By on December 28, 2010

One thing that really sucked about the pre-MP3 era was that it was a huge hassle to get your car a cheap source of music that didn’t sound terrible. As I gather components to set up my Dodge A100 Hell Project with an ironic 8-track setup, I’m forced to recall the hot cassette deck that was more or less forced into my not-so-willing hands back in 1982.

My first car was a 50-buck 1969 Toyota Corona sedan. It came with a factory AM radio (with the CONELRAD stations indicated by Civil-Defense symbols) in the dash, which meant I could listen to scratchy, mono-dash-speaker stuff like Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock-N-Roll” on KFRC.

It also came with an underdash Kraco 8-track player. By the early 1980s, 8-tracks had become laughably obsolete (but not yet ironic-hipster cool), and no 16-year-old wanted to be seen with an 8-track tape in his or her possession. That would be as humiliating a 16-year-old having a Zune now. Being broke, I picked up a genuinely lo-fi piece of audio hardware for $1.50 from the U-Pull yard on 85th Avenue in east Oakland: a cassette-to-8-track adapter. Yes, such devices actually existed, and they almost worked! Well, no, they didn’t.

Cassettes sucked, too, but they sucked less than 8-tracks (this Non/Boyd Rice tape is the only store-bought cassette I can dig up at this hour; I’ve given up finding an image of the X cassette I really wanted for this rant). What I needed was a proper cassette deck for my Corona, so I could crank the Dead Kennedys and Motörhead as I cruised Park Street with a mighty 1900 cubic centimeters of Toyota R power at my command. Back then, however, you couldn’t even get an off-brand Taiwanese Staticblaster cassette player for the kind of money I was able to scrape up from my after-school job stocking the beer fridge at the Herpes Central Beach And Tennis Club Bar, not if you were trying to save up the cash to buy a ’71 Satellite with header-equipped 318. Junkyard decks weren’t much cheaper, not if they worked. What to do?

I figured something would come up, but my friend “Sick Dog” (second from left in the yearbook photo of my crypto-Baja-ized ’58 Beetle, above) couldn’t stand riding in my car and being forced to listen to “Kill The Poor” through a warbly-ass 8-track adapter and decided to take decisive action. This decisive action consisted of Sick Dog ripping off the cassette deck from a Capri II owned by a young woman who lived next door; he believed that she had once called the cops on him for doing bleach burnouts in his (six-cylinder) ’68 Mustang and thus deserved to get her Capri de-stereo-ized. Dressed all in black, including ski mask— he was on a mission, you see— he coat-hangered his way into the car and spent hours silently dismantling the dash and removing the Realistic cassette deck. Next day at school, filled with pride, he handed me a paper bag containing the stereo. “Let’s install it tonight!” I was horrified, but what could I do? Rat off my best friend to The Man? I told him he was an asshole. “What’s done is done,” he replied, “Now you’ve got tunes, dude!”

So, we rigged up the cassette deck in place of the AM radio in the Corona, using some junkyard speakers sitting in holes crudely hacked into the rear package shelf with a jigsaw. Powering it up, we discovered that it had a cassette inside. Not just any cassette, in fact— this was one of the greatest albums ever recorded: X’s 1980 masterpiece, Los Angeles. I’d heard of X— they were starting to get medium-big in Northern California with Under The Big Black Sun around that time— but I had never listened to Los Angeles all the way through. It immediately became my favorite tape and went on many road trips over the next 20 years (it was finally eaten by a tape-hungry boombox in my ’76 Nova)… but I always felt a twinge of guilt, thinking about the poor Capri-driving woman losing both her stereo and (what I’ve always assumed was) her favorite cassette. Actually, more than a twinge of guilt; there have been times that I’ve felt like the protagonist of an Edgar Allen Poe story, being stalked by a ghost who hums “Johnny Hit And Run Pauline” while dragging chains over an endless expanse of busted tape decks.

I’ve often wondered if Sick Dog, who grew up into a reasonably law-abiding guy, feels bad about his youthful stereo theft, or if he even remembers it. For my part, I can tell you that there is such a thing as Hot Cassette Deck Karma; I’ve had plenty of cassette players ripped off from my vehicles over the years. Sure, living in urban-entrepreneur-heavy San Francisco and Oakland had something to do with it, but the real reason was the straight-outta-Poe ghost leading miscreants to my parked car. It’s been at least 10 years since I’ve had a car stereo theft, so the Tape Deck Ghost appears to believe that my half-dozen disappeared cassette players was a sufficient price to pay for the tainted deck in my Corona.

