Like my carbon-fiber fetish, I'm also afflicted with a love of gadgetry, so there was no way the stock Shaker 500 system was going to cut it. I might have stayed the factory course if Sync were available, but since it wasn't, I gained voice control, iPod connectivity, Bluetooth calling, navigation from a solid-state hard drive, as well as options to add the satellite radio of my choice, and even sign up for the trick MSN Direct service (which can tell you gas prices, movie times, weather, and traffic around your GPS location) with Pioneer's F900BT ($1,099).
First I had to get the stuff to put it in the car, so I turned to Crutchfield-just as I have since I was a teenager. When you buy your gear from Crutchfield, you get a dash kit, wiring harness, instructions, and free tech support, which can be handy.
Fortunately the Crutchfield service techs not only sent the gear I needed to install the F900BT, they also warned me the install harness doesn't include switched power, so I had to go elsewhere. Otherwise, Crutchfield provides simple, plug-in harnesses (PN 120705521). Just match up the colors, crimp or solder the two radio harnesses to the adapter harness, and plug it in. There is one trick for installing a new head unit and using the factory amps. They require a 2.5v turn-on signal, while most head units provide a 5v signal. If you don't add a voltage regulator to step down the juice, you'll get a popping sound when the amps kick on. There is a great website dedicated to Pioneer head units at www.avic411.com. Be sure to check it out before you start your install.
The first step is to unbolt the top of the console inside the arm rest and pop it out of place. Yes, I should have done this before adding the new e-brake handle and shift knob, but I still managed to slide the console out without having to remove and reinstall those MGW bits.
Once the top of the console is out of the way, these two side pieces slide straight out. The larger face plate pops out of place, but you have to wrestle free a few wiring plugs before you can remove it.
Before putting in the new head unit, I removed the rear seat and ran the GPS antenna to the rear package tray, sliding it under the cover so it has a clear view of the sky but can't be seen from inside or outside the car. If you're running a sat-rad antenna, you can use the same spot, though the manufacturers would likely recommend a spot outside the car. While the console was apart, I ran the optional iPod cable (PN CD-IU230V; $49.95) into the armrest by notching the access cover for the parking-brake cable adjustment and feeding in the cable. Now I can plug in my iPod, put it in the armrest, and forget about it.
With the side trim out of the way, you can see the four bolts that retain the factory head unit. Remove them, slide out the Shaker 500, and unplug it.
Crutchfield provides this install kit (PN 120995807) for the a double-din head unit. You simply install your head unit into this adapter, and it provides the proper mounting points for your Mustang. With the unit all wired and mounted, you return all the trim panels to stock.
The one trick to installing a head unit in an '08 Mustang is that switched power isn't available by way of the plug-in adapter harness; you have to find it elsewhere. Fortunately a quick review of the fuse panel in the passenger-side kick panel showed an unused circuit with delayed power, meaning the power will stay on for a while after the key is turned off-until you open the door. By tapping into power here with a mini-fuse tap from the local auto parts store, my F900BT switches on and off just like the stock head unit.