Motorola Car Radio

Long before Motorola was known for cell phones, it was manufacturing car radios. I am hanging on to this one as a shelf-sitter because it has such a great vintage look about it:

Motorola began in Illinois as Galvin Manufacturing Corp. in the 1920s. The name “Motorola” was developed for its car radios by combining “motor” with “Victrola” to imply sound in motion. The first radio they installed in an automobile was manufactured in the spring of 1930. At that time they were handmade and only five per day were produced. By the second year of production they were able to make 25 per day. In a 1939 newspaper article, Victor A. Irvine of Galvin Manufacturing said that those first Motorola radios took as long to install as they did to produce as the process was virtually an engineering job:

“The entire top of a car had to be ripped out. The chicken-wire netting which supported the car roof had to be cut out and completely insulated so as to provide an aerial. The leads were hand shielded down to the set and all parts of the car had to be bonded and grounded. Motor noise was a terrific thing and could not be entirely eliminated even with the use of spark plug suppressors.”

According to this ad, the process had improved by 1932:

My Motorola Model 505 dates to the 1940s. It had 6 tubes, a manual control and a separate speaker. A variety of different control heads were made to fit the instrument panel of most cars, and, in fact, another 1939 story stated that Motorola had 300 different control heads available to fit any make. In addition to my 505, there was a cheaper 405 and more expensive models 605 and 705. The 705 featured push buttons, eight tubes and was poetically named the “Golden Voice”.

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