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33 Comments on “Stolen Cassette Deck Karma Goes Around, Comes Around...”

  • avatar

    I was a big fan of cassettes back in their day, but not so much the pre-recorded ones.  I quickly found that with a decent turntable and component stereo system dubbing vinyl records to highly quality Maxell or TDK chrome blank cassettes sounded much better than the pre-recorded ones.  Later I did the same with CD’s.  Never even had a CD player in my cars for a long time until I bought a used Pioneer deck off a coworker to replace the crappy factory unit in a 94 Eagle Summit.  While the stereo was very nice, and even sounded great through the factory cones, I quickly found that I liked the cassette for car audio better than CD’s.  Cassettes were easier to handle one-handed while driving, you didn’t have to worry about scratching them, and CD’s dubbed to chrome blank tapes were close enough in sound quality for in the car.  These days though the only thing I put in the tape players is a cassette adapter for my MP3 player.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s my understanding that pre-recorded tapes were (usually) recorded in Fast Forward from the source tape – lowering the sound quality.  And I always thought that pre-recorded Dolby B sounded too muffled when played back w/ dolby on – I usually left the dolby off so I could actually hear the high frequency (along with some hiss).  I only used dolby on my own home made tapes.

  • avatar

    my first car, a 69 mustang, came with an 8-track player, and this was circa 1989. I hated it, but then I fould out that I could buy and entire crate full of old 8 tracks for $0.25 at the local flea market, which amde me love it. Nothing like walking away with the complete works of basically every 60’s-early 70’s classic rock band for less than the price of a gumball.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    My personal sound-system-from-hell story was a Craig underdash cassette player (no am-fm tuner!) which I installed in a cubby above the heater vents in my 1973 Mustang Mach 1….had to tune to 89.1 on my stock AM-FM radio to listen to it, and the engine made a whining noise through the speakers until my next tune-up, when I could afford to put in a set of resistor spark plugs!….but who cared!  It sounded great with my Gary Wright “Dream Weaver” tape, and my “Aerosmith” tape….and of course the Boss with “Born to Run”…

    Got laid a lot in that car, which, with the pony interior, had a long, long back seat with the rear seat folded down and the trunk paney kicked back in the trunk….as long a back seat make out area as my dad’s station wagons….air mattress and a blanket and looking up through that massive Sport Roof like a skylight on Carbidex Road…..

    Good times.

  • avatar

    Wow. It has been years since I thought about those 8 track to cassette adapters.  Back in the mid 80s, I was driving a 77 New Yorker Brougham.  It was a REALLY nice car (except for the lean burn, but that is another story).  This was a really well equipped car that had cracked the $10K barrier on its window sticker.  Although 1977 was well past the sell-by date on 8 track technology, this car had the nicest 8 track stereo system ever.  Big speakers and great sound for a factory system of the day. 

    I was not an 8 track guy.  I was a cassette guy.  Actually, I was an LP guy who bought lots of blank cassettes and taped my albums.  I found the 8 track to cassette adapter to work fairly well, and spent a lot of time playing cassettes through it.  Fast forward 25 years and I am doing more or less the same thing:  sticking an adapter into the cassette slot on my 90s cars and listening to my mp3 player.

  • avatar

    I fondly remember mutilating the dash on my ’83 Toyota 4×4 pickup in order to cram a Sony cassette player in it. I used a Dremel and a hacksaw and eventually made a pretty decent opening in the dash where the original AM/FM radio once resided.
    With the Sony trim pieces on, it didn’t look too bad, but I did have some scratches and bends on the dash that were unavoidable. My ’85 4Runner has the normal sized radio, which makes it a lot easier to install.

  • avatar

    I still remember putting matchbooks underneath, or above the 8 track cassette to get it to track properly. When they got jammed, and the tape unspooled, I was also quite adept at yanking the tape just right to get it to retract, and be useable once again. My skills were highly sought after, and I became the “go to” guy to fix a tape. Funny how a short story can jog such pleasant memories. Kids today will never know what a great time the 70’s were. Life now just seems too fast and ruthless. 

