19 classic songs about specific cars
We dedicated the May/June 2023 issue of Hagerty Drivers Club magazine to the deep connections between music and cars, including several fun lists featuring your favorite car songs. Click the Music & Cars tag to stay up to date on these stories as they roll out online. You can also jam out with our custom Music & Cars playlist on Spotify, available here. Click here for Jamie Kitman’s historical tour of harmony and horsepower, and read below for 19 classic songs about specific cars.
One of Prince’s earliest hits, allegedly a song about sex, can also easily be misunderstood as a song about a “Little Red Corvette.” Except that Corvettes aren’t that little. “Hot Rod Lincoln” was a rockabilly hit in 1955 for Charley Ryan (with an insistent slide guitar standing in for a horn) and again in 1972, with a faithful rendition by Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. Illustrating that time wouldn’t dim the cultural significance of the car, the Tom Robinson Band’s punk classic “Grey Cortina” from 1978 is at once a sincere tribute but also a snarky takedown of the tackier elements of England’s motoring culture.
Of course, no discussion of car songs would be complete without reference to Tom Waits’ wistful 1973 classic, “Ol’ ’55,” (later covered by the Eagles and many others), a morning-after reminiscence that calls out what may have been Waits’ own 1955 Cadillac but could have been any of a bunch of different cars; 1955 was a good year for sentimental iron.
Cars have always been good fodder for sentimental songwriters, so please enjoy our absolutely incomplete list of songs about cars. If we missed your favorite, share it in a comment!
Vince Taylor & His Playboys
“BRAND NEW CADILLAC” (later covered by The Clash)
Well, my baby drove off in a brand new Cadillac
Ooh, my baby drove off in a brand new Cadillac
Well, she looked at me, daddy, I ain’t never coming back
If she ain’t coming back, it’s safe to assume his baby was driving a 1980 Seville diesel, and she’s still stranded somewhere.
Jan & Dean
Found her in a barn in TennesseeI paid five bucks for my Bucket T
Paging Tom Cotter! Paging Tom Cotter!
The Beach Boys
“FUN, FUN, FUN”
Well she got her daddy’s car
and she cruised through the hamburger stand now
Of course, they conveniently leave out the fact that she literally drove through the place. The CCTV footage is wild.
The Beach Boys
Well I saved my pennies and I saved my dimes
For I knew there would be a time
When I would buy a brand new 409
Today, those same pennies and dimes will get you a base Versa. Nobody writes songs about those.
Ronny & the Daytonas
She beats the gassers and the rail jobs
Really drives ’em wi-ee-eye-ild
And when the late marketing man Jim Wangers got involved, she beat that other GTO.
Every lovely spot, near or far
You can reach them, too, in your car
Or you might be there now if you own a Jag already
If by “you might be there now” they meant “in ‘Limp Home mode’ in my XK8,” then yes, I’m there already.
The Rip Chords
“HEY LITTLE COBRA”
The Stingrays and Jags were so far behind
I took my Cobra out of gear and let it coast to the line
Oh, so it’s an ode to SCCA A-Production.
“MUSTANG SALLY”(actually a cover)
One of these early mornings
You gonna be wiping your weeping eyes
Fun fact: Mr. Pickett was standing at the exit to his local cars and coffee when this one came to him.
You slide so good
With bones so fair
You’ve got the universe reclining in your hair
Cause you’re my babe
Yes you’re my love
Oh, girl, I’m just a Jeepster for your love
They originally called the song “CJ-7,” but that didn’t make any sense …
Fountains of Wayne
This thing is a beast, value will only increase
In negotiating terms like peace in the Middle East
There’s only three of its kind, they’re never easy to find
Got people waiting in line to pay me double for mine
LOWBALLERS WILL BE IGNORED! I KNOW WHAT I HAVE!
Oh lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends
You dream of walls that hold us imprisoned
It would seem that Mr. Ocean has spent some time in the back seat of a 365 GTC.
Honey, I just wonder what you do there in the back
Of your Pink Cadillac
She hawks Avon, Bruce.
Now we’re doing a hundred and ten
This certainly was a race
For a Rambler to pass a Caddy
Would be a big disgrace
I think the bigger story here is a Nash Rambler going a buck ten without shaking itself to pieces.
The Beach Boys
“LITTLE DEUCE COUPE”
Well I’m not bragging, babe, so don’t put me down
But I’ve got the fastest set of wheels in town
Uhh, my buddy with the 409 would like a word.
This song has no lyrics, so they could have called it literally anything. Like “DONKEY” or “COFFEE TABLE.” But because we’re talking cars, let’s go with “SCOUPE” and call it a day.
The Mountain Goats
“NEW CHEVROLET IN FLAMES”
We went down to Pete Brown’s Chevrolet
Cause Pete Brown can satisfy all your new car needs
Wait, is this about the Bolt?
“DRIVING IN MY CAR” (about a Morris Minor)
I like driving in my car
It’s not quite a Jaguar
I like driving in my car
I’m satisfied I’ve got this far
That’s more than we can say for the bloke limping home in his XK8.
It crawled along the boulevard
With two wheels on the grass
That old Trans Am was dying hard
But still had lots of gas
Now THAT is a car just begging to be jumped.
This article first appeared in Hagerty Drivers Club magazine. Click here to subscribe and join the club.