Modernizing audio system in a 1982 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia

I had some issues with trying to get my new Sony head unit to work with my original speaker wiring. It turns out that the original speaker wiring consisted of 3 wires. A common ground, a left and a right. For some reason even with my West Virginian wiring skills to make this work I was overloading the radio and ignition circuits. Radio was red hot and my ignition switch actually MELTED.

So, after a tip from my buddy at Kyle Automotive Specialties, I re-ran the speaker wires from front to back, replacing the existing 3 wire setup. Here is how I did it.

Unscrew the small screws above the sliding door. About 6 including the heater vent screws. This allows you to access the single tube covered wiring harness containing the 3 wires from the front. Using my WV engineering skills, I cut the old speaker wire harness behind the glove box, then black taped two new speaker wires to the old 3 wire harness. Make sure you have enough speaker cable to reach all the way back to the compartment over the rear seat.  Also, I had to bend back a couple wire holders above the sliding door.

After that I was able to pull the new wires through the existing channel all the way back leaving enough in front to reach the radio. I then hooked up the rear speakers and the front radio connections. No more load issues on my audio circuits.

I threw in a Bob Marley mp3 CD to break in the new system and now, happy days are here to stay, until my bus either melts or catches on fire.

I how this helps someone.



7 Replies to “Modernizing audio system in a 1982 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia”

    1. I just went with a run of the mill Sony from Target 🙂 I believe this is the one I have which works well.

      Height: 2″

      Width: 7-1/8″

      Depth: 7-1/8″!pla!!!84551154279!g!!50474158479&kpid=6314278&k_clickid=5bd25b9b-b0cc-9828-d26f-00004e0fc7f5&kpid=6314278

      1. That seems to match the dimensions of other models I’ve seen mentioned. So those dimensions should be a perfect guideline! Thanks!

  1. The van has a standard (DIN) size hole, so pretty much everything will fit. Thx for the tip Dave, I’ve been stuck for a bit despite a fair bit of practice running wires in cars.

  2. I’m having the same issue with my ’83. Please excuse my ignorance but how did you connect the two new wires to the existing 3 in front?

    1. When you replace the 3-wire system, you are most likely updating your radio. Your new radio will have a 4-wire setup. Like the Sony I bought from Target, it will have 2 front speakers and 2 rear speakers. Just run the wires like i showed above and you will be fine. If you are using the original radio, stick with the 3-wire setup.

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