Curbside Vintage Oddity: 1952 Cadillac Mobile Television Unit – “And Now Live from Our Reporter at the Scene”…

Well, isn’t this impressive – on so many levels.  It’s a 1952 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 limousine cram-packed with every 1950’s-era gadget needed to broadcast live TV from a remote location.  Isn’t it also impressive and fascinating that pretty much everything needed in this beast is contained in your cell phone today…

In the ’50’s, most networks and stations used large trucks or buses for their mobile remote units, as TV cameras and electrical equipment were extremely large and bulky during this era.  NBC desired something smaller that could get through traffic faster and get closer to the incident/event being covered.

(click on picture for larger image)

So they commissioned GM to build this model in the Fall of 1952…adding almost one ton of equipment, two turret style holes in the roof, and a large generator in the trunk to power everything.   Evidently, the stock 331 cu in V8 was unmodified, and deemed sufficient to the task.  Total cost then was $62K – about $647,000 today.

It typically carried a driver who was also a back-up camera-man, the main camera operator, an antenna operator, an audio-visual technician, and the reporter.

NBC first used it to cover President Eisenhower’s inauguration in Jan 1953, where it no doubt fit in with all the other black limousines.

It may have started a trend, here we can see a 1956 Lincoln also converted to a mobile unit.

I’m old enough to have caught the tail-end of the vacuum tube era – and have to wonder how many tubes were inside?  As electrical components decreased in size and weight, most TV networks starting using panel trucks and vans.  But this is certainly a unique vehicle – it’s unknown if it still survives – hopefully so.