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Clara Lyons' 2000 Isuzu Amigo

"Don't be afraid to drill!"

Clara Lyons, a Spanish Sales Advisor at Crutchfield, recently traded in her old Ford Escort for a 2000 Isuzu Amigo. The car is perfect for her hectic lifestyle — toting kids, friends, dogs, and gym bags all over town. Of course, for all that time in the car, Clara needs plenty of music options to keep both her and her 9-year-old daughter happy. The answer: an in-dash MP3 player plus XM Satellite Radio! Clara selected the Pioneer GEX-FM903XM FM modulated XM package, and connected it to a Panasonic CQ-C1300U in-dash CD/MP3 receiver. (Had Clara used a Pioneer in-dash receiver, she could have connected the XM tuner directly, without the need for an FM modulator. However, she really fell in love with the look of the Panasonic unit, and was willing to sacrifice the direct connection to get the look she wanted.)

For the installation, Clara turned to Crutchfield Tech Support Advisor Shawn Lyons. (Shawn just happens to be Clara's husband, too.) Shawn put together an installation that looks clean, sounds great, and doesn't sacrifice any of the Amigo's usability or precious cargo space.

Clara's 2000 Isuzu Amigo

The XM antenna
The Amigo has one particularly cool feature: the back of the roof is made of fiberglass, and lifts completely off for warm-weather driving. Since mounting the antenna on the removable part of the roof was out, Shawn had to do a little creative thinking to come up with an antenna location. The solution: he mounted the antenna on the roll-bar, inside the vehicle. The XM signal passes through the fiberglass of the roof easily, and Clara gets perfect reception! Plus, she doesn't have to worry about moving the antenna when she wants to remove the roof. This is a great solution not only for the Amigo, but for many soft-top Jeep owners, too.

With the antenna inside the car, Shawn had a relatively simple task in routing the antenna wire to the tuner box. He used zip ties to fasten the antenna to the roll bar, and to keep the wire in place as it snaked down the roll bar, out of sight underneath a trim panel. Removing trim panels as necessary along the way, he routed the wire all the way to the Pioneer tuner box, which is mounted in the dash behind the radio.

Above: the Amigo's fiberglass roof is completely removable. Below: look closely, and you'll see the XM antenna mounted on top of the roll bar. The red arrow follows the antenna wire's path down the roll bar to a trim panel.

Mounting the XM controller
Clara's FM-modulated Pioneer XM system has a separate, compact controller/display that connects to the tuner box. Shawn was aiming for a completely clean installation up front, with no wires showing. And, as an experienced A/V installer, he's well acquainted with the need to break out the power tools once in a while (his motto: "Don't be afraid to drill"). So, using a fairly small bit, he drilled a hole in the blank panel below the radio location, routed the wire from the tuner through, and hooked up the controller. With a small strip of sticky-back Velcro (we love that stuff!), he mounted the controller to the blank plastic panel below the radio. Presto — no visible wires!

Above: the XM controller is mounted to the console using sticky-back velcro. With the tuner removed, the hole through which the wire is routed is visible. Below: a view of the whole system: XM controller and Panasonic in-dash receiver. Pretty sweet!

Hooking it all up
Shawn installed the Panasonic CQ-C1300U receiver using a Crutchfield custom installation kit. While the radio was out, he tucked the tuner box and FM modulator from the Pioneer XM system deep in the radio cavity. This doesn't work for all installations, since there isn't always enough space in the dash to stash the boxes, but it was a great option for this car. Once the receiver was installed, Clara was set up with multiple listening options — XM, FM/AM, CD, and MP3 discs she burns on her home computer — with no storage space or vehicle functionality lost!

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