of the job set into my bones and I found a distaste for the opulence and extravagance. Still – a skill, and a lot learned about the interior of cars and working with materials. Not my favorite thing to do, but I can’t stand not having music with me when I travel, drive, work, etc.
So, with the van – had to start right away as a daily driver. The stock radio (cassette deck) and stock speakers (one non-functional, other blown but making some sorts of demon sounds) had to go, had to be replaced. This is just the basics: radio and two dash speakers. The factory holes are 4 inch, in the dash, terrible for sound, but have to make the most of it for now.
I chose to use the same Alpine CD/MP3/Bluetooth media deck I had used in my other car, for simplicity and for decent sound and expandability. Eventually I imagine a full complement of 4 speakers in the van as a whole, switchable as needed.
The installation of the radio was pretty straightforward. Remove the old radio using Mercedes / VW radio “keys”, wire the harness together, install the radio cage, and slide the radio in.
*** HINT: the 12v+ constant and 12v+ switched wires are backwards in these vans for whatever reason ***
I purchased all parts from Cruthfield.com – I’ve had good luck with them over the years since leaving the car audio industry (though their Fit Finder did not show any speakers that would fit this van). Read on to find out (the kind of silly) reason why.
The speakers clip in, no screws, and are recessed – leaving a want of room for any worthwhile 4-inch coaxial speaker to fit behind the factory grills.
ENTER THE DREMEL
To not bore with details (contact me if you need finer resolution) –
A-pillars had to come out, then pop off the speaker grills. I used an off brand butyl sound-deadener to attach to as many surfaces inside the dash as I could, including underneath the dash panel proper. I then cut out slots for 3 of the 4 tabs on the speakers to slide into, and removed the 4th tab. I used the foam provided with the speakers around the underside of the speaker rim and used provided screws to secure the speaker.
It was a little trial and error to remove parts of the underside of the grill to not interfere with the movement of the speaker surround – if left in place it would eventually just wear through the rubber and destroy the speaker.
The result is decent sound, for now, from a deck powering two 4-inch speakers in a big empty tin can van. Later we’ll have an update (I’m sure) with at least one amp, and another set of speakers for sound in the back.