QOTD: Do You Still Play Tapes in Your Curbside Classic?

Hey Curbsiders of all ages – I have a question for you: Do you still play tapes in your car?

I’m about as old as you can be and still be a Millennial. I had a Speak and Spell as a kid, bought tapes in the mid-90s as an early teen, and inherited my parents’ record collection when I was about 16 or 17.

E.T. Phone Home!


Call me a nostalgic (I know there are several of us here – I’m looking at you, Joseph Dennis ;)) but I have always carried a torch for music from before my time and for old technology that harkens back to simpler times. An older Boomer buddy laughed at my record collection the other day (I have about 250 records), remarking that I was his only friend who still had records. But records are collectable! And valuable! Tapes, fragile, and very flawed in terms of sound quality and fidelity, have not been collectable in the past. But the times, they are a-changing!

Would you believe me if I told you that Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumors” on tape would net you $20 on eBay, which is probably as much as the vinyl would cost?

Lookit, I was an early adopter of the iPod, and I’m guilty of stealing all kinds of digital music during the golden age of piracy (circa 1999-2008). But even if the quality is subpar, nothing but tapes are going to do for my 1981 VW Westfalia. A CD player would be bogus. And one of those faux-retro MP3/Bluetooth single DIN units? Don’t make me ralph, man.

I still rock the tape suitcase that my mom had in the trunk of her Broughamtastic 1986 Cutlass Supreme. Mom stopped listening to tapes 25 years ago, and hers are long gone. And a good number of my own tapes have sat in hibernation in my parents’ attic for 20 years before being claimed again recently.

My actual tape collection in Mom’s vintage tape suitcase!


Some of you are going to give me guff for this, but I’ve been through five cassette decks in the last year. Three were purchased only for me to find that they were fundamentally incompatible.

The VW decks from Clarion require a Monsoon preamp.

The Blaupunkt bit the dust after I took it apart and tried to solder in a new motor.

The Panasonic kept auto reversing cassettes into oblivion (when it wasn’t straight-up eating them).

Are you old enough to remember the once common sight of a broken tape along the roadside, spewing its guts into the breeze and arching out like the bulge of a sail?

Recently, a buddy gave me a new cache of tapes to listen to. He recorded these in the ’80s from records he borrowed off of friends. You can hear the vinyl surface noise on the recordings, but the tapes sound great. As I type this, I’m listening to Hendrix’s “Rainbow Bridge” in Dolby C, dubbed by my old buddy on 7/12/87. That was a long time ago! But hearing it now, sitting in my van with a beer, is a time warp back to simpler times that I can still foggily remember.

I had a Fisher Price tape player in ’87 that I used to play the tapes that were in my collection, some of which still survive to this day. I’m an old soul, and always have been; and it’s got to be tapes in my Curbside Classic!

What about you? Are you still rocking your old tapes?