W123 Radio Upgrade – bypassing the factory fader

The 280CE was back today to get a radio installed.   When I purchased the car, the previous owner had removed their radio, so there was a great big hole in the dash.   Luckily, my brother who purchased the car from me already had a Sony radio he had removed from his previous 280CE.  The W123 radio is a standard DIN fitting.  Unfortunately most of them no longer have their original Becker radios but generic 90s CD players.

This car still had the factory fader switch installed.   That means that there is only a front and rear channel for the radio.  All the speaker wires go through the fader switch that controls the front/rear fade.    After a while these switches stop working well, and can be bypassed when using a modern radio – if you’re happy to cut the factory wiring.

While it looks complicated, to remove the fader switch, what is needed is to cut the wires that come out from near the fader switch itself – near the switch the smaller set of wires are for the rear speakers, and the larger set go back into the dash for the front speakers and radio connection.    Therefore, so long as the speaker wires are cut before they hit that section of wiring that joins them up, they can simply be wired into the new radio.   A 9v battery is a good way of verifying which speaker is which to ensure the radio is correctly installed.

280CE radio

If the wires are carefully cut, there is enough slack to re-install the radio without having to re-wire the speakers.

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