Ever since I got the Hako, the in-car entertainment has been provided by a single-CD Sony head unit, which dates to probably the early 90s and came with the car. Speakers were vintage Pioneer pod speakers, and when I replaced the worn-out drivers with new MTX ones, the whole thing actually sounded pretty good. So I was happy with it and saw no need to change.
But then recently a good friend was doing a cleanout of his shed, and found one of these:
It's a Becker Europa II radio, which would have been oem-fitment in Benzes, Beemers and Porsches in the early 70s. So it's period-perfect for the 1971 Hako.
It's in absolutely superb condition and is utterly gorgeous to look at and hold. But the eagle-eyed among you will have spied a little 3.5mm mini jack poking meekly out of the front plate, which couldn't possibly be original.
Well it isn't standard for 1973. Rather surprisingly, Becker Autosound
in the USA offer a service where they retrofit these vintage Becker head units with an aux jack that you can hook up to an iPod. And my new/old Europa II was one such modified unit, so I couldn't wait to install it to see how it works.
So out comes the centre console, and the old deck, as I tidied up the wiring in readiness for the Becker.
And out comes the old Sony, which to be honest worked much better than I expected it to.
The wiring for the Becker is really simple. The long wire is the +ve, the short wire attached to that bolt is earth, and you can see the speaker wires coming off those plugs to the right of the shot. Modern decks also have an always-on power source, so that things like saved radio presets and bass/treble settings aren't lost when you turn off the car. But with the Becker, treble/bass and radio presets are held by the mechanical position of the controls, so a keep-alive-memory power source isn't needed. Hako also doesn't have an aerial, so that's one less thing to hook up too. Seet that white plastic cap on the right side of the unit? That covers a 7-pin plug to accept an external cassette player! I guess in 1973 that was the equivalent of adding a CD stacker
The Sony deck was installed in Japan by jamming it into this oddments pocket that bolts to the bottom of the centre console. This looked like it would work for the Becker too.
So after making a bracket...
The Becker bolted to the DIN-pocket just fine.
And the chrome front fascia is a perfect fit for the centre console.
And into the car it goes!
At this point, you think that it doesn't really matter if the 40yr old deck works or not, it just looks awesome
And I have to admit that my sonic expectations of this ancient deck were pretty low...I figured that as long as I could make out the song, and as long as it wasn't *completely* drowned out by the Webers, then it was all good
But you know...it's actually pretty good! You can crank up the volume to a pretty reasonable level before it starts to go all crackly, and while it isn't the last word in clear staging, I wouldn't say that it's a million miles behind the old Sony unit.
When you plug in the iPod, it swaps from radio to the aux input automatically, and then you select songs via the face of the iPhone conventionally. Very chuffed with this
...and I have to say that it does seem really bizarre that the iPhone just plugs into this vintage thing...kinda like picking up an 18th century musket and then discovering that it's equipped with a laser sight
There is only one problem though...and that is that the Hako already has a vintage radio at the top of the dash, which is the oem-fitment Hitachi.
Now it isn't DIN-sized like the Becker, so the Europa II is actually too tall to fit into the Hitachi's slot. But I reckon that the Becker wouldn't look right if it was at the top of the dash, and the spot where the Hitachi is would be better used for some gauges or even an oddments pocket. I'll sort that out down the track...
No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.