280ZX Aftermarket Stereo Installation FAQ

We are attempting to compile a list of frequently asked questions and tutorials about installing an aftermarket sound system in the S130. Any contributions of your experiences and lessons learned are greatly welcomed.

Is it tough to install a different stereo in my Z?

Installing a different stereo in a Z can be a very difficult thing to do. Unfortunately, you can't fit larger speakers than the original 5 1/4" in the rear panels without cutting metal. These speakers don't face the driver or passenger, so you don't get any high-end response, just mid-range and some bass tones. Essentially, you're limited by the speakers, not the radio itself. You can install any stereo you like; regardless of price, the difference will be hardly noticeable with the factory speakers.

One of the other difficult problems to solve is getting the head unit to fit securely in the early model Z's. The opening is large enough, but you'll have to be resourceful if you want a tight fit and a theft-resistant installation. There's also the issue of the very large opening in the dash that remains when the factory unit is removed. On the 1981 models, the original unit was at least designed with the radio and the cassette deck side-by-side. A mounting plate is available from Motorsport Auto.

Are there any suggestions for mounting speakers in a late-model ZX?

One option is to remove the "pockets" where the seats would be on the 2+2 model and mount 6x9 speakers there. They fit well, but you may lose high-end response since the speakers are upward-facing. Because the speakers are close to the seats, there will probably be some sort of long-lasting power struggle over the balance control. The next possible option would be to put a set of 6x9 speakers there with decent bass response via crossover, and mount a set of satellite speakers on or near the shock towers. (Not super tweeters, just something with a good mid-range.) Building a speaker box in the rear would probably deliver the best sound, but at the cost of already limited space.

If you're not into the idea of cutting metal, you can fit 6 1/2" speakers back there - there's plenty of depth and the install will be easier. You can also put the speaker behind the body panel, that way the original grilles can be put back on.

Stereo Wire Identification

The wiring connected to your stereo system should be as follows, however we cannot assume responsibility for drunken albino squirrels or self-proclaimed stereo experts having come along and turned your S130 into a wiring nightmare.

    Front Right Speaker:
  • Positive Wire - Blue with Red Stripe
  • Negative Wire - Blue with Black Stripe (Right common ground wire)

    Front Left Speaker:
  • Positive Wire - Yellow with Red Stripe
  • Negative Wire - Yellow with Black Stripe (Left common ground wire)

    Right Rear Speaker:
  • Positive Wire - White
  • Negative Wire - Blue with Black Stripe

    Left Rear Speaker:
  • Positive Wire - Blue-Green with White Stripe (Double-check the factory speaker connection to be sure)
  • Negative Wire - Yellow with Black Stripe

Sources used on this page:

  • 1979-1983 Datsun Factory Service Manuals