Car antennas & Radios

Mark Casey
Tue May 11 14:10:33 EDT 2010

The further away from the metal body the antenna is located, the better it 
works. And, with most folks listen mostly to local FM and maybe a couple of 
the strongest AM stations, the short antennas on the roof seem to work 
fairly well.

If you really want to get some improvement in AM reception, add an extension 
to a cowl mounted antenna. On my 2006 F250, I've added about 3 ft, and the 
AM has really improved with no discernable detriment to the FM side.  The 
total antenna length is about 5-6'. Been doing this for years. I took the 
24" rooftop antenna on my Ford Focus wagon and replaced it with a 40" 
whip--again, a big improvement on AM, and some improvement on FM. (Recently 
listenened to 1000 watt WICC, 600, Bridgeport from just outside of New York 
City right up to Hartford before the buzzing started) Technically, with the 
longer antenna, (unless it is increased to 90-95") the FM reception might be 
out of phase at some points, but in reality, with the haphazard way the 
88-108 MHz waves are being recieved by the original antenna, they are rarely 
matched to the antenna anyway. And, the larger capture area greatly improves 
reception of the long AM waves, and, in some cases,  the increased capture 
area improves FM reception also.

As far as radios go, you might be able to look at the receive specs and get 
an idea of a good aftermarket radio. But, I was dissapointed with a new 
Blaupunkt's reception a few years ago, though the sound quality was good on 
both AM & FM.

The old radios were a mixed bag. A few AC-Delco's were pretty good, but most 
of the ones I had were lousy (61 Chevy, 64 Chevy, 66 Buick, 67 Pontiac, 68 
C-10 pickup, etc.). The Ford radios, as a group, have generally been much 
better. The recent Ford radios have been pretty decent. Car radios as a 
group, on AM broadcast, however, have not really improved in a long time. My 
1939 Ford Coupe in-dash tube radio was as good a receiver on AM as anything 
made today, and sounded better than just about any other AM car radio I've 
ever had.

Like Sid described, In the 80's I made a car radio into a workshop radio, 
running off a car battery and charger. It was the only way to receive a 
clean daytime signal from WHN 1050, New York City, then the top country 
station  in the US, in Ludlow, Mass. I also used a very long metal car 
antenna with a metal extension.

The problem with using a junkyard car radio now, is hooking it up, which 
probably can be done, but not as easily as it used to be.

Mark Casey, K1MAP
near Springfield, MA

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Sid Schweiger" <>
To: "" 
Sent: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 7:22 AM
Subject: RE: Car antennas

"Does anyone know of a good after-market AM radio and/or antenna I should 

Anything AC/Delco made, about 30-40 years ago.

In all seriousness.  Those were the last really good AM car radios made.  I 
know of at least one station that used one as an air monitor.  I know of an 
engineer who built one into an old lunchbox along with some 12v batteries 
and a whip antenna and had himself a really nice portable.

The down-side is:  The AM noise floor is much higher than it used to be.  If 
the electronics in the car don't get you, the minimally-filtered switching 
power supplies in computers, LED traffic signals and elsewhere will, not to 
mention AM stations running HD which will fill that nice wide bandwidth with 
digital hash.

If you're up for it, start looking in junkyards.  You can usually pick one 
up for a low price.

Sid Schweiger
IT Manager, Entercom New England
20 Guest St / 3d Floor
Brighton MA  02135-2040

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