Wednesday, August 10, 2011

There's a box from Canada next to my front door.

Whatever could it be?
I decided a while ago to stop boring you with pictures of boxes full of gaskets, seals, bearings and the like. After all, my dog was getting bored posing for the pics and that was about the only way I could make that stuff look interesting to anyone other than me (or that strange person down the street you happen to know who may be getting an old Studebaker back on the road.)

This one was different, though.

A few weeks ago, I made contact with a man from up the road in British Columbia, Carey, via the Studebaker Driver's Club Forum. Carey had discovered a radio from an old Studebaker amongst his Grandfather's old things and instead of throwing it out, decided to see if anyone could use it in their project. It had sat on a shelf since the 60's, but after a query discovered that it was from a 53 or 54 model so would be appropriate for my car. We had a few e-mails back and forth and he shipped the radio my way for evaluation. There's a lot to be said for good folks within the old car community, and I'm glad to be able to keep a little part of Carey's old family alive.

Here's what she'll look like in the dash. This is a pic of the one I received.
With the possible exception of the new horn button, this is the shiniest thing on/in my car right now. But unlike everything else in my cheap ol' car, this beast is the top of the line model--it was an $81 option back in the day, which, according to a inflation calculator I found online, would now be a hefty $684.77.  That's a lot for an AM radio, even if equipped with push buttons and 8 tubes.

Oh yes, I said tubes. This thing is pre-transistor, and it is huge.

13 lbs of glass and steel (and well, a little bit of fiberboard on the back side of things)
Those who have been following along faithfully are thinking, "But Dave, aren't you going to update the car to 12-volt negative ground with the engine swap?" The short answer is yes. But I have a couple of options with this system. Regardless of what I do, I'm going to have it gone through by experts. I'd hate to get my car finished only to have the radio catch fire (or, more likely, just not work properly--40-odd years is a long time to sit on a shelf.) While those experts are in there, they can either convert it to 12-volt negative ground during the rebuild, or they can simply replace the old tube electronics and substitute in a nice stereo AM/FM digital unit with iPod connectivity while still retaining the use of all the old controls. So I'd have the best of both worlds.

However, there is something about the warm sound of an old amplifier, combined with the distinctive smell of the tubes and the gentle crescendo of sound as the they come up to operating temperature. It is a unique experience that most of the drivers in the world today will likely never experience.

Utility over nostalgia? Boy, that's a tough one.

1 comment:

  1. Don't do it Dave! Leave the radio be! Warm tubes! Ozone! AM! ....

    unless however you plug it in and the radio doesn't work. In that case I guess it would be ok to tear out the guts and put in a modern radio, but I'd cry a little.