For a long time we wanted an electric antenna on our '88 GT to make it easier to use a car cover. However we were told many times that an electric antenna would not fit. When we found a good electric antenna in a salvage yard we decided to try installing it despite the warnings. To our surprise the antenna fit rather easily. Pictures below show the installation.
Antenna fairing with tip of antenna showing.
Antenna fairing with tip of antenna showing.
There are a few points worth noting about the installation:
(1) The electric antenna is from a 1996 Mazda 626. There is nothing special about this antenna but its bottom mounting feature is convenient. As far as we can determine no separate antenna relay is required. We could not find a relay on the donor car and our antenna works fine without one. We belive the antenna motor is turned on/off at its lower/upper limits via solid-state current sensing, much like the headlight motors in the '87-88 Fiero.
If you want to try an electric antenna and can't find a Mazda 626, a very similar antenna was seen in a '94 Nissan Altima. It looks identical to the Mazda except for the antenna cable attachment. It also appears other '90s Japanese cars use similar antennas but we have not pulled them to compare. The antenna from a '96 Olds Cutlass Supreme seems to be an even better choice. It looks smaller but has the same bottom mounting bosses. It also does not require an antenna relay. A nice unit; wish we had seen it first!
(2) In addition to the coaxial cable to receive signals, there are three wires from the antenna assembly which must be connected: a ground, +12 volts (available at all times), and +12 volts from the radio. This latter +12 volts turns on and off with the radio. Most factory radios have this voltage available specifically for electric antennas. When the radio is turned on, the antenna raises. When the radio is off, the antenna lowers. If you have a radio without the switched voltage it would be simple to find switched +12 volts somewhere in the car wiring. That would mean the antenna would be up whenever the ignition is on as opposed to just when the radio is on.
(3) The telescoping antenna collapses inside a metal tube attached to the antenna motor housing. The tube has a short length of coaxial antenna cable with a female plug-in connector on the end which feeds a signal to the radio. This requires a mating male connector on the coaxial cable from the Fiero radio. We found the male connector on a Mazda but also saw it in the salvage yard on Hondas and Toyotas.
(4) The bracket for mounting the antenna is home-made from 1/8" thick aluminum because that's what we had on hand. The bracket is held in place by one of the door bolt hinges; no drilling into the car body is required. There is a dimensioned drawing of the bracket in the last photo.
(5) The fairing where the antenna exits the fender is from an Olds Cutlass Ciera. The fairing is found on the '86-88 Olds Cutlass Ciera and Ciera station wagon, and on the '86-'93 Buick Century. The fairing is three pieces, a chromed metal bezel, a gasket which installs between the bezel and fender, and a plastic tube that inserts vertically in the bezel. (We painted all parts red.) The fairing assembly must be fastened to the car body or it will fall out. Instead of making a hole in the slanted portion of the Fiero body to mount the fairing, we attached a scrap of 1/8" thick aluminum to the body. Then we mounted everything and drilled a hole in the aluminum to fix the fairing in exactly the right spot.
Other antenna fairings should also work. We saw possibilities on an '88 Cadillac Cimarron, an Audi, and some Japanese cars. It is also possible to use a fairing that extends above the fender like the chimmney on a roof.
(6) The antenna system fits under the fender perfectly but there is no wiggle room. The length of the antenna tube was shortened 0.5" to avoid interference between the top of the tube and the inside of the fender. Some protrusions were ground off the antenna tube to avoid interference with the inner surface of the fender. The antenna retaining nut (it screws to the top of the antenna tube) was ground flat on one side for the same reason.
(7) Wiring enters the car interior via a weatherproof rubber grommet which is from an '86 Olds Cutlass Ciera. It has passages for the antenna cable and three control wires. It is likely that any car with an electric antenna on the front fender will have a similar grommet; finding one in a salvage yard should be easy. The antenna cable through-hole in the Fiero had to be enlarged for the new grommet.
We will happily answer questions at the e-mail address below.
Copyright December, 2004, 2009
Antenna mounted in place.
Antenna just clears the fender well & door.
Antenna mounting bracket, top.
Antenna mounting bracket, bottom.
A plumb bob was used to locate where to cut the hole in the fender. First the antenna was installed in its final location with the fender removed. A plumb bob was located precisely over the antenna and the wheels were blocked to insure the car did not move at all.
The antenna was removed WITHOUT moving the plumb bob, the fender installed, and the plumb bob used to locate the template for cutting the hole. This worked perfectly.
This is the through-hole grommet in the car body.
This is the tag on the antenna: