By on September 10, 2018

Few things look more out of place inside a classic automobile than a period-incorrect head unit. It draws the eye like a pimple on a nose.

Fortunately, Jaguar Land Rover is now offering a new range of infotainment systems that pair modern functionality with “discreet and harmonious styling.” It’s the coolest idea since Porsche’s Classic Radio Navigation System in 2015. Alright, so it’s the exact same idea — but that hasn’t made us any less stoked about it.

Like the Porsche unit, JLR’s handiwork also resulted in something you could inconspicuously slot into your dashboard without it sticking out like a sore thumb. The “Classic Infotainment Systems” come in five distinct flavors, designed to pair well with the interior of any Jaguar or Land Rover sold over the last few decades. 

Wholly unnecessary, yet undeniably cool, the systems adds telephone functionality, phonebook transfer via Bluetooth, an internal microphone, auxiliary jack, USB port, satellite navigation and supports pairing with up to four devices. Customers also receive digital radio, as well as the standard FM and AM analog reception.

While the systems are unobtrusive, they aren’t seamless. The 3.5-inch touchscreen that’s integrated between traditional rotary controls and buttons is a dead giveaway that the head unit wasn’t an optional extra from 1987. It works well enough under a cursory examination through the passenger-side window, though.

The units are available through Jaguar Land Rover Classic and retail for about $1,800 in the United States. However, those who aren’t interested in D.I.Y. projects can have them fitted at any authorized Jaguar or Land Rover dealership for a little extra. Obviously, purists will forego even entertaining the idea that an abomination like this dare grace the insides of their future classic. But less pedantic owners will probably find the offer tempting enough to overlook the inauthenticity and price.

The manufacturer says the devices should work on any vehicle using a negative ground system. But they’ve been designed to fit especially well with specific models. For Jaguar, those include the XJ40, XJS, and Series 3 XJ Sedan. Meanwhile, Land Rover optimized them for the Defender 90 and 110, Series 1 Discovery, Series 1 Freelander, and the last batch of Range Rover Classics (93-96).

[Images: Jaguar Land Rover]

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12 Comments on “Jaguar Land Rover Now Retrofitting Vintage Rides With Modern Infotainment...”

  • avatar

    I’m curious. When did Jaguar and Rover switch from positive earth?

  • avatar

    I can’t say for sure, but I thought radios were a dealer installed option for British cars back on the 50s,60s and maybe 70s And, I don’t think there ever was a Lucas branded unit.

  • avatar

    Spendy, but they look great. I wish some company would make generic all-flat-black headunits without the Tokyo-by-night light show for ’80s and ’90s cars. I put Nakamichi head units in my Volvo and Land Rover, and they look fine, but still too much going on to really fit the style. I don’t need a touchscreen or NAV, I have a phone for that. Just music via MP3, phone, and Bluetooth streaming is nice occasionally. My needs are modest, but the 1991 Volvo and 1995 Rover head units aren’t up to the task. Not sure they were in the ’90s, for that matter!

    • 0 avatar

      The Blaupunkt head units are the only ones I’ve seen that look somewhat decent, but I believe those are quite spendy, too.

      • 0 avatar

        I did some digging around the web. Both Blaupunkt and Nakamichi appear to be zombie brands – that is, they sold the rights to their names to “Investors” who have the brands slapped on some crud from a random Chinese factory.

        The Nakamichi name seems to be alive in name only. The most recent catalog available on their website is from 2014.

        • 0 avatar

          @eggsalad, can’t comment on Blaupunkt, but Nakamichi is exactly what you describe. I worked part-time at a hi-fi store while I was in college, and Nak brought out the “Dragon”, the pinnacle of any cassette deck then and still today. It could actually correct the azimuth on playback and had a test-tone generator on it that would let you maximize the bias and EQ of the tape you were using. It could also put so much signal on a tape that if you played it back on an inferior machine, all you would get it distortion because it couldn’t handle the signal level on the tape (found that out making my first mix-tape).

          Every archival institution/ company is always on the hunt for a Dragon. I think they were around $1300 back in 83, you’ll still pay that or more if you can find one today.

          • 0 avatar

            I have a Dragon, an LX-5, and a TD-700. My friend owns a the “Dragon-for-a-car” TD1200. The 1200 does the same auto azimuth, but all the electronics could not fit into the head unit. He had this installed in a Maverick. At least my TD-700 got to reside in a Fury.

            Nakamichi no longer exists in its original form. Since cassette reproduction died, the main reason for the company died with it. Kind of like Sony had the Trinitron XBR sets, which is also irrelevant today.

  • avatar

    …these all look like rebranded harman becker head units: they’ve been specialising in this niche for a couple of decades now…

  • avatar

    The first photo looks like a Silver Shadow dash. It sure isn’t a Jaguar.

    • 0 avatar

      Strange, and yet it isn’t branded, the other images brand the head unit as J/LR.

      Perhaps it just shows that they will sell you an unbranded head unit to use in any classic car?

  • avatar

    I remember watching Goldeneye and the thing that stuck out about the DB5 in Monaco was the CD player head unit that looked like it was straight out of a ricer hatchback. The type of thing I might have retrofitted to the beater I owned, then have to take the front cover off in case it was stolen. Surely that would ruin James Bonds tux jacket?
    Of course it was then revealed that it was actually a fax machine. Because 90s.

    The JLR head unit – how are they going to retrofit DAB (digital radio)? Any third party solutions I looked at in the past involved extra aerials or ugly antenna things that stuck onto the windscreen.

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