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Cold Start: “Outside Sources”

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I’m not certain if this 1974 Ford Thunderbird brochure is the first to prominently feature a car phone, but it has to be one of the first, at least in terms of a mass-market car from a major carmaker. The phone here was very much a prop, as the copy of the brochure only notes that the telephone is available from “outside sources,” and Ford couldn’t be bothered to give any more details. I kind of suspect the phone shown here was just the handset an cord from a regular landline phone, but I can’t really prove that, at least not yet.

Car phones, using a combination of radio and normal telephone lines, have been around since the mid ’40s, though back then the equipment was pretty significant and consumed a decent chunk of a car’s trunk. Here’s an old video explaining how it worked, along with a lot of hilariously stilted conversations:

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Vidframe Min Bottom

This probably deserves more than just a Cold Start, but I couldn’t help talking about it a bit. Anyway, welcome to a new week.

 

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Dodsworth
Dodsworth
2 years ago

I love that picture! It reminds me of the cover art to an old VHS tape I used to have.

Ted Sheppard
Ted Sheppard
2 years ago

All I know is my grandmother had one of these. She picked me up from school one day, and this was way before anyone bothered with seat belts. She was showing off and I kept sliding across that bench seat like it was oiled. Think I dislocated a shoulder or something.

Chris Hoffpauir
Chris Hoffpauir
2 years ago

The show I always think of when I see an old radio car phone is Cannon, with William Conrad. He was always driving around in his big Lincolns, which were always equipped with Motorola mobile phones.

He rarely made a call while driving. He was usually parked in some scenic location near the crime scene, pick up the phone and tell the operator to dial a number for him. Man, that was the height of ’70s technology!

Justin Short
Justin Short
2 years ago

That’s what I remember as well.

Dusty Hornblower
Dusty Hornblower
2 years ago

Whatever it is it looks relaxing but that might just be the combination of high dose Valium and a lunch of vodka martinis.

DysLexus
DysLexus
2 years ago

Wait that’s NOT a phone at all. It’s an old-fashioned corded “vibrating device” plugged into the cigarette lighter. Simple battery powered ones were developed in subsequent years.

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
2 years ago

Screw the phone – look at that sumptuous whorehouse-red interior.

I miss interiors that came in, you know, colors. Options besides “dirty dishwater,” “greyge,” and black.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 years ago

The only better thing was when it wasn’t leather, but red velour with red plastic/vinyl trim.

Oldsmobile in the ’80s was the king of this.

Donald Petersen
Donald Petersen
2 years ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

I had a ’76 Mustang II Ghia with the half-vinyl top, opera windows, and that selfsame scarlet velour upholstery. Was like driving around in a Turkish bordello. To this day I miss that car, at the very least its genuinely sumptuous interior.

marathag
marathag
2 years ago

My ’75 Elite had the padded vinyl and all the other ‘Personal Luxury’ highlights of the Pimperific ’70s

Chris Hoffpauir
Chris Hoffpauir
2 years ago
Reply to  marathag

We had a ’74 Elite. That was one fine Malaise Era engineering.

Chris Hoffpauir
Chris Hoffpauir
2 years ago

One fine example of Malaise Era engineering.

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
2 years ago

My dad says his favorite car he ever owned was his 1977 Thunderbird. Black over red velour. I loved it too. That was a handsome ride in the disco days.

Michael Rothbaum
Michael Rothbaum
2 years ago

(Left) Leather seating surfaces with vinyl trim pictured in Auto-da-fé Red, included standard in the Torquemada Accent Package (SI-1492).

marathag
marathag
2 years ago

Never did have the proper De Sade package for the Full sized Merc Marquis, though my 2door with the 429 PI came close

Chris Hoffpauir
Chris Hoffpauir
2 years ago

Let’s face it, you can’t Torquemada anything!

Jimlovesfords
Jimlovesfords
2 years ago

I thought she was holding a CB mic, which would have been right on target tech wise for 1974

K Sheff
K Sheff
2 years ago

Mannix’ mobile secretary. Peggy getting carsick just ruins the mood as well as the interior of the car.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 years ago
Reply to  K Sheff

It’s unfortunate we can’t post pics (yet?), b/c Bosley very much tooled around in bottle green mid-’70s T-bird and frequently used his car phone to call the Angels on theirs, mounted in various Mustang IIs!

Nic Periton
Nic Periton
2 years ago

The early car phone coverage was woeful.
In the early 1960’s the UK prime minister (Harold MacMillan) did not have a phone in his Rolls and the problem of contacting him in case of nuclear war was a tricky one. AA patrolmen had radio pagers, the pager would go off, the patrolman would then make his way to a public telephone box, ring head office and receive directions to a stranded motorist.
The Prime ministers driver was issued with an AA pager, so, should the Russians launch an attack, the PM would go to a phone box and authorise a retaliatory strike. So as to save valuable time in the event that the four minute warning was sounded the driver was issued with four pennies( the cost of a call), thereby removing the need to reverse the charges.

James Mitchell
James Mitchell
2 years ago

She looks like the Valium just kicked in.

Chris Hoffpauir
Chris Hoffpauir
2 years ago
Reply to  James Mitchell

Or maybe ‘ludes.

05LGT
05LGT
2 years ago

More about how she’s holding that phone and her posture suggests that you’re about to find out why those armrests fold up. I’m pretty sure the only reason that phone is in that brochure that features an inset of the front seat is so she has something to hold just like that. It’s marketing. What sells?

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
2 years ago

In the 60’s a neighbor was a contractor who always had sweet cars. Cadillac..T-Bird..so forth. One day he showed up with a phone in the car. We kids were in awe.
Didn’t have it very long as I recall as it was hella expensive to use.

Fruit Snack
Fruit Snack
2 years ago

“What a way to go” is not as great a tag line as they thought it was. Reminding people that they could die in your cars doesn’t seem like something you want to evoke.

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
2 years ago
Reply to  Fruit Snack

Besides that, the interior is very much like the inside of a casket to my eye. Can’t say why, exactly. I’ve never seen a red casket lining, but something about this…..

Drew
Drew
2 years ago
Reply to  Balloondoggle

It’s the pillow look. The seat cushions with the big soft buttons look like the padding in a casket.

Old Busted Hotness
Old Busted Hotness
2 years ago

Looks like she’s saying “Do you mind? I’m talking to my boyfriend. HE has a Mercury.”

DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
2 years ago

It’s definitely her back door man with the Comet.

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