Mirror-Matic - Automatically-Dimming Mirrors

Mirror-Matic (on a 58 Imperial)A la fin des années 50, Chrysler s'est évertué à proposer des gadgets plus ou moins farfelus, que ce soit le "Highway Hi FI phonograph" (voir la page 1957) ou le "Mirror-Matic", rétroviseur intérieur à commutation automatique jour / nuit !
Son principe était le suivant: une cellule photo-électrique placée dans le mirroir, captait les rayons lumineux venant de l'arrière et, à un seuil déterminé (réglable) activait un relais relié à la tringlerie de commande jour / nuit du rétroviseur.
Cela fonctionnait plus ou moins bien, le problème venant des rayonnements parasites (enseignes lumineuses, éclairage public voire une allumette enflammée par votre passager AR pour son cigare..) qui commandaient intempestivement le rétro, le faisant "danser" comme Jerry L.Lewis et cliqueter comme un robot échappé de Planète Interdite  !

Notez que les "haut de gamme" actuels ont un rétroviseur jour/nuit automatique ! 40 ans plus tard le "mirror-matic" renaît (mais le système n'est plus mécanique mais électrochimique..)

Nouveau !  Page technique (technical page) : comment ça marche (how it works) , comment vérifier (adjustements) , schéma, photos, etc.. , cliquez  (page en anglais)

Je vous laisse découvrir (en anglais...) les discussions de l'Imperial Mailing List sur ce sujet:

At the close of the 1950s, Chrysler strove to come up with enticing, somewhat eccentric gadgets, such as the "Highway Hi-Fi" (see the 1957 page) and the Mirror-Matic, an interior rear-view mirror that would switch automatically from daytime to anti-glare position.

It had in it a photoelectric cell that detected bright light from the rear, and at a certain (adjustable) level of intensity, flipped the reflective surface to protect the driver’s eyes from glare.

It worked more or less well, the main problem being activation by stray light, such as a roadside sign, street and highway illumination, and even a passenger in the back seat lighting his cigar. Such light sources made the mirror do a Jerry Lewis dance, and clickety-clack like a robot from the Forbidden Planet!

Here is some contemporary discussion of the matter from the Imperial Mailing List:

From: Tony Lindsey, "Imperial Leader"

For those who have NO idea what a Mirror-Matic is, it's an extra-cost option for Chrysler Products of the late 1950's through around 1961. It's a THICK rear-view mirror that sits on the dash. The head-unit contains simple electronics and a hole just right of top center on the glass that an electric-eye peers through. You can adjust the sensitivity with a slider.

In theory, whenever it sees headlights out the back window, it automatically dims the mirror so that you're not blinded by the glare. I say "in theory" because my own NOS unit (still in factory box) has never been installed on my car, because it doesn't fit my mirror-stanchion.

I've heard gossip that the Mirror-Matic is easily fooled, and that somebody would light a match inside the car, causing the Mirror-Matic to go "BR-R-R-R".

The Mirror-Matic was stopped long before your '63 was made. If you will notice how the Mirror-Matic is built, it's way too thick (there's a vacuum-tube inside) to attach to your existing mirror-base, unless you plan to be using it to inspect the front seatback. As far as wiring goes, there's only one wire coming out of the bottom, and it hangs alongside the supporting-post. Very much of an afterthought.

Who else know about these items?

Tube-And-Relays.JPG (16k)
Tube And Relays

Subject: '60/61Mirror-Matic: Top or Bottom ! j ?

Sent: 4/15/97

From: ........@prodigy.com (MR JAMES F BYERS JR)

In reading the comments on Mirror-Matic, I saw the statement that this was "only made for cars with the mirror mounted on the dashboard. " Hmmmm.....? My 1960 doesn't have the option, but in the 1960 brochure, it lists it on the accessories page, with a drawing of a rear view mirror hanging from above.

Every ad I've ever seen for the 1960 has the rear view mirror hanging from above. The 1960 dash design (with the dual-cowl gauge cluster) wouldn't have allowed for a dash mounted unit like the earlier 57-59 dashes with the wide, inverted "U" hood.

It would seem that there was a "Mirror-Matic" which was meant to be mounted above the windshield. Do any 1960 owners on the IML have this option that could verify?

