Car audio has been around now for many decades. After-market gear was available before the 1980s, but I’d wager to say that products reached a significant level of specialization and accessibility in that decade. The 80s saw the refinement of build quality and technologies that made car audio gear durable enough to last until this very day and beyond. This gives us, at least, 40 years' worth of products to choose from when seeking that dream subwoofer, amplifier, or gadget. So, my question is, will you install and use the item you’ve sought for many years or will you display it to view and show off as a treasure of nostalgia?

I am a bit of a nostalgia nerd. I still own and have refurbished my original Nintendo Entertainment System from 1985, I have car keys and dash plaques from many of my cars, I have my first Winnie The Pooh bear from that one time I was born, and I even still have the amplifier and subwoofers from my first car. I’ve thought long and hard about trying to acquire all the gear I once had as well as the gear I’ve always wanted. I ended up finding RA Audio out of NY, he specializes in rebuilding some of my favorite brands of subwoofers. I attained my dream subwoofers from him, six 12-inch Cerwin Vega Strokers from 1995. I want to share what I have learned from these experiences, that it’s not just that you can attain your dream gear, but you can use it in several ways to satisfy nostalgia and preserve the legacy of that very product.

The internet and social media have brought us many things, good and bad. Some of the good things from social media is that we now have classic car audio trader pages on Facebook, Old School Stereo on YouTube, Legends Of Car Audio, and more resources for buying, trading, and learning about car audio gear from the past. I’ve sold a few Rockford amps on some of the classic Rockford Fosgate group pages so one thing I recommend, when seeking a certain artifact you may be lusting for, is to search for a specific brand to find pages relating to the very product you seek. Chances are, you will find the exact product to purchase or information about where you can find it. A bonus is that you will connect with a community of people who cherish those pieces of history just as you might.

In dealing with cherished items from my life, I’ve gone through a bit of an evolution as to how I view those items and what I do with them. I had a habit, early in my life, of never playing with the toys I liked the most. I would store my most prized Transformers and Micromachines in their boxes, under my bed to preserve their perfection. Surprise surprise, I had two younger brothers so the preservation did not last. As a young adult, I started to buy some of my older items back in pairs. I would buy one to preserve and another to open and use. I’ve done this with bass CDs such as Bass Mekanik’s Quad Maximus album and with toys like the first-generation Optimus Prime. As I have grown older now, I’ve taken inspiration from car collectors such as Jay Leno. Some car collectors store a car away to keep its value high, Jay drives his cars as he believes that he should use machines in the manner in which they are intended. This also allows others to enjoy the splendor of such machines. I feel this way now too. I wish to use my old car audio gear. I only lack multiple vehicles in which to install all of my gear. So I plan to build an operational display in my office.

With the rise of old-school and classic car audio groups, channels, and even meetups, I think there are many platforms in which enthusiasts can see and interact with their favorite gear. There is plenty of opportunity to show it off and to enjoy it with comrades. It’s one’s own prerogative to keep classic collector’s gear locked up for preservation, but I now think that takes something away from the spirit imbued to the product by its original designer. Subwoofers were meant to move, amps were meant to amplify, and CD players were meant to play. The sounds and sensations that our favorite car audio products are capable of producing can and should be enjoyed by all who appreciate it. Speculators and non-enthusiasts have infiltrated almost every industry to squirrel away items only to raise selling prices artificially. This may have already happened in car audio, I’m not sure, but it hides the real value and love that gear from our childhood can bring us.

There will be many readers out there who can relate to my sentiments. I’m just happy we live in an age where that old Sound Stream amp from the 90s you’ve never been able to afford is available for sale somewhere. Heck, the Pioneer IMPP subwoofers you had in your Fox Body Mustang may be on a classifieds listing somewhere. I’d love to see a resurgence of classic-style installs come back in newer cars with build techniques that will do them justice. I think we can all agree that there would be nothing better than hearing your old favorites once again so I urge you to help keep the dreams flowing and the love of classic gear alive. Share with your kids, with your friends, and enjoy the classic flavors yourself all while preserving the original intent of the car audio gear you’ve dreamed of having. Collect experiences and memories instead of dust.

Can you relate to any of these sentiments? I write based on my experiences and views of the topic at hand. I hope that there is a value there that others can benefit from. I have passion for what I do and I’ll use it to the best of my ability. Always think deeper and take in all you can from what you are experiencing in life, catalog it, and pull from it when it comes in handy. Dream, plan, build.

Eddie Lester

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