Home » Do You Have A Song That Brings Back Memories Of Your Car?

Do You Have A Song That Brings Back Memories Of Your Car?

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From before cars even had radios to listen with, music associated with cars has been part of popular culture.

 “In My Merry Oldsmobile” was written in 1905 and is a good example of the way cars were already becoming a fixture in music. The old trope of country songs being mostly about lost love and pickup trucks isn’t for nothing, and hip-hop’s love of the ‘64 Chevolet Impala is well-documented.

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Vidframe Min Bottom

Most of us have favourite driving songs, or entire albums that we play on roadtrips. One of my favourite Cold Chisel songs is Bow River, about a factory worker who has been saving up to get off the factory floor and head out on a road trip to his favourite place. Probably the only song I can think of that captures the excitement of a “set of brand-new tyres!”

Memory can be a strange thing. A smell, or a sound can instantly transport you back to a time or place. 

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Today we’re talking about how a certain song, a few songs  or even an album can bring back a memory of a car.

We had a chat about this a while back in The Autopian Slack, and here are some songs that a few of the writers here associate with cars they or friends/family have owned.

 

Please Note: Some of the songs below may have lyrics or music videos that are Not Safe For Work, some discretion is advised.

 

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Laurence Rogers

1975 Ford Escort XL MkII: Song for the Dead by Queens of the Stone Age

Lr Mark Ii Escort

My first car, I used to blast this through the Kenwood system I installed at age 16 while sliding it around in the paddock, dreaming of having my Provisional Licence and wishing I could play drums like Dave Grohl!

1986 Holden ‘VL‘ Commodore: Through the Loop by Pendulum

Lr 86 Vl CommodoreMy first ‘P plater’ car, with requisite subwoofer. I have strong memories of blasting this song at 7am on backroads on the way to TAFE (trade school) and learning to control rear-wheel-drive *cough* hoon *cough* with this song pumping and the lovely RB30E inline-six singing.

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1979 Chrysler ‘CM’ Regal Sedan: Territorial Pissings by Nirvana

Lr 79 Cm Regal

My first Valiant, I got it on the road for my 18th birthday so you can imagine how that tank of a car was driven by a teenager,  with the song to match! The cheap tape deck had bad alternator whine coming through when you gave it some revs, which only added to the attitude of this song in my opinion!

1974 Valiant ‘VJ’ Charger: Good From Afar by Horsell Common 

Lr My Charger 2009
My Charger, a little over a year after high school

My favourite song when I bought the Charger at the end of high school, and an apt description of the vehicle’s condition at the time.

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1975 Chrysler ‘VK’ Regal Sedan: Riders on the Storm by The Doors

Lr 75 Vk Regal

This car was what we all hoped ‘barn-finds’ would be, garaged and undriven for 20 years before I bought it, a near-perfect survivor car. I used to listen to The Doors on long roadtrips, and even now this song brings back memories of the long bonnet with mirror-shine white paint at night with street lights passing overhead.

2000 Nissan R34 Skyline GT-T: Papercut by Linkin Park

Lr 2000 R34 Skyline Gt T

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Like most kids growing up in the 90s, both Gran Turismo and Nu-Metal left an indelible mark. Honestly any song on their debut album or Meteora still brings back memories of this JDM beast on a windy backroad or the mountain roads near Armidale (about 5 hours north of Dubbo) that I frequented when my partner was attending university nearby.

2006 Subaru WRX Club Spec 9: History’s Stranglers by The Bronx

Lr Wrx

I’ve wanted a WRX since I was around nine years old and had the world of turbos introduced to me via a ride in a WRX Sti Version 5 Sedan with some upgrades and a blow-off valve that sounded like an iron lung. This song kicks arse, this car kicks arse

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1970 Valiant ‘VG’ Wayfarer Ute a.k.a. ‘Lenny’: Downhearted by Australian Crawl

Lr Lenny

Not so much the lyrics, it’s the vibe, mate.

The Castle The Vibe

 

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Project Cactus: 6L GTR by The Chats 

Project Cactus Family

This song saw heavy rotation in the creation of this machine, a perfect fit.

6l Gtr Gif

Bek’s 1985 Suzuki Mighty Boy: Too Big for Your Boots by Stormzy

Lr Mighty Boy

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Something about driving this thing flat-out in the streets of Dubbo (yet still doing the speed limit because ~25hp), bopping along to some UK Grime is a perfect fit.

Much like other Kei cars, the only way to drive this car is to join team ‘Never Lift’.

