Newnan: Did you know in the 50’s cars had record players in them?

For almost as long as we’ve been driving, making music portable has been a big issue. Radios, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs and MP3 players are well-known steps on the car entertainment evolutionary ladder, but I’ll bet that most of you didn’t know that there was another type of in-automobile music player at one time: the car record player.

I know you are thinking to yourself  and wondering about how easy it is to scratch records or make them skip with the slightest bump. It might seem counter-intuitive to put a record player into a moving car, but the automobile record player, first introduced by Chrysler in 1956, contained a number of features that would keep the music going even when there were bumps in the road.

First, the record rotated more slowly than standard record players, and the arm was cushioned and counter weighted to keep it from scratching the record. The Highway Hi-Fi, as it was called by Chrysler, was quite popular in its time – though that popularity wouldn’t last long.

Part of its downfall can be attributed to the fact that the Highway Hi-Fi required special records; you couldn’t simply pull a record off of the shelf and play it on your road trip. Rather, drivers had to purchase all of their music again in the new proprietary format. Since the machine was only available on new vehicles and not as an aftermarket accessory, there wasn’t a huge commercial demand for it. Moreover, the devices had the nasty habit of breaking often and Chrysler wasn’t thrilled with the cost of fixing all of those under-warranty units. By 1957, just one year after their initial introduction, Chrysler started withdrawing support for the ill-fated gadgets.

Blame the delivery system, not the music. As we are all very well aware of, music and driving go hand in hand. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard a song and thought, “That sure is a good song to drive to.”

When it comes too the creature comforts that we demand, there is just no stopping progress. Tape decks have been pulled from all manufactured automobiles and CDs are soon to follow. According to recent articles I’ve read that inspired this post, “The in-car CD player – much like pay telephones – is destined to fade away in the face of exciting new technology.” Soon it will be nothing but flash drives and MP3 player docking ports.

Honestly, as long as I have my tunes in my car so I can have my own personal driving soundtrack, you won’t hear me complain.

If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to leave them here. If you want to see what the next generation of in car entertainment is going to be, swing by and take a peak into some of our cars, trucks and SUVs. Things are only getting better in the world of in-car entertainment.

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