    • 0 avatar

      IMHO, I thought the 8 tracks sounded slightly better than the pre-recorded cassettes, maybe because the 8-tracks ran at 3 3/4 inches per second and the cassettes at 1 7/8 IPS.  And many cassettes were pre-recorded in Fast Forward whereas most 8-tracks were recorded at their normal playback speed.  Of course the playback equipment has quite alot to do with that.  But, of course, by the early 80s when I was driving, 8-tracks were so yesterday.  It’s a shame because we had so many classic albums on 8-track that were just discarded like yesterday’s newspaper.

  • avatar

    Hey, I’m still using a cassette-to-eighth-inch adapter in my 9-5. Bit of a noise floor, but with the Harman/Kardon in the car it sounds pretty damn good. Gotta find time to put in a real aux input and an aftermarket sub, though – the system as-is has plenty of punch, but it rolls off below 50hz.
    And there’s how far we’ve come – from jamming single speakers under cut-up dashboards to feeling dissatisfied with 13-speaker, 300 watt systems because they only have a 90db signal:noise ratio and aren’t flat down to 20hz.

  • avatar

    I was the first in my group of friends to switch from 8 track to cassette . In 1976 I bought an 80 dollar Pioneer auto reverse cassette deck , then the next year a Pioneer Supertuner which wowed all my friends even with just two Jenson coaxial 6.5 inch speakers in the rear deck of my 65 Mustang coupe . Started recording my own cassettes in 1980 and really didn’t switch to cds until the late 90s . Best sounding factory in dash unit I ever had was the System 10 (5 speakers each side) in dash unit in my 92 Celica GTS . The car was slow with crap gas mileage , but the stereo made old songs sound different and new on the radio with the 5 speaker frequency separation . The cassette sounded good too , but ironically the CD had the weakest amp and sounded the worst as it never had any volume .

  • avatar

    My brother got his first car: A 1983 Grand Marquis Coupe. That light-creme yellow color that you never see anymore. In the mid-90s it was kind of ironic and cool that the thing still had its factory 8-track stereo installed.
    My dad was a new/used Lincoln/Mercury salesman and got him an 8-track to cassette adapter like the one in the picture, and then, I got my first ever CD player (came with the car-kit, AWESOME!). Rocking through the 8-track to cassette to CD player plugged into the lighter, the musical circle of life since our births was complete, until MP3s came to our attention at least.
    My first two CDs, bought at my brother’s insistence that they would be the best bang for my lowly available bucks: The Suicide Machines’, Destruction by Definition & NOFX’s White Trash, Two Heebs, and a Bean. In those days, you weren’t listening to real music unless it was crappy quality, taped off the radio and made into a mix-tape by playing it at top volume in an old flat tape player recorder stood on its side and placed in front of a boombox record mic.
    Good times. Good music, what we could understand of it.

  • avatar

    I completely avoided the cassette era and went from vinyl in the 1970’s/1980’s to CDs. The only stereo stolen from my cars was in my Lada Zhiguli 06 in Moscow. I did not miss the stereo that much, but I did miss the entire dash they hacked up to get the crappy deck out of my car.

  • avatar

    Today cars no longer have DIN standard openings so the days of aftermarket radio are all but over.  I like MiniDiscs and have a Sony Minidisc deck (and MD changer) which sadly won’t fit in cars today.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, and auto manufacturers are making it even harder for aftermarket items by incorporating more electronic function in the head units, such as navigation, maintenance calculators, blue tooth, and climate control.  Aftermarket manufacturers are going to have to focus on add-on units that improve the generally crappy sound that comes with just about every vehicle today.

    • 0 avatar

      You might be surprised how many weird non-standard looking looking dashes have a standard double-din slot underneath and there’s almost always an adapter to allow you to get a single or double-DIN stereo in there.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      From what I’m seeing in the new car field, my old “letter grade” for determining how much to knock off a used car’s price will turn into a “pass/fail” system hinging upon whether the owner did any hacking into the wiring system or left well enough alone. It’s no longer a matter of seeing the original factory harness plugs in place and the absence of sub par wire splices; the headaches associated with creating a separate ISO-spec wiring panel for the continuing hot rod project makes me realize just how poorly equipped many aftermarket shops are when it comes to doing things right.

