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Wonder Bar® Radio

Product Features

Wonder Bar<sup>®</sup> Radio

(Original Wonder Bar Radio Pictured for 1958 Corvette)


The Original Wonder Bar Radio

The original Wonder Bar radio (introduced by General Motors in the late 1940s) was the one of the first car radios that could automatically seek to the next strongest station. The auto-seek worked quite differently than modern radios do today, but the idea is the same – the radio would auto-seek to the next strong station. The driver could adjust the desired fidelity setting for the auto-seek to a higher or lower strength signal by turning the sensitivity knob. After setting the signal strength, the driver would simply press the Wonder Bar, causing the radio to automatically tune up to the first station that came in clearly above the selected signal strength. Pressing the Wonder Bar again would seek forward again to the next available station – and so on.

Most radios nowadays have auto-seek, and most people don't even realize that there was a time when auto-seek did not exist. Modern radios can seek forward and backward, and they don't require the user adjusting a signal strength sensitivity setting in order for the radio to properly seek. The Wonder Bar radio was a revolutionary design in its era and paved the way for more advanced forms of auto-seek. These radios are becoming more and more scarce, and they are so limited in functionality that many people opt to install more modern radios into their classics. There are few options available for people who would like to upgrade their radio, and for many years the only option was to cut out a rectangle in the dash and install an ugly modern radio that did not match the timeless look of these classic cars. RetroSound has developed another option. 


(RetroSound Wonder Bar® Radio Pictured for 1958 Corvette)


RetroSound's Wonder Bar® Radio

RetroSound recently released a new Wonder Bar® radio that maintains the looks of the original but boasts modern features. While it looks the same, RetroSound's Wonder Bar® is quite different from the original with features such as built-in Bluetooth® for hands-free streaming and calling, Apple iPod/iPhone compatibility, AUX and USB ports for portable devices and SiriusXM-Ready™ for satellite radio. Wonder Bar® is a direct replacement for the original Wonder Bar® radio common to many classic GM vehicles, but now you can enjoy modern sound and modern technology with the look of the original radio. RetroSound's Wonder Bar® also features a fully functional Wonder Bar. On the surface, it seems to operate similarly to the original. But this is a full-featured modern radio complete with modern electronics. Unlike the original, the Wonder Bar on RetroSound's radio can seek forward or backward depending on which side of the Wonder Bar the driver presses – press it on the left, and it seeks backward; press it on the right to seek forward. The Wonder Bar also controls MP3s and streaming audio playing via Bluetooth®, USB or from your Apple device – pressing the Wonder Bar on the left side reverses and skips backward, while pressing on the right side fast forwards and skips forward. RetroSound's Wonder Bar® features a fully digital display – customizable to more than 32,000 colors – as well as 25 watts RMS x 4 channels and RCA outputs for external amplifiers and subwoofers. Static-cling screen protectors with Chevrolet logos are available to complete that classic look. These screen protectors are officially licensed GM products and give RetroSound's Wonder Bar® the appearance of an original Wonder Bar radio dial – plus they are easy to apply and remove. For more information on RetroSound's Wonder Bar® radio, click here.

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  • Paul Rentz on

    Was there a version with a foot pedal? I remember a college friend from the late 1960s telling me his dad had one- they lived in Florida and his dad would purposely pick up hitchhikers. He’d wait a minute or two then change the station using that foot pedal then ask if his passenger didn’t like that song- saying it worked by ‘brain waves’- if you didn’t like a song ‘strongly enough’ the station would change. They he’d say, ’That’s okay, I like this song too’ until it would change again. No one rode with him to where they actually wanted to go!

  • James on

    Thanks for pointing that out for us! We have updated our post to reflect that information.

  • Warren Dunnavent on

    For the record, I have a 1950 Oldsmobile Holiday 88 that came from the factory with a 6V “Signal Seeking Tuner” which automatically seeks the next strongest station with the touch of a bar. To my knoledge, this was the first signal seeking car radio and predates the Chevy Wonderbar by 7 years.

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