Top 10 Turquoise Retro Radios
Here at Retro Radio Farm, we have a unique eye for the most dazzling tube radios from the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s. A very popular color behind pink is turquoise, and some of our most famous radios have been found in various shades of the color.
Turquoise radios came into production about ten years earlier than pinks around 1949. The color was gaining popularity with cars and interior design of the era so it makes sense that home radios would follow suit. Like pink, turquoise radios come in several variations of the shade, from a more greenish hue to a deeper blue. Much like pink, blue is a calm, cool color and works well in bedrooms and kitchens of the mid-century modern home. Here are the top ten favorite turquoise radios restored and sold to new loving homes by Retro Radio Farm.
10. 1949 Capehart Model 3T55B
It makes sense that the trendy Farnsworth Research Corporation would make the first turquoise radio. This company sold radios under the “Capehart” name and was mostly known for their tartan plaid radios. 1949 saw the introduction of the 3T55B- a smaller turquoise 5-tube set with a wicker front grill. This was probably one of the first sets to use miniature tubes; most manufacturers were switching from octal to mini tubes around 1948/49, which made radios smaller and more versatile. Perfect for a smaller counter space in maybe a beach-y vacation home, this small blue Capehart is sure to bring joy when it is played!
9. 1959 Philco Model E-816-124
Towards the end of their era as a company, Philco was one of the last manafacturers to switch to making radios in the mid-century modern design. This turquoise beast features dual-speakers, a sort-of gimmick at the time that makes these radios louder than most sets. However, AM stereo was years away and the impending switch to FM in the early-mid 1960’s means this radio only plays monophonic signals. Another part of this radio that makes it unique is its clear rotating tuning dial, which conjures up images of 1950’s dashboards and kitchen appliances. I imagine this radio blasting rock hits like “Rock Around the Clock” or “Heartbreak Hotel” while a family danced to enjoy the evening.
8. 1955 Granco Model 730A AM/FM
Granco was a short lived company based out of Long Island City, New York. They were only around from the late 1940’s until 1963 when a blaze destroyed the company and factory. Since the insurance wasn’t renewed, Granco was forced to go out of business. Radios from this company are rare and demand a premium price. The most common model was the 730, which is an AM/FM set that came in brown/tan, turquoise/white, and an FM only version that appeared in pink/black. These radios have a larger speaker than most, which results in a better sound quality. The big tailfins on this model 730 remind me of the back of a Cadillac from the 1950’s- when big style was all the rage! Add a turquoise Granco to your home for that 1950’s style with the clarity of FM radio!
7. 1956 RCA Victor Model 9-C-71
RCA- the king of radio manufacturers! RCA made radios in slightly more subdued colors than its competitors (at least for the American market- see the article on my Oklahoma radio that I purchased from RRF!) but they did make several models in turquoise. The 9-C-71 is an extremely popular model with RRF and was sold in pink, white, and turquoise. RRF has sold several since its inception in 2014 and it continues to be a popular piece. This radio was popular with consumers because of its lighted dial, large and easy to read clock face, and side phono jack. It deserves a place on our turquoise list because of its great looks, functionality, and popularity! For another great RCA clock radio that deserves to share the number seven spot, check out the 1957 RCA Victor Model C-2E!
6. 1955 Bulova Companion Model 206 Portable
Bulova, primarily known as a watch manufacturer to this today, tried its hand in making radios during the 1950’s to great success. Bulvoa radios and clock radios are known for their high quality of workmanship, materials, and elegant, regal design. Much like the lady of the home sporting an elegant timepiece, Bulova radios remind me of a couple dressed to the nines for a formal or ball- everything elegance! So why not take this elegance with you- to the park or to the beach? That’s the Bulova Companion Model 206! RRF has sold a couple of this kind portable radio and in addition it was featured in our Great Big Story production (See here: insert GBS link). If you want to add some retro bling to your next outing, you need a turquoise Bulova 206!
