Jerry Heasley
May 17, 2017
Photos By: Bob Perkins

“I didn’t say a word. I just bought it. I didn’t go into details. At the price I was paying, I didn’t want to bring up anything that might clue him in that it was a unique piece,” John Skavlem says.

Although, John, who recently reached his 88th birthday, may have sold his large collection of vintage Mustang parts several years ago because he “just got old,” he still keeps his eyes open. During fall 2016, while perusing the contents of a secondhand electronics store in his hometown of Cincinnati, John felt a familiar jolt of Mustang mania when he spied a portable television set on a shelf. This old set is a sad sight to most consumers today, but it’s a treasure to people like John. This wasn’t just any TV. This TV came right out of a 1966 Mustang accessories’ catalog.

For comparison, Bob got out his N.O.S. Mustang TV set that comes with its original box. The box is as interesting as the TV set and came with a manual and a tag still attached to the set. The original box shows the TV set’s brand was Philco, a company Ford purchased in 1961 and sold in 1974. Philco developed the car industry’s first transistor radio in 1955 (with Chrysler), and the first battery-powered portable transistorized TV in 1959.
The back of the Mustang TV set shows the black case with antenna attached.

Many people will not recall this accessory, but Ford did offer a 9-inch all-transistorized Philco car and home TV. But how many people have ever seen one? Even less common, you don’t find many people who ever actually watched a TV show while inside of a moving Mustang? John had owned one that he used to display in his 1966 Mustang at car shows, playing the TV for all to see. So he recognized the old Philco set right away.

“The dials are up top and the little screen is down below. I knew right away what it was. But most people, I would say, would not recognize that this TV went in a Mustang, unless they were Ford people from the ’60s.”

Bob laid out the set John found with an original box and other TV extras. On the top left, is an original box for a novel “Battery Pack,” which Ford advertised for “complete portable viewing” and sold at extra cost. The set came with a conventional 110-volt cord and a 12-volt car cord to plug into a cigarette lighter. On the top right, you see a metal bracket that Ford advertised as a “Bracket—for back of bench type front seats.” Apparently, a back seat passenger could hook this metal bracket over a bench seat and watch TV. The box on the bottom right holds an “earphone” for “private listening.” To the left of this one is a box for the TV antenna, which cost extra, to be used in the event a Mustang was out of range. Or as Ford advertised, “for optional fringe area reception.”

According to John, the old set was “not working but was in cosmetically pretty damn good condition.” His first thought was to contact his longtime friend Bob Perkins in Wisconsin. The same person he had sold his old Mustang TV set to years ago. Health issues prevent John from traveling now, so he packed up the treasure and shipped it to Bob. As you probably know, Bob writes the “Resto Roundup” column in Mustang Monthly and has an enormous collection of Mustang parts and paraphernalia, including an N.O.S. Mustang TV set in its original box with additional extras.

Bob assessed the TV set’s value and is sending a check to his old friend, no negotiations required. That’s shows how much trust the two have in each other. He snapped photos of John’s old set, as well as photos of the N.O.S. set he has with the extras, and sent them to us. “It started in 1966 and lasted until about 1968,” Bob says. “It’s probably the most off-the-wall accessory ever made for a Mustang. Do I like it as much as a brand-new Cobra 2x4 set up in the box? No, but to the real true Rotunda accessory nut job, [a Mustang TV set] is probably the ultimate accessory.”