[An easy way to find out would be to look in a 1960 Chrysler Products Parts Manual (the big, thick looseleaf kind). It would have single sheets listing the features and descriptions of all dealer-installed options. - Tony]

Silvering.JPG (11k)

Subject: Re: '60/61Mirror-Matic: Top or Bottom ! ?

Sent: 4/16/97

Yes...I have a Mirror-Matic mounted above the windshield on my '60 LeBaron. Original as far I know.

[I'd love to know where the cable goes behind panels and upholstery. If you ever find out, let me know! - Tony]

John B.

Subject: Re: '60/61Mirror-Matic: Top or Bottom ! ?

Sent: 4/16/97

From: ..........@aol.com

Hi Tony and All:

Mirror-matic rear view mirror must have been an option up to 1963. In my 1963 IMPERIAL owner's guide on page 16 it shows the mirror as an option. But when I checked it out in Ross Roy Data Book, it's not listed nor is it shown in the 1963 shop manual.

The one I got came from Chrysler Carlisle last year. I need to get the mirror replated, but it is the type that mounts on top of the windshield just like the manual mirror. The post that it hangs from has a groove cut in the back of it for the wire to go through to the top.

Does anyone find this listed in their 1961 or 1962 shop manual? I would like to find out where it wires into.

[I think you'd be more likely to find such a wiring-diagram in the '59 or '60 manual. - Tony]

Subject: RE: '60/61Mirror-Matic Option

Sent: 4/18/97

From: r......@empnet.com (Ron Gall)

The 1960 service manual I have shows the Mirror-Matic Electronic Rear View Mirror as optional equipment for 1960 including two and a half pages about how it works, adjustment, disassembly, etc.......but no wiring diagram.

Subject: Mirror Matic Trivia

Sent: 4/18/97

From: ........@switch.rockwell.com (R.W.Gebhard)

Not too long ago while reading a gearhead magazine tech section, there was a question about how day/nite mirrors operate. Strange place for that question I thought.

To complete the short discussion of what 'flipping' the mirror actually does, the author reproduced an illustration of the mirror matic and gave some details of its operation.

The author was Rick Enherberg. Go fiqure.

Potentiometers.JPG (18k)

Subject: Re: Mirror-Matic Info, Trivia and For Sale

Sent: 4/16/97

From: ........@mindspring.com (Brett C. Snyder)

>>Mirror-matic WAS available for the 1960 Imperial with the exception of the
>>convertible. I almost bought a 1960-only mirror-matic a few years ago. It
>>is illustrated near the back of the sales brochure. The original cost was
>>$18.20... Part #2161-079
>>Mirror matic is not listed in the '61 Imperial sales brochure or the Ross
>>Roy Data Book.
>>Tony, yours sounds like it might be the '59 version. (Which I can't find a
>>part number for)
>I never even knew there was a '60-only version - what's the difference?

I believe the '60 version is slimmer and can be mounted either from the dash or from above. I'm not sure why the Imperial convertible is the only Chrysler product that could not receive this option... Hmmmmm

[That's easy! There's just-about ZERO clearance in the convertible windshield header for a wire. I'm currently installing the visors, so I know that of which I speak, because I have had to disassemble what I had already assembled several times. Dealers probably didn't want to deal with the sealing and re-sealing of the gooey gray gunk. - Tony]

Subject: Re: '60/61Mirror-Matic: Top or Bottom ! ?

Sent: 4/17/97

From: .........7@aol.com

You can run the cables for your Mirror-Matic just like Chrysler runs the ones for their overhead consoles now. Pull off the chrome headliner beauty trim (along the top of the windshield...and yes I realize that it's a lot narrower on your convertible than on my hardtop...but it is there) and the front post valance chrome on whichever side of the car you want to bring the wire to the power source. Secure your wire(s) inside the channel which is in these regions with some monkey s__t (I was in the Navy too) and replace the chrome. Since these babies had a vacuum tube in the assembly, make sure that you fuse that power feed, or that circuit could spot weld your trim before the tube gives up in the event of a circuit "malf". Good Luck and hope your mirror flips for many years to come! Dave

Subject: Re: Mirror-Matic Trivia

Sent: 4/15/97


Gee, the mirror in my '66 Town & Country is on the dash (due to the rear A/C unit taking up half the ceiling behind the rear seat). Do you suppose it could be equipped with Mirror-Matic? About all I can see in the mirror is the occupants of the back seat anyway...

