Retro radios

Roberts Revival 250, Paul Smith Swirl

The radio of the 50s brings thoughts of rock'n'roll, picnics on the beach and classic cars. The trouble with old radios is that they are not able to pick up modern radio stations. Now you can have the best of both worlds: modern reliability, coupled with old fashioned style.

Portable radios evolved quickly in the 50s and 60s. There were valve sets in the early 50s, but by the time rock'n'roll was in the charts, portable transistor radios were replacing them.

The radio gave teenagers music on the move. The previous generation only had wind up gramophones. Teenagers of the late 50s and early 60s could carry their music with them, annoying the older generation as they went. The association with pop music and the transistor radio is strong.

The other images radio sets of this period conjure up is that of the American automobile. The early Japanese manufacturers targeted the American market and borrowed heavily from automotive styling. They added shiny chrome, stars and bright colours to their radios.

There is a plentiful market for genuine radio sets from the 50s and 60s. It is not too difficult to find a working one in good condition. However, the problem with most of these sets is that they don't pick up the FM band, on which most of the BBC stations are broadcast. (There were a a few that did, if you really want the real thing.)

A number of manufacturers have introduced retro radios. They all pick up the FM band and some are digital.

Roberts Revival 250

I love these sets from Roberts. They capture the look and feel of the fifties and early sixties so brilliantly. Now you can listen to digital on a radio that would not look out of place on the back seat of a 1960s' Jaguar Mk2.

The Roberts Revival 250 is the Rolls Royce of the retro radio world. The original set was neatly and conservatively styled, but produced in a number of fashionable trim styles, such as yellow with gold stars or blue with polka dots. For the very rich and famous, there were even gold and mink versions.

The new Roberts Revival 250 carries on this tradition. There are several colours available, including a psychedelic swirly pattern designed by Paul Smith (see above). The Roberts set would have not been the natural choice for a hippy, but this hardly matters. The new Roberts Revival looks great in this pattern.  For lovers of retro floral prints, there are even Roberts Revival radios in a selection of Cath Kidston's designs.

For those that like their retro up to date, there is a piano black version, which also receives digital.

Read more about Roberts Radio.

Bush TR82

Bush TR82BLU Cream Radio.

The Bush TR82, is a reissue of a design from the sixties. The TR82 is a large set with its tuning dial and beautifully styled cream case making it a classic of the late 50s or early 60s. It was originally sold with valves as the Bush MB60, but later changed to transistors.

The reproduction set adds FM and an aerial. It is good quality set and the reproduction is accurate. The aerial is on the back of the set. Original Bush sets with FM had the aerial coming out of the top of the case, which is much neater. You can also tell that the new radio is modern.

However, the Bush TR82 does have the look and feel of a retro radio. I would recommend it if you are looking for a radio that would not look out of place on the back seat of a Ford Zodiac.

We found the Bush TR82 at 29.99 available from Argos - go to Bush TR82BLU Cream Radio.

There is also a digital version for 59.99 - see

More on the Bush TR82

We found this review of the Bush TR82 - see The author makes it clear that the Bush TR82 is far from an exact reproduction of the original set. However, I'm prepared to forgive that.

Bush TR130

The Bush TR130 was a replica of the mid 60s Bush TR130. It added an FM band, but was otherwise very much like the original. However, it seems to be out of production at the moment. There are used versions available for sale on eBay.

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