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What Ever Happened to the Goose Neck?

I absolutely fell in love all over again when I came across an old photo of a Blaupunkt radio with the famous goose neck extension – the hottest car stereo in the world!

More specifically, it was the picture below that lit my fire:

This is from a Blaupunkt brochure, sometime around 1976. Simply übercool.

There are of course several reasons for that. The image itself has that delicious innocent quality which old advertisements often have – at least when there were no ladies in them. But I can certainly also relate to the content of the picture.

First of all, I actually remember the swan neck from when I was a kid in the Seventies. Hence the headline and hence my claim that it was the world’s hottest. That’s how I remember it. If there was a goose neck in a car, you could be sure that the owner was a real man. This honestly has almost nothing to do with the unquestionable ergonomic advantages: Blaupunkt even advertised it as “Das Autoradio, das zum Lenkrad kommt” – that is, “the radio that comes up to the steering wheel”. Amazing, really!

Before the goose neck, you would have to fumble around the radio itself. How primitive. But again – at least we are looking at a beautiful photo. Nice car as well.

And it really was a huge improvement and a brilliant idea: It actually took many, many years before the car manufacturers found out where to place the car radios in order for it to be easier to operate them, and without obstacles in the way – such as a gear lever. And no, radios should not be placed up under the roof! And yes, the owner of a goose neck equipped car was necessarily very male – no women would drive with such a fallos symbol, right?

The driving gloves are another thing on the picture which caught my attention – the colour, the raw structure of the leather and the externally placed seams are similar to my own gloves. Mine, however, have the classic punched holes, but that doesn’t ruin the illusion for me – it could actually be my finger in the photo, I thought. Especially because the ventilation system in the background reveals the car as being a Mercedes.

It was basically a simple idea, and Blaupunkt developed it further for many seasons – here’s a post-1980 vintage, where the design has already been modernised. Please note the name: “Berlin 8000 Super-Arimat”. Equipped with “SALS”: “Störgeräusch-Abhängige-Lautsterk-Steuerung”. Controlled by microelectronics. AAArrgh, I MUST HAVE that!

A Mercedes? Yes, and I then examined the picture closer and found that it originates from a Blaupunkt Autoradio Catalogue from about 1976. Aha! I then came across a website with a lot of these catalogues (really – there are websites for that as well! I wonder if they have rallies and meetings like we do in the classic car world?), and found that the oldest radio with the goose neck was to be found in the 1973 catalogue. Aha again! 1973 was the earliest occurrence I found, but the phenomenon stayed at the very top of fashion all the way through the seventies – as I recall it. That’s why a goose neck would actually be perfect for my Mercedes SLC, which dates back to 1972 and has had a bodykit fitted at a slightly later date. I think one would compliment the other.

And then I finally found the catalogue page from which the top image originates. This is the first picture in the gallery below, and as everyone can see – the top of the page illustrates a gold-coloured Mercedes SLC, shown in detail below.

Heureka!

So THAT’s why I felt so fascinated by the goose neck – the fabolous Seventies fad was practically designed for my car. It almost belongs to my car. It’s fate, it’s the right thing to do and I simply MUST  have one!

It’s obvious, so obvious. There is just one minuscule problem: the Blaupunkt Berlin was apparently the world’s most expensive radio – which Blaupunkt gladly boasted about in their advertising. But maybe less than a Berlin could suffice? Maybe, as the swan neck could of course be connected to other radios too. I did some more searching, but it didn’t really help much as it turns out that it’s the goose neck itself which is especially difficult to find in good working order. This is especially true for the very first version, which was simpler and clearer in its design. Later they came with more features: VU meters, even digital output and more – but that’s no longer fitting for a 1972 Mercedes SLC.

A reader recently commented on my purchase of the Mercedes SLC, that it’s not a cheap car to buy parts for. I had not really anticipated that this also applies to the radio.

So Blaupunkts were obviously the hottest of the Seventies. But are there alternatives? Or is there perhaps still a goose neck in perfect unused condition with original wrapping, tucked away in a reader’s closet somewhere? Or maybe at the house of the father of said reader? If so, I have the perfect car for it.

Below you will find a gallery of early goose necks and some of their successors, as well as examples of the cars they were mounted in:

3 Responses

  1. Anders Bilidt
    Claus, please ensure you find two as-new Blaupunkt Berlin complete with goose neck and all. Yes, you obviously need one in your’72 M-B SLC, as do I in my ’74 BMW 3.0S.
    Ehrmmm… that is, if I ever manage to get her back on the road again…
    Reply
  2. Anders Bilidt
    Congrats Claus! – good find. ;-)
    It’ll look so right in your SLC.
    Now please find a second one for me – it might actually spur me on to finally get my E3 back on the road…
    Reply

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