Fitting a Smiths/HMV radio

It is believed that dealers normally fitted the radio when this was specified as an option on a new Magnette (if not required a blanking plate was fitted to the dashboard). There is not much documentation available, but it seems likely (in the UK at least) that a Smiths/HMV 'Radiomobile' type was the standard fitment, and during most of the car's production this would have been the 200X dashboard-mounted valve radio, with a separate power supply/amplifier. The 200X was also fitted to the MGA at more or less the same time - useful information is available on In addition there is a Radiomobile document for fitting a 200X to the Riley Pathfinder, which is very similar to the Magnette installation


Normally a Radiomobile type XB (about 10W output power), the amplifier is usually installed under the dashboard on the driver's side, above the parcel shelf, and has a multi-way cable connection to the receiver unit as well as output to the speaker(s). It uses a vibrating switch to generate AC which is then converted by a transformer to the approximately 200V required by the valves - this voltage is not particularly hazardous due to the low current.


Most dealer installations probably used a wing-mounted telescopic aerial, but I don't have any information to show if the position of the mounting hole was standardized. My car in fact has a roof-mounted aerial, which is conveniently positioned at centre-front so the underside can be accessed by removing the interior clock, and the cable fed down the windscreen pillar. A roof aerial is less susceptible to rust and dirt, but more vulnerable if passing under a low obstacle ! 


The speaker is not mounted directly behind the dashboard grille, but instead in an angled baffle plate (photo below). This may have been to improve sound quality by allowing the use of a larger 6-inch speaker which would not fit the grille itself

As suggested in the Pathfinder fitting instructions, one or more speakers could also be fitted to the rear parcel shelf, where there are already cutouts in the metal beneath the trim panel. 

Modern radios

A Radiomobile 200X in good working condition still provides reasonable MW and LW reception, and nearly sufficient volume for driving at speed ! If you're looking for more power, or FM reception and possibly facilities to connect a smartphone for playing music, you could consider buying a period radio which has had the internals replaced with modern electronics. There are several suppliers such as Vintage Car Radio, but they're not cheap. This company and others will also restore an original radio.

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