This kind of a funny story actually. My original radio had called it quits and for quite a long time, I’ve been driving around with no radio (probably hoping that it would fix itself magically). I wanted to keep the original stock look of the radio, so I searched on eBay for a replacement. I didn’t have a whole lot of money so I tried to get one cheap. The original radio for mine went from anywhere between $60 to $120.

Thanks to Kerry (A.K.A. irocz28), I now have the exact replacement deck from his 89 IROC-Z. From the front anyway!

The connection on the rear of the deck is different. I figured if it was from an 89, it should work in the 88, but apparently, GM decided to change the connector in 89 in our cars! HA! Go figure! Nevertheless, I was destined to make it work. I didn’t realize this when Kerry offered his deck, but it doesn’t matter, it’s not a big deal making an adapter. As a matter of fact, there are adapters readily available to this easy swap.

(Affordable PN# WH-36). We used River Oaks Car Stereo in Houston, TX. Their site is located at Prices are great, shipping is cheaper than most places, shipping was fast and their products are solid, good quality parts. Thanks again, Eddie!!!

Researching the wiring diagrams for my 88 and wiring diagrams for an 89, I felt that this could be possible.

Both radios rear view. Looks like the new one will work with a little “adaptation.” The old one is a 12-pin connector (plus two) and the new one is a 21-pin (although, only 14 pins are actually used). Below is a close up of each model deck and the connections.

Rear view of the 88 deck. Connection consists of the 12-pin connector on the right (as you are looking at the rear of the deck). To the left is a two pin connection used for clock power and lights dimming.

Rear view of the 89 deck. All connections are on the right (as you are looking at the rear of the deck). The top left hand section is not used.

Well, we have to make an adapter to go from the old type of connector, to the new type. Since we didn’t order the entire adapter specifically made for this type of swap, we ended up making our own. Basically, we had both ends, just needing soldering together. Makes for a good excuse to put up some wiring diagrams, don’t it?

First I had a wiring harness so I don’t cut the original wires. I found this one at Radio Shack on sale for $5 a while back. It’s to install an Optimus radio hence the adapter at the other end as well (good thing too, I have an old Pioneer 4 channel amp that I don’t have the connector too – guess what – this one will fit!). Notice the two prong connector as well. This is the connector for the continuous 12VDC for the clock and the lights dimming connection.

Here is both sides laid out. On the right is the harness that the plugs, on the car end, plug into. On the left is the plugs for the radio itself. I would have opted for the entire adapter (Affordable PN# WH-36), but since I already had the harness for the car end, I just got the connector for the radio side (Affordable PN# WH-39) which should be able to connect all of the way up to current GM decks (2001 or 2002). If you are doing this from scratch, go ahead and snag the WH-36 adapter, plug it in and go! No soldering! You can get them at River Oaks Car Stereo. Seeming that it is only $3 more, I probably should have done the same thing, but then I wouldn’t have all this to write about!

I stripped the wires about 3/8″ on each end. Both harnesses were pretty much the same color code, so it was easy to mate up. Verify with the wiring diagrams (links below) to be certain.

After splicing each connection, I tinned each connection with solder, then later insulated with electrical tape. I would recommend shrink tubing for a much neater look.

Guess what? GM decided to change the antenna size too. For Pre-88 (including 1988), the antenna connector diameter is larger than 89-Up, so we needed an adapter for the antenna. We used Metra PN# 40-GM20 (MET-40-GM20). This is also available at River Oaks Car Stereo.

Using the schematics from both the 1988 and 1989 radios, I fabricated the connectors for the new radio.

Here I inserted the connectors into the new radio as well as the antenna adapter. If you look closely, I also wired up an extra connection to the Power Antenna (Power Out) wire for the amp I will be installing in the rear.

One thing I did was remove the climate control controls so I can gain better access behind the radio as I was installing it. What I was doing was guiding the wiring back behind the bracket so none of them get pinched. I was working with about 6-8 inches total of extra wiring.

So bottom line here. Two parts you really need to get this going. An Affordable WH-36 adapter to install an 89 and newer radio in an 88 or older car, and the MET-40-GM20 to adapt the antenna. About $28 total including shipping from River Oaks Car Stereo. Plug it in and go.

Ah, yes, back to original. Radio works fantastic, thanks to Kerry (irocz28)!

May goal is to get an original deck in this car, a CD Changer (w/ FM Modulator), 4 channel amp with 4 new speakers all around and to install my 2 10″ speakers in the back powered by my little Rockford Fosgate amp. Nothing that’ll boom the neighbors (like everyone else seems to have), but something that sounds good to me INSIDE the car …. something some people just can’t get ….