The Art of Singing at the Wheel

Buckle your seatbelt. Check your mirrors. And of course, get your music set up for the ride. From old school stereos to advanced blue tooth connections, vehicles have been private music venues almost since their inception.  For as long as people have been driving, they’ve been singing to the audience on the road at the top of their lungs.


The first car radio system was created by brothers Paul and Joseph Galvin for their company, Galvin Manufacturing Corporation, in 1930. Although immediately successful, car radios at the time cost a pretty penny, coming in at a whopping $130 – around $1700 by today’s standards. What was once considered a risky distraction soon took off, leading to the sale of millions of the radios. Eventually, the Galvin Manufacturing Corporation would adapt its identity to reflect its success, and become the company we now call Motorola.


After 22 years of only AM radio available to drivers, a German company known as Blaupunkt introduced the world’s first FM car radio. Their innovation was quickly followed by an AM and FM capable radio just a year later. But in 1956, Chrysler changed the tune yet again with the creation of the in-car phonograph, known then as the Highway Hi-Fi that allowed drivers to play records on the road. It was this year that Elvis Presley topped music charts across the country, ensuring that drivers all along Route 66 were crooning “Heartbreak Hotel” behind the wheel.


Once folks had the power to choose their tunes, the entire automotive world changed. The 1970s ushered in an era of in-car stereo set-ups with multiple speakers to enrich the sound. The lucrative industry soon resulted in the rise of the aftermarket stereo installations. The 80s and 90s were the era of the CD, featuring the wildly popular multi-disc set ups. Today, with the flexibility of aftermarket audio technologies, the possibilities are endless. 2011 brought the advent of the first ever iOS capable in-dash system, just in time for the breakout hit of the year, Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” From 1930 to 2011, in less than 100 years, the automotive world has completely changed its tune.

What do you like singing along to in the car? Tell us your favorites on Facebook and twitter!

Related Articles:

Family Road Trip Tips: How to Make Road Trips Fun

Driving in Tune

Singalong Road Trip Songs


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