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Advice for adding carputer for 97' Grand AM GT

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  • Advice for adding carputer for 97' Grand AM GT

    Hello there,
    First time poster, but I've visited this site/forum a few times in the past. These days, I've been here at least once a day.

    I've always wanted to add a computer in my car. The idea first popped up about 7 years ago, but at that time "carputers" were either none existent or just to expensive. Modding a desktop or laptop, at the time, was way over my budget. About a week ago (or 2), I got a used car to replace my aging Tercel.. and the idea popped back in. Now with the advent of netbooks, the project seems within my grasp.

    The computer and wiring part is no big deal. I work in IT, and used to be a cable monkey for Bombardier Aerospace... so playing around with wires is no problem.

    What I don't know is cars. I mean, I really know jack about cars...
    Looking at the area where my radio/climate controls are it appears that the bezel goes all the way to the steering wheel and around the RPM/Speed gauge. Been searching the forum for someone that may have modded a similar dashboard..but no success. The only threads with Grand AMs have no pics (I'm a very visual person), links to the pictures are dead or don't come close to being similar.

    So I guess what I'm trying to get at is (besides saying hello), does anyone have any idea of what's in store for me with this project? Is the fact that the darn bezel is so big, will make it more difficult to mod? Is there even enough room behind the radio for a small netbook like the Asus Eee PC 701? (referring to the only project in Show Off your project thread using a Eee PC). This bazel can be purchased correct? I mean, I'd rather hack something up other then the one in the car lol

    Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions, pointers would be appreciated.
    Thanks, and great information in this forum... still going through the Fabrication threads

  • #2
    if you haven't seen them already, the faq's are a great place to start:

    the other trick is to try to find similar cars--i want to say that your model year was something like 97-01?-- sadly, my brother has a '96 grand prix(or is it a grand am? can't remember)-- the model year right before yours, but they happened to change everything...

    overall, with the gm cars i have worked on--i doubt you will be able to fit a netbook in the radio area without some extreme modification.

    most of gm's cars(i have worked on a '94 z26 beretta, standard beretta, '96 grand am/prix, and 2000something camero) have a black plastic tub behind the radio that will barely allow a aftermarket radio to fit, and a netbook has larger dimensions then this-- you need to really mod this to get anything to fit, and then on some, the air duct work goes right behind the radio, so depth is further limited by this.

    then there is the radio bezel-- it is 1.5din-- meaning that you can get a not-so-great 1 din flip-up screen, or mod a 7" screen to work-- i know some members have taken 7" lcd panels out of their housing, and managed to get it to fit with minimal modification in the gm openings..

    for the bezel, i think it is 1 piece, but is not as bad as you might think-- they are typically held in place with metal snaps-- as soon as you try to pull it off, it should come easily-- just take your time.

    for a better guide, try looking for a aftermarket radio replacement guide for your car--it will have the same principles.

    and a junkyard is the best place to go for a replacement-- a dealer is going to want to charge large amounts of money for something like that...
    My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
    "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"

    next project? subaru brz
    carpc undecided


    • #3
      Thanks for the reply soundman98,
      Of course, after my post I continued searching the forum for more information; and yes found a few answers to questions I asked.
      As for vehicles similar to mine, well seeing I have no idea which cars would be considered similar I wouldn't know where to start. I'll keep searching... thx a lot


      • #4
        i think that the grand am style you have was kept the same from 97-01ish--so anything in that range should yield a couple more results. though i haven't seen too many grand am installs, i really haven't been looking (my brother would never do it to his car, so i haven't had a reason to research it..)

        otherwise, just search for detailed car audio installs-- many of the ideas will be the same.

        the toughest part of any install is learning how all the panels come apart the first time-- so do not plan on installing everything being a 1-weekend project, and take your time taking all the panels apart-- i can promise that after the first or second time removing panels, you will be much faster at it-- i can disassemble the panels in my car, install a new device, and reassemble it in a hour... when i started with this car, well, lets just say that it stayed torn apart for 3 months...
        My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
        "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"

        next project? subaru brz
        carpc undecided


        • #5
          LOL Everything is complicated the first time.
          Rest assured, this is not a one weekend project. Will need to take my time, and my goal is to have this (if at all do-able) by the end of the summer.
          But I will search audio installation how-tos related to my car model, and explorer the space I have behind my dash. Got a Eee PC 701, so I'll know more once measurements are taken.
          The plan is not a big one really, podcast/mp3/AM-FM with some wardriving capabilities... so technically, it's not a huge setup (i think).
          Again thanks for the input...