Category Archives: Classic VW Beetle
Finished installing the vintage radio into the Beetle this evening. Had to remove the air intake to install the back support for the radio. Installed the speaker and buttoned everything up. Very pleased with the end result, wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
I’ve been wanting to install a vintage radio in the Beetle for some time now and last week I came across a great deal on a new old stock Tenna Ranger that is period correct. So I received the radio in the mail the other day and was excited to open the box that had been sealed for over 47 years. This is the same radio kit that the dealers would’ve installed at the dealership after you purchased your new Beetle. My next hope was that the radio would actually work after being tucked away that long. Regardless of whether it worked or not, it was going to get installed. So last night, I began the install process. The hardest part so far was removing the dash pad material that would open the hole for the radio. This stuff is extremely tough. But after an hour or so of chipping away at it, the opening was clear and ready for the install. The radio slid right in and locked into place. Next, it was a matter of feeding the wires through the back and connecting the antenna. At this point, it was time to test the radio. Hot wire was connected to the fuse bus, ground wire was secured, wire for the radio light was piggybacked off of the speedo light and the speaker was temporarily connected. To my amazement, the radio fired up, all of the controls and the light worked and even the speaker worked. I was very, very pleased. I quickly tuned in an AM station and listened to the sounds of the 60’s and 70’s. Next, I’ll install the rear support for the radio (air intake will have to come out temporarily to gain access), install the speaker and button up the wiring. Hope to get it finished up tomorrow night.
I’ll be installing a vintage Tenna Ranger radio hopefully this weekend, depending on the weather. I know a lot of others are planning on doing a similar project with their VW, so I’ve posted instructions for installing a vintage radio. Just click on the link to the right: Tenna-VW
Even though I use my phone and blue tooth speaker for tunes when I’m driving Mabel around town, I really wanted a period correct radio to fill in the dash. After months and months of searching, I came across a vintage NOS Tenna Ranger AM radio for Volkswagen. Sold as an aftermarket accessory for use exclusively in VW, complete kit includes radio, faceplate, mounting accessories, etc. Radio can be used in either 6 volt systems or 12 volt systems, voltage can be set on the back. Popular accessory sold years ago to install a radio in a VW in models that were not factory equipped with one, or as a replacement for the original radio. So, even though it’s not a factory radio, I only paid 50 dollars for a working, NOS radio that looks just like the factory radio and it’s period correct. Not to bad.
The passenger side mirror and mounting nut that I ordered from Mid America Motorworks arrived today, so it was time to button up the passenger side mirror project. My first impressions of the mirror was that it was a quality piece, matched the OEM driver side mirror perfectly. First thing I did was to test fit the mounting nut to the mirror and I’m glad that I did before trying to fish the nut up through the door. Though the nut fit, it was very, very tight. So tight that there would’ve been no way to tighten it onto the mirror mount from inside the door. The chrome was just too thick. After a few passes on the wire wheel, the nut threaded with ease. I disassembled the mirror to make the install a little easier. The 5/8″ hole that I had pre-drilled in the door with the step bit was also a little to tight to get the threaded part of the mirror mount through. I couldn’t use the step bit to make it any larger because I’d end up with a hole that was too big. So I broke out the dremel and made a few passes with the sanding bit, making the hole just big enough for the mount to slip through. Things were looking pretty good at this point. Now the hard part. How in the world to fish the nut up through the door and hold it securely enough to thread the mirror mount into it. I found a small metal rod laying around the garage so I thought I’d use shipping tape to secure the nut to the rod and use that to fish the nut up through the door. The God’s must’ve been smiling upon me because I thought that this process would take several attempts but I got it first try. Once I got the mirror mount threaded, it tightened up nicely and I was able to simply pull the rod and tape off of the nut. The whole process took about a minute and a half. I lucked out, but I was prepared to spend a couple hours on this part of the project. Once the mirror mount was secure, I put the mirror back together, made my final adjustments, then put this project to bed. For anybody else thinking about doing this project, I say go for it. Just make sure you have the right tools for the job, be patient and prepared to walk away for a few moments. A few cans of your favorite brew wouldn’t hurt either. I stretched this project out over 3 days while I had the mirror and nut on order. I think that worked to my advantage. I wasn’t rushed and like I said, I got lucky getting the nut threaded first try. Very, very pleased with the end result. I wanted the passenger side mirror to match the driver side mirror and that was accomplished.
According to UPS, my passenger side mirror and nut should be here some time tomorrow, so this evening, I decided to go ahead and remove the door hardware and panel to get an idea of how I’m going to get the new mirror mounted. For whatever reason, I was expecting more room to work with, but it’s obvious, that’s not the case. So, the big challenge now is to figure out how I”m going to fish the nut up through the door and be able to hold it in place while I screw in the mirror mount. I’ve got a couple of ideas floating around in my head, but until I actually have the mirror and nut in hand, I really can’t test any of those ideas. But at least for now, everything is ready and hopefully tomorrow evening, we’ll be able to give it a try.
I was really wanting this to be a more detailed tutorial, even had the GoPro setup to document everything. It was only after I finished drilling the hole that I realized that I forgot to push the record button on the GoPro. However, I did take pictures in between steps, so hopefully that’ll help anybody else who plans to take on this project. Since I don’t have the mirror in hand (it’s on order), I thought I’d get a jump and prep the door. Tools needed for this part of the project: drill, hammer, center punch and drill bits. I started by printing off the template used to mark the hole for the passenger side mirror. You can download the template (provided by Mid America Motorworks) by clicking here. The instructions for using the template are self explanatory. Once I got the template secured in place, I took the center punch and hammer and with one good strike, made a good indention for drilling the hole. Double check everything before you proceed. Once you start, there’s no going back. I started with a 9/64″ drill bit, then graduated to a 7/32″ bit, then to a 5/16″ and finally a 3/8″ bit. I took a black marker and outlined above the 5/8″ mark on the step bit so I’d know when to stop drilling with it. I really thought this part was going to be difficult, but the step bit cut through the metal with ease and the whole process took only a few seconds. Since I won’t have the mirror and nut in hand until the end of the week, I taped off the freshly cut hole and sprayed it with primer to prevent any oxidation. Once the primer was dry, I installed a 5/8″ plug to seal it until I’m ready to proceed to the next step which will be to remove the door panel and install the mirror. Hopefully this time next week, we’ll have this project wrapped up.
Made a trip to Hobby Lobby to pick up material to wrap up the rear shelf project. I had planned to use the same vinyl that I used on the trunk liner project, but found something else that I thought would work and look a lot better. Best way to describe it is like a very think, heavy duty felt. With material and staple gun in hand, I began to stretch, fit and staple the material to the rear shelf. Very happy with the end result, it fits perfectly, at just the angle that I wanted it to. All in all, a very easy project with minimal costs. The plywood that I used was scrap that I had laying around, I have right at 7 dollars in material and a total of about 2 hours time in the project. If you’re wanting a rear speaker shelf and don’t want to fork out 60 dollars for some crappy aftermarket piece, this project is easy enough for just about anybody with a power saw, jig saw and a couple hours to spare.