Chrysler’s 1956 Highway Hi-Fi Phonograph

Chrysler Record Player

Ah yes, what a wonderful world of the future we live in. Just look at what Chrysler thought would be a snazzy option in 1956: A record player!

We know, what the hell were they thinking? Were they serous? Are you serious?

Well yeah, they were, although there were very few takers. Seriously, what sort of person would even consider something like this in a car? The audio environment it bad enough as it is, but to put something as, er, vibrations sensitive as a turntable in a multi-ton, way-too-floaty luxo-barge as a Chrysler (any Chrysler)?

What sort of madman would do that? Well, I just happen to know a few.

I’ve got this friend, Bob, real typical died-in-the-wool car guy. Currently into VWs as some sort of weird mutation of his long time Mercedes fetish. But for a while there, Bob was was off the reservation and was playing around with things like Desotos and Chrysler 300s.

I remember flipping through the pages of some Chrysler club newsletter waiting for Bob to get in gear so we could leave his house, and I noticed an article about these very same in-car record players.

“Are you serious? Chrysler actually tried to put record players in cars?”

“Oh yeah!” Bob shouted from another room. ” Those things are … ”

And he went on to describe to me just how sought after these things are by Chrysler collectors. They were offered, but very few people bought them, and the old stock has long since disappeared into that Indiana Jones warehouse. So finding a good original version is like a quest for some of these guys.

“Did they actually work?”

“Oh yeah, and they actually sound pretty good for a record player.” Bob’s a screen writer and narration talent, so he knows good sound.

“While the car was moving?!” I asked.

“Good-God no. Only when it’s parked. no one int their right mind would use a record player in a moving car. It’ll scratch the hell out of your Patsy Kline records.”

“I bet.”

Who knows what the designers and engineers at Chrysler were thinking back then. Putting a shock and vibration sensitive piece of gear in a car makes a much sense as giving Don Rumsefeld and army to play with; you know there’ll be lots of bad noise when you hit the first bump.

Anyway, so here we have it: What a bunch of auto-engineers thought was a good way to bring hi-fidelity sound to your driving experience, circa 1956.

Sure beats an iPod, no?

No!

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About The Author

Tony Borroz grew up in a sportscar oriented family, but sadly, it was British cars. His knuckles still show the marks of slipped Whitworth sockets, strains to reach upper rear shock bushings on Triumphs, and slight burn marks from dealing with Lucas Electric "systems." He has written for a variety of car magazines and websites, Automoblog chief among them. Tony has worked on popular driving games as a content expert, in addition to working for aerospace companies, software giants, and as a movie stuntman. He currently lives in a secure, undisclosed location in the American southwestern desert.

1 Comment on "Chrysler’s 1956 Highway Hi-Fi Phonograph"

  1. ollie

    Yeah, but, your parked at lovers peak, wanna impress your date, and the radio is playing laundry detergent commercials, and you have the hot single released just today….huh?!

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