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A backup camera in your collector car?

by Phil Lapin / CPPC Tech Committee and President

Most of our vintage cars are big beasts – and usually with little mirrors!  After I first got our 1942 Sedan, I promptly scraped my right rear bumper backing along a low wall.  That really made me appreciate the backup camera systems we typically have on our much newer cars.  I did a little checking, and found that I could buy a complete backup system for around $35 off of eBay. 

Dash MountCheap, yes, Chinese, yes – but if I could backup with confidence I would discount those issues.  What I found out is that these little systems are really very effective.  A decent sized color monitor with adjustable settings – and color coded backup guide lines which are quite accurate.  The camera has excellent resolution, and night vision LEDs mounted around it.  I was impressed!

Now – for the problem!  My car is original with a positive ground 6 volt system.  The backup cameras require 12 volt negative ground.  The following is how I effectively installed my system.

12V converterFirst, I got my 12 volt power by purchasing a 6 to 12 volt step up converter for about $15 over Amazon.  I mounted the converter on a thick piece of Plexiglas isolating the 12 volt wires from the car chassis.  On the same piece of plastic, I mounted a multi fuse holder. At present, I am running both the backup system as well as a small Bluetooth amplifier. Those two items draw well under 2 amps combined.

The camera is mounted just above the license plate (a tight fit!) A scrap piece of stainless sheet metal was bent to provide a mount for the camera.  The mount was pop riveted behind the license plate.  The camera was originally mounted in a  plastic license plate bar. I removed the camera and installed it directly to the stainless metal using double faced foam tape. 

Rear mountWiring was routed inside the trunk , then to the right rear side of the trunk and onward to the front dash area above the right side of the headliner.  Original wiring on these cars is often installed behind the headliner on the driver(left) side – congesting that side.  I routed the rear camera wires on the opposite side using an electrician snake.  You may or may not be able to pull off this trick.  If this is not viable, the wires can always be run under the car or under the flooring. 

All camera wires must be run from the back camera to the dash area, video feed, and neg and pos electrical – as the camera must remain isolated from the car body.  Behind the dash, I ran my positive camera/monitor power through a switch on the dash, then on to the 12 volt converter.  This allows me to turn the camera on whenever I want.  The negative wire for the system is run directly to the negative output of the converter.  Nothing ever interacts with the original car wiring or grounding.

So . . .  a complete  backup system for around $50 !  Drive safely, and send me a note if you need more information.  P.L.