Thomas Hundal

It’s funny because I remember most cars by songs. 

My mate Jerry’s old CSX Type-S was CRASHTHECAR by William Crooks, Fraxiom, and Cavan Brady. Just tearing through Scarborough on VTEC to noisy pop. 

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His LS460 was Numb/Beverly Hills by Bladee because the bass separation of that Mark Levinson system was marvellous 

And XC90 that replaced it is Best Places To Be A Mom by Taking Back Sundy, for obvious reasons.

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My childhood best friend’s Crown Vic is Ricardo by 88Glam

And his old 545i/6 was The End Of Heartache by Killswitch Engage. 

I guess my automotive history by songs goes something like this:

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Th Cutlass

Cutlass – I’m An Adult Now by The Pursuit of Happiness

Th C1500

C1500 – Love? by Strapping Young Lad

 

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Th Crown Vic

Crown Victoria – Chelsea Smile by Bring Me The Horizon

Th G35

G35 – Stress by Justice

325i 4

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325i – Too many songs!

Th Boxster

Boxster – Dust by Frank Ocean

 

Mark Tucker

Mark Tucker K1500

My 1989 Forest Service Chevy K1500 Cheyenne is equal parts Outta Mind Outta Sight by Wilco,  Counterclockwise by Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers, and Stuck Between Stations by The Hold Steady.

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Mark Tucker 300c

So far the Chrysler 300C is Ozzy’s “Road To Nowhere,” since that’s what was on the radio when I backed it out of my dad’s garage for the last time.

Mark Tucker Mg

And the MG is the entirety of Joe Jackson’s Look Sharp album, because I listened to that a lot while I was doing the engine work. 

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Rob Spiteri

My cars have a few songs:

2010 Toyota 4Runner:

Rob Spiteri Toyota Four Runner

4Runner by Rostam. This one goes without an explanation. A song named after a car? Liquid gold. The story behind how I discovered this song is actually pretty funny. I was listening to Sirius XM’s ALT Nation and they were doing a new song hour and this happened to come on while driving my ‘yota and I paid attention to the lyrics and almost rolled my truck.

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You’re So Vain by Carly Simon. Good ole Carly Simon and a great song. I love listening to CS, and this particular song was in my Spotify top 10 songs of 2022. When driving my 4Runner, I’m not sure if it’s the ride height, the cockiness of that robust 4.0 V6, or the fact that it’ll run forever, that just adds that level of “vain” to the driving experience. Maybe this song would be more suitable for a 200 series Land Cruiser, but we’re ballin’ on a budget here.

 Land Rover Disco:

Rob Spiteri Land Rover Disco

Miracles by Jefferson Starship. It’s a miracle this thing is still running. That’s it. I believe in miracles, and owning this Disco without anything too major mechanically failing is certainly a miracle. End of story.

The Entire Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack. Come on, who said Disco is dead! It’s not! Through the power invested in the Bee Gees, Yvonne Elliman, and KC & The Sunshine Band together we keep Disco alive and running.

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Mercedes Streeter

2012 Smart Fortwo

Ms 2012 Smart

Kevin Rudolf’s ‘I Made It.’

The car is a representation for me that dreams can come true. It was my first Smart! For whatever reason, this specific song resonated with teenage me and connected it to the car.

2016 Smart Fortwo

Ms 2016 Smart

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 Zedd’s ‘Ignite’ from League Of Legends.

No particular reason, it was the first song that played when I got in the car and now whenever it plays I think of the car.

Bonus: 2003 GMC Envoy

Ms Envoy

 This was my parents’ car back in 2008. When I got my license, I used to take it out for drives to my secret beach, where I experimented with finding my own identity. It was the only place I felt it was safe to experiment with what I didn’t know was my trans identity. The song that makes me think of it the most is Lady Gaga’s ‘Paparazzi’

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Stephen Walter Gossin

2003 Dodge Stratus Coupe SXT

Swg Dodge Stratus

Vidiots by Cupcakes 

When the huge guitars kick in on the chorus, the lyrics direct the audience to “…take it to the next level”. 

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That’s exactly what was achieved with bringing this junkyard-bound coupe (with its blown head gasket) to becoming a daily driver for the past 7 years.

Lewin Day

NA Mazda Miata

Lewin Miata

It’d probably be my Miata, and when I used to run through the hills blasting White People for Peace by Against Me. Banger track for a hot run.

 

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What songs bring back memories of your cars, or those of friends/family? Let us know in the comments!

