Drive-in theater speaker

Submitted by Michael Ely July 8th, 2010
Certifikitsch Winner
This is an old Koropp drive-in movie theater speaker. For those of you who don’t remember, drive-in speakers were attached to posts by wires and would hang off your car window supplying monaural sound for the movie.
I took this photo of the Long Beach, CA Circle Drive-in theater in the late 1970’s. The Circle Drive-in was near Long Beach’s infamous Los Alamitos Traffic Circle (one of the first roundabouts built in the U.S.). The theater is no longer in existence.
What fun it was to pile in the car and go to the drive-in movies back in the day. A cartoon, two movie features, a playground for the kids and a snack bar serving hot dogs, popcorn, candy bars and ice cream, what more could you ask for? The best part was that you could watch the movies in the comfort of your own car.
Here’s a great little site devoted to the drive-in theater experience –
….And don’t forget to replace the speaker back on the post when you leave!

6 Responses to “Drive-in theater speaker”

  1. Allee Willis

    I have a collection of drive-in speakers. I suspect some of them may show up in one of Dennys Willis Wonderland posts one day soon.

    I loved everything about drive in theaters. You didn’t have to leave your car, you could chat with friends, the movies were usually B level or below and the food was junk all the way. What’s not to love?!

    I’ve never seen a drive in speaker I didn’t like. In the old days I used to hook these up in my recording studio to hear what crappy mono mixes would sound like to try and anticipate how people would hear my records if they had really lousy radios.

  2. Nessa

    Hehe, I love drive-in speakers! I admit to (accidentally) driving away with one still attached to the car (Yes, we still have a drive-in.) Sheepishly calling the next day to admit the error, afraid some priceless historical piece had been ruined, they said “Oh, don’t worry, that happens every night an’ we fix ’em every morning.”

  3. Mark Milligan

    Awesome post!

    There’s something so solid and comforting about a drive in speaker, don’t you think?

    I get a bittersweet feeling to still see the empty lots across the country with the monolith of a screen still standing, as if paying a lonely homage to a unique American icon.

    Where I grew up back in my high school years (’69-’73,) if you were interested in a used car from the local Ford dealer, you could test drive it. Sometimes for weeks, and I’m not kidding. One summer I “test drove” a ’63 Buick Invicta station wagon long enough to go to the drive-in 2-3 weekends in a row, back it up in the stall, open the tailgate, and watch from the rear-facing third seat in back. One day Mom said the car salesman called and it was time to return the Buick.

    …ahhh, the drive in…

    • Michael Ely

      Great story, Mark. We went to school almost the same years. I remember when I got my first car, I took a bunch of friends to the drive-in, two in front, two in back and one guy we snuck in who was hiding in the trunk! Sometimes we didn’t even care about the movie itself. It was all about hanging out with friends, something fun to do on a Saturday night.

      • Mark Milligan

        The reason I had to take the car back is because Mom said someone wanted to buy it. They’d “seen it driving around town.” So my high school music teacher’s rock musician husband saw me bringing it to rehearsal, liked it and bought it. They drove it all over the country on summer trips for a few years. He’s a facebook friend that I haven’t seen in person since ’73. I emailed him to see if he has any pictures of the car.
        Michael you said it when you wrote something fun to do on a Saturday night! Sometimes they’d have $5 a car, so we’d park all but one car a couple blocks away and pack it like sardines.
        About that same time I asked my dear old farmer grandpa if they ever went to the drive in. He told me not for 20 years because the last one they went to was “Singing in the Rain” and after the movie started it rained for most of the film.