<VV> Corvair Radio/Speakers

Tony Underwood tonyu at roava.net
Mon Oct 3 03:39:58 EDT 2005

At 05:58 hours 10/02/2005, Russ Moorhouse wrote:
>My '65 coupe has the original AM/FM with rear seat speaker in 
>it.  The original owner replaced the stock speakers with Clark's 
>replacement speakers at some point, but he doesn't remember when.
>The problem I have with the radio is it doesn't hold well on a 
>station when it's set on FM.  It shifts slightly and you have to 
>deep adjusting the tuner knob.  Also the sound doesn't have much in 
>the way of frequency range.  It's rather tinny sounding, about equal 
>to an old hand held transistor radio,
>Is this normal for these radios to be this way?  I don't remember my 
>'64 Olds F-85 sounding like this and it only had an AM radio, the 
>same with my '65 Impala.  Did they just use a very basic radio on the Corvair?

They weren't bad for the times.   They were in fact well made and 
tough, durable, etc.   But after a couple dozen years the 
electrolytic caps dry out and performance really falters, and 
depending on which capacitors fail, the sound quality can indeed get 
lousy and tinny sounding accompanied with off--channel "flutter" and 
motorboating etc depending on which ones fail.

The caps and some alignment (which drifts over the years) will 
usually perk a marginal old Delco AM or AM/FM right up.

There is also a trick or two that can be pulled which will crispen up 
the sound quality on FM.   Seems many radio manufacturers would clamp 
the high freqs in these radios by shunting some of the higher freq 
audio to ground with capacitors along the low level audio 
pathway.   It helped "smooth out" the sound which was pleasing to the 
jaundiced ear of the sort of prospective buyer who would be prone to 
listening to what was generally heard on FM at the time...  which was 
elevator music for the most part; that, and classical, both of which 
were regarded as being better when played "smooth"... or 
something.    And of course Delco didn't help things with those 
original speakers which had zero response over around 5k or 
thereabouts.   But for the FM customer of the day, it was perfectly 
acceptable for FM to sound like AM...

Today this notion is long since gone.

And yes, the Corvair AM/FM Delco radio can be "crisped up" a bit with 
some careful attention to swapping out a couple of audio bypass 
capacitors with a couple more with about 1/4 the value.   It still 
drops a bit of the background "hiss" which germanium transistor tech 
tended to generate, but it allows the higher audio frequencies to 
come through... providing you do something about the original factory 
design speakers GM was putting in Corvairs which were terrible.    An 
8 ohm coax speaker of decent quality can make a "perked" Corvair 
AM/FM sound a lot better than it ever did out of the box.

Don't give up on that factory radio just yet...


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