Lawrence Welk 56 Dodge
Open Nos Set
Rare Record Case
Auto Mechanics Mag
Pre-production tone arm?
It seemed like a good idea at the time! Of course so did 8 track tapes!
Back in the 1950s radio stations were not as plentiful as today. And if you did not like the
choices that were within range about your only option was to suffer through what you could find
or shut the radio off and listen to the road, engine noise and the sounds of bugs going splat
on the windshields. They say necessity is the mother of invention, well peter Goldmark of
Columbia broadcast system research department to the rescue. In time for the 1956 model release
Chrysler corp. was able to offer new car buyers a choice in their listing pleasure. The players
were made to mount on the bottom edge of the dash directly above the transmission hump and plug
directly into the car radio (top of the line radio of course). By pressing the button on the
front cover of the player the door to the player would be open. The turntable could then be
slid out to aid in loading the record. Flip the red switch on the left-hand side of the player
and the player is on bypassing the radio tuner. The amplifier circuit in the radio was used to
boost the signal from the player and volume, tone, balance, etc. were controlled by the regular
radio knobs. There were a few problems that needed to be dealt with for the players to work
properly in a car environment. Besides the obvious keeping the needle on the record. One of them
was safely operating the unit while driving! In order to fit the player had to be small so the
45-rpm record size was ideal. Only one problem you would have to change the record every few
minutes, this is not only a chore but also it would be dangerous while going down one of the new
superhighways at warp speed. So the new 16 2/3 rpm speed was used (ultra-microgroove) with the
7Ē format (same as 45s) but this would give extended long play and this also added the benefit
that the slower speed was less likely to kick up the needle. And with up to 60 minutes per side
of entertainment you could drive quite a distance. The records were also easy to load, unlike
the standard phonograph the tone arm was not lifted then lowered onto the start of the record.
The tone arm only swiveled across the record; the stylus (needle) was mounted on a pivot at the
end of the tone arm. And worked like a see saw with the stylus on one side and a red button on
the outside of the arm opposite the needle. By depressing the red button this would lift the
needle. Moving the tone arm over the record would start it spinning, when the bottom of the red
button would hit a stop next to the turntable the button would be released and the needle would
be placed in the starting groove. Then the turntable could be pushed back in and the front
cover closed. A light shining through a red plastic lens on the cover would inform the driver
that the player was working. Once you got used to it you could do it with out looking. Let me
now dispel a couple myths about these players 1. They were never mounted in the glove box 2.
The needle was not spring loaded to keep it on the records causing excess record wear
(plastic shavings on the floor give me a break!) 3. The records are thick to keep them from
warping inside the car in the summer not to make them last longer or keep them from jumping
when you hit a bump! If you were to order one of these on your new Chrysler, Desoto, Dodge or
Plymouth you received with it the first 6 records in the series in a box set, along with a
registration card and order form for more records and a carrying case. Only 36 were available
when the option first came out with an additional 6 added in early 1956 for a total of 42
available to the general public. The only other records that were made specifically for this
player were not intended for distribution to the general public were dealer demonstration
records. When a salesman would bring a prospective buyer out for a test drive in the option
loaded demo car these records would be put in the player and the customer would be told about
all the new bells and whistles by a strange voice coming from the radio speaker. I have seen
these for the 1956 cars only. Also available but not intended for this player are storybook
records that used the 16 2/3 rpm 7Ē format
Dealer demo records
there were dealer demo records available that told the prospective customer about the new features of the car through the record player as they drove. I currently have the Chrysler and Dodge demo records in my collection. they are one sided and came in plain white sleeves! the dodge record carries the #ZR120 and the Chrysler record caries the #ZR122. I have seen one for the Plymouth and it carries the #ZR12? I have never heard of one for the Desoto series and I can't believe that it would be the only sereis that did not get one.
I never even knew that they exsisted until I found two of them. I had the good fortune to locate a Gentalman that used to work for Columbia records. He was hired by Peter Goldmark (inventor of the Highway HI-FI) after World War II and was one of the service techs that would service the units in the field when they were having problems. He still had a player that he had used to practice and approx. 18 records. When I bought out his collection i recieved the test records with the package deal. He could not remember what was on them and I do not have a player at home that runs 16 2/3 rpm and my car is far from finished. they came in plain brown sleeves and were single sided like the demo records but with no label at all. one has the #ZRD688-1B and the other is #ZRD688-1C the number is melted into the record with a small stamp near the middle.
Click here to see a full list of the records that were available to the general public!
The option died at the beginning of the 1957 model year. It does show
up in some early model year literature and service bulletins. But getting info about things
like the proper brackets to mount them in 1957 model cars is a difficult task. I have heard
reports of them showing up in cars up to 1959 but they were no longer a factory approved option
as of the first part of 1957. The dealer could have easily installed one in a later car as long
as it had the top of line radio with proper plug receptacle on the side. Why did the option die
so soon? If you read between the lines on the service bulletins related to the player you can
see that they had service problems. After a short time the dealers were to send customers to
authorized radio repair shops instead of trying to fix the units themselves. My suspicions are
that this was not an idiot-proof machine. The record skipped when we went over the railroad
tracks doing 90, must be something wrong with it! I donít understand the road I use to go to
work was just paved in 1924 itís not rough! They work fine on good roads and on decent highways
but lets face it you canít go four wheeling with a record player and expect it not to skip!
Limited availability of records could not have helped either! Records had to be ordered from
Columbia records and of course only artists on contract with Columbia records were available!
Suggested additional reading material about the highway hi fi record player if you can find them!
Nos Highway Hi Fi
56 Desoto Install
Original Carry Case
Site Built: 04/01/00
Last Update: 02/17/08
Site Built: 04/01/00
Last Update: 01/28/01
These are common and sometimes uncommon ways to mis-spell the primary words on this site! I provide this as a service to the phonically challenged because they are people too! Or maybe they have a typing handicap like myself. Crysler, Chrystler, Christler, Desota, De Sota, Desotoe, Desoda, Dasoda, fibre, fibreglass hiway, hifi, krysler, Mo Par, Peddel, Peddal, Peddle, Plymoth, Plimoth, Plimouth,
Desotoe, Desoda, Dasoda, fibre, fibreglass hiway, hifi, krysler, Mo Par, Peddel, Peddal, Peddle, Plymoth , Plimoth, Plimouth,