In-Car Phonographs

Status: Real
image Did car manufacturers ever offer the option of an in-car phonograph? I would have thought not. After all, the technological challenge presented by such a product is obvious. How can you get it not to skip? But trusting in the common sense of car manufacturers is never a wise thing to do. So in this respect it's probably obvious that, yes, such a feature was once offered, though for a very brief period of time. Predictably, the in-car phonographs skipped like crazy and were pulled from the market. offers a history of the Highway Hi-Fi. They debuted in 1956 as an option in some Chrysler models. The big catch was that they only played records specially made for in-car phonographs: 7-inch 16⅔-rpm ultra-microgroove format records. There were only six discs in this format to choose from. Those discs contained a selection of "classical recording, the tops in popular music, drama, children's stories" selected by Columbia Records executives.

Chrysler didn't offer this style of in-car phonograph again. But in 1960 it did offer a unit that played regular 45-rpm records. You could stack up 12 of them at a time. It worked well if you were sitting in your car idling. As soon as the car started to move, there were problems.

The UAW-Daimler-Chrysler site also offers a shorter history of the in-car phonograph, with color pictures.


Posted on Mon Jul 10, 2006


Elvis Presley owned a Limo that had one of these. Check out:

Scroll down to the 1960 Series 75 Fleetwood Limousine. Lots of information about not only the car but the "entertainment console" as well.
Posted by Wade  on  Mon Jul 10, 2006  at  03:43 PM
I was watching Pimp My Ride and they put a record player in it that was suspended from the glove box so it wouldn't skip.
Posted by FlintJ  in  Florida  on  Mon Jul 10, 2006  at  03:51 PM
Before CD players took off, a friend of mine bought a skip-proof record player for music at parties; I think it worked by somehow sandwiching the record and needle arm firmly enough while not interfering with the needle itself. You could have a roomful of people jumping around dancing and shaking the floor and the furniture to pieces, and it still played perfectly. But of course there was the other traditional party problem of pouring a bottle of beer down the thing, which never does improve the performance of any kind of music player.
Posted by Wendy  on  Mon Jul 10, 2006  at  07:24 PM
My brother-in-law had a Chevrolet 45-rpm player in his 1960 Impala. Tension on the needle was so high, records only lasted for a few plays...
Posted by Ned  on  Tue Jul 11, 2006  at  05:43 AM
True, these players used to utterly destroy records. But I still really want one when I get myself something big and 50s (and, erm, learn to drive.)
Posted by Tom K  on  Tue Jul 11, 2006  at  07:20 AM
I recall reading somewhere that marilyn monroe had some sort of fancy custom hard-top convertable that featured a record player in it's dash.

I did a brief google but did not turn up anything, so who knows.
Posted by Weblamer  on  Tue Jul 11, 2006  at  08:19 AM
I have an ad from the mid sixties, which shows Ford entertainment accessories for your car. A Phonograph is shown along with CB Radios, 8 track tape players, and a television.
Posted by Keith  on  Tue Jul 11, 2006  at  09:25 AM
I may be wrong, but I don't think there were any 8-track tape players in the mid-sixties. They came along in the 70s. They didn't work very well in cars-- mostly because 8-tracks didn't work very well anywhere.

There were televisions for cars in the sixties, though. Cars that had them had strange-looking antennas (antennae?) on top.

Of course, none of this was very exotic compared with car phones-- something only the most ultra-ultra elite even dreamed of then.
Posted by Big Gary  on  Tue Jul 11, 2006  at  06:19 PM
I remember a Philips machine in the 60s that sat under the dash and had a horizontal slot for 7" singles. Looked a bit like the one for CDs in my car (only it didn't play for so long). I suspect that it used a high tracking pressure to avoid jumping; also 45s have coarser grooves than lps so that would also help.
Posted by Tny B  on  Wed Jul 12, 2006  at  10:37 AM
The ad I'm referring to was in a March '67 Hot Rod magazine, and shows both in-dash and under-dash 8 track players. My 67 Cougar came with an in-dash FM/8-track player (no AM!)
Posted by Keith  on  Fri Jul 14, 2006  at  09:46 AM
OK, Keith, I stand corrected.
I guess I just never saw an 8-track player until the 70s.
Posted by Big Gary  on  Sat Jul 15, 2006  at  01:28 PM
How about the Auto-Com 16-RPM flexidisc player for cars from the mid 60's? This was basically the same as the Highway Hi Fi, but the Auto Communications Text Company, better known as Auto-Comm for it's manufacture of Flexidiscs (phonograph sound sheets) when the main manufacturer Eva-Tone was unavailable.

The most readily available and obvious example is the Auto-Comm flexidisc of Time-Life Music's `The Swing Era' LP box set. Get one and compare it to the much more readily available Eva-Tone version.

Auto-Comm devised a way to allow it's special 16-RPM large-hole flexidiscs to be played in cars of the middle 60's and not skip without wearing out the flexidisc after a couple of dozen plays.

This of course was before the Muntz 4-track music cartridge made big inroads into car stereo, followed by the Lear Jet Stereo 8 cartridge a few years later.

Occasionally Auto-Comm 16 RPM flexidiscs show up on EBAY as does the player on even rarer occasions.

An interesting footnote to car stereo, like the mini-Muntz cartridge-singles of the same period. These were tantamount to cassette singles of the 80's and early 90's carrying one or two songs on program 1 and one or two songs on program 2.
Posted by Flexi-Max  on  Sun Feb 24, 2008  at  06:42 PM
hi i have two underdash 45rpm recordplayers for sale....please pass it on to people wanting one
Posted by da  on  Tue Sep 08, 2009  at  05:46 PM
Amazing ho wthe obvious solutions are never implemented, you could simply place the chronograpgh device in the car with a suspension base or some sort of self-levelling unit, which I have seen before and that would allow the device to play without skipping.
Posted by selling Audi  on  Tue Nov 30, 2010  at  05:55 AM
There were only six discs in this format to choose from. Those discs contained a selection of "classical recording, the tops in popular music, drama, children's stories" selected by Columbia Records executives.
Posted by limousine charlotte NC  on  Wed Dec 29, 2010  at  11:35 PM
My mother had a an Australian made Chrysler "Valiant" (AP6)1965 or 66 Wagon.
I think if was A Philips Car record player, it was black and white you put in a 7" record, single or EP, it slid in like a CD, Any record would play you just had to cut out the record center (like a old jute box) I still have some off the records and they play well, I don't have the car record player it was stolen in the first year we had the car, it played records very well (No jumps)
Posted by glen wooten  on  Sun Jul 31, 2011  at  07:29 AM
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