Old car phone

2 Oct 2016
Reaction score
United Kingdom
Hi folks, wasn't sure where to post this query so apologies if I've got the wrong section.
I have a 21 yr. old BMW that is still fitted with the factory car phone specified from new & I'm always keen to keep things original, if at all practical. The 'phone had a O2 SIM card in the holder which has expired & the provider will not re-activate the number as it's more the 6 months out of date (several years probably). The 'phone still appears to be live though as inserting a very old Cellnet PAYG Sim card causes the 'phone to scan before displaying 'invalid card' but of course it's no longer possible to purchase these 1FF size cards. I've tried todays' standard card (can insert it fully but it's a pain retrieving it) but the 'phone simply says 'insert card' so that's no good. Apparently SIM card adapters are available, but they are not large enough to equal a 1FF. I am a tenacious sod & find it hard to believe that there's no way around the problem.
I know there are enthusiasts who dabble in old mobile technology & any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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I have several old style phones which take full size sim cards and I have had no problem in the past buying a Vodafone or O2 PAYG sim card that fit them. They come as triple sims but you just don't push out any of them and insert the whole card. The only ones that wont work are the GiffGaff sims as they come about half the size of the other sims. What phone is it? A picture of your original sim/phone/transceiver might help. A picture of the original sim next to a PAYG sim will help too although, with the exception of giffgaff, they should all be the same size and thickness. Why not order a selection of free PAYG sims from the networks to try out? Probably will only work on O2 and Voda and the messages could be to do with the card not being active/out of credit. If you or someone you know has an active O2 sim, pop their sim into the full size modern sim that goes in the transceiver. They can be a pain to get out anyway - most phones that took the full size sim had a 'sim eject' lever. Perhaps yours has one?

Edit: How abut these? https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/7-X-02-SIM-card/323836070004?hash=item4b66224874:g:9OMAAOSwT55dBo6OThey They should fit and if you can't still activate them you can always pop out the 'standard' sim and replace it with a current PAYG 'standard' sim. Plenty of options to get it working. (y)
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I appreciate your response. I have devised a method of retrieving modern standard cards, such as O2 Classic etc. by simply punching a small hole in the edge of the card (opposite end to the contacts obviously) & attaching a length of fine fishing line.
I'm surprised that you are able to buy 1FF cards as O2 (the original provider) don't even do an adapter for it. I've also read, since posting, that inserting the card into the reader in the car's boot, rather than the 'phone holder itself, will produce a result. More experiments needed I think & I'll try for the pictures but will have to get my other half to take them as, yes you've guessed it, I don't have anything modern enough! I'll take on board your advice & post if I'm successful. Thank you again.
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An aquaintance of mine had one of the original "mobile telephones" in the mid 1970's The size of a small suitcase. Calls were connected by an operator and were very expensive per minute. I recall the system could only cope with about 300 users. Never did learn why he needed one. I was told that he had it converted to a modern network without changing the external appearance.

The good old days, http://www.storno.co.uk/radiophone.htm
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Indeed they were :)
Brownie points to your friend for retaining the appearance of the old 'phone. I've got a 'sixties (land-line) 'phone that was made in Belgium, very occasionally I'll plug it in & revive old memories by actually dialling the number :rolleyes:
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but of course it's no longer possible to purchase these 1FF size cards.

I see what you mean about modern O2 sims. I ordered some PAYG sims the other day. The EE ones are full size but the O2 ones are now half size. What I would do is push out the micro/nano size sim from the EE sim and replace it wit the same size sim from the O2 one. Should be a nice fit but you can always put a piece of sellotape on the non contact side to hold it in place. (y)

Thanks for your reply, at least it's possible to converse with like minded people on here, speak to anyone at a 'phone shop about 1FF cards & look totally bemused as they've no idea what you are talking about :(
Yes, thanks for asking.
Utilising the card reader in the boot of the car I was able to insert the largest 'standard' PAYG card available (although too short against the original 1FF) by pushing it fully home with a credit card. I also managed to replace the original snapped off antenna mast with a genuine BM item, so I now have 21 year-old working 'phone … total cost £30 inc. £10 credit on the card (y)
I see what you mean about modern O2 sims. I ordered some PAYG sims the other day. The EE ones are full size but the O2 ones are now half size.
Ooo, thats a new to me to. Fair enough!

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