Journal: Now vs. Then: Listening to Music in Cars

Now vs. Then: Listening to Music in Cars

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
March 14, 2013
16 comments

Cars and music are a great combination. There’s not much else in this world as satisfying as propping an elbow out the open window of a cool car on a warm summer evening, cranking up some good tunes and cruising around aimlessly.

Discerning taste in cars likely carries over to other areas of recreational preference too, and the radio waves have long been choked with commercials, inane chatter, and mostly unlistenable noise passed off as music. Today, living as we do in a futuristic world of convenience, it’s easy to bring along thousands of songs of one’s choice on a device the size of a small stack of credit cards, allowing total control of your driving soundtrack. Back in the days of carburetors, distributors, and leaded gas, though, things were a bit more complicated, or more accurately, a lot more simple.

Analog formats, whether magnetic tapes or vinyl records, were the only way to listen to recorded music. Before the availability of 8 tracks and cassettes, the only option for on-demand, in-car entertainment was the turntable – a finicky and high-maintenance machine when used in a controlled home environment, let alone in a moving vehicle. The “Highway Hi-Fi” mobile record system, a factory fit option to several Chrysler products, was the first mobile turntable to market and initially became available in 1956 for cars of that model year.

Utilizing a 10″ record that rotated at exactly half of a standard LP’s 33 RPM, and with over four times the grooves per inch, these highly specialized discs were marketed solely by Columbia’s Special Products division. An extremely high stylus pressure of two grams was intended to prevent skipping and skating, unfortunately, it also caused premature stylus and record wear – these problems, in conjunction with a limited catalog of available music and a high frequency of player malfunctions and breakdowns led Chrysler to withdraw Highway Hi-Fi only three years later, in 1959. A similar RCA system was introduced in 1960, but was gone forever by 1961, its reputation for unreliability even worse than its predecessor. It would be another four years until drivers had a new alternative to radio, when Ford introduced the eight track player as an option in late 1965 for several 1966 model year cars.

Italian vintage car enthusiast, Lino Carlini, is passionate about restoring vintage car radios and about cars having period-correct radios. Click here to watch our interview with him in our Petrolicious “Radio Days” video.

Photo Source: Retronaut

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Nicolash Martin
Nicolash Martin

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Bad Man
Bad Man

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Bryan Patterson

I went into 60s and it was really fun
Thanks for the nice article.

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jack
jack

This brought back some good memories of the 4 track player that my brother had in his ’65 mustang back around 1967. We would cruise around with him when he thought he wouldn’t be seen by anyone shuttling his little brother and sister or when he would take us to school- https://ioshere.com/ac-market-ios/

jack
jack

This brought back some good memories of the 4 track player that my brother had in his ’65 mustang back around 1967. We would cruise around with him when he thought he wouldn’t be seen by anyone shuttling his little music in https://musicparadiseprodownloadd.com/

shartin
shartin

Loved your clear explanation about music on cars, the present I have an android box in my car so I downloaded music paradise from http://musicparadisedownloader.com/ to make it simple for quality music. traveling with favorite songs take us to memorable days of us

Sohini Yadav
Sohini Yadav

This list of 100% real free movie apps where you can watch new movies on Android, iPhone will certainly come handy the next you’re bored. Movies and videos always seem to take away boredom. http://moviesiteapps.club/ In this blog post, I’ve created the ultimate list of best free movie and tv applications to stream movies online on iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones.

Adam
Adam

I love travelling and without music I can say that travel will lose it’s spice. so music + cars = and a great travelling experience. http://musicdownloaderfree.org/ Thanks

medonna4
medonna4

Listening music while traveling cars is really a wonderful application. You can download apps like Music Paradise pro to listen to free and common licensed music directly from your Android or iOS devices. Get this application from http://musicparadiseproapp.com

Clayton Merchant
Clayton Merchant

This brought back some good memories of the 4 track player that my brother had in his ’65 mustang back around 1967. We would cruise around with him when he thought he wouldn’t be seen by anyone shuttling his little brother and sister or when he would take us to school. I remember listening to “Inagodadavida” by Iron Butterfly, the long version, for hours and thinking my brother was the coolest guy in existence. Those were good days.

Leucea Alexandru
Leucea Alexandru

I think the best retro styled car stereo available on the market is, in my opinion, the Becker Mexico. Nostalgic design with state of the art technology. The best part is that it suites most classic interiors and it looks like it was there from the factory. And it’s a Becker.

Adam Holter
Adam Holter

Great read! I’ve always been interested in the old Chrysler turntables. Neat idea, definitely ahead of its time as far as personal musical choice goes. My Dart, 12 years newer than the Hi-Fi, was only outfitted with AM from the factory; when I bought it, the original radio was not only intact, but worked! Reception is excellent…I can pick up stations 1200 miles away at night. But for my regular use, I have a Redi-Rad installed. Allows me to keep the stock radio, while listening to my mp3 or whatever I can plug into an auxiliary jack. Highly recommend it… Read more »

Ae Neuman
Ae Neuman

a friend had a berlin in his bmw.
it looked cool but was a pain to use as that stalk was not stable at speed, the whole thing would do the jitterbug at high speed.
[img]http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_6-VcuYcrrRA/TTSwSTsMPbI/AAAAAAAACOw/SWc4yzYW9lI/s1600/blauberlin.png[/img]

this is one of my favorite vintage car stereos, the mighty nakamichi td-1200
[img]http://wegavision.pytalhost.com/nakamichiTD-1200p/a01.jpg[/img]

That Guy
That Guy

Hey Inigo Loy Colmenar,

I have never seen the Blaupunkt Berlin before, but now I must agree it is one of the most quirky designs ever!
I like the Easter European simplicity from the 70’s, behold… the Unitra Safari:
http://legendy-prl.pl/safari_2-1.jpg

Inigo Loy Colmenar
Inigo Loy Colmenar

For me, the epitome of audio design and engineering for German cars was when Blaupunkt came out with the Berlin that was mounted on a gooseneck. They even came out with a matching gooseneck equalizer for it. The idea behind it was that when you are doing triple digit speeds on the autobahn, you wouldn’t want to look down and fiddle with your radio. So, to help prevent the problem, they mounted the radio controls on a gooseneck that would make them at close to eye level. The Berlin gooseneck radio was such a hit that you would see them… Read more »