W111 Becker Grand Prix Stereo

The choice of radio for my 1965 Mercedes 250SE Cabriolet was not an easy one.   I don’t know what radio the car had in it’s early years.   It is a diplomat delivery car, that was picked up from the factory in Stuttgart.   The original radio would have either been a slimline model, or perhaps a radio delete plate.    At some point, some butcher enlarged the opening and fitted a DIN radio.   When I purchased the car it had a ghastly 90’s CD player.

A few years ago, I removed the 90’s CD player and installed a Becker Tribute Radio.   This is a modern radio that looks like an original Becker.   However, when the alternator died it presumably damaged this radio and it was never the same.   It did very strange things including sometimes running with the car switched off.   Since it could drain the battery, I had to remove it.    So there was not a gaping hole in the dash for the German car show last year, I quickly installed a Europa II Stereo from my Becker Collection as a temporary solution.

The Europa II in question was a mid production radio.   From its features it would have likely been manufactured between 1975 to 1977.   It made a good temporary solution as it needed a service anyway, and the Europa II being a single piece radio, it was a quick install.

After driving around for six months with the Europa II, it was clear that my car was no longer killing radios.   It was therefore time for something more permanent.    I could not install the correct radio due to the dashboard butchery, but I could install a DIN size Becker radio.   In addition a friend suggested I use the knobs off a slimline radio that would match the car better.   I ordered a set of those, and while I waited for them to arrive, went about thinking about which radio to install.

My first option would have been a lovely Grand Prix mono from 1971.    This radio is in superb cosmetic condition and the four band LMKUU markings would have fit in well with the age of the car.   However, I would have needed to fit an external amplifier to drive four speakers.  In addition, the auto seek ‘wunderbar’ feature is not working on this radio.

Next option could have been a very early Becker Mexico.   I have one of these from 1972 that could have worked.   However a built in cassette isn’t right for a 1965 car since that didn’t come out until 1971.   In addition, this early Mexico is a mono radio with a Stereo cassette player.   As I wouldn’t have been using the cassette, only the radio, this seemed a worse choice than the Grand Prix Mono.

Finally the other option was a Grand Prix Stereo.   This was appealing as is a top of the line Stereo radio that seems to make sense for a car like a W111 Cabriolet.   I have a couple of these radios, but the early ones need service.   By far the best is a 1974 model Grand Prix Stereo   I decided to go with this as it was in excellent condition.   Being a 1974 model, it had the smaller amp that would be easier to fit, and I had already put the plugs on for the small amp, since that is what is built into the Europa II.

I had this radio refurbished, so everything works.  I could have used an earlier model, but the early Stereo radios have a balance wheel on the front, but that dates them to 1971-1972.   In the photo below, it is sporting its original knobs.  The only downside is the Grand Prix Stereo is a two piece radio with a separate amplifier like a Mexico cassette.

Becker Grand Prix Stereo

The other Advantage of this radio was that I could plug in an external Bluetooth module into the port that normally would have accepted the external cassette player.   This port accepts a Stereo signal.     I tested the Bluetooth module on the bench and it works really well.   It only interrupts the radio signal when you want to play music via Bluetooth, and it has a hands-free calling function too.  In the photo below I am also testing the module in an earlier Becker Grand Prix Stereo.

Becker Grand Prix stereo

One thing I had noticed from the Europa II was the whine coming from the speakers based on engine RPM.   I purchased a radio noise filter from Jaycar to assist with the install.   The actual installation was fairly straightforward.   The Europa II came out pretty easily.    I then wired in the noise filter and the separate amp for the Becker Grand Prix Stereo.     I managed to use cable ties to hook the amplifier onto the heater box.

The actual installation was fairly straightforward.   Switched power and ground went into the noise filter.   The noise filter the powered the radio.

Noise filter

I wouldn’t say the sound is perfect.  For better sound I would need to replace speakers and use an external amplifier with a high pass filter like I have in the 560SEC.   It does sound reasonable and looks great.   The slimline knobs look great but were a pain to get on.   Like the knobs on all the early radios they screw on rather than push on.  It can be really hard to get the tiny screwdriver in when the radio is installed in the dash.

Overall I am really happy with the install and how the radio looks in the dash.   The slimline knobs make a huge difference.

Becker Grand Prix stereo<

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