The Buick Grand National is a unique vehicle. Only available for a short time in very limited numbers, the Grand National is easily recognizable and very valuable almost 30 years since it hit the streets. This car is a very desirable example, made in the last year of production, and in excellent condition. The vehicle was previously owned by our neighbors at S/S Motorsports, who tripled the horsepower and added many upgrades to the body and suspension to handle the power. The new owner fell in love with the car right away, with everything except the sound system.
Most Regal’s of this time came with the same audio options: a pair of 3.5″ speakers in the dash, and a pair of 4×10″ speakers in the rear. Those have to be some of the worst choices for quality sound ever. This car had the rare “Concert Sound II” option which added a set of 4″ speakers to the doors. With almost all of the audio systems we design, it is important to us and the client that the original look of the car is not lost is a sea of electronics and speakers. Obviously we have to make changes, but those changes should reflect the lines and style of the car they are in.
Our first step was removing the old equipment and seeing what room we had to work with. The radio was easy, with the factory cassette player yanked in favor of Sony’s top-of-the-line mechless headunit. This piece does not have a built in CD player, instead the operator inserts their phone or other USB device into the front of the radio. As CD’s begin to go the way of the cassette tape, these unit will continue to increase in popularity. You can also see the two gauges added by S/S Motorsports when they upgraded the engine.
To upgrade the door speakers, another set of 4″ speakers simply wouldn’t do. The largest speaker we could fit without cutting into the original plastic door panels was a 5×7″. The extra length of the speaker did pose a problem for the original Concert Sound II grilles. We carefully removed the badges and carpet wrapping, and rebuilt the grilles to fit the Focal 5×7″ speakers. Then the grilles were wrapped in the same carpet and the Concert Sound II badge was reattached. Only a true critic of this classic would be able to tell that these grilles are 3″ longer than normal. The 4×10″ speakers in the rear were completely rotten from age. Our original hope was to install a pair of 6×9″ speakers in their place, but that would have either caused us to modify the drip rail of the trunk lid or not create a tight seal on the speaker. Neither of those were acceptable options for us. Without a tight seal between the front and rear of the speaker, the bass frequencies from the back side work their way around and cancel out the bass coming from the front side. Instead, we installed another set of Focal 5×7″ speakers that, with a little help from Stinger RoadKill, sealed tightly to the car without cutting of the chassis.
For amplification, the 5-channel HDP5 from Hertz was a great choice. The tiny footprint (smaller than a sheet of paper) and huge power output of 900 watts was just what we needed. The subwoofers are also from Hertz. Then Energy line of subwoofers allowed our client to enjoy the bass the way it should be, without overpowering the system. Then enclosure is a sealed design, using multiple layers on the front baffle to give it dimension. The amplifier is flushed into the right side of the enclosure to conceal the wiring. As always, we covered the trim in matching materials, and for an extra effect, we fabricated thin rings wrapped in black vinyl that cover the mounting screws on the subwoofers.
The finishing touch was when the client told us he wished these cars were available with cup holders. We fabricated this two-tone solution that attaches solidly to the car and fits the lines and colors.