 

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Austin Vail
Austin Vail
4 months ago

The song “Persistence” by King Gizzard And The Lizzard Wizzard always reminds me of my ’66 Thunderbird. I think of it as the car’s theme song since the lyrics are practically describing it. “Ooh baby I got persistence, keep pushing like the Ford Motor pistons. Ooh baby I got persistence, I’ve an automatic transmission. Ooh baby I got persistence, I hold the pole position. Ooh baby I’ve got persistence, yeah I go the distance.” Ford? Check. Automatic? Check. Bizzarely and relentlessly reliable with a persistent refusal to die?” Check! Fast? Okay, not so check. But three out of four ain’t bad. The song has even become a sort of motivational song to me whenever I need to be persistent at something difficult and it’s tempting to give up – just keep pushing like the Ford motor pistons, you got persistence.

The song “Boombastic” by Shaggy reminds me of a very memorable ride in a BMW (7 series I think?) in Jordan, drifting up Mount Nebo at night. My friends and I had just met this guy’s friend on the street, he invited us into his house for tea and conversation, and afterwards he introduced us to his street racer friends and their BMWs and Mercedes, offering to drive us up Mount Nebo, so we accepted. The driver of the BMW spoke little English and we spoke little Arabic, but we made it work somehow. It was my first time in a BMW and my first time in a car that was drifting. Boombastic was playing on the radio, the speedometer was broken, and it was a very exciting drive up a dark mountain to say the least.

The song “Hello” by Martin Solveig and Dragonette reminds me of a gold/beige 2005 Honda Odyssey a friend of mine bought for dirt cheap in Hawaii while we lived there briefly, which 17 of us crammed into on a road trip to Mauna Kea (all my best road trip stories involve mountains apparently). Everyone took turns playing music from their phones through the van’s radio, someone played this song, everyone bopped to it, and somehow it stuck out to me as one of the best parts of the trip. Pretty scenery, no elbow room whatsoever but everyone’s having a good time, and a catchy upbeat pop song with only 3 chords in it setting the tone for the day.

Also in an overfilled van, also in Hawaii, also on a road trip with friends, a mashup of “Toxic” by Brittney Spears and “Change (In the house of flies)” by Deftones reminds me of a red Ford Windstar. We had just driven to a cliff to jump into the ocean, which was an adventure, and on the way back we were taking turns picking songs. It was dark out, some of the girls wanted to listen to Brittney Spears, but I knew they also liked rock and I like mashup songs so I picked out this one. It is a fantastic mashup song and everyone bopped to it. Something about the vibe in that moment was just really memorable, I don’t remember anything else specifically that we listened to, but that song reminds me of that trip in that van.

Myk El
Myk El
4 months ago

I’ll admit my associations are intentional. So for my 2003 MINI Cooper S, it was a song “These Days” by a band On Second Thought. My 2005 yellow Pontiac GTO’s song is “Oh Yeah” by Yello. Even got a personalized plate and frame to go with. But basically every time I drive it, I think “oh yeah.”

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
4 months ago

late to this but mine happen in albums. Mostly cause I’ll play an album on repeat when one of the pop girlies goes off.

W124- Bangerz. This is solely because my little brother rode to High-School with me and he HATED that I’d belt the entire album and dance in traffic. So I played it every single morning just to fuck with him.

Passat W8- Probably help by blackbear. Or any blackbear album, but lots of trappy-pop cause that was the thing when I daily drove it in college.

W211 E63- Suckerz / the 1, also by blackbear. And the homecoming by Trevor Daniel. I was really sad then.

Stinger- Probably anything by the hyperpop girlies, mostly Charli, MØ, and Tove Lo.

Current cars don’t really have their own songs yet.. in due time.

Bonus: my W8 broke down (shocker) and I drove my grandma’s Buick anonymous for a week, starting the day Ellie Goulding dropped Delirium.. so now every time I hear any song from that album, I am transported to it coming out of crackly 90s speakers, floating thru some curvy back roads on the way to my college.

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
4 months ago

“Wish You Well” by Tom Cochrane. It reminds me of when I had just gotten a new girlfriend.. I spent my first night with her and then got up.early to go and visit my folks. I was driving in my 87 Integra, and that song came on, and it felt like all was possible.

She dumped me later on, the car rusted out, and while all was possible, it wasn’t possible just yet. Still, I look back on that morning fondly.

