Ford mustang

11 Classic Cars That Have Inspired Memorable Songs

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Ford mustang

Turn Up the Tunes!

Born in the early 1950s, rock 'n' roll came of age alongside the automobile and the interstate highway system. Is it any wonder one of the earliest rock songs, "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston and the Delta Cats, was inspired by a V8-powered Oldsmobile sedan? You could cruise for days listening to nothing but songs about cars, trucks, driving, and the open road. Here are a few of our favorites that were inspired by classic automobiles.

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Ford Mustang

Ford Mustang

"Mustang Sally" by Wilson Pickett
R&B singer Wilson Pickett wasn't the first person to record this song — that honor belongs to Bonny "Mack" Rice in 1965, who also wrote it — but Pickett's version is perhaps the most popular. His 1966 rendition hit No. 6 on the R&B charts and No. 23 on the pop charts and remains one of his best-loved songs. According to Songfacts, Rice originally named the song "Mustang Mama," but singer Aretha Franklin suggested changing the name to "Mustang Sally" to reflect the lyrics of the chorus.

Related: 15 Best Mustangs of All Time

The 1932 Ford

The 1932 Ford

"Little Deuce Coupe" by The Beach Boys
This title track from The Beach Boys' 1963 album is one of several car-themed songs the band has recorded over the years. The hotrod that Mike Love and the Boys sing about in this number is a V8-powered 1932 Ford coupe, a favorite of street racers for being easy to modify. The album cover art, which featured a blue '32 Ford, originally appeared in Hot Rod magazine.

Chevrolet Corvette

Chevrolet Corvette

"Little Red Corvette" by Prince
The Purple One released this rockin' song in 1983, his biggest hit single to date and the second off his breakout album "1999." Surprisingly, Prince didn't take his inspiration from a Chevrolet Corvette. The lyrics came to him while he was dozing in a  1964 Mercury Montclair Marauder owned by bandmember Lisa Coleman.

Related: 15 Legendary Corvettes We'd Love to Drive

1964 Pontiac Tempest LeMans GTO
General Motors Heritage Center

Pontiac GTO

"Little GTO" by Ronny and The Daytonas
It's safe to speculate that this 1964 surf-rock pop gem is better remembered than the band that sang it. This debut single by Ronny and The Daytonas, a band from Nashville, Tennessee, hit No. 4 on the pop charts in 1964. Despite a few follow-up hits, Ronny and The Daytonas disbanded within a few years. (Pontiac continued to produce the GTO until 1974.)

Related: 22 Vintage Convertibles That Will Blow Your Hair Back

Cadillac Coupe DeVille
Cadillac Coupe DeVille by sv1ambo (CC BY)

Cadillac Coupe DeVille

"Maybellene" by Chuck Berry
Cadillacs have long enjoyed a reputation as a status symbol among pop stars, so no surprise that these cars are immortalized in song, too. Rock pioneer Chuck Berry made a splash in 1955 with his debut single "Maybellene," which tells the tale of a lead-footed Cadillac-driving woman being pursued by her lovelorn boyfriend in a broken-down Ford. It would take Berry three decades of legal wrangling for him  to secure full writing credit for "Maybellene."

1950 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 Club Sedan
1950 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 Club Sedan by Alfvanbeem (CC BY)
Chevrolet Camaro

Chevrolet Camaro

"Bitchin' Camaro" by Dead Milkmen
This goofy song ambles along, two dudes talking about going to the beach, before tearing into a crazed punk rant about how they're going to get there in a cool Chevrolet Camaro. The Milkmen's "Bitchin' Camaro" became a staple of college rock radio in the late 1980s and remains a Generation X cult classic. The song even inspired a beer by Texas-based Real Ale Brewing Co.

Related: 12 Surprising Things About the Chevy Camaro

1956 Cadillac Series 62 2 door Hardtop
1956 Cadillac Series 62 2 door Hardtop by Sicnag (CC BY)

Another Cadillac Coupe DeVille (Maybe)

"Pink Cadillac" by Natalie Cole
Singer Natalie Cole said she wasn't too keen at first on the idea of recording this Bruce Springsteen song, but it's a good thing she did. The song turned into one of the biggest hits of her career, hitting No. 5 on the pop charts in 1988. Although the song doesn't specify what kind of pink Caddy, Natalie Cole's music video featured a vintage late '50s Cadillac Coupe DeVille. Bruce Springsteen recorded his version of the song while working on "Born in the U.S.A.;" it was released as a B-side to "Dancing in the Dark" in 1984.

63 Ford Thunderbird
63 Ford Thunderbird by Greg Gjerdingen (CC BY)

Ford Thunderbird

"Silver Thunderbird" by Marc Cohn
Singer-songwriter Marc Cohn is best known for his 1991 hit "Walking in Memphis," but he also had a minor hit off the same album with "Silver Thunderbird." Oddly, the director of the music video opted to show Cohn driving a vintage Chevy Corvette as he waxed poetic about a Ford.

Pontiac Trans Am
Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta
Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta by Marty B (None)

Ferrari 166 Barchetta

"Red Barchetta" by Rush
Leave it to the Canadian cult band Rush to write a song that was inspired by a piece of science fiction printed in Road and Track magazine in 1973. Inspired by his love of the 1948 Ferrari 166 convertible (barchetta in Italian), drummer Neil Peart wrote this song about driving his uncle's sports car in an era when such vehicles are deemed unsafe and illegal. (Yeah, doesn't sound all that impressive, but it's a nice piece of prog-rock if you're into that sort of thing …)

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