Pony cars, muscle cars — and eight-track tapes
Americans wanted even more power, speed and engine size, and they go it with the introduction of the so-called “pony” cars such as the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and Dodge Charger.
When the Camaro was introduced, its press conference was a first: On June 28, 1966, General Motors held a live press conference attended by journalists in 14 cities by telephone. Muscle cars (high-performance hot rods), which had been introduced in the 1950s, brought young drivers into the showrooms of the 1960s. The 1960s also saw the rise of “bucket seats.”
And eight-track tapes. That’s a play-back technology associated with cars from 1965 to the late 1970s. It was developed not by the auto industry, but by William Powell Lear and a leading aircraft manufacturer of the time, Learjet. In fact, the Learjet Stereo 8 player was designed for convenience and safety, with minimal knobs and controls that allowed the driver to focus on the road.
Eight-tracks were a big success – but only for a short while. Radio, of course, was more enduring. A number of manufacturers introduced transistors to car radios in the early 1960s, but Becker’s Monte Carlo was the first to be fully “solid state”—that is, no vacuum tubes.
Car stereo became available in 1969 with Becker’s Europa, which used a tuner that amplified two channels rather than one.
Show above, the inner workings of an eight-track tape cassette