On this day in 1955 Chrysler introduces a high fidelity record player that was to be available in some of their 1956 Chrysler, DeSoto, Dodge, and Plymouth models. The unit played 7 inch discs played at 45rpm as well as the relatively new 16 2/3 rpm. It was some 4 inches high and a foot wide and was slung under the dashboard. If you ordered this option with your new car you also received a set of 35 classical records.
You may be surprised to find out that there were problems with the needle skipping as the car went over bumps in the road (Who’d a thought it?) and so the units were discontinued. I have only a couple of thoughts ab out this;
One, how much would one of these units be worth now?
Two, if it is dangerous changing CDs while driving can you imagine the dangers involved in changing discs while driving? It just does not bear thinking about.
Amazingly, the disc player remained as an option until 1961.
Here is a copy of the press release;
HI-Fl RECORD PLAYER
Press Information Service
Detroit 31, Michigan
For Immediate Use
HI-Fl RECORD PLAYER AVAILABLE FOR
1956 CHRYSLER CORPORATION CARS
DETROIT – – Highway Hi-Fi, a record player that provides music and speech as you go, has been developed exclusively for the 1956 Chrysler Corporation cars.
This novel addition to the pleasures of highway travel, specially designed by CBS Laboratories as an accessory for Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto, Chrysler and Imperial, was introduced today at the press preview of Chrysler Corporation’s new cars at the company’s Engineering Proving Grounds.
For driver and passengers who prefer the lively scores of Broadway musicals, Highway Hi-Fi provides the lilting and memorable tunes from the hit show, “Pajama Game.”
And if the children are restless on a long ride, Davey Crockett and Gene Autry are ready at hand to help keep them quiet.
Highway Hi- Fi plays through the speaker of the car radio and uses the radio’s amplifier system. The turntable for playing records, built for Chrysler by CBS-Columbia, is located in a shock-proof case mounted just below the center of the instrument panel. A tone arm, including sapphire stylus and ceramic pick up, plus storage space for six long-play records make up the unit.
Using a new principle of design worked out by CBS Laboratories, the player and position of the stylus on a record are not affected by the angle of a car, its highway speed, or even severe cornering. Tests demonstrate it is extremely difficult to jar the arm off the record or even make the stylus jump a groove.
The special records also developed by CBS Laboratories, are seven inches in size, transcribed on both sides, and pressed especially for Chrysler by Columbia Records. They give up to 45 minutes of music and up to one full hour of speech per side, A collection of six disks will be presented to customers with each player.
Making up the collection are Tschaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, Borodini’s Polovtsian Dances, Ippalitov-Ivanov’s Procession of the Sardar, the complete score of the Broadway musical show Pajama Game, Walt Disney’s Davey Crockett, Gene Autry and Champion, Romantic Moods by Percy Faith and his orchestra, quiet jazz by Paul Weston and his orchestra, Music of Cole Porter and Victor Herbert by Andre Kostelanetz and his orchestra, and dramatic readings from Bernard Shaw’s Don Juan in Hell by a cast of top Hollywood and Broadway artists.