What to do if you want 21st century radio electronics in your classic air-cooled Porsche, and you want it to look like something built in the appropriate era? The German automaker offers a Porsche Classic Navigation Radio that drops into the single-DIN opening in the dashboard and closely matches the look and feel of the original equipment. Set into the middle of the radio is a 3.5-inch color LCD.
Smartphones can be connected by Bluetooth. There’s both an integrated microphone and an external microphone, plus a four-channel amplifier that delivers 45 watts per channel. The amp can be connected directly to the speakers or to the original audio system via an adapter cable.
Developed by the company’s Porsche Classic division, the “PORSCHE” lettering is similar to what’s on a Porsche-original radio of the era. Two sets of knobs are supplied to most closely match your Porsche. The radio tuner is matched to the characteristics of a single-mast antenna most commonly fitted to Porsches back then. Map data is on an 8GB microSD card. There’s also a microSD slot for music. The center LCD is flanked by two volume/tuning knobs and six pushbuttons: tuner, media, phone, navi, map, and back.
Porsche lists the price at 1,184 euros, which is about $1,350. If the price sounds high, you haven’t owned a Porsche and discovered the joys of maintaining, say, the heater box. The nav radio covers Porsches dating to the first 911s of the 1960s through the 1990s, plus front- and mid-engine models including the 914, 928, and 944. This is the latest in an occasional line of retrofit radios that integrate digital media playback and cellular connections. It’s up to you to decide if you want a thousand-dollar navigation display the size of a 5-year-old smartphone screen.
For owners restoring classic and antique cars, there’s interest in bringing digital music and cellular connections to the dashboard while maintaining the more-or-less original appearance. They’re great for looking original for someone peering in the window (hopefully today’s generation of thieves has forgotten how easy single-DIN radios were to steal) and for local shine-and-show gatherings, less so if you plan to exhibit at the Pebble Beach concours. The direct retailer Crutchfield Corporation was founded by Bill Crutchfield in 1974 when he couldn’t find anyone to upgrade the radio of a Porsche 356 he getting ready to sell.
Becker, supplier of original equipment radios to many German automakers, maintains a repair-and-upgrade facility that can add an aux-in jack or Bluetooth streaming even to tube-type and transistor radios. (Fanatical audiophiles maintain nothing makes digital music sound more natural than being amplified by the warming features of analog tubes.) There are also original-equipment-looking radios with modern innards, similar to the Porsche Classic Navigation Radio.
In addition, there are manufacturers such as RetroSound (image above) creating retro-look radios focusing on American cars. The radios can include functional pushbuttons. Most have FM as well as AM, aux-in and/or a USB connector (it may be on the back and fed to the glovebox), and Bluetooth.