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Lotus Motorola Radio Cassette - The Complete Reference


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This is what the dealer fit radio suppression kit looked like.

20210121_125250.jpg

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The more the merrier :yes:

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According to Radio Museum, the Sharp RG-5800 radio cassette was manufactured in 1978/9 and the RG-5850 around 1980. This seems consistent with Matt’s account of the Sharp often being fitted to new S1 and S2 Esprits by Lotus dealerships.

 

I sent off the Sharp RG-5850 from JPS Esprit #40 to be refurbished by Steve at Revive Car Audio. He also fitted a socket that can take an auxiliary line input direct from an iPhone/iPod, as an alternative to the radio/cassette. This avoids signal degradation and gives a good quality sound output, limited only by my tired aftermarket speakers. (Bluetooth was another option.)

 

My challenge remains to track down the crossover unit as originally used (in the JPS) to split the RC output between the two door mounted speakers and the single under dashboard woofer. (My unit seems to be missing.) Then it could be back to the full 1970s sound experience…!

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On 21/01/2021 at 12:34, Matt-watts said:

 

Pic 1.jpg

 

Hi Matt, thanks for all the info. Bottom left of the photo above looks like a Motorola unit of the family that the "LT" units seem to have been. It would be interesting to know the model number on that one.

I also got my car with a Sharp unit fitted [RG9150] but Andy Graham wrote that the build record for it shows a Motorola unit being fitted at the factory. I made the jump to it being Lotus branded it seems, but maybe the one you have is a factory fitted Motorola!?

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I think your right George, I think the Lotus branded one also came later, I will ask Jake to look into our S2 archive and see if he come up with any more, we have never seen one in a S1. This is what my motorola looks like. It would have been old fashioned in the mid 70s not having FM, also the tape would have been hard to get in and out.

Matt

20210125_191922.jpg

The more the merrier :yes:

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I think you're right and the Lotus branded ones were an '80's unit, but they look identical save for having the extra band, designated 'U' rather than 'FM'. To be honest I doubt the tape orientation would have been a consideration. Yours is definitely of the same family of radio cassette's as the later FM unit with 'Lotus' on the fascia, so likely the fabled LT551 or LT558.

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  • 1 year later...

I have had some time to check my collection of Esprit parts and can confirm that the instruction and circuit documentation for the 'JPS' radio-cassette is in fact for a 'JPS' branded unit as part of a licensing agreement as @GTK mentioned. This I believe was fitted to the Ford Capri JPS special.

On the discussion about the Motorola LT558/LT551 units a well known specialist in adapting car Hi-Fi, and in particular the Motorola brand, has not heard of these models. So the question is has anyone have or has seen either of these two unicorns?

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I still think the early cars had a Philips Turnolock as shown in the owner's manual...

https://ibb.co/pZC0cmV

https://ibb.co/t33QrZq

 

 

 

 

Edited by Paul Coleman
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Lotus Esprit [meaning] a 1:1 scale Airfix kit with a propensity to catch fire

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@Fridge  Your question is the big one, has anyone actually ever seen an LT551 or LT558? As per my original post, Motorola themselves have no record of having provided these [or any other model] to Lotus. Yet Andy Graham at Lotus finds factory fit Motorola units listed in the build records for some cars.

@Paul Coleman Philips units in early cars isn't in dispute. Far as I'm aware, those are well documented.

There seems to be a distinction made here between the Motorola and Sharp units. The latter evidently were dealer fit, while the former were [if the Lotus records are correct] factory fit items.

There was a little ray of light above when @Matt-watts and Jake went through their box of head units and came up with a Motorola unit [above] that it's possible was a factory fit. But sods law the model number seems to have been rubbed off the label!

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Mine has an early Philips, a 22RN512 I think. Which has the FM/MW/LW radio bands.

I'd considered installing an age appropriate Sony TC-24L which was considered more sophisticated from its 1976 launch, though not really any more feature rich. About that time came an abundance of late 1970's Pioneer units. I remember it well having camped out at my local Hi-Fi shop as a teenager, no doubt driving the sales assistants crazy.

A Blaupunkt MR21 Hamburg has also been in the frame for installing in my car, having been considered the unit of choice for discerning Porsche owners, but it's from 1980, and a bit too late for my car.

The Philips unit will be upgraded with Bluetooth streaming and other nifty features over the winter, ready for next spring.

As far as the Motorola units shown so far in this thread these have been far more modern than I'd expect the fabled LT551 or LT558 units. Coming from around 1980 by the looks of them. Whereas I'd expect them to look like the chromed buttoned Motorola radios that were installed from the early to mid-1970's or so. Hence my question.

Certainly by the very late 1970's radio-cassette units were becoming more modern looking (by today's standards), with Sharp coming to the fore more and more. Until Kenwood and Alpine took the mantle of the most prized popular ICE installation for the yuppie generation of cars.

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9 hours ago, Fridge said:

my local Hi-Fi shop as a teenager

Were you still local to the Tees area in the 70's?   My dad was the owner of 'McKenna & Brown'.  Had a very successful branch in Redcar.   Not so easy to imagine these days...      

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1 hour ago, 910Esprit said:

Were you still local to the Tees area in the 70's?   My dad was the owner of 'McKenna & Brown'.  Had a very successful branch in Redcar.   Not so easy to imagine these days...      

Oh wow! I absolutely lived in their Stockton shop every Saturday.

I used to visit their Darlington and Middlesbrough shops too. I remember drooling over a Sony radio-cassette TV unit which was £175 I think. Whilst researching this topic I found a video of one being demonstrated. What memories!

My local shop was Gilson Audio, which for some reason had a great selection of car radio-cassette units. Lots of Pioneers. They provided my mid-week and alternate Saturday Hi-fi fix.

I didn't know that McKenna & Brown had a Redcar shop. Too far and unnecessary to travel to in a 1967 Ford Anglia, but coincidentally I live about 5 miles from there now.

AMAZING.

Edited by Fridge
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2 hours ago, Fridge said:

I didn't know that McKenna & Brown had a Redcar shop

Glad to help with the memories!  There was also a lesser-known branch in Bishop Auckland too!   Gilson Audio was an ex-employee.   Seem to recall his shop was originally on Borough Road or Southfield Road.   Many older locals seem to have fond memories, as this was in the days before the lowest common denominator out of town shopping.

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19 minutes ago, 910Esprit said:

Glad to help with the memories!  There was also a lesser-known branch in Bishop Auckland too!   Gilson Audio was an ex-employee.   Seem to recall his shop was originally on Borough Road or Southfield Road.   Many older locals seem to have fond memories, as this was in the days before the lowest common denominator out of town shopping.

I didn't know that. Gilson Audio was a good shop, the one in Billingham was the most local to me, though I may have been to the one in Middlesbrough on occasion I'm not sure.

McKenna & Brown added class to the shopping experience. A visit always a highlight in my early teenage years.

Edited by Fridge
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