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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Chrysler's in-Car Record Player Phonograph

Back in the early 1950s there were many fewer music radio stations, and if you didn’t like those that were within range, your only choice was to shut the radio off and listen to the road, the engine noise and the splat of bugs on the windshield.

Then in 1956, Chrysler Corporation stepped up to offer car buyers a new listening option – an in-car phonograph.

The players, made by Columbia, were mounted on the bottom edge of the dash, directly above the transmission hump, and were wired directly into the car radio.

The player had to be small, so the 7-inch size of the 45-rpm record was ideal; but using 45s would have meant changing the record every few minutes, a little risky at highway speeds. To solve that problem, 7-inch records for the player were produced in the new 16⅔-rpm format (ultra-microgroove) offering up to an hour of playing time per side and the added benefit of a slower speed that was less likely to kick up the needle.

If you ordered the option for your new 1956 Chrysler, Desoto, Dodge or Plymouth you also received the first six of 42 special platters available exclusively from Columbia Records.

What happened? The records skipped – just like they often did with the first version – if the ride and the road weren’t smooth as glass. It was an insurmountable problem.

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