  • avatar

    Hell, I’m old enough to remember the 4-track vs 8-track format war. Since adapters have come up in this thread, you could buy adapters to play 4-track cassettes on 8-track machines (the 4-track system used a capstan in the player that flipped up into place to drive the tape – 8-track tapes had the capstan built into the 8-track cassette). My brother had a 4-track deck he installed in his ’65 Buick Special convertible. When I got the family hand me down, a ’66 SS in name only Impala, as my first car, I put in an 8-track  unit, not so much to play tapes but to be able to put in a FM converter so I could listen to the late, great WABX.
    Later I recall putting an el cheapo cassette deck in our $50 special ’68 Valiant which we named Slithis after a horror movie about a green snake. So cheap it only had FF, not reverse, but it was better than no tunes.
    I think my favorite aftermarket sound system was the Pioneer am/fm/cassette unit that I mounted in the van that I drove when I sales repped for a paraphernalia distributor. It was a great sounding deck, particularly with an outboard amp. It was a full size van so I built a couple of enclosures, about 1ft cubes, and put in some high end drivers. Later, when those same enclosures were in the back of my Plymouth Champ (Mitsubishi), I slammed the hatch closed, didn’t notice that one of the enclosures was a bit far back and immediately shattered the back window.
    I do suspect that modern audio/nav/infotainment systems, at least the built in from the factory ones, are much harder to steal than old factory units.

  • avatar

    I think the wiildest car stereo that I helped set up was when a friend of mine was moving to California for health reasons. My cousin grew up in CA but lived here in Michigan and he needed to bring some of his possessions back from the west coast. He was driving his Chevy van (he’s a plumber, Dave’s Quality Plumbing – A Flush Beats A Full House – 248-967-DRIP) with the 300CI inline six and a three on the tree. The way U-Haul charged, it was cheaper to rent the trailer in Detroit for the round-trip than one way from Cali so my cousin ended up hauling my friend’s stuff out to Marin county before heading to LA for his own stuff.
    My friend was older and had been a promoter in the music business, apparently he ran the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago during the psychedelic era. One of his friends in the sound enforcement biz made him some huge loudspeakers. In retrospect it’s possible they were based on a Klipsch design. No exaggeration, they were about 4 ft tall, and about 3 ft wide and deep. They were built from PA drivers so the mids and tweeters were horns. Really massive enclosures, but I knew something about stereo back then and knew that horn enclosures were very efficient. The speakers wouldn’t fit in the little U-Haul so we put them in the back of the van. At the time Dave had some cheap speakers coat hangered to some of the roof ribs of the van. He was skeptical when I suggested that he wire up the big enclosures to his inexpensive cassette deck, but I told him about horns and speaker efficiency. He couldn’t believe the big sound we got out of his little aftermarket cassette unit and when he got back to Detroit he said it was too bad that he had to drop the speakers off in Marin, they would have been nice for the trip back.

  • avatar

    Going to a downtown university and being forced to use open lots as parking, the likelihood of your car stereo getting stolen was about 95%. I had four cars going through my five years of university and all of them were broken into, not necessarily for radios, though.
    I think the denizens of these areas thought that anyone going to university was rich and deserved having their ‘wealth’ redistributed; I eventually adopted a slash and burn attitude to equipping my cars… Few other things were as horrible as coming back to your parking space and finding the driver’s side window smashed, and/or your whole dash chopped up like so much firewood. After about the fourth incident, I wished they’d steal the whole f*cking car; it would have been less of a hassle than to fix the one they half-destroyed…
    After losing my Super Tuner (and 200 watt amp!), I resorted to using ‘el-cheapo’ Sparktronic units because I was certain that my car would be invaded again. I wanted a radio in the car, but I was wiling to put up with crappy sound and thought that the budget stereos wouldn’t attract the kind of citizen who thought I should donate electronics to their cause. I was wrong. Another evening class, another broken window…
    Fast foward 20 years, and I had just picked up a used Sunfire for my kid to drive around in. I was still driving it myself to determine what needed sorted out and parked it at my old job’s downtown parking garage. Imagine my surprise at feeling that old horrible feeling when I came out of work one night to find the driver’s window smashed and a gaping hole in the dashboard…
    Deja vu, all over again…

    • 0 avatar

      Over the years, I’ve pretty much always left my cars unlocked. I figure that if they want in, they’re getting in, and I rather they do it the cheapest way for me.

