Mystery solved: Remember the 8 Track FM radio converter?

Sunday morning, I attended the Sainte-Foy flea market in Québec City. When I’m in QC, I love attending this particular market because of the amazing variety of things for sale. It’s a proper community event.

As I was browsing the various tables, I happened upon one of these:

Talk about a blast from the past!

Yesterday, I posted a cropped photo of this radio and it was quickly identified as an 8 Track FM radio converter by Ken (N2VIP). Steve Yothment found the same unit under a different brand and Bill Lee even found a Futura branded unit on the Internet. Of course, many others figured out this was an 8 Track to FM radio converter. Impressive sleuthing!

These radio tuners were popular in the days of the mobile 8 Track players–in that time period right before FM was standard in car radios, but 8 Track was somewhat prevalent.

My father had a similar FM radio converter for his 1966 Chevy pickup. As a kid, I thought the thing was fascinating! You simply inserted the unit into the 8 Track player and voilá!, FM radio!

I never quite understood how the FM reception was so decent considering there was no external antenna of any sort.

The rear of the converter looks like an 8 Track cartridge minus the magnetic tape.

Taking a closer look at this particular FUTURA brand converter, I’m impressed with the number of features on such a compact front end:

  • Analog FM dial
  • Red LED stereo tuning indicator
  • AFC OFF/ON switch
  • DX/Local switch
  • A wide, vertically-oriented tuning knob

I’m curious: how many Post readers had an 8 track FM radio converter in their vehicle? Or, did you ever have an Audio Cassette to 8 Track converter? Please comment! Also, you should check out some of the comments from our previous post.

And thanks for being sports about my “Mystery radio challenge“–I knew savvy Post readers would ID this tuner in no time!

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10 thoughts on “Mystery solved: Remember the 8 Track FM radio converter?

  1. mlewisariz

    Power is from the 8track unit via contacts on left front. The side plugin port is for a”Y” antenna lead,one side which goes to radio.then the car antenna plugs into the other side of the “Y” .

    Reply
  2. Harold thomas

    Have a Boman Asttrosonix and there is a place to plug in what I would assume would be 12 volt power, anybody know if this is right?

    Reply
  3. Lin

    Yes, I have an Alaron Fm eight track converter as pictured that I got as new back about 45 yrs ago as well. Last that I knew it worked. Usedbit until I got a car that had FM radio. I would like to sell it. $50 on the barrel head, plus shipping. Paypal only. Anyone interested let me know.

    Reply
  4. Keith Perron

    When I saw this I laughed. I know where there are two new ones that have never been used. They are sitting in a display case at Sangean’s head office in Yonghe. Back before Sangean marketed their own products overseas they only did OEM for Philips, SONY, Panasonic, Radio Shack and so on. This was one of their old OEM products. Companies like Audiovox and others would just add their own name on it.

    Some of them said Made in the US. But something that has been done in manufacturing for decades when products are made by OEMs. An example would be the SONY ICF2010. Would be to have the radio come at SONY as parts from Taiwan, but then assembled in Japan. So SONY could put the Made in Japan label on them.

    There were also other versions of this thing. One FM like whats posted here. One for cassettes and one that had FM and cassette.

    Reply
  5. Mario

    I had the FM converter just like the one in the post, but do not remember the make. It was in my ’63 Plymouth Valiant – the car with the push button transmission selector.

    Reply
    1. Harold thomas

      Did it require an outside power source? I have picked up a Bowman Astrosomix and it has a side plug in up front.

      Reply
  6. Ed McCorry

    As I mentioned I had one of the FM adapters in my 69 Bonneville. Prior to going back to Vietnam I bought a 68 Camaro and of course it only had an AM radio as did everything else in those days. While overseas I noticed that the BX had a Craig-Pioneer 8 track, with a built in FM stereo unit for floor mounting. When I got back I had it mounted on the transmission hump just behind the stick shift. The neat thing about it was that it had a mounting plate that the unit slid onto and had a locking mechanism with a magnetic key! It was easy to slide the unit off the plate and throw it in the trunk especially since the car was a ragtop. There are a few used ones on ebay.

    BTW, most of us that were over there had piles of stereo equipment direct shipped home from the BX for a fraction of the cost in the States.

    Reply
  7. DanH

    I never had an 8-track or 8-track adapter. I was a sports car nut back then (I still am) . The Austin Healey Sprite came equipped with an AM-only radio: solid state tuned by VFO with preset channel buttons. It was mounted on the center console in front of the stick shift. Next to this I mounted a Realistic car weather radio.

    My girlfriend had a Pioneer quad in her apartment. It was equipped with an 8-track player. I am still married to the girl but quad died a few years later. I never installed FM or a tape player in the Austin Healey. It was totaled before I bought a car with that. I remember wanting a Blaupunkt AM-FM-SW-cassette radio during the late 70’s later but never got around to ordering one. The German radio was quite expensive.

    We used audio “carts” in broadcasting well into the ’90’s. The 8-track was essentially a consumer version of the broadcasting cart machines.

    Reply
  8. Pingback: Can you identify this mystery radio? | The SWLing Post

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