Author Topic: 1959 AM/FM Factory Radio Authentic?  (Read 1192 times)

Offline Supercruiser

  • Posts: 26
  • Name: Andy McCulloch
1959 AM/FM Factory Radio Authentic?
« on: December 29, 2021, 02:25:06 PM »
Hello Everyone.  I have been a Cadillac owner for over 35 years as well as a Cadillac & LaSalle Club member for a long time but never really signed up online as a user until now (although I did read posts occasionally).  I was doing some research on the radio in my 1959 Coupe Deville and can't seem to find a definitive answer.  Here is the situation:     9 years ago I bought my 1959 Coupe Deville from the estate of a deceased Cadillac dealer in TN.  He had purchased it from the Alfred P Sloan Museum years before and the museum had dome a full restoration back in the late 1980's using NOS parts (even the exhaust system is NOS with original GM part numbers embossed in them which is amazing!)  Anyway, the car had originally belonged to the owner of St. Claire Motor Company in San Jose, CA who special ordered it new in late 1958.  It seems to be equipped with a lot of options that are quite unusual including cruise control (I believe first year available), A/C, power windows including power vent windows, power seat with memory sets, 3X2 Bbl carbs, Eldorado trim and most interesting of all is what appears to be a factory AM/FM radio (no stereo).  I was not aware that this was even available in 1959 and although some manufacturers did make AM/FM radios back then like Bosch and Becker for Mercedes, everything I see online says that GM didn't have AM/FM available until around 1963.  The radio looks factory stock and functions perfectly through the factory speakers including the power antenna control which is actuated by pulling out or pushing in the tuning knob.  At first I thought this might be a 1963 or 1964 AM/FM radio that had been transplanted into the 59 but I have read online that the 63/64 radios are not a direct fit for the 59-62 Cadillacs although I am not sure how correct that is.  It does have the factory 1959 knobs on it but I guess these could be fitted to a 63/64 radio.  I have included a picture of the unit below.  Is this in fact a 63/64 unit?  Or could it be some very rare GM radio that the original dealer got a hold of?  The car was meticulously restored back in the day with attention to originality and detail and still looks museum quality today.  The unit works perfectly so I have not messed with it.  Any information or assistance would be much appreciated.  Thanks!
« Last Edit: December 29, 2021, 02:34:10 PM by Supercruiser »

Offline Big Fins

  • Posts: 1805
  • CLC Number: 22631
  • Name: John Serio
Re: 1959 AM/FM Factory Radio Authentic?
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2021, 02:37:05 PM »
Current:
1976 Eldorado Convertible in Crystal Blue FireMist with white interior and top.
1969 Fleetwood Brougham in Chalice Gold FireMist with matching interior and top.

Past and much missed:
1977 Brougham de Elegance
1976 Eldorado Convertible
1972 Fleetwood Brougham
1971 Sedan de Ville
1970 de Ville Convertible
1969 Sedan de Ville
1959 Sedan deVille

Offline Eric DeVirgilis CLC# 8621

  • Posts: 7039
  • Name: Eric DeVirgilis
Re: 1959 AM/FM Factory Radio Authentic?
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2021, 03:20:32 PM »
FM became optionally available in 1963. However the AM-FM units did not have the automatic signal seeking feature of the AM-only set and were solid state while the AM radio was vacuum tube. If sound appears immediately after switching on the radio (without the ~10 second warm up delay), it's solid state. 

While it is true that radios of different model years/styling generations will often not interchange despite obvious visual similarities between them, I cannot definitively say that a 63/64 radio will NOT fit a '59 dash. If it does not, then it's possible that a 63/64 set was modified by swapping faceplates enabling fitment to the '59 dash.

Also note that on the 63/64 radio, the "AM" indicator lights up red; "FM" lights up green. On later-60s AM-FM radios, both the "AM" and "FM" indicators are amber.   