    • 0 avatar

      @Steve65: Locked, unlocked, it didn’t matter. These folks were not going to treat your property well when they got in, true smash and grabbers. I remember folks who didn’t lock their cars on purpose, only to find the window smashed. I think the perps all assumed the cars were locked…

  • avatar
    John Horner

    I hope the neighbor girl reads this piece :).

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Pioneer’s early 80s KP-A700 was their finest evolution of the 3-hole mounted, auto-reverse cassette deck technology, equipped with proper idler wheels which would dry out and crack into uselessness if not cared for properly. The later switch to gear-driven auto reverse made for a more robust transport mechanism, but once that system became widespread, instantaneous flipping was gone forever, replaced by a 3-5 second delay as the gears switched around. The then-new Supertuner III circuitry was unique to that model, with no other analog dial Pioneer featuring the improved PLL circuitry (all subsequent Supertuner III versions sported digital LCD tuning displays). You had a choice of 5 station presets, with at least one AM or FM station, as the pull-to-set/push-to-tune buttons had the end buttons act as the switch between AM and FM bands. Creative station selection could see some buttons perform double duty if the station position offered sufficient overlap on the display. The nose piece also indicated tape direction, enabling easy use of the adjacent fast-wind buttons to minimize accidental direction selection. An automatic 3-second blank spot detection allowed one to quickly hop to the next song, or return to a favorite previous one. The low power internal amplifier was offset by early use of RCA signal outputs, the better to connect a high power amplifier to. Ergonomics were fantastic; while many manufacturers were offering 2-ring controls for shaft based in-dash stereos, Pioneer had kept ahead of the pack by offering 3 separate control layers, coupled with an excellent and intuitive array of push-pull functions for the center and middle dial controls.

    That particular model served me well through 3 separate automobiles and I eventually sold it after moving on to JVC’s GM/Chrysler DIN.5 unit. It outlasted its next owner, who kept it going until he passed away in the mid 90s. I especially enjoyed the incredible FM tuner performance; evenings on Maui saw me tuning in KMEL – in San Francisco – whenever the limited local station offerings weren’t doing anything for me.

    Oh yeah, NEVER let a user of gear-driven Pioneer decks get anywhere near an Ultrx head unit; the latter used a series of soft-touch servomotors and internal “fingers” to gently grab inserted cassettes; the “mash and release” mechanism of those mid to late 80s Pioneers conditioned a generation of brutes who immediately destroyed any Ultrx drive mechanism they got their hands on. I’d rate the short lived Ultrx as the pinnacle of in-dash cassette performance, but new owners needed careful training in order to use them with the delicate, subtle touch they were designed for.

  • avatar

    I couldn’t afford an expensive stereo system, my go-to aftermarkets were Realistic FF only 8-tracks from Radio Shack and Sparkomatic FM adapters from Wal-Mart.  I’d take out the underdash ashtray and screw the brackets to the bottom and wire the power wire to the cigarette lighter.  Not much collateral damage and I’d get FM radio.  For the 8 track player, I’d buy one of those cheap plastic consoles with the slots and two drink holders, put it on the transmission tunnel, wire it (again) through the cigarette lighter, and velcro cheap 5 watt speakers to the top of the player.  After cassettes became more popular, the ensemble of crappiness was completed with a cassette adapter!