5. 1959 RCA Victor Model X-4HE
Another RCA, the RCA Model X-4HE, makes the list at number five! This innovative radio featured RCA’s ‘Filteramic’ technology, which is basically a shielded antenna assembly that was supposed to filter out interference from sources like fluorescent lights, etc. I am not sure how it performs compared to other radios, but the dual speaker system does add more volume and more depth of sound (although its still mono just like the Philco above!) This color scheme of turquoise is popular with RCA sets and looks beautiful with the illuminated logo. This radio, like the RCA clock radio above, also features a convenient side phono jack! If you like to use fluorescent lights and listen to an AM radio on the same circuit, then this is the turquoise radio for you!
4. 1956 Motorola 57CD and 1957 Motorola 57CC
Motorola is a personal favorite here at Retro Radio Farm. Much of our inventory is Motorola simply because they have unforgettable designs and well built components. Unlike RCA, Motorola had some of the more outlandish designs of the day that proved very popular with consumers. Two clock radios from Motorola that came in multiple colors including turquoise, pink, sea green, mint green, and brown are the 57CD and 57CC. These radios are super popular due to their Jetsons type and split-level styling, the ultimate trend of mid-century modern. As with any 50’s Motorola, these have the excellent sounding ‘Golden Voice’ speakers. In addition, they have the notorious ‘PlaCir’ circuit boards that are difficult to work on. However, these radios are a real gem and the turquoise examples are so beautiful that they are close to the top of our list!
3. 1957 Silvertone Model 13 and 1959 Silvertone 9009
Silvertone was the store brand of radio sold by Sears, Roebuck and Co. Silvertone radios back many years, to the early days of radio. 1950’s Silvertone radios are known for their big, flamboyant radios- several even cross the line into what RRF likes to call UGLORGEOUS™! These two radios are perfect examples of the big and beautiful Silvertones from this era. The geeks at Silvertone really overdosed on low-budget science fiction movies when they came up with these monsters. If you're looking for fifties sci-fi design in a boisterous color and a tweed grill, look no further! They both feature dual speakers, tone controls, dual lighted dials, and a big sound. When these radios were new, Elvis was all the rage, tailfins were all the rage, and man could not wait to travel to the moon!
Side note: these Silvertones are a close cousin to the 1959 Arvin 2585! Maybe the companies were in competition with each other?
2. 1956 Firestone Model 4A-191
Coming in at number two on our list is this VERY RARE Firestone clock radio from 1956! Firestone, like other tire companies, contracted with other manufacturers to produce and sell radios under their name, most notably Automatic Radio Co. and Arvin. This radio from 1956 was manufactured by Philco. Its beautiful turquoise color is a deep blue and it stands out in a room no doubt!! This particular radio sold by RRF in 2016 was lucky to have a workshop article written about its restoration. It is a standard AA5 design with a phono jack- phono jacks on clock radio sets are uncommon except for some GE models. Its black clock face, amazing deep turquoise color and original working condition make for this rare survivor to achieve number two on our list.
1. NOS 1957 Motorola 57R
The number one spot. The cream of the crop. The top of the heap. No other turquoise radio currently in the RRF inventory is more deserving of this position than the NOS 1957 Motorola 57R. This radio is a combination of a NOS case and parts from a couple of other 57R’s that has created a radio that looks exactly as it did out of the box in 1957. Imagine a family, opening up gifts on a holiday to discover that this beautiful, trendy new radio would be a part of their household. Or a college student saving up for a big purchase of this radio to fill his or her dorm room with all the pop hits of 1957 to listen to while they study and work. The expression of joy on their faces and what they might have seen taking this radio out of the box is exactly what you see here- factory fresh. Many times, these 57R’s (and other Motorolas) develop a heat crack over the 50C5 audio output tube, which runs much hotter than the others. This is a pristine survivor. So pristine and special that it belongs in the Secret Stash™- one of RRF’s radios kept for personal display and use by the Chiang family. Allen built a heat shield in this one to keep the plastic from cracking should it be used. Check out the workshop article on it! We may say this about all the radios at RRF, but this turquoise Motorola 57R truly does belong in a museum!!
See workshop article. Click here
These clock radios didn’t quite make it into our top ten list, but we felt the need to share them! They are great examples of beautiful turquoise radios from Westinghouse and Sylvania. The Westinghouse can be found in blue, black, and white and the Sylvania in pink and blue.
For more information about our passion go to: www.retroradiofarm.com
Jacob Weinstein, a music student at The University of Georgia in Athens contributed to this article. Jacob is a passionate collector of antique radios.