An Introduction To The Wonder Bar Radio
First introduced in the late 1940s by the Delco division of the General Motors (GM) company, the Wonder Bar radio was one of the earliest car radios capable of seeking out the next strong signal, effectively allowing you to instantly switch stations with the touch of a button – or a bar on the radio itself.
The auto-seek function worked a lot differently than the ones found on modern radios, but the basic concept was the same. There was also a sensitivity knob that allowed the driver to determine what fidelity strength they wanted to skip between.
After dialing in a setting, the rest of the task was handled by a simple press of the Wonder Bar, triggering the radio’s ability to skip to the next signal that matched the chosen fidelity. The driver could then continue pressing the bar until finding a station of their liking.
Most radios these days have a purely electronic auto-seek functionality, and it is a feature that is largely taken for granted. Modern radios are able to seek forwards and backwards, and there’s no need for a sensitivity setting at all. Vintage radios like this were amazing in their use of technology of the times.
The Wonder Bar radio was truly revolutionary in its design, and it easily helped pave the way for the highly convenient radio station seeking features most automobile and even standalone radios are equipped with today.
While these radios are now relatively scarce given technological advancements, their place in car history can not be forgotten.
Many drivers of old cars opt to replace the vintage radios with more modern sound systems, but there are those purists who still appreciate the Wonder Bar given its crucial historical value, and just plain coolness!