  • avatar

    My first car audio install was in my 1961 Corvair, which was ordered without any radio to avoid the POS am unit that Chevy provided. Instead, I bought a Motorola FM-only unit and had the dealer install it. Mistake. They apparently had never done that before, or hated Corvairs, or were, most likely, stupid and incompetent. The antenna was installed at the usual spot near the base of the windshield, and they then ran the wire into the cabin through the fresh air channel. Without caulking the gaping hole they had drilled. I drove my proud First New Car home from the dealership in a heavy thunderstorm and was greeted with a tsunami from the air outlets under the dash. That was in addition to the paint damage their gorillas had done getting the Cosmoline off the car during delivery prep. They had to be jawboned into repainting the trunk lid and engine cover, each at the “wrong” end of the car…

  • avatar

    I had an ironic 8-track player in my ’05 Scion xB, complete with custom “Scion-8” logo:
    If you get into collecting 8-tracks you automatically get to learn how to maintain and repair them, as they have a 100% failure rate. One good resource for information is
    It’s amazing to me how quickly cassette decks fell from grace. I used to lust after the Nakamichi TD-1200MKII (which had the same automatic azimuth correction the Dragon home deck had).
    I had one of the mid-90s-vintage Kenwood units that had the “barn door” to hide its face when turned off. I don’t remember what that feature was called; the newer iteration of the feature involved a simpler, more reliable revolving faceplate and was called MASK. My Kenwood would freeze up in very cold weather so I installed a switch to keep it unhidden during the winter months. It got stolen from the repair shop when my car needed major service and was parked at the shop for months. Fortunately that’s the only deck I’ve had stolen.

  • avatar

    Locating a source of new old-stock quadraphonic 8-track tape cartridges in the early 1990s and aware of the growing demand and prices of those critters I bought out much of the stock available (including vinyl quad items).
    Ebay emerged where I maximized profit.
    Items I paid mere cents for, especially the quad 8-tracks, brought prices FAR FAR more than what I paid.
    Vinyl records also performed well.
    Sadly, the items offering the ENORMOUS pay-back amounts were but a minute percentage of the stock I had acquired (some quad 8-tracks went for the multi-hundred dollar range but I had very few of those items).
    More typical was a quad LP I paid a buck for selling for $30 to $75 with the purchaser paying shipping.
    The efforts paid for much of my expenses, living and tuition, during my first return to college to grab a degree that I learned was basically useless due to my personal limitations with advanced math along with too many employers looking at my working-poor background and membership in the blue-collar laboring class with hiring personnel actually and openly ridiculing me for my “membership” within a socio-economic group they looked down upon.
    I even had a few negative comments for having enlisted in the military; about how the time wasted there was detrimental to my “career.”
    From my view modern society, for many of us commoners, has “pigeon-holed” holed much of the workforce into following a certain designated career path requiring a high school —> college—->corporate USA path with the wrong “type” of deviation leaving the worker out of the loop and doomed to “failure” unless luck or perhaps the proper innate ability(ies) are possessed.
    Of course, the latest economic downturn has impacted many more socio-economic groups than other recent downturns though some inequity still exists but there is ample evidence that career paths of MANY types have been devastated rather than the “traditional” harm befalling the trades and other blue-collar groupings (generalities, true, but peeking at past data does reveal how the latest economic down-turn is broader-based encompassing a larger grouping of career paths than normally seen.
    For the record, my young ears trended towards KYA vice the more-often listened to KFRC with the more “intellectually oriented” cohort tuning to KYA though the more socially inclined “popular crowd” reveling in KFRC.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if a survey of latter-day dumpster divers seeking nourishment were ex-KYA folks with KFRC types able to evade the dumpsters and utilize acquired wealth and able to draw upon actual viable acquired pensions.
    Just surmising with no available proof.

  • avatar

    When I rolled in my tuner 90′ Geo Prism, I had the old Kraco cassette adapter with a wire to Discman thingy. One day on the way to work, I hit some black ice and slid into the back of a new Grand Am. I hit with such force that the adapter inserted itself into the tape deck and Sex Type Thing began playing at high volume(the Discman was either already on or turned on from the impact). The unrestrained battery also exited the engine compartment and was dangling on the bumper by it’s wires.
    A buddy of mine from Indy had his stereo lifted every time he went back home. He finally solved the problem by putting a janky-looking wood sign over the front of his cd deck that read “NO RADIO”. He left a gap at the top to slide the CD’s through. Since it was detachable face, he just mounted the face to his visor and connected it with a Tandy computer ribbon cable. I think that’s the coolest damn thing I’ve ever seen done to a car stereo.

