Chrysler’s talking K-car was oh-so-1980s
Electronics infiltrating automobiles signals the start of the dark days for many enthusiasts, but there are certainly bright spots. OBD scanners are undeniably helpful for diagnosis, power widows and dual-zone climate control are welcome creature comforts, and bulky car phones are hilarious. But Hagerty forums user johnvukovichjr reminded us that other electronics could be ridiculous and silly too—like when Chrysler implemented the talking voice assistant in the 1980s. Think terrible, primitive version of Alexa. Of course, we’re talking about EVA.
The Electronic Voice Alert (EVA for short) was a speech synthesizer that paired with sensors on an automobile to give the driver pertinent information while operating their luxurious K-car. Check out this short video of EVA in action to get the full picture. Nissan offered a similar system in the Datsun 810 (later renamed the Nissan Maxima) and 280ZX, which used a tiny, shock-proof phonograph as the audio source.
Chrysler offered two versions, including 11- and 24-command systems, that tied into the factory stereo. The 11-command system included reminders to fasten seatbelt, turn off headlights, and “don’t forget your keys.” The later 24-command system included warnings for oil and coolant levels, brake pad wear, and notifying the driver if a headlight or taillight went out. Thanks, EVA!
Paired with the digital dash, EVA gave the K-car a pseudo-futuristic feel that not all owners loved. Many either disabled the system by pulling a fuse or turned the system off using a glovebox mounted switch. If you want to be the hit of Radwood, better make sure your woody convertible LeBaron’s EVA system is functioning tip-top. Because in 2018, we want to hear that baby sing.