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How To Install a Modern AM/FM Stereo
Custom Autosound's new USA-66 AM/FM receiver has vintage good looks but also adapts a modern CD changer and MP3 players Story by Donald Farr
Photography By Donald Farr & Patrick Hill

The hassle with installing aftermarket stereos in ‘65-’66 Mustangs has always been created by the small, rectangular opening in the sheet-metal instrument panel. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, owners regularly hacked up the dash to enlarge the opening for cassette units and newer AM/FM stereos.

Thankfully, Custom Autosound rushed to the rescue in the ‘80s with its AM/FM/cassette units specifically designed to fit the first-generation

Mustang’s instrument-panel opening. Take a look inside early Mustangs today and most likely you’ll find one of Custom Autosound’s USA stereo systems, many with CAs CD changer in the trunk.

Custom Autosound’s latest USA-66 adds a new twist to the lineup. While most of the USA head units are modern in appearance with digital faces and small function buttons, the new unit looks identical to the ‘65-’66 Mustang’s optional AM/FM stereo, right down to the sliding AM/FM bar, push buttons, and analog dial. But behind the USA- 66’s original appearance lies 200 watts of stereo power along with a dedicated input for CA’s 10-disc USA-CD1O CD changer, an auxiliary input for iPods and other MP3 players, and line-out connections for an amplifier.

While the USA-66 adds a truly vintage vibe to a '65-'66 interior, it doesn’t operate like an original AM/FM, Yes, turning the knob on the left controls on/off and volume, and the right knob tunes the radio, just like on originals, but the pushbuttons don’t operate as presets. Instead, the left button selects between radio, CD changer, and auxiliary, while the other four control a remote CD changer. Pushing the radio knobs also switches their function for bass and treble, balance, and front/rear fader. A small LED in the bottom left of the dial changes colors to indicate radio, CD, or auxiliary functions.

For us, giving up radio presets for a direct iPod connection was not a problem. With an iPod, there’s not much reason to listen to the radio anyway

We’ve had one of Custom Autosound’s USA-5 stereos in a ‘66 GT hardtop for several years, and it has served us well. But with no need for a cassette deck any longer, Matt Simmons at Classic Creations of Central Florida swapped out the USA-5 for the new USA-66, connecting it to our complement of CA kick-panel speakers, rear deck speakers, Back-Seat Driver subwoofer and amp, and CD changer. It’s the best sound we’ve ever had in our ‘66, especially with the direct iPod connection eliminating the need for a less-than-ideal FM transmitter.



With its analog-style dial and pushbutton, Custom Autosound's new USA-66 stereo head unit is a dead-ringer for a factory '65-'66 AM/FM. Knobs are metal, like the originals, and well detailed.

From the rear, you can tell this isn't a vintage radio. Inputs include connection for a CD changer, auxiliary-in, and line-out. The factory antenna plugs right in.



Included with the USA-66 is a cable for iPods and other portable audio devices, an antenna adapter, and CA's easy-to-install harness with identified power and speaker connections. For iPod users, the cable can be routed into the glovebox, or even into the ashtray, provided a small opening is made at the back for the cable.
Because our '66 Mustang is equipped with both a console and air-conditioning, we removed the glovebox for access behind the instrument panel. Here, we are removing the USA-5 head unit in preparation for the USA-66 installation The USA-66 slides perfectly into place in a
'65-'66 instrument-panel opening


Provided washers and nuts secure the USA-66 to the instrument panel via the knob shafts. A rear mounting strap is provided to secure the rear of the radio.    

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