Continental Model 1600 - Rainbow Colors Curvy and Sweet!
This radio is sleek like a Loewy locomotive and sexy like Betty Grable:
And, it was ahead of its time with color options: black, ivory, burgundy, and yellow. It was also available in powder blue, pink and green, but these are rare. I have never seen a red one, but it seems they would have probably made one.
Illuminated from below, the sides vanes look modern. The front placement of controls is intuitive. The tuning wheel is a nice design feature. The front would have looked busy if there was a horizontal or vertical tuning dial.
The quarter round top contour blends perfectly with the round front Telechron clock face. If the clock were placed on the other side or in the center, the rounded side contour would not be as resonant. The gold metal surround is a classy touch. The little knobs made of brass metal is nicer than plastic. Continental could have cut costs here but chose not to.
(photo courtesy of radiomuseum.com)
The volume knob is color matching specific to this model. Funny thing, this volume knob is also an on-off switch too. So, to turn this radio on, you need to turn on the little clock on-off-auto knob and the volume knob. Two switches to turn the radio on! The color match volume knob is unique to Conti 1600s.
This periwinkle blue is very rare. Manufactured by Continental but remarketed and sold under Plymouth brand name. I was not able to find any information on Plymouth radio company.
(photo courtesy of radioatticarchives.com)
Very rare pink Conti 1600.
Rare citrus yellow Conti.
Nice burgundy one.
Black and white are the most common.
This radio seems to capture the essence of motion and classic good looks. The counter balanced curves are so intuitive it's a wonder why the idea is not seen across many many other models.
The height weight proportions are nearly perfect, 11.5" L x 6" W x 4.6" H. The material is modern polycarbonate ethylene base plastic. The cabinet is molded in two sections. Under the vaned curve side is a bottom panel that is adhered by glue at the factory to complete the bottom base. Presumably, this is needed in order to mold the main cabinet in one piece.
The entire back is open so the electronics chassis can slide in and secured.The electronics assembly is point to point wiring on a stamped metal chassis. Printed circuit boards were not prevalent until later in 50s.The electronics were all hand soldered, wired, and assembled.
The speaker is a 4" cone side mounted to chassis. The Telechron clock movement is a higher quality variety with brass metal knobs for ON-OFF-AUTO, Sleep, and time/alarm set.
One of the unfortunate aspects of this radio is its flimsy backing board which tends to get ripped up over time. It's hard to find one of these Conti's with a good backing board. Basically, the backing board is made of cheap cardboard. The loop antenna attached to this backing board with rivets.
Some of these Model 1600's were 4 tube circuitry: 50C5, 35W4, 12BE6, 12AT6 which is a cost cutting electronic design. Performance suffers compared with the standard 5 tube design: 509C5, 35W4, 12BE6, 12BA6, 12AV6.
Some of these Conti 1600's feature the red dial light. But, to turn the light on, you needed to reach around back and flip the slider switch. It seems in a dark room, if you have difficulty finding the lamp or light switch, you're going to have an even tougher time finding this slider switch.
Overall, the Continental 1600 seems like the brainchild of a gifted product designer and visionary, an okay electrical engineer, and a financial manager that was slightly under funded.