19 classic songs about specific cars

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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 hereClick 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!

Collage: Magnifico / All photography copyright original owners




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

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.


The Who

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

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.


Wilson Pickett
“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.


T. Rex

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
“’92 SUBARU”

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



Janis Joplin

Oh lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends

Potato-potahto, Janis.


Frank Ocean

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.


Bruce Springsteen

Honey, I just wonder what you do there in the back
Of your Pink Cadillac

She hawks Avon, Bruce.


The Playmates

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

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.


The Routers

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

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.


Neil Young

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.

Check out the Hagerty Media homepage so you don’t miss a single story, or better yet, bookmark it. To get our best stories delivered right to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletters.

Click below for more about
Read next Up next: Against All Oddities: A souvenir transmission, straight from Japan


    I’m gonna assume Slant 6’s “Mopar or No Car” was too general and *possibly* (even though I have the song on my Spotify and listen to it every so often) corny?
    Maybe it just my tastes, but whenever someone says “cars in music”, I always think of that song.

    Sammy Hagar Trans Am Highway Wonderland is better known than Mr Young as we don’t need him around any how.

    A number of these songs including the Beach Boys were songs that the Wrecking Crew recorded. The groups provided the vocals and learned to play the music.

    Today we learn the music business back then was not what we always though. They just created groups and let others play. At least Brian Wilson took control of the Wrecking Crew on their songs.

    Only partially true. The Beach Boys were actual musicians, but the studio guys were used because studio time is money, and they were better suited to cranking out the instrumentals.

    Actually they were the best in the business. Brian even knew it and preferred working with them. Carl was a good guitar player Dennis was ok on drums. The rest were a mix. Marks was a good player but left early.

    Many other acts either had to be taught how to play or they brought in road people that became the road group.

    First, you make it sound like the wrecking crew was a band. That’s just a loose moniker for the L.A. session musicians at the time, and their use in the studio didn’t mean that an artist didnt know how to play. Hell, they played on the Byrds first record and Roger McGuinn was a fantastic guitarist.

    Red Barchetta by Rush. A great song about driving a deceased uncle’s classic Ferrari in a future world when automobiles have been outlawed.

    Yesss- this! I was fortunate to see Red Barchetta performed live in Indianapolis on the “Moving Pictures” tour (which was the 1977 Christmas concert at the sadly gone Market Square Arena, opened by Bob Seger and Point Blank). The big screen video shown behind the band during Red Barchetta was, imo, just as good as the visuals for 2112, played in it’s entirety, I guess just cuz Geddy smelled all that pot smoke and wanted to remove the tops of all our teenaged heads. Red Barchetta certainly belongs on this list- thanks, Mark!

    Oh, but I don’t think the Uncle is deceased- they’re back drinking by the fireside at the uncle’s farm… unless unk is a vampire and that Barchetta’s red for more than one reason!

    Oh, but I don’t think the Uncle is deceased- they’re back drinking by the fireside at the uncle’s farm… unless unk is a vampire and that Barchetta’s red for more than one reason! Lmk

    Glen Campbell was one of the studio musicians for The Beach Boys. It’s said that he contributed to some of the changes during production.

    Well hyperv6, we could be good buddies. You are obviously a Lynyrd Skynyrd fan too. Your Neil Young comment made my day! Skynyrd Nation!!

    Robert Johnson’s “Terraplane Blues” would be one of the earliest car songs that isn’t a novelty ditty.

    “Hot Tamales (and they’re red hot)” would be his take on novelty…

    You nailed there Steve; 455 Rocket by Kathy Mattea is an iconic car guy and rocker song. I know cuz I’m both!

    Right, Terraplane Blues. Now you’re talking, or singing. You can always tell when low horizon kids “writing” another throwaway listicle.

    You have to wonder, Jamie and “Stefan” get paid for such excruciating effort, laborious research, aka Googling?

    Guess I should check that song out; my grandfather owned a Terraplane. It kept breaking springs.

    Not model specific but “sweet little 66 “ by Steve Earle is a favorite of mine.

    And the promotional song “hot dang mustang “ is pretty good .

    Yeah man, sounds like they wrote about my ’66 Chevelle. Well, until it got t-boned, that is. Back in the day, I heard you could visit your Chevy dealer and score a free 45 with “SS 396” on it. Don’t know what was on the flip side (maybe Car Payment Blues)?

    Jan and Dean’s Stingray beat the XKE. Chuck Berry caught Maybellene at the top of the hill.
    Little Richard “picked her up in my 88”.

    The flip side of SS396 was “Corvair Baby”. I still have 1 of the 2, 45’s we had of the October 07, 1966 Chevrolet debut at the dealership my Dad had a little financial share of.

    That was a great promo song. If you went to your local Chevy dealer and took a test drive, you got a 45 rpm record with that song. I’ve never heard what was on the flip side.

    Rocket 88 by Ike Turner and his Rhythm Kings. And what’s all this about limp home mode in a Jag? My XKR did that today.

    Go to Memphis and you’ll learn that Rocket 88 is considered the first rock and roll song.

    How about Johnny Cash One Piece At A Time. It’s a 49,50,51,52,53,54,55,56,57,58,59 automobile

    What about HOTROD RACE by Jimmy Dolan and many others that was the beginning of the story when the “Ford and the Mercury went out to play”. It is from the late 40’s or very early 50’s

    The print article did not include country music as a category. A cryin’ in the beer shame.
    Everyone, give David Allen Coe’s “The Ride” a listen.

    Two instrumentals…Stick Shift by The Duals & Green Onions get a car guy’s (and gal’s) heart racing.

    It wasn’t a hit and didn’t get much air play, but Paul Revere and the Raiders actually recorded “Corvair Baby”. I always request it at Car Shows and Cruise-ins.

    If you can stretch the definition to motorcycles, then you have to include Richard Thompson’s 1952 Vincent Black Lightning.

    Vincent Black Lightning 1952 is, to my warped way of thinking, the greatest car or, cycle song ever.
    Just 1 man’s opinion.

    Thanks for mentioning him! I was wondering if anyone would get across the pond refs in. An all-time best pure car song in my opinion is Thompson’s MGB GT ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-ZI5cPvQus with a slightly queasy video), and that’s from a TR person. True Brit car owner song. (His Wall of Death for the moto people too).

    Maybe I took my DeLorean too far back in time, but you have got to have Ike Turner’s Rocket 88 and Chuck Berry’s Maybellene on that list. As for Neil Young, I would recommend Long May You Run.

    I’m thinking No money Down by Chuck Berry
    “MIster, I want a yellow convertible with wide chrome wheels”

    Railroad air horns
    And a phone, cuz you know I need to be talking to my baby as I’m riding along…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *