ANTIQUE AUTOMOBILE RADIO, INC., began manufacturing car radio vibrators in 1982. The auto radios of the 30s, 40s and 50s were made by Motorola, Philco, Bendix, Sylvania, RCA, Zenith, Detrola, Wells-Gardner and others, all of whom had either gone out of business or turned their attention to other ventures, and had abandoned the old car market.
At that time, there were no new vibrators available, and the original ones had a life of about 18 months in regular service. We designed a solid state vibrator and produced it in metal cans with the same base and physical dimensions as the originals. The greatest benefit of the solid state design was its long service life. Indeed many of our first vibrators are still in regular service. Today we make over 60 different types of vibrators and ship to every corner of the globe.
As our dealer network expanded, we began to make other hard-to-find parts for older car radios. Dial glass and special speakers that are no longer used were added to our catalog.
As we developed new replacement parts, we were faced with a problem seemingly beyond our control. Our AM audience was leaving. The question our restoration shops and dealers were being asked was "Why bother to restore a radio when there is nothing being broadcast that I want to listen to?"
Our FM Solution
By 1988, we had a solution. We developed a tiny FM "front end" tuner that could be installed inside some radios to provide the FM band without changing the appearance or function of the original radio.
The original FM conversion was redesigned, refined and tweaked many times since then. It could be installed in any radio. It was still the same size as the original, but with the help of new surface mount technology had 3 times as many components. The increased circuit density allowed us to greatly improve performance and simplify installation. The "solution" created a new challenge. Many more radios were being restored than would have been if the FM option were not available. The supply of interstage and output transformers, germanium transistors and other exotic parts, which would be too expensive to tool in small quantities, was rapidly being used up. We designed the Mono 7 amplifier, a complete 7 watt RMS amplifier in a package about the size of the original Delco DS-501 output transistor. This eliminated the need for obsolete germanium output transistors and the hard-to-find output transformers they required.
The Stereo Conversion
With the input and output stages of the radio in production, the next logical step was to replace all of the original electronic circuitry with modern technology. In 1996 we introduced the Stereo Conversion. We use the same IC circuitry as other car radio manufacturers, but with a special interface to allow us to use the original controls and tuning mechanism.
The radio still looks, feels, and is operated the same way as it did when originally manufactured, but the similarity stops when you turn it on! With up to 180 watts RMS of output power and the capability to play in iPods, MP3 players, satellite receivers, or CD players, the performance is thrilling!
In 1994 we completed construction of our new manufacturing facility in Palm Harbor, Florida. We are justifiably proud of our state-of-the-art design and manufacturing capabilities. Our technical staff has over 100 years of combined car audio experience. We are continually evaluating new technologies that can be adapted to our customers' needs.