Pioneer KP-500

This is one from the Pioneer "Super Tuner" line. It's supposed claim to fame is that the FM section had specifications that rivaled many home units making it perfect for automotive applications where chasing a signal was always a problem. I purchased this one in the 1970s, probably around 1979, to replace the Craig/Pioneer 3121 8-track player that I'd been running for a few years in my 1970 Ford Maverick. The picture on the right was taken in 2019 when I decided get it out of retirement and clean it up. It still had the slide mount on it.

While I did take LOTS of photographs over the years, especially of my hi-fi gear, I have very few photos of the stuff installed in my cars. I did find a picture of the 1970 Maverick. I bought that car in Watertown, NY and drove it to California in July 1974. All the way cross country with only an AM radio!

In 1982, my sister and I rode our motorcycles from Southern California to Fernie, British Columbia. I was riding a 1976 Honda 750 and she was on a, I think, 1978 Honda 550. We were headed there to meet up with some friends and then ride back down the Pacific coast wback to Southern California. Since this was long before the days of portable music players, or maybe I just didn't have one, I decided to take the KP-500 with me on the trip.

I bought a back pack, sized for a little kid, sewed some straps with clips on it, and lined the inside with foam. The KP-500 slipped right inside. I added a wiring harness that was powered off the bike with a socket that made removing the unit easy. The whole thing mounted on the tank with the front of the deck facing forward. The backpack had a zippered top that I could leave open to better access it while riding. I installed a set of headphones, Audio-Technica, I think, shown on the left, in my helmet with Velcro for easy removal, and their wiring ran through my jacket to a plug that came out of the backpack. The headphones sounded really nice and also helped cut down on road noise.

I took a few tapes with me on that trip but I listened most to a mix tape I made before we left. Here's some photos of that tape. The playlist was:

01 - Buffalo Springfield - Rock and Roll Woman
02 - The Guess Who - Back to the City
03 - Delaney & Bonnie & Duane Allman - Living On The Open Road
04 - Delaney and Bonnie - Going Down The Road Feeling Bad
05 - Eric Clapton - Lonesome And A Long Way From Home
06 - Cream - Crossroads
07 - Derek and the Dominos - Layla
08 - Van Morrison - Moondance
09 - Rolling Stones - Beast Of Burden
10 - Pretenders - Up The Neck
11 - Pretenders - Mystery Achievement
12 - Fleetwood Mac - Bermuda Triangle
13 - Hall & Oates - Don't Change
14 - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Breakdown
15 - Captain Beyond - Sufficiently Breathless
16 - Jefferson Starship - Miracles
17 - David Bowie - Young Americans
18 - Edgar Winters Group - Frankenstein
19 - Bad Company - Can't Get Enough
20 - Deep Purple - Highway Star
21 - Deep Purple- Space Truckin'

I found that riding through the city was not the place to play the music since I really needed to pay attention to traffic but once out on the open road it was great to have the tunes. I did find one picture of the bike with the bag mounted to my tank. This was shot on the 1982 trip, somewhere along the Pacific coast.

Side note:
By contrast, in 1979, I had ridden that motorcycle from Los Angeles to Reno, NV to Yellowstone Park to Billings, MT to Mount Rushmore, SD to St. Paul, MN to Chicago, IL to Detroit, MI to Toronto, Canada to Watertown, NY to Atlanta, GA to Shreveport, LA to Dallas, TX to Carlsbad, NM and back to Los Angeles, all with no music. Just the sound of the wind and the bike. Here a map of that trip. I used some modern tools to recalculate the distance and it indicates 105 hours of riding for 6,939 miles. This will be explored in more detail on my motorcycle page.

At some point I sold the Maverick to my dad and the KP-500 went into semi-retirement. I used it as a shop radio in my garage for a while but after moving to Montana in 1991 it just went into storage. In May 2015 I bought a 1965 Triumph TR4. I wasn't really looking for one but this popped up on Craigslist and for the price it was too good to ignore. I spent the first few months sorting out the mechanical issues after which I sewed up a whole new interior. It had a non-funtional radio in it which I removed and I really didn't think about replacing it with anything. When I started going through all my old stereo gear in 2018, I cleaned the KP-500 up, installed a new belt, and found that it still works great. The eject mechanism was a little stiff but, after a lube and some tweaking, that worked well enough. But where to install it? Well, how about the TR4. I had looked online and seen that the price of a used KP-500 was outrageously high and, considering that the car is a convertable, I didn't want to just hang it under the dash and it wouldn't fit where the original radio had been installed. The solution, one that I'd used in other vehicles, was to install it in the glove box. I slipped it in there and it just fit. Barely. The glove box is made of fiberboard and I only had to make a small cut in the back corner which also helped with providing a path for the wiring to exit. I scrounged an old set of speakers and built some boxes for them. They sat on the shelf behind the seats for a while but I didn't like leaving them unsecured, so later, when I installed the Bowman Astrosonic 8-track unit I replaced those speaker boxes with built-ins that are shown below.

You can view the owner's manual for the KP-500 in PDF here. <5 MB)

Click on an image to enlarge it.

Updated December 2020.