I associate “Spirit in the Sky” with my.late parents’ Mazda Protegé. My father had just died in front of me while in the hospital. I had no sleep at all. It was 5 in the morning, and I walked up to the nurses station and asked them where the nearest open gas station was. The car was basically on empty, and I hadn’t stopped on the way in to the hospital because I needed to get there fast. They told, and I made the long walk out to the parking lot to drive to the gas station, and then home to my dad’s house. I had no idea how I was going to function, and felt more alone than I thought possible, but I knew that I had to perform this mundane task.

I got into the car, and turned the key. As soon as the car started, the first notes of “Spirit in the Sky” came on the radio.

My dad wasn’t a religious man, or a rock guy, but that song got me to the gas station and home, so I could call my girlfriend (now wife) and finally fall apart. I think Dad might have somehow had something to do with that.

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
4 months ago

I always have so many different tunes coming through that associating a particular song with any of my cars is difficult. However, I will never forget bombing down the road during the 80s in my friend’s Fiero to “Pleasure and Pain” by the Divinyls.

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
4 months ago

Cutlass – I’m An Adult Now by The Pursuit of Happiness
Excellent choice and very underrated band. I still listen to them on regular rotation even today. If you’re into straight up rocking hard with a wry sense of humor check them out.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
4 months ago

I bought my 2002 wrx just before Covid, and then found a copy of Monty Python’s Life of Brian soundtrack in one of those little ‘take one/leave one’ library boxes that popped up during 2020. It’s hard to be grim when you’re whistling along to Look on the Bright Side of Life.

I dipped back into prog rock earlier this year, and bought an M Roadster. In the Court of the Crimson King will always evoke top-down sunrises on the Blue Ridge Parkway now

Matt Mayotte
Matt Mayotte
4 months ago

The whole Hot Fuss album by The Killers, but more specifically Midnight Show. I would drive my 1990 Astro from Detroit to Mt Pleasant and back to visit my girlfriend all the time. Anytime I hear that album it immediately takes me back.

“DRIVE FASTER, BOYYYYY!”

Last edited 4 months ago by Matt Mayotte
Mr. Frick
Mr. Frick
4 months ago

Summertime, doing the slow cruise in my GoMango 70 AAR with Qué Onda Guero thumping

Carlos Ferreira
Carlos Ferreira
4 months ago

Rush’s Red Barchetta makes me think of me flying through rural New England back roads in my Mars Red Mk1 VW Scirocco.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
4 months ago

> Love? by Strapping Young Lad

FUCKKKKYEAHHHH

SYL loud in a car is always a good time.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
4 months ago

The VW 411 is definitely a dirt and crud factory, not to mention a pain in a specific muscle (…the gluteus maximus).

Die Krupps’ “Schmutzfabrik” made it onto the Lemons Rally playlist for good reason. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2K3GlPVPjs

Last edited 4 months ago by Stef Schrader
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
4 months ago

Had a friend in the late 90’s with a lifted, rusting out, 56’(ish?) International Travelall.

I fondly recall riding passenger down some Utah canyon in a snow storm listening to “Eleven” by Primus.

Watching the icy road pass by through a rusty hole in the floorboard and the ancient wipers trying to keep up with the snowflakes hitting the windshield was an experience.

If I recall correctly we were bumping Primus through a boom box, running on shoplifted D batteries, (seat belted in the… nope no seatbelts) tied to the back seat with twine?

Never has a situation, vehicle, song and means of listening come together so cosmically and completely.

A rare perfect fit of perception, reality and that constant nagging sensation of pure enjoyment of the absurdity life can offer.

To this day I’m not sure what those old bikers that gave us teenagers a toke around our campfire laced that bud with?

Last edited 4 months ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
4 months ago

Whatever it was it knocked something loose in my brain. To this day
I can’t listen to that Primus song without being instantly transported, via foggy memories, back to teenage me sitting shotgun in that old Travelall.

Perfect song played at the perfect time, over mindlessly inane circumstance.

Good times.

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
4 months ago

Pretty much any BTO song but specifically Not Fragile reminds me of my buddy’s parents 70’s Chevy G20 Conversion Van. Being from the tail end of the 70’s it was equipped with an AM/FM 8 track sound system. We used to use it when we would take spring break or summer road trips. The case of a dozen 8 tracks was still in the van and that BTO album was the only one that was a “kids” tape, they rest had been mom and dads from when it was new. So on may road trips there were large swaths of country where that was our only music.

A song that reminds me of a car of mine there are several but I’ll limit it to two.

Mercury Blues, the Steve Miller version reminds me of my Mercury’s.

Money for Nothing, which came out right about the time I put some “good” speakers in my Pinto and that song’s intro was regularly played at volume to fully appreciate the bass of the new speakers.

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