I’ve been an electronics enthusiast since the 1980’s. As a result, every vehicle I’ve ever owned has had one upgrade or another. I had a system “professionally” installed in 1989. However, I became quite disenchanted with shop quality when I eventually needed to do some troubleshooting. From then on, I decided to do all electronics work myself so that I could have strict control over installation practices and quality of workmanship. Here’s a summary of my non-communications upgrades:
Helix Sound System – This Volkswagen accessory used to retail for $660. Volkswagen discontinued it and slashed its price to $300 when they released a new version. I found one dealer selling it for $235 shipped (after 10% rebate). The system includes a 5-channel amplifier with digital signal processing and a small subwoofer which replaces the spare tire. I found a dealer that would install it for $312. No thanks! I did it myself. Read this entry to see how i did it.
12V Power Distribution – I could have just run a large wire from the battery to the trunk and kept things “simple.” But I wanted a lot of control and flexibility in how power is distributed around the car. Some systems are powered only when the engine is running, some stay energized for 20 minutes after the engine is stopped, and others can run for days, thanks to a 100-Ah lithium secondary battery. See this page for more info.
MIB2 8-Inch Display – I learned that the European version of my car has an 8-inch display. I was not shocked. As a longtime Volkswagen enthusiast, I am perfectly aware that Europeans get all the best stuff in their Volkswagens. Americans want it, too. HAHA! Thankfully, someone imports the larger displays and their associated bezels and sells them as a kit. It’s an expensive upgrade, so I avoided it for some time. Then the kits went on sale, dropping in price just enough for me to make an impulse buy. See this entry for more photos and details.
500-Watt Subwoofer System – I had already started assembling the parts and building this system before the Helix price dropped. This upgrade exchanged the Helix subwoofer for a 10-inch unit that achieves deeper bass and allows me to keep the spare tire (to say the very least). I removed this system from the car in 2022, but I’ve saved my write-ups in case they may help someone build one for themselves. See this page for more info.
Next, read about the accessories that I’ve added to the car.