1995 Range Rover Classic Mini-Overhaul


If this Range Rover is going to be driven frequently, a few interior comforts are in order.

The stock cupholders are pretty lousy. The mechanism is flimsy, finding a mug skinny enough to fit in them is challenging, and if you manage to pass both of those tests, the climate controls are then blocked. For the sake of not spilling drinks all over the interior, something must be done. These cupholders are a bit bulky, but they are Genuine Land Rover parts and certainly work a lot better than the retractable drawer.

Something must also be done about the radio. Cassettes had one foot in the grave in 1995 and CDs are nearly-dead 20 years later. Ideally, I want Bluetooth, but some other input would work. I simply want to be able to play music off of my iPhone when I'm driving around.

It's possible to hijack the stock head unit's radio or tape deck and provide an input, but this would require hacking the head unit and at a minimum installing some sort of button or switch to achieve; that's not very elegant. Installing an aftermarket head unit is another open and finding one that provides an aux input does not seem like a tall order, but the fact is: the vast majority of aftermarket head units look bad. Really bad. I'm not alone in my quest to find a simple radio with features, just do a Google search for "Stock-looking radio."

From top left, clockwise:

  1. The stock Pioneer unit from 1995. No modern features, but looks proper in the Range Rover.
  2. Optimus Prime tears into a bag of Skittles. This is an extreme example, but it's abominable.
  3. A Becker radio from Germany. It has Bluetooth, has a nice stock look to it, and comes with green lighting! Problem: Becker went OEM-only a while back and you can't find these in good condition anymore.
  4. Another offering from the Germans, who clearly are our last hope for creating an elegant aftermarket radio. It has Bluetooth, a USB port, and an SD card port! Problem: no line-level outputs, so that won't work with the Range Rover's amp.

The solution was quite simple: an auxiliary adapter. This device implements the Pioneer M-bus protocol to replace the CD changer and provide an auxiliary input. Simply unplug the CD changer, plug in this adapter, and off you go. It works great, it's completely plug-and-play, and it's less expensive than an aftermarket radio - even an atrocious-looking one.

I get a lot of questions about this device. Unfortunately, it appears that this adapter is no longer available (the website was down at the time of writing). It was actually a hand-built Arduino-based micro controller that implemented the proper M-bus protocol (very slick from a tech perspective). The fellow that made them was on DiscoWeb for a while and you may be able to track him down there. Perhaps he would be willing to make another run, or even better, open-source the code? If you have more information, please let me know (though, I've since sold this RRC and don't have a need for one at the moment).

A Bluetooth adapter and noise filter are installed. The only modification is one wire splice to get 12v of switched power to the Bluetooth module.

The whole setup sits nicely where the CD changer one was. You could even leave the CD changer in there, but I decided to use the brackets to mount the input.

There are no extra switches and no 3.5mm holes cut anywhere. Simply hit the "Band" button to cycle to where the CD changer once was, then get ready to enjoy some wireless music!