Smart Radio Upgrade

I decided to upgrade the radio in my Smart. The factory stereo was just way to lame. While I am not into spending thousands of dollars if you are willing to spend $500-$800 you can build yourself a nice system.

Parts List:
Kenwood DDX512 Touch Screen Dvd Receiver – Best price online $459
Alpine SPC-600 6.5″ Speakers – $69.99
European Antenna Adapter – $4.95
Dash Kit from 4SmartCars on eBay – $24.99
Wire Kit from 4SmartCars – $14.99
Misc parts – $5.00 Wire caps, electrical tape, quick ties for neatness, etc

Tools Required:

  1. Wire stripper
  2. Electrical Tape
  3. Wire caps ($3.00 at Lowes)
  4. Ratchet screw driver ($9.87 at Lowes) TaskForce brand56 piece has all required Star sizes for Smart
  5. Razor Blade

Time Required:
3-5 hours depending on your mechanical ability

If you are skilled I would say 1 hr per door and 1 hour for the radio or less to remove and wire up the new radio. It took me about 2 hours for the 1st door and 1.25 for the 2nd. The toughest part is putting the panels back on. When you are removing them pay attention to how they slide on and off. On the passenger door it was easier to remove the door handle. On the driver door I had to leave the door handle loosely in place. Lots of trial and error but you can do it. Make sure you have a blanket or towels below the door so when it falls, it will, you don’t damage the panels.

Why I choose the Kenwood DDX512:
I like that it has many add-on options. If you want navigation you can add it. Bluetooth you can add it. Sirius Satellite Radio, etc. The base unit isn’t overly expensive. At the end of the page is a YouTube review of the DDX512.

Why I choose the Alpine SPS-600 Speakers:
Well I tried to install some JL Audio speakers which were recommended by a local shop. Great speaker but they wouldn’t fit without some serious modifications. The Alpine speakers were recommended by others of Smart Car of America. They sound good and didn’t require ANY modifications to the door.

There are Pioneer models that also look like they will fit. Each can use the factory grill cover which I highly prefer.

Take a look at these speakers and you can see the hole pattern you are looking for. This will work with the factory screw holes on the Smart. Pioneers have this similar pattern. SonicElectronix has the best photos online for comparison and great pricing. Also check out onlinecarstereo.com

Installation:
Radio is a piece of cake. It took less than an hour to pull the old one out and wire the new one. I highly recommend ordering the dash kit and wire harness from this eBay seller, http://stores.ebay.com/4smartCar. It made it very easy.

Tip: If you want to use the dvd while driving just take the green parking sensor wire and connect it with the black ground wire. No I won’t be watching while driving but your passenger can and/or if you have concert dvd’s you can listen to them without having the image displayed.

Speakers: A bit more involved with pulling the doors apart. There are good instructions online on how to do this. Start here, Evilution. Read them over a few times and then have at it. I think it is best to take pictures while you are pulling things apart piece by piece. Tape screws to the appropriate parts as you remove them. Then you can refresh your memory on the re-install. Yes, you have to take the outer door panels off to change the speakers.

Installed!


Some pics of the car torn apart:


Getting ready to remove the stock radio


Outer panel removed and getting ready to replace speaker


Old speaker


Speaker Frame – Bottom left shows one of the screw holes


New speaker with wire splicing. Really easy if you have the right tools. If you don’t own a wire stripper get one! See the black clip fits nicely in the original Smart screw holes.

Additional Photos on our Flickr site: click here

Links to useful web sites for this project:
Evilution Uk – Tons of tips for the smart with better pictures,etc
Smart Car of America Audio Forum – Lots of time spent here finding out the best options
Onlinecarstereo.com – Where I ended up buying my stuff from
SonicElectronix – Would have bought everything here if they had it in stock

Here’s a nice review of the Kenwood DDX512: