What’s the Best Way to Install a Touchscreen Infotainment System in a Classic Car without Losing Originality?

As car enthusiasts, you’ve probably pondered over how to harmonize modern technology with your classic car. You want to enjoy the conveniences of the digital world without losing the original appeal of your classic vehicle. One such modern amenity is the touchscreen infotainment system, seemingly a default feature in new cars. It’s a terrific innovation that boasts GPS, music, and even real-time engine performance data. But, how do you install this in a classic car without disturbing its unique character? This article will guide you through the best ways to accomplish it well.

1. Choosing the Right Infotainment System

Before diving into the installation process, it’s crucial to pick the right infotainment system. The market is flooded with a plethora of options, each boasting unique features and capabilities. But, not all may be apt for your classic car. The system needs to blend into the car’s dashboard without looking too out of place or overpowering. Look for systems that have a minimalist design and compact size.

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A good model to consider is the Rover Defender. This system has been specifically designed for classic cars, offering both modern features and a design that doesn’t stray too far from the classic car aesthetics. This model has a 7-inch screen, supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and offers GPS navigation. In terms of performance, it comes with a quad-core processor that ensures smooth operation, but its design is rather simple and vintage, echoing the charm of classic cars.

2. Deciding on the Location of the System

The location of the infotainment system is a key factor that can make or break the overall look of your car’s interior. You want to avoid placing it in a location that might obstruct your view or make driving uncomfortable. Most classic cars will have a central location on the dashboard where the analog radio or cassette player used to be. This is often the best location to install the touchscreen system as it doesn’t alter the original layout of the car’s interior.

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However, if your classic car doesn’t have a suitable spot in the middle of the dashboard, you can consider customizing a location. This could be below the dashboard, close to the gearbox, or even replacing the rear-view mirror. However, this requires more work and possibly professional help.

3. Installation Process

Installing a touchscreen infotainment system in your classic car is not as daunting as it might seem. However, you should be prepared to invest some time and patience if you’re planning to do it yourself. If you’re not confident about doing it yourself, it’s best to hire a professional.

First, disconnect the battery to ensure safety. Then carefully remove the old radio or cassette player. Depending on the model of the classic car, you may require specific tools to safely remove the old system. Once this is done, you’re ready to install the new system.

Start by connecting the power and ground wires of the new system to the car’s wiring harness. Connect the speaker wires, ensuring they match the corresponding wires on the harness. Once the wiring is done, you can slide the system into the mounting location. Secure it in place using the provided screws or clips.

Remember to check the system’s functionality before reassembling the dashboard. If everything’s in order, you can go ahead and put everything back together.

4. Ensuring Compatibility with Vehicle’s Electrical System

One crucial aspect to consider before installing a modern infotainment system in a classic car is the compatibility with the vehicle’s electrical system. Classic cars were designed for much simpler electrical requirements, and adding a high-powered system could potentially cause issues.

Your classic car’s electrical system may require an upgrade or modification to handle the power needed for a modern touchscreen infotainment system. It’s advisable to involve a professional mechanic who understands the intricacies of classic cars and can make the necessary modifications without jeopardizing the car’s originality.

5. Maintaining the Originality of the Classic Car

Finally, while installing a touchscreen infotainment system in your classic car, it’s important to pay attention to preserving the car’s originality. Remember, the value of a classic car lies in its authentic look and feel, and you don’t want to compromise that.

When choosing the system, go for one that complements the car’s interior rather than contrasting it. Consider options that offer a variety of skins or display options that can mimic the classic analogue look.

Also, when installing, avoid making irreversible modifications. Use existing spaces and connections as much as possible. If a new hole needs to be drilled or a part removed, always keep the removed parts safe for potential future restoration.

In essence, the integration of a touchscreen infotainment system into a classic car should be done mindfully. You want to add modern functionality without stripping away the charm that makes your car a classic. With the right system, location, and installation approach, you can make it happen. Sure, you’ll face challenges along the way, but a seamless blend of old and new is worth the effort.

6. Customizing Your Infotainment System

After successfully installing the infotainment system in your classic car, the next step is to personalize it to match the vintage aesthetics. The idea is to ensure that the modern touch doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb but rather complements the old-school charm of your vehicle.

Many infotainment systems, like the Rover Defender, come with customizable display options. You can choose a theme that mimics the look of old analog gauges, giving your touchscreen a retro vibe that doesn’t clash with the rest of your dashboard. Also, consider adjusting the brightness and color contrast to match the lighting inside the car.

If your infotainment system supports Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, then you can take personalization to the next level by synchronizing your favorite apps and playlists. Remember, the goal is not just to have a tech upgrade but also to enhance your driving experience.

Additionally, always keep the user manual handy for troubleshooting or reference. If you do encounter any problems, don’t hesitate to enlist the help of professionals who are familiar with both classic cars and modern infotainment systems.

7. Caring for Your Upgraded Classic Car

After installing and customizing the infotainment system, it’s pertinent to take good care of your classic car to maintain its longevity and value. This means regular cleaning, servicing, and occasional check-ups for the electrical system.

Even though your car has received a digital upgrade, it’s essential not to forget that it’s a classic. Hence, always use cleaning products and maintenance methods suitable for classic cars. Avoid harsh cleaners that may damage the vintage materials in your car’s interior.

As for the infotainment system, remember to update the software routinely to ensure the best performance. Land Rover, for instance, offers updates on its official website. For systems that support Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, be sure to update your phone’s software for optimal compatibility.

Regular servicing is also key for the car’s overall health. The addition of the infotainment system might have added strain on the electrical system, so ensure it’s functioning correctly during your regular check-ups. Consider having your classic car inspected by a professional specializing in electric vehicles if you’re unsure about the health of its electrical system.


Installing a touchscreen infotainment system is indeed a great way to enhance a classic car’s functionality without losing its original charm. From selecting the right system, deciding on its location, to ensuring compatibility with the car’s electrical system, every step plays a vital role in preserving the originality of your prized possession.

The market is awash with options that provide the convenience of modern technology, while still respecting the vintage aesthetics of classic cars. With careful selection and thoughtful installation, your classic car can indeed offer the best of both worlds.

Remember that the aim is to enhance the driving experience without tarnishing the classic appeal. Therefore, it’s crucial to strike the right balance between old and new. In doing so, you not only enjoy a smooth and enjoyable journey but also keep the charm of your classic car intact, ensuring that it remains a proud symbol of motoring history.

So, enjoy the journey of adding a contemporary touch to your classic beauty. After all, it’s not just about reaching the destination, but also about enjoying the drive!

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