  • avatar

    Well, I am tail end Charlie on this thread but never mind the debate about 8 tracks and cassettes, they both sucked! I am old enough to know. I can’t believe Murilee wrote a blog that included “x”‘s Los Angeles and a 69 Corona. I was never a ‘Yota boy but I had a beater Datsun 510 in the late 70’s/early 80’s with an 8 track converter and played “x” on it. When I was that age exene and john were my heroes………………so was my 510.

  • avatar

    OEM tape decks are virtually non-existent now, but at least they became decent at the end of their lifecycle. The tape deck on my LS430 Mark Levinson stereo is crazy good, as if I’m listening to a azimuth-adjustable Dolby B-C-S component tape deck in a high end home system.

  • avatar

    Ah, the venerable cassette, I was lucky in the sense that good friends went w/ the 8-track back in the 70’s with the Zenith System 3 all in one stereo system that they bought in I think 1974 and by the standards of those systems, it was HUGE in size, anyway, I managed to skip the 8-track and went straight for the cassette format, thanks to my Dad who that Christmas I think gave me a small portable cassette deck for Christmas, yep, a K-Mart special w/ built in condenser mic even and I’ve had several cassette decks ever since, still have one as part of my computer audio setup.
    That said, back in HS, I had for a brief while an AM/8-track deck in my 68 Chrysler Newport 4 door sedan, not even a hardtop at that and would later replace it with the factory radio which I put back in, it was AM and had thumbwheels, a very cool item back in the day and fitted underneath it an underdash cassette player from Radio Shack that had auto music search AND auto reverse, yup, a rarity in the lower models and I think it went for some $70 or so back in the early 80’s, true it had an itty, bitty amp, but it did alright, even with the cheap Rad Shack 4″ surface mounted speakers jury rigged into the rear 6×9 speaker holes.
    When I bought my oldest sister and her first hubby’s 74 Chevy Nova, it came with a basic Sears AM/FM cassette deck and 2 way 6×9 speakers in the parcel shelf, that was my first indash cassette deck and I’ve had them ever since, even went through 2 Realistic powered graphic EQ’s, blew out both of their power sections before replacing the whole thing with a cheap off brand deck from our local flea market. It did alright for what it was back in the mid 80’s and eventually grew out of the cheap decks into a decent Kenwood 2 shaft model to fit in the space of the original AM/FM radio in my 83 Civic in 1992, had auto reverse, music search, soft eject, high powered amp (50W with 2 speakers, 25W each w/ 4) and put in a pair of 6.5″ Kenwood 2 ways in the doors, later adding surface mounted mini 3 way speakers in the back cargo cover area that I built for the back cargo area and it was a fantastic deck for the day.
    The ’88 Honda Accord, the LX-I grade four door had the top factory deck and it was fantastic as factory decks go, excellent base from the full range 6×9’s in the rear but had to replace the front speakers as the passenger side driver crapped out, installed some Boston Accoustic 2 way drivers in the doors to replace them, yes, the original factory speakers were 2 ways as well. I would later get tired of dealing with the portable CD player via cassette adapter and replaced it a crappy in dash CD head unit that skipped all over the place but ended up replacing the car several months later in 2006 with the Ford Ranger.
    That truck had the basic, but solid factory cassette deck, sound was OK, bass was truncated greatly, even with the stock 6×8’s in the rear and I would later replace it with a decent, but basic Panasonic in dash CD head unit w/ removable faceplate and replaced the rear speakers with Infinity Kappa 6×8 speakers and wow, what a difference it makes in the sound in the truck, however, still have the front stock speakers, the driver’s side driver is no longer working however.
    To me, music while driving is essential and I always made mix tapes, never used Dolby, used quality tapes from Maxell, TDK or Fuji, most all Chrome and drove the levels just a tad over 0 on the vue meters to ensure good, clean, but full bodied sound from the cassette and when done well, the tapes sounded fantastic, now I do the same with the CD format, making mix CD’s, even redoing a several of my better mixes from scratch to CD.
    While I didn’t listen to punk much, I DID and still do listen to a wide variety of rock music from classic rock to some hard rock to disco to New Wave to name a few, mixing newer stuff with vintage material for mix CD’s in a “freeform” style became a 6 CD series and are some of the best road music out there IMO.

  • avatar

    do you still have the boyd rice tape? and if so, are you willing to part with it?

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