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Oldsmobile Forum: Modern Shaft Stereo Head Units
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  #1  
Old August 4th, 2013
tcolvinMI tcolvinMI is offline
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Modern Shaft Stereo Head Units

I see this topic has been covered at least once, generally. I'm hoping to get some specifics, if possible. My apologies in advance if I'm beating a dead horse.

1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham. 5.0L v8 (307) engine.

The current head unit in the car is a shaft model, factory installed, with AM/FM and cassette deck. The AM/FM works great, but the cassette deck is non-functional. In addition, there is only one working speaker (rear drivers side).

I'm currently looking into a complete overhaul of the entertainment package, including replacing both the head unit and speaker system, as well as adding a small sub and amp. Before focusing on the speakers and amp, I'd really like to find a shaft style head unit that provides more modern features, such as a front aux port and either a USB or SD port. CD is not necessary if I can get access to a USB or SD port. However, I really would like to maintain the shaft style look, to maintain the look and feel of the car while having the modern conveniences of today's radio systems.

I've done a little bit of digging already and know that these types of head units exist (RetroSoundUSA and Custom AutoSound), but neither of these seem to list anything specific to the 1986. My question is has anyone had any experience with a modern shaft style head unit in the 1986 and will any of these models fit? I have an email into RetroSoundUSA regarding this question and am more than willing to take measurements/pictures of the current setup. I dont have any issue with some trial and error, but I'd like to make sure I have a unit that should fit before going down the path of tearing apart the car.

If I can/should provide any additional information, please let me know and I will be more than happy to get it, if I can. One thing I do not want to do is cheap out on this installation. I've already seen some information on a Pyle head unit, but the reviews I've read so far have been pretty negative toward the unit and have basically not recommended the unit. I like the look of the RetroSound units (especially the Model One's, which is more than enough radio for me).

Thanks for the help/information.
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Old August 5th, 2013
amcnut amcnut is offline
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The 1986 Cutlass should have, as stock equipment, a Delco DIN & 1/2 style unit (big black rectangular face with two knobs on the LH side of the face. Olds quit using the old shaft style units in Cutlasses in 1984--starting in 1985 they all had the larger corporate radio. So, if your 1986 has an older style two shaft radio someone has changed it out at some point.
You could find a radio faceplate for a 1985-1988 Cutlass which has the DIN & 1/2 style radio opening and that would allow you greater flexibility in finding an aftermarket radio for the vehicle without having to hack on or modify your dash trim.
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Old August 5th, 2013
tcolvinMI tcolvinMI is offline
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amcnut:

You're the second person today to say this (I posted in the G Body forum last night and received a similar response).

I dont have a huge problem replacing the faceplate, but would like to keep it as original as possible (after looking at it, it doesnt appear to be the original faceplate, as it doesnt match the other wood grain trim pieces inside the car. I'd like to stay with the wood grain, if possible, but could easily be talked out of it if its harder to find.

Would this type of information be in the factory service manual that I dont currently have yet, or is this more from experience? Learning more and more about this car as I go, which I don't mind. There's still so much I don't know about this car.
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Old August 6th, 2013
amcnut amcnut is offline
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Knowing about the switch in radios is more an experience thing. You could probably notice it by looking at original sales brochures. I've been dealing with G-bodies since I was a kid so I'm fairly well versed in them (especially the Oldsmobiles).
The 86 dash woodgrain is a lighter color and grain (teak, I think) than the burled walnut used in prior years.

As far as "original" goes, sounds like the ship has sailed on this particular situation. You can make it stock but it's fairly obvious your car has already been changed by installation of an older style radio.
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Old August 6th, 2013
tcolvinMI tcolvinMI is offline
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amcnut:

One of the things I like about this car is that its pretty much a blank canvas for me, so my options are pretty much unlimited. One thought I had yesterday while thinking about all of this was to either maintain the shaft radio or put a stock radio in it. While I want this to be as stock as possible, I really like the retro look of the shaft radio. The issue now is making all of the bezels consistent. Currently, the radio faceplate is different than the rest of the plates in the car and to get the right faceplate means moving away from the shaft radio (at least, as far as I can tell, since I havent yet found a faceplate that matches the lighter woodgrain in the shaft style, only DIN style) . They could all use some restoration anyway, so now Im just trying to decide which path I want to take with that.

As much as I want to keep this car as stock as possible, I think my plans for it are to make modifications where necessary that keeps up with the concept of the car. I have plans at some point to swap the engine (currently looking into a 383, but havent completely decided yet).

I should probably start digging to see if I can find/obtain the sales manuals. Those would be sweet to have.
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Old August 7th, 2013
amcnut amcnut is offline
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The brochures are usually available on eBay.

You're right--I don't think I've ever seen a shaft style bezel with the lighter woodgrain.
Your alternative would be to change all the other woodgrain to match the older wood. But, as you said, it's a blank canvas.
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