FAR more interesting is the MEMORY SEAT item you mention which was exclusive to the Eldorado Brougham of 1957 & 1958 only.  Please post a picture of the memory seat controls when you can and also a picture of the body tag (on cowl). That could change the story of the radio completely.     
A Cadillac Motorcar is a Possession for which there is no Acceptable Substitute

Offline Supercruiser

  • Posts: 26
  • Name: Andy McCulloch
Re: 1959 AM/FM Factory Radio Authentic?
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2021, 04:50:55 PM »
Thanks for the update.  I have included a picture of my cowl tag but it does not seem to have all codes on it.  For instance, my car has the Autronic Eye but that is not listed on the tag.  I also have factory cruise control which again is not listed on the tag.  Nothing on the tag indicates anything about radios.  FYI, the radio displays "AM" or "FM" both in red when you switch between them not green and red as mentioned above.  Again, this car was special ordered by one of the biggest Cadillac dealers in California at the time for his own personal use so I suppose he could have had the service department add any number of options he wanted but the OE appearing AM/FM radio is still a mystery.  Is it possible to get a complete build sheet on the car either from this forum or another source?

Offline gkhashem

  • Posts: 1118
  • CLC Number: 26576
  • Name: George K Hashem
Re: 1959 AM/FM Factory Radio Authentic?
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2021, 05:04:41 PM »
That radio looks like the AM-FM mono radio that I had in my 1966. Minus the knobs which are easy to swap it.

The power antenna was extended by the knobs, so if it fits into the dash and the wiring harness is similar no reason why it would not work.

It would have to be a mono AM-FM not a stereo.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2021, 05:13:06 PM by gkhashem »
1959 Oldsmobile 98 Holiday Sports Sedan
1964 Oldsmobile 98 Town Sedan (OCA 1st)
1970 GMC C1500
1977 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Coupe
1978 Cadillac Coupe Deville (Sr Crown #959)*
1984 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royal Brgham Coupe (OCA 1st)
1991 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo (OCA 1st)
1991 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz (Sr #838)
1992 Oldsmobile 98
1996 Oldsmobile 98
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Offline bcroe

  • Posts: 3895
Re: 1959 AM/FM Factory Radio Authentic?
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2021, 05:06:22 PM »
My money says it is a 63 up all transistor radio, adapted to the car. 
For 59 the vibrator had been eliminated with 12V plate operating
tubes, and a power transistor audio output.  I have not seen the 12V
plate tubes used on an FM set.  It would have been quite a
development and mostly wasted, as all transistor FM sets would be
used in 4 years.  Bruce Roe

Offline Supercruiser

  • Posts: 26
  • Name: Andy McCulloch
Re: 1959 AM/FM Factory Radio Authentic?
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2021, 05:19:54 PM »
These are good points as I suspect it must be a radio from a later model.  Is is NOT a stereo unit so it could be a mono AM/FM deck as mentioned above.  The power antenna is operated by pulling out or pushing in the tuner knob.  Again, I don't know how easily a 1963 or later deck would fit into a 59 dash but it appears factory with no mods.  Maybe it is just as simple as changing the bezel and knobs?  I assume the knob spacing did not change between 1959 and 63+?

Offline Eric DeVirgilis CLC# 8621

  • Posts: 7039
  • Name: Eric DeVirgilis
Re: 1959 AM/FM Factory Radio Authentic?
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2021, 05:22:37 PM »
Thanks for the update.  I have included a picture of my cowl tag but it does not seem to have all codes on it.  For instance, my car has the Autronic Eye but that is not listed on the tag.  I also have factory cruise control which again is not listed on the tag.  Nothing on the tag indicates anything about radios.  FYI, the radio displays "AM" or "FM" both in red when you switch between them not green and red as mentioned above.  Again, this car was special ordered by one of the biggest Cadillac dealers in California at the time for his own personal use so I suppose he could have had the service department add any number of options he wanted but the OE appearing AM/FM radio is still a mystery.  Is it possible to get a complete build sheet on the car either from this forum or another source?

Radio, Q-engine (3x2 carb), Air Suspension, Optional Axle (Ratio) Cruise Control, Autronic Eye, Fog Lights are not listed on the body tag. 

In official factory ordering materials, "Special Order" specifically refers to a car that was ordered in nonstandard production paint colors and/or interior trim. When this is the case, the PAINT or TRIM code has the prefix "SO" followed by the body number.  I don't question the car was "ordered" but nothing on the tag indicates this to be a Special Order car.

