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Thunderbird Rear Speakers

Posted By BudMan Last Month
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BudMan
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Hello. It has been quite a while since I posted to the forum. I finished the restoration of my "54 Merc Sun Valley, then promptly sold it. The wife wanted a new house closer to the grandkids and I needed some cash, so off it went. Really never got to drive it much and I think I jumped the gun on selling it. Turns out I did pretty good selling the house we had and there was some cash left over. So I bought a nice D code '57 Bird that I am trying to get acquainted with. It is hard to have the same feelings for a car that you bought as opposed to one you spent several years building. Anyway, the bird's radio was non-functional so I installed an aftermarket town and country radio. Looks just like the original but it is AM/FM with some other bells and whistles. The speaker I installed was a stereo speaker installed in the original dash position. I am not happy with the sound quality and I want to install some larger speakers behind the seat. There is a unit on Ebay that has two 6"X9" speakers and requires no modification to the car. Has anyone installed something like this before? If so, how is it installed and where is it mounted? Does it interfere with the stowed convertible top and vice versa? Does the top muffle the sound? I asked the seller these questions but he is a dealer and had no clue how it was installed. Any other suggestions would be appreciated. I really dont want to install speakers in the door panels. Thanks for any and all help and suggestions.

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miker
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I made a pattern to match the old pressboard or cardboard divider from the trunk to the pass compartment. I mounted some "middle of the road" full range 6"x9" speakers in speaker enclosures to a new 3/16" or so plywood, and put the whole works in. I mounted a small "bazooka" sub woofer in front of it. Sounds pretty good with the top up, but it's pretty muffled with the top down. I had the dash out for rewiring and upholstery and I filled and covered the original front speaker. I've got a couple small mid/upper range speakers in the very corners under the dash. It's a long ways from the system in my daily driver, which is a cheap econo box. But it works for my old ears. It at least competes with the exhaust system at cruise.

I'd be interested in which radio you bought. The one I've got was never very good, and the display is failing. I know the good ones are pricey. Any info appreciated.

miker
55 bird, 32 cabrio F code
Kent, WA
Tucson, AZ
55blacktie
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1955 T-birds have a Masonite panel, behind the drop curtain, that separates the trunk from the passenger compartment. As you probably know, 56-57 models do not have the panel, just the drop curtain. The panel/w two 6 x 9 speakers takes the place of the 55 Masonite panel, which should fit 56-57 as well. On my 55, it's held in place with metal tabs and sheet-metal screws. I don't think you will have any trouble figuring out how to mount it, but it does install on the trunk side. Rather than buying the aftermarket panel/w pre-installed speakers, I had my Masonite panel upholstered with black vinyl and installed better speakers. Larry's Thunderbird Parts has the trunk-divider board/panel for $10.95, excluding shipping. 

Sound quality? My car is still under restoration, so I can't tell you firsthand. However, anything placed directly in front of a speaker will have some effect on the sound quality, whether it's the folded soft-top, drop curtain, or seat back. 

I think you can find post on VTCI in which the same question was asked. The poster included drawings of installing speakers, where the interior cardboard quarter panel trim is located. Space is limited in those locations, and mounting speakers there could interfere with raising/lowering soft-top. Once you read the post, you could try contacting the poster for more information.   
miker
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So that old deteriorated panel in my car was Masonite. After a lifetime in Seattle weather I couldn't tell what it was. Since the enclosures are on the trunk side, mine doesn't interfere, and the little subwoofer clears too.

miker
55 bird, 32 cabrio F code
Kent, WA
Tucson, AZ
55blacktie
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Aurora conversion.
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Suppliers say their replacement is cardboard, but my OEM 55 board is Masonite/pressed board, a step up from cardboard, and a little more durable. 
55blacktie
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Budman, VTCI is Vintage Thunderbird Club International. Scroll down to "1955-57 Modified/Custom Thunderbirds" and click on "Sound System 1956," by Andyrytt Thur, Jan 07, 2021 7:35 pm. Sorry I can't attach link.
Florida_Phil
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This is my first early Thunderbird, it's a 55.   As other's have stated, the '55 Masonite panel behind the seats would be the perfect place to mount your speakers. Since I got my car about three years ago, I have been constantly working to improve what I consider to be negatives.  I've rebuilt and upgraded the engine, clutch, transmission, cooling system, brakes, suspension, dash and a few other assorted things.  In my opinion, the biggest drawback to these cars is leg room.  I'm 6' and have learned to drive the car with the steering wheel pulled all the way out.   Anyone taller would buy another car. 

To improve this is complicated.  My car came with two tops.  The soft top folds down behind the seat blocking you from tilting the seat backs rearward. With the top up, the folding mechanism does the same thing. The solution I am currently working out is ditching the soft top completely and removing the hard top when my wife wants a convertible experience. I love the aggressive look of a black 55 TBird with the original non porthole top in place. I think the porthole looks ridiculous.  If you get rid of all that stuff behind the seat, there is a ton of room you can open up.  I may keep my original bench seat. I am looking into other seats options as well.   As you can tell, I am not a purist. On the other hand, I want my car to retain it's 50s early 60s vibe.  I am not a fan of destroying an entire car just so you can drive a modern 1955 TBird.  I want my car to be a modern interpretation of my bad ass street machine memories.  I also want to drive it in comfort.


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55blacktie
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Before I inherited my 55 T-bird, my father preferred the soft top and stored the hardtop. When he was struck down by Alzheimer's, the car was moved to my nephew's garage. Not having the space to store the hardtop, he lowered the soft top and installed the hardtop. 

When I began restoring the car, I discovered that one of the four retaining studs for the soft top was loose and another was loose. The studs are welded to the frame and are not accessible at the frame without removing the body. Apparently, broken studs is a common problem, because the CTCI Restoration Manual explains how to replace them by drilling out the broken stud from the passenger compartment and tapping for a new stud, which I have done. It helps to have the seat and soft top removed, and a 90-degree drill/attachment will be needed. 

Like Phil, more than likely store the soft top and remove the hard top whenever I want to drive topless. Hopefully hotel management won't complain too much, when they see me carrying the hardtop into a hotel room. The rear speakers should sound better with the soft top out of the way.

Convertibles are particularly vulnerable to vandalism/theft. Someone broke into my 1988 Mustang convertible by cutting through the top, leaving his blood behind, but there was nothing of value in the car, which was parked in my driveway. I would not leave the T-bird unattended for very long because both tops are valuable and can be removed fairly easily. Top locks are available, but probably could be easily cut off/defeated.



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If you just put 6x9 speakers in he trunk devider all will be well until the first time you slam your trunk closed, then the diaphragms will blow out from the pressure (ask me how I know). You must put them in boxes which will isolate them from that pressure wave. You will still hav the problem of the seat and the curtain that will muffle the sound. The best I’ve been able to do so far is to mount to quality 4” speakers under the dash and use a quality 6x9” in the stock position in the dash. Nothing else has worked so far for me. Good luck! MIKE

Mike, still lovin his 57 t'bird after 47 years


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