Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Rare 1982 Rockford Fosgate Amplifier - Punch Power 360

My earliest recollections of aftermarket car audio amplifiers was the mid to late 1980's. Rockford Fosgate, along with a few others (Orion, Precision Power, Soundstream, etc) ruled the car audio aftermarket at this time. But, what about the early 80's? I know companies like A/D/S and Nakamichi were around, but why would manufacturers produce high output car audio amplifiers when 6x9's were high tech at the time? 

Well, if you know the culture of Rockford Fosgate, then you know why they produced an amp like the Punch Power 360 back in 1982. This amp was rated at 90 watts x 4 channels into 4ohm loads and although bridgeable, was not designed for loads less than 4ohms in stereo and 8ohms in mono. The Power 360 retailed for around $900 and from the research I've done, less than 50 were produced. Can you imagine the market for a $900 car audio amplifier back in 1982? All assembled and soldered by hand in the Rockford headquarters in Arizona. Unlike later Rockford amps, the Power 360 used bi-polar output devices as opposed to mosfet. You'll notice in later amps (late 80's - early 90's), Rockford is VERY proud of the mosfet outputs as nearly every amp has "Mosfet" listed in it's title.

Now, nearly 30 years later, what's the chance I'd come across a 1982 Punch Power 360 amplifier in ANY condition, much less near mint? Well, I wouldn't have placed any bets on it, that's for sure! I've seen a few on eBay over the years, a few from serious collectors, but unlike a Punch 45 or 150, this is an amp you just don't see very often. Not only was I fortunate enough to acquire this rare beast, I was also given some literature from another Rockford Fosgate collector.

1982 Rockford Fosgate Punch Power 360 Literature

And the "Pre-Z" pre-amps that matched up with the Power 360:

1982 Rockford Fosgate Punch Power 360 Pre-Amps - 250, Z & ZX

Now, on to the actual amp I picked up as I'm sure you are intrigued, right? I'm sure there are some people with their $100 2000-watt amps, who don't really get the excitement here....I can understand as old school and vintage stereo equipment is not everyone's cup of tea. However, this is Old School Stereo, so I'm not too concerned, as my audience should enjoy the vintage gear.

First up is a top picture of the Rockford Fosgate Punch Power 360's heat sink. Notice the "Rockford Fosgate" emblem on the amp plate. Other 360's I've seen up for sale were missing this cosmetic piece. Also, this amp is not missing a fan shroud...the Punch Power 360 and bipolar Power 650 amplifiers did not come equipped with a fan shroud.

1982 Rockford Fosgate Punch Power 360 Top View

Next up is the bottom of the amp. As with most of the Power series models, there is quite a bit of information silk-screened on the bottom of the amp. Some of this information includes wiring color codes for speakers, DIN connector and power wires. There is also access to the gain controls for each left and right channel from the "high" and "low" channels (most amps would denote these channels as "front" and "rear"). See more details below:

1982 Rockford Fosgate Punch Power 360 bottom view

Although this amp was introduced in 1982, it still had a full 2-way active crossover built-in. The "high" channels could be set either "flat" or at selectable frequencies with a 12dB/octave high-pass slope. The "low" channels offered the same crossover slope for low pass signals. Although the amp was designed to work with line-level inputs, the "high" channels were only accessible if the DIN connector was used. You could use RCA inputs only for the low channels. I'm guessing Rockford thought if you could afford a $900 amp back in 1982, you could also drop a few more hundred on a "Pre-Z" pre-amp (see pictures from literature). Luckily, these days, we have DIN to RCA adapters, so you don't have to own one of the super rare Pre-Z pre-amps to utilize the high channels of this amp.

Rockford Fosgate Punch Power 360 Speaker Harness and Inputs

Keep watching for an upcoming bench test of this amplifier where I'll give actual output power results. Also, if anyone has any additional information on this amp or has any corrections to what I believe are facts above, please contact me oldschoolstereo at gmail.




glen c said...

Owned this amp as well as the punch 45,punch 150, power 300, power 600 and the power 1000 and all bridgable. Used them in a extended cab mini show truck. Dual altenators, triple deep cycle batteries. The 300,600 and 1000 came with black shrouds with the cooling fan, but had the upgrade option of chrome or gold plated shrouds. Rule of thumb was usually about a dollar per watt for amps, (ie 600 watt was approx $600). I'm still good friends with most all of my stereo builders and designers from the mid to late 80's. I can get more detailed info from them if you request it. Awesome amp you have !!!

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