VW Radio Information and Repair
Rich Langenwalter - [email protected]
Sapphire Radios
Installation Info...
Rich Langenwalter - June 1, 2016

This document contains Sapphire I thru VI (1960–‘67) radio information gathered over the past twenty years.  Much of this history was found in Sam’s Photofact Auto Radio Series publications.  Sam’s AR  booklets contain multiple page radio description including radio and circuit pictures, electronic schematic, part numbers and alignment instructions.   The Sams AR series is a valuable source for radio models, manufacture dates, original knobs, face plates and parts that came with the radio. 

Early Sapphire I AM 6volt (‘60/61):
Sapphire I AM 6 volt (‘60/61):
The “Early” Sapphire I was the first Sapphire radio model produced by Bendix in 1960 and 1961 with 0BV and 1BV model numbers.  Early Sapphire I radios are easily identified by their distinctive vertical push buttons.  The radio’s tone knobs and Bug face plate (2091206) are specific to the model.  The radio below has the Bug faceplate.

The Early Sapphire I without Bug faceplate installs directly into VW models having a “three-hole” radio dash.  The three-hole dash is found in Bus and Ghia models through approximately ’65.  The picture below is from a ’57 Oval window Bug.  Dimensions of the three-hole opening are approximately 1 ¾ by 3 ¾ inches with knob holes 5 ¼ inches apart and ½ inch in diameter.

Sapphire I AM 6 volt (‘62/65):
The next model, also called Sapphire I, was manufactured by Bendix in the 1662 thru 1965 model years.  These radios have updated tone knobs, horizontal push buttons and Bug faceplate (2092234).  Bendix produced the Sapphire I with model numbers 2BV, 3TBV, 4TBV & 5BV where the first number indicates the model year. 

Motorola also manufactured Sapphire I radios in 1964 and 1965 with model numbers 4TMV and 5TMV.  Motorla radios have a slightly heavier and boxy frame which helps identify this radio manufacturer.

Many changes occured during the four production years.  In 1962 and 1963, all radios came with Ivory colored knobs and push buttons.  In 1964 and 1965, there was a mixture of Ivory and Gray colors knob and push button colors.  The color of the VW dash knobs also transitioned during these years.  Interestingly, all Mototrola radios came in the gray color.  Motorola’s knobs were hollow and float in water (Bendix knobs are solid plastic).  Tone knobs also transitioned from metal to plastic construction during this period.

In late 1964 the dial signature changed from “Sapphire I by Bendix” to simply “Sapphire I”.  The Civil Defense CONELRAD icons were also removed (triangles at 640 and 1240 KHz).  The signature on Motorola radios was “Sapphire I”.

The late Sapphire I requires a three-hole face plate (2092236) or “bezel” for installation in Bus, Ghia and Oval models.  The bezel, pictured below, adds a chrome “surround” to the dial for installation in three-hole dashes.  The bezel works with late Sapphire I, II, III, IV and VI models, it’s highly sought and usually expensive.  

Sapphire II AM/FM 6 volt (‘62/65):
Bendix produced the Sapphire II AM/FM 6 volt radio from ’62 thru ’65 with model numbers are 2FMB, 3FMB, 4FMB and 5FMB.  This highly sought radio has three FM and two AM push buttons.  It used the same knobs and face plate as the Sapphire I.  Motorola did not produce an AM/FM Sapphire II radio.  Pictured below is a 5FMB with Gray knobs and push buttons. 

Sapphire III AM 6 volt (’66):
The Sapphire III was manufactured in 1966 only by Bendix (6BV) and Motorola (6TMV).  The Sapphire III has redesigned chrome (plastic) knobs and push buttons.  The new dial has a “All Transistor” signature with “Sapphire III” on the chrome escutcheon.  A new face plate for ’66 (no part number) has black paint and coarser grained texture than previous years.  The chrome plastic knobs and push buttons are especially difficult to find in good condition since they have a tendency to ding, bubble or peal.  The same problem is prevalent with the chrome plastic tone knobs. 

Sapphire IV AM/FM 6 volt (’66):
The Sapphire IV is an AM/FM 6 volt radio produced by Bendix in 1966 only.  The radio has the same knobs and push buttons as the Sapphire III, however, the “Sapphire IV” escutcheon slides horizontally to switch between AM and FM.  The faceplate in this picture has the black background paint removed.

Six volt AM/FM radios by Bendix were manufactured from 1962 thru 1966 (Sapphire II ’62-‘65 and Sapphire IV in ’66).  These radios are highly sought for FM reception in early sixties six volt VW models. 

Sapphire V AM 12 volt (’67):
The Sapphire V was produced by Bendix and Motorola in 12V for the 1967 model year.  This one year only radio has similar accessories as 1966, but new black rubber knobs…advertised as a safety feature to lessen injury when hitting the dash. 

Bendix produced two models during the ’67 year…7BV and 7BVX.  The later is an electronic upgrade using NPN transistors.  This radio has propensity to intermittent failure due to a weak output transistor, but it can be replaced easily with reliable transistor.

The Motorola Sapphire V (7SMV not pictured) has a redesigned, smaller case. This radio is very reliable, however, relatively difficult to find with good chrome knobs and push buttons.

Sapphire VI AM/FM 12 volt ('67):
The Sapphire VI is the 1967 only AM/FM counterpart to the Sapphire V.  This 12 volt radio was produced by Bendix only in 7FBV and 7FBVX models (NPN transistors).  It is the most highly sought Sapphire radio due to it’s FM reception and the popularity of 12 volt conversion.  The Sapphire VI has identical appearance to the Sapphire IV with the exception of the Sapphire VI escutcheon (AM/FM switch).

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