What about the memory seat?

Yes build sheets (technically the "Cars Built" sheet) is available through Allied Vaughan. You need to provide the Serial Number and the cost is $50.

http://www.gmmediaarchive.com/?page=3
« Last Edit: December 30, 2021, 05:36:44 PM by Eric DeVirgilis CLC# 8621 »
A Cadillac Motorcar is a Possession for which there is no Acceptable Substitute

Offline Clewisiii

  • Posts: 561
  • CLC Number: 32323
  • Name: Carl Crittenden
Re: 1959 AM/FM Factory Radio Authentic?
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2021, 07:37:30 PM »
What year did it leave the Sloan.  A friend of mine runs the GM Factory 1 museum in Flint and does a lot of work with Sloan and the Buick Gallery here in town.  I can reach out to him to ask if he has contacts or can find any information on their end.
"My interest is in the future, because I am going to spend the rest of my life there."  Charles Kettering

Offline Supercruiser

  • Posts: 26
  • Name: Andy McCulloch
Re: 1959 AM/FM Factory Radio Authentic?
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2021, 07:49:56 PM »
I believe he purchased it from the Sloan Museum around 2000 or shortly after but I don't have the bill of sale from that purchase so I can't be certain.  I have a picture of the car in the museum dated 1995 and it was also shown in a book published in 1996 if that helps.

Offline Clewisiii

  • Posts: 561
  • CLC Number: 32323
  • Name: Carl Crittenden
Re: 1959 AM/FM Factory Radio Authentic?
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2021, 07:52:36 PM »
Can you share a picture of the car.
"My interest is in the future, because I am going to spend the rest of my life there."  Charles Kettering

Offline Supercruiser

  • Posts: 26
  • Name: Andy McCulloch
Re: 1959 AM/FM Factory Radio Authentic?
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2021, 09:30:07 PM »
Yes here are two pictures of the car.  I added the Cadillac wire wheels and bias look radial tires but I still have the original wheels and covers.

Offline 76eldo

  • Posts: 6651
  • CLC Number: 22443
  • Name: Brian Rachlin
Re: 1959 AM/FM Factory Radio Authentic?
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2021, 10:28:19 PM »
There is a way to adapt a later Am Fm radio to a 59/60.
An older gent caddy mechanic offered to sell me a radio that was converted for my 60. I’m Not talking about a gut job with modern internals, I am talking about a 60’s caddy fm radio set up to fit a 59/60. So that’s most likely what you have.

As far as the rest of it many accessories can be added at the dealer level.

Your car is very interesting and attractive.

Welcome to our online community.
Brian Rachlin
Huntingdon Valley, Pa
CLC # 22443
I prefer email's not PM's rachlin@comcast.net

1960 62 Series Conv with Factory Tri Power
1970 DeVille Conv
1970 Eldo
1970 Caribu (?) "The Cadmino"
1973 Eldorado Conv Pace Car
1976 Eldorado Conv
1980 Eldorado H & E Conv
1993 Allante with Hardtop (X2)
2008 DTS
2012 CTS Coupe
2017 XT
1956 Thunderbird
1966 Olds Toronado

Offline wrench

  • Posts: 999
  • CLC Number: 27930
  • Name: Jim Cullen
Re: 1959 AM/FM Factory Radio Authentic?
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2021, 11:14:43 PM »
Some interesting history on the FM band...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FM_broadcasting_in_the_United_States

Well, that link was an internet black hole where I somehow lost an hour and went on a very interesting journey. Thanks for posting…

I also really enjoyed the discussion of the radio features and operation in the discussion.

Anyway, I don’t know much  about 1959 Cadillacs other than the pop culture version.

I have to say in the first pic of the whole car with the lighting on the extra trim on those fins, it really highlights the space age science fiction rocket thing of those taillights…not something I really noticed before. In that pic it looks like Buck Rogers is flying through space with a wing man.

And then, of course, they go over the top with the dual Batmobile turbine outlets just below that on the rear bumper. Completing the whole rocket sled motif.

But I digress.