Subject: Re: '60/61Mirror-Matic: Top or Bottom ! ?

Sent: 4/16/97

From: ........@mindspring.com (Brett C. Snyder)

>[An easy way to find out would be to look in a 1960 Chrysler Products
>Parts Manual (the big, thick looseleaf kind). It would have single
>sheets listing the features and descriptions of all dealer-installed
>options. - Tony]

The master parts book only lists one part number for the Mirror-matic for all makes and models. The only note is that it will not work with the '60 Imperial convertible.

[Thanks - Did your parts-manual have the sheets I mentioned above? They're really a hoot to read, because the text is very over-aggressive in selling the glamorous aspects of owning a set of plastic seat-covers and stuff like that - Tony]

Subject: Re: Mirror-Matic/Salesmanship in Parts-Manual

Sent: 4/17/97

From: ..........@mindspring.com (Brett C. Snyder)

>[Thanks - Did your parts-manual have the sheets I mentioned above?
>They're really a hoot to read, because the text is very over-aggressive
>in selling the glamorous aspects of owning a set of plastic seat-covers
>and stuff like that - Tony]

The master parts book is pretty dry & straightforward. I think it sounds like you remember the accessories sale catalog.

[Nope - My 61 parts-manual's right here in front of me - Many loose-leaf pages in a group near the front, with really great descriptions. - Tony]

Which, now that I think of it, I've got! Let's see here...

It says all 1960 models except Imperial (Which conflicts with the Parts Book and the Ross Roy Data Book); Part #2161-079; Retail price $23.25; Net price $16.28

"Mirror-matic styling is the last word in shimmering chrome perfection to enhance the interior of all Chrysler Corporation cars."

Oh, and seat covers? Or as they wrote: "Cushion Toppers, "Tops" in fashion and protection."

The top hat, cane and gloves on the seat ARE a bit much...

Subject: Re: Auto-dimming mirrors

From: .........@aol.com

>I just heard a report on the radio about a new feature that will be >introduced on the 1998 Lincoln Navigator. It seems they've invented a >rearview mirror that automatically dims when the glare from a following >car's headlights is too bright.

Actually, the new auto-dimming mirrors are a big improvement over MirrorMatic, though any product with "matic" in its name is dear to my heart.

The new auto-dimming mirrors been around in their present form for a number of years and are standard or optional on many domestic, European and Japanese luxury cars.

The present (and superior) form is an electrochromic mirror that uses a conductive film beneath the glass which darkens based on a current input. much like an LCD display element.

When the sensors (there are two per mirror, one in front and one facing the rear, and they calculate the difference in the light, not just the absolute light shining into the mirror face) detect the proper conditions, they can dim the mirror proportionally from 5 to 95%, allowing a more gradual and natural dimming and viewing effect, unlike the flip-flops that used to occur when Dad lit his cigar near the MirrorMatic, or a car followed you down a rolling-hill road.

That's because MirrorMatics still used a prismatic mirror just like a manual day/night mirror. MirrorMatic therefore had only two settings to choose between, and they were offset from each other at an angle, so you saw the glare bounce distactingly as the mirror tipped to the dimmed position. With electrochromic mirrors, the mirror lens does not move, it's only "tinted" darker. So rather than merely diverting the glare away from the driver's eyes, it is simply not reflected back at all.

By the way, nearly all the world's electrochromic mirrors are American-made.

From: .......@pacbell.net (Jeff Stork)

Auto dimming mirrors have also been on high line Buicks (Riviera and Park Avenue) since about 1986 and now include a compass-- no word yet on the return of push button trans.

Date: Fri, 20 Mar 1998

From: Paul Concilio .......@mcc.cc.tx.us

More on Mirror-Matics:

My '59 Dodge Custom Sierra wagon and my '60 Dodge Dart Phoenix, (both bought new by my dad), both have Mirror-Matics. The '60 has and "thumbwheel" switch whereas the '59 has a "lever" switch. Both are dash mounted. I have '58 Dodge and Chrysler sales brochures and sevice manuals, and I don't find a reference to Mirror-Matics. I believe that '59 is the first year and '60 is the last.

 Mopar, Chrysler, Dodge & Plymouth are registered trademarks of Chrysler Group LLC Chrysler Imperial France  is in no way affiliated with or sponsored by Chrysler group.LLC