We had Gino and employee Billy Renkart look the Camaro over and give us a list of what would work. They listened to our requests (hide as much of the system as possible, make it look factory, and keep the rear hatch space available so we could still use the T-tops), and gave us a grocery list of stereo equipment that would not only work together, but also bring the car into the 21st century.
While our install included the best of the best-such as the Sirius satellite radio install (for the NASCAR channel, of course), and an iPod hookup to replace the 12-disc CD changer-a good system, including parts and labor, will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $3,000-$4,000. While this may be a bit pricey for some, when you turn the system on for the first time after it's completed, it will all be worth it. Take it from us. To try and put into words what the Alpine stereo system in the Camaro sounds like would be like trying to get Simon Cowell to be nicer to American Idol contestants. The install photos will show you how we got the job done, but only one word comes to mind to describe the final result: Bitchin'!
In addition to trusting the advice from the pros, we had CarTech Books ship over a copy of How to Design and Install High-Performance Car Stereo by Joe Pettit. The updated version was a good read that explained in terms we could understand what different components do in a stereo system. The text gave us insight into how parts such as the amps, enclosures, subwoofers, and head unit work, and how to install and hook them up. We still took the Camaro to Gino because we wanted the job done professionally, but any neophyte can gather what's needed to put together a system if they read this book.
In addition to installing the stereo equipment, we also did a quickie install of a couple of items from Vehicle Enhancement Labs (VE Labs). VE dropped their RadCap and Voltage Sponge in the mail for us to install on the F-body. The RadCap, besides looking cool with its chrome finish, is designed to pull electricity out of the coolant in the radiator. Why is this important? Electrolysis, a by-product of voltage in engine coolant, eats away at the aluminum in the radiator, causing it to spring a leak. Since we were running more juice through the car, the RadCap was put on to try to lengthen the life of the radiator. In addition, VE Labs' Voltage Sponge was installed to draw residual electricity out of the area around the amplifiers. VE Labs ran the Voltage Sponge through a series of tests, and with its usage around the area of the amplifiers, where there was increased static electricity, the part mopped up the extra static electricity, which ultimately leads to a clearer sound.
The original mounting location for the tweeters was in the door panel right behind the cover for the door speakers. According to Gino Santaguida, this was a bad location for two reasons. First, to mount it, the door panel had to be cut. Second, where it was mounted, the tweeter, which is responsible for the highs in the system, was directing the highs into my knee when I was in the car. The purpose of a tweeter is to broadcast the highs before they diminish, and the ideal location is to get them as high in the car as possible. Once Gino disconnected the old tweeters, Billy removed the door panel.
With the door panels removed, Billy removed the door speakers from both sides. While disconnecting the speakers, he also looked for any problems within the wiring.