Fitting an aftermarket stereo to an early XJ8

2016-01-09 Read: 523x

Fitting an aftermarket stereo to an XJ8 has been covered before but I thought I may as well photo document my own attempts in my 1999 model. Things did not run smoothly, mostly caused by the fact that the fascia adaptor I bought was not exactly the right size – more of that later but here we go.

First off, here is what I started with.

I bought a Sony MEX-BT3800U after a bit of searching around for a stereo that had Bluetooth builtin that could play MP3 CD’s and came with an infra red remote and a front USB socket and this one suited my needs, there are of course many units out there now with these features but this particular one was in my price range and had all the features I wanted.

I also needed a converter plug and a remote stalk adaptor – both bought from eBayand they can be seen here already plugged in (the stereo patch lead is slightly out of shot though).

To start off, park your car safely on a flat road and leave in drive – as can be seen from the photos I did not do that and had to wander around to the driver’s side and do that mid install. Anyway, remove the gear selector cover carefully (unlike the previous owners of this car, it almost fell off, as all the lugs were broken bar one.) 

You will now see 2 x 8mm nuts at the top and 2 x 8mm bolt/nut/screw things at the bottom – I don’t know if these are the same in all cars, but that is what was in mine. Remove these, lift off the switch housing and unplug it.

Holding the ski slope at the bottom beside the ashtray, lift it out carefully by pulling it towards the back of the car and upwards at the same time (if that makes sense) you will now see 3 screws in the console, I only needed to take out two of these (marked) .

Now gently pull the stereo unit towards you and wiggle (good word that) it over the gear selector and out of the console (its tricky but easy enough) Once out remove the plugs from the back of the unit – Antenna, multi connector and round connector. The earth strap is on with a 10mm nut

Once out the stereo and cage need removed, press down on the two metal springs shown and push the unit out of the plastic shroud.

The next bit I have no photos for as I almost gave up – the fascia adaptor did not fit properly, I have not contacted the person who made it as I simply did not have time to send it back for a replacement so I had to modify it to fit, and it is still not right – it was at least 2mm out in both internal and external dimensions and I had to cut away the leather and use a hacksaw and sander to modify it to get a rough fit. Also, once the cage was fitted I discovered that the stereos plastic surround will not fit properly as the unit is too low.

This cannot be a fault of the stereo as it is (as far as I know anyway) a standard DIN fitting. Anyway, here is the finished article. 

The stereo is brilliant, the Bluetooth worked first time with my HTC Diamond 2 phone, and the remote control is handy for rear passengers and as long as you don’t look too close the finish is not bad. 

In all I would say it took me 3 hours but that was with me having to modify the fascia adaptor and being careful - and spending 20 minutes looking for two of the screws that I managed to lose down the transmission tunnel..... (hint – use a magnetic screwdriver).

So, it's in - not perfect but it will do until I get time to sort out the fascia adaptor.


The stereo unit is 11 years old and the CD auto changerdoes not work, I don't have any tapes and I wanted a decent stereo and rid of my older hands free kit that had wires running all over the place, ditto for my MP3 playerthat needed constant power and also had wires everywhere so the Sony was a quick solution without major surgery to get a double din unit in there. However I still have the original unit to put back if I ever sell the car.

Head unit has a built in microphone that picks up my voice perfectly meaning no external microphone in sight. The bluetooth works brilliantly, when a call is incoming, the music mutes, and the head unit flashes and makes a ringing noise, simply press the big button on the front (I don't use auto answer) and take the call, the sound is routed through the speakers and is very clear. Another thing I noticed is that the electric antenna only goes up (and down) when you use the radio - so the antenna stays down when you are not using it (something that was not the case with the old unit).

Replacing the head unit is something that I have been doing ever since my first car (a 1973 Vauxhall Viva) back in the 80's. It is also (apart from a new engine) the only modification I have felt the need to do as everything else is just as I like it - the previous owner changed the front grilleto the mesh type, and changed the leather gear knobto a wooden one both and I feel the car looks better for them. My last Jaguar (a 1987 XJ40) the stereo was left alone and was completely original - but only because the wiring in that car would have necessitated a complete rewire from the head unit back and I had neither the time or funds to do so.

The adaptor plate really does not fit at all well, and is annoying me to the point that as soon as the car goes in for a new wing and some other body work its getting ripped out and I am going to start building my own from scratch. I'm also going to remove the CD auto-changer from the boot and re-carpet it as well.

In my car it was wired with one single ground wire per side and two positives. No idea why?

I can't remember where I got the fascia adaptor. I also saw another fibreglass one on-line that looked a LOT better but cant find it now. I was referring to speaker wires- I doubt they would be ignition switched (although I stand to be corrected on that ).

source: oldpoint, Jaguar forum

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