SEMA News—June 2014
By Drew Hardin
Photo Courtesy Petersen Archives
Be Your Own Disc Jockey!
If you think texting while driving is a distraction, imagine changing 45-rpm records while barreling down the highway.
“Wherever you go, listen to your favorite sounds by being your own disc jockey,” wrote Bud Lang in this Car Craft magazine how-to from 1963. “At the drags, beach, mountains or while just cruising around with the guys or your favorite chick, you can now play your own 45-rpm platters on an automatic reject record [ARC] changer that is designed for genuine driving pleasure.”
The design of the ARC actually made operation less distracting than it looks from the photo. The changer would hold up to 14 records, and the “special High Fidelity ceramic cartridge” made contact with the records from the bottom of the stack, a feature that “…lets you drive and play without the tone arm skipping and jumping.” Once a record was over, it dropped onto a rubber cushion in the bottom of the unit and the next record was ready to play.
The ARC’s “compact size…permits installation in a variety of compact and sports cars in addition to the larger, standard size family sedan,” Lang wrote. “Compact” in 1963 was a little different from what we consider compact now. The ARC measured nearly a foot across, 9 inches deep and 6 inches high. That’s bigger than the toaster sitting on your kitchen counter.
Installation was fairly straightforward: Burly straps held the chrome-plated player to the underside of the dash, and it wired into the car’s existing radio and speakers. Changers for 12- and 6-volt systems were offered at the time.
Yes, it looks clunky compared to today’s sophisticated in-car entertainment systems. And when was the last time you played a 45? But the ARC’s goal—“the finest in music, uninterrupted by commercials and fade-outs,” as Lang wrote—wasn’t any different from what we have now with satellite radio, streaming audio and music players jacked into onboard ports. It just took a while for the tech to catch up.