Carry on 59ers.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2021, 11:17:19 PM by wrench »
1951 Series 62 Sedan
1969 Eldorado
1970 Eldorado (Triple Black w/power roof)
1958 Apache 3/4 ton 4x4
2005 F250
2014 FLHP
2014 SRX

Offline bcroe

  • Posts: 3895
Re: 1959 AM/FM Factory Radio Authentic?
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2021, 12:47:01 AM »
Quote from: wrench
Well, that link was an internet black hole where I somehow lost an hour and went on a very interesting journey. Thanks for posting…

I also really enjoyed the discussion of the radio features and operation in the discussion.

I actually repaired one of those dual FM band radios for my aunt in
the 60s, also swapped the 78 for a 3 speed record changer.  And my
tuning channel 1 TV is in the other room.  Bruce Roe

Offline Big Fins

  • Posts: 1805
  • CLC Number: 22631
  • Name: John Serio
Re: 1959 AM/FM Factory Radio Authentic?
« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2021, 05:46:30 AM »
Pretty car, but it appears to be a mix of a few different models. It's badged with Series 62 fender badging, Coupe deVille script on the rear, Fleetwood/Eldorado 'V's' in the reverse lite pods, chrome blister mouldings and not sure of what else. I wonder what the wheel covers looked like?

But...you can park it in my garage!  ;)
Current:
1976 Eldorado Convertible in Crystal Blue FireMist with white interior and top.
1969 Fleetwood Brougham in Chalice Gold FireMist with matching interior and top.

Past and much missed:
1977 Brougham de Elegance
1976 Eldorado Convertible
1972 Fleetwood Brougham
1971 Sedan de Ville
1970 de Ville Convertible
1969 Sedan de Ville
1959 Sedan deVille

Offline Big Fins

  • Posts: 1805
  • CLC Number: 22631
  • Name: John Serio
Re: 1959 AM/FM Factory Radio Authentic?
« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2021, 05:48:46 AM »
Well, that link was an internet black hole where I somehow lost an hour and went on a very interesting journey. Thanks for posting…

I also really enjoyed the discussion of the radio features and operation in the discussion.


It made my brain hurt.
Current:
1976 Eldorado Convertible in Crystal Blue FireMist with white interior and top.
1969 Fleetwood Brougham in Chalice Gold FireMist with matching interior and top.

Past and much missed:
1977 Brougham de Elegance
1976 Eldorado Convertible
1972 Fleetwood Brougham
1971 Sedan de Ville
1970 de Ville Convertible
1969 Sedan de Ville
1959 Sedan deVille

Offline Michael Petti

  • Posts: 276
  • Name: M Petti
Re: 1959 AM/FM Factory Radio Authentic?
« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2021, 06:23:41 AM »
Is it possible that you have an aftermarket radio? Back in the day there were many aftermarket radios that advertised "looks and fits" like original but were new AM/FM radios replacing the AM only radio. If it's really important you could pull it and see if there ae any identifying markings like model number or manufacturer on it. If it were me, I'd use it and enjoy that beautiful car.

Offline fishnjim

  • Posts: 2431
  • Name: J. Bozin
Re: 1959 AM/FM Factory Radio Authentic?
« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2021, 11:34:36 AM »
I'd get a copy of the build sheet from the GM Heritage center archive, et al.   It should list all the options as built.   About the only way to tell, since the history is undocumented.   No sense guessing.

There wasn't much call for FM in the '50s, because there weren't many FM stations early on.    Once it caught on, it was offered.   The interstate system came with the '60s and helped as longer range signals were needed.   You had to switch AM channels frequently or not have sound for long periods way from the cities, much like the early days of cellular service, roaming charges, blackouts, etc..
We didn't know we were tuned into the primordial big bang hum, back then, we called it "static".   But it wasn't static either, it was dynamic.

Offline bcroe

  • Posts: 3895
1959 AM/FM Factory Radio Authentic?
« Reply #19 on: December 30, 2021, 11:53:27 AM »
Quote from: fishnjim
We didn't know we were tuned into the primordial big bang hum, back then, we called it "static".   

The ignition noise of a car usually over rides any other interference.  It is
possible to completely suppress ignition, generator, and other motor
interference, but what good does that do when you are surrounded with
un suppressed cars?  But FM is less noise sensitive.  Bruce Roe

 

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