Before the days of cassettes or eight-track tapes in automobiles, Chrysler Corporation introduced an on-board entertainment option that included a small turntable along with an amplitude modulation (AM) radio. First introduced in 1955 on several 1956 models, the record players were located under the dashboard. The turntables were capable of playing the standard 45-revolutions-per-minute (RPM) vinyl records of the day as well as a new format that was created especially for car phonographs. The technology could not overcome uneven road conditions, however, and the record players were scrapped by the following year.
More facts about car phonographs:
- The turntables were manufactured by Columbia especially for Chrysler and were designed to slide easily underneath the dashboard. Opening and closing the turntable involved pushing a button that was mounted on the front of the device. After a record was in place, moving the tone arm would activate the table.
- Since 45-rpm records lasted for only a few minutes, a new format was created to prevent the need for frequent changes. The 16.67-rpm record worked only on car turntables and was manufactured only by Columbia. This meant only recordings by Columbia Records’ artists were available.
- Although the first design failed, Chrysler tried again in 1960. This time, the company partnered with RCA Corporation and created a design that would accommodate a dozen 45-rpm records at a time. Just as before, however, the design failed to prevent needle skipping, and the idea was abandoned.