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Meet the Crutchfield Car of the Future

Driver-assistance tools can turn any vehicle into a modern marvel

Meet W.A.L.T.E.R., our Wonderfully Arrayed Lab for Technology and Entertainment Research. He's the beloved daily driver of Rayna, a Crutchfield graphic designer. Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, this 1988 Chevy Caprice is loaded with all kinds of driver-assistance features. He's the car of the future...today. And no matter how old (or young!) your car is, many similar advanced features are available to add to your ride.

Rayna and Juliet

Rayna and her furry friend Juliet high-five on W.A.L.T.E.R.'s massive trunk.

Rayna's Caprice Classic is, well, classic

Rayna's known at Crutchfield for her fantastic graphic design work, and for being W.A.L.T.E.R.'s owner, since he really stands out in the company parking lot. She mentions that he's the only car she's ever owned. "We were on our way to Charlottesville one day to go do some shopping, and Walter was sitting there on the side of the road with a "For Sale" sign. My dad turned right around and we went and checked it out. We thought about it while we were shopping, and bought him on our way home. It was shortly after I graduated high school."

Rayna's called the car "Walter" for a long time, since before she started working at Crutchfield. According to her, there's no special meaning behind the name, but she was kind enough to let us retrofit the appellation to a futuristic-sounding acronym for this article. Because in the future everything's got a cool acronym, right?

Rayna's quite aware of the attention W.A.L.T.E.R. generates: "I get stopped all the time when I am driving Walter. 'Man, that’s a cool car. I used to have one of those back in the day.' 'What year is that? 8 cylinder?' 'Is it for sale? No? Well if you change your mind…' People roll down windows at stop lights to tell me about how they wish they never got rid of their Walter. A lady once told me at a stoplight that she had two, one of which was stolen. I’ve had people ask me in grocery store parking lots if they could give me their number JUST IN CASE I ever wanted to sell it."

2020 features in a 1988 ride

W.A.L.T.E.R.'s journey to "Car of the Future" status comes with the realization that a lot of cars on the road today can still enjoy advanced driver-assistance features similar to what newer factory models offer, without a new car purchase. We want to demonstrate that no matter how "classic" your car might be, it's not too old to learn some new tricks. With the help of gear like cameras and GPS navigation, W.A.L.T.E.R.'s ready to hit the road like a car 30 years his junior.

 

Gentex GENFDM3LN replacement rear-view mirror

Perfect for cars without a touchscreen radio

Gentex’s GENFDM3LN factory-look replacement rear-view mirror includes a camera that mounts on the back window. It provides a clear view when the back is loaded with cargo or very tall passengers who block the normal mirror-based rear view. It also dims automatically when hit with bright headlights. With an extra adapter, it works with optional backup cameras (like the Boyos below).

Boyo VTL425TJ backup camera

Barely visible but offers a great view

"Walter's trunk is so huge I once lost my wallet in there for like six months," Rayna recalls. Having a rear-view camera can ensure maneuvering something that large in close quarters doesn't quickly become a costly misadventure.

Boyo’s ultra-slim VTL425TJ backup camera (shown above) works well on most license plates without covering up crucial information. W.A.L.T.E.R.’s no stranger to tight spots (just look at him!), so the camera’s active backup lines help Rayna get in and out of them. 

Boyo's VTLK601HD backup cam didn't go on W.A.L.T.E.R., but it includes six diffferent mounting brackets so it can fit on nearly any vehicle without hassle.

Kenwood DRV-A700WDP camera duo

See with great detail, both front and rear

The Kenwood DRV-A700WDP low-profile camera duo includes both a Wide Quad HD dash camera and a second HD camera which can work inside the car or as a rear-view cam. The cameras record crystal-clear images and can transmit to a smartphone or device via included Wi-Fi®. Built-in GPS tags files with position, date, time, and speed; you can use this info for insurance filings or police reports if you're involved in an incident.

Garmin SmartDrive 55 & Traffic portable GPS navigator

More than just a gadget

Garmin’s DriveSmart™ 55 & Traffic portable navigator is a great travel add-on for W.A.L.T.E.R. It lets Rayna talk hands-free with Bluetooth® compatibility, and it offers real-time traffic updates. She can control it using her voice or its gorgeous 5.5" multi-touch display.  Rayna likes to brag about how much she's driven W.A.L.T.E.R. over the years, including a trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and back — in the same day. "I only needed to fill him up twice," she laughs.

Scosche MagicGrip motorized phone mount with wireless charging

Keep the juice flowing

The Scosche MagicGrip™ is both a phone mount and a wireless Qi charger. It’s got motorized arms that automatically close when you put your phone in, and its nifty ring of LEDs lets you know when your phone is charging and when it’s at 100%. And as we know, motorization and awesome illumination are essential in any car of the future. 

Want to add futuristic features to your old beater?

Rayna's glad to finally have some cool new gear to help bring W.A.L.T.E.R. into the 21st century. One of our advisors will be happy to walk you through some suggestions for gear that'll make your old car feel like the DeLorean from Back to the Future (almost). Reach out via phone, email, or chat to get personalized recommendations based on your needs.

Last updated 4/28/2020

Please share your thoughts below.

  • Ian Pellegrino from Johnston

    Posted on 8/17/2020

    More photos and videos of Walter please. That is one fine automobile you have there

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 8/17/2020

    Hi Ian - thanks for reading. Unfortunately, we don't have more we can share at the moment. Perhaps we'll run an update in a future catalog or an article on the site — one never knows what the future will hold, so stay tuned. But we'll pass your kind words along to Rayna, for sure.
  • Eric from Toano

    Posted on 7/24/2020

    I love this. There is (almost) no reason an older car can't be infused with new tech.

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 7/24/2020

    Thanks for the kind words, Eric. Hope we can help you outfit your vehicle — old or new — again!
  • Paul J Sanko from Abbottstown

    Posted on 7/20/2020

    Great article , I like all the information on the cameras, keep the articles coming. Paul

  • Luis Tellez from Sacramento

    Posted on 6/24/2020

    That is so cool! Can you please do the same for my 1972 Caprice?

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 6/25/2020

    Hi Luis - one of our Advisors will be more than happy to help outfit your Caprice with some of the same technology here. Just give us a call and have a chat about what might work in your car. Once you've installed your new gear, we can feature your car in our Customer Car Showroom if you want to take some photos and create a submission. Thanks for reading!
  • Duane Wong from Somerset

    Posted on 5/11/2020

    I had to take a double take on this article. A 1988 Caprice Classic with 'Back To The Future features. Who knew?

  • Terry from Hahira

    Posted on 5/9/2020

    Hello, just wanted to know if Walter has any subs in the trunk, if so what's the setup? If not, could be a great project! Vr, TB

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 5/11/2020

    Hi Terry - Thanks for checking the article out. There are no subs in W.A.L.T.E.R. at present, but Rayna's open to going down the road to becoming a massive bass fiend. Stay tuned!
  • Ben Wolf from Richmond

    Posted on 5/7/2020

    I wish I could post a picture. I've got an '86 Crown Vic that has an early '80s "Auto Pilot" cruise control and fuel mileage computer (and I replaced the original AM/FM radio with a modern Alpine I bought on Crutchfield). State-of-the-art so sort of like an early version of WALTER. But what really got my attention is that my car is brown, and so is called Walrus Brown, and has a stuffed walrus mascot...named Walter!

  • Larry from Tucson

    Posted on 5/6/2020

    I recommend everyone get dash cams front and rear, great for countering car accident scam artists and biased police. I also think lane departure warning would have been nice for that "battle cruiser" sized car.