Top 25 Car Songs of All Time as Voted by the HOT ROD Readers (2022)

There are a ridiculous number of car songs out there, leaving you loopy when it comes to picking out that road-trip playlist. To help solve that for you, we present the top 25 car songs of all time as voted by the readers of HOT ROD. And, of course, we've added a little commentary, because that's what we do. Like, for example, we noted that this online poll must have a attracted a younger audience, as some of the dusty old favorites missed the final cut; in the top 25, you'll see no "Little Old Lady from Pasadena" or "I Get Around." No "Fun, Fun, Fun," and no "Beep Beep." Devastating to us was the lack of "Convoy," "Switchblade 327," and "Ode to my Car." Oh, well. The readers have spoken, and this is what they said:

1) Red Barchetta by Rush

We think someone stacked the deck somewhere, driving traffic to the poll from a Rush message board or something. Red Barchetta as the best car song of all time? That's what the poll said. It's not what we say. Too foreign—and we don't mean the Canadian band, we mean we had to look up what a Barchetta was.

Best Lyric: "I fire up the willing engine, responding with a roar, tires spitting gravel, I commit my weekly crime."

2) Hot Rod Lincoln by Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen

Now we're talkin'! This is quality music right here. The song was originally written and recorded in 1955 and 1959, but the most famous and oft-heard is the 1972 release seen here.

Best Lyric: "My pappy said "Son your gonna drive me to drinkin' if you don't stop driving that hot rod Lincoln."

3) Radar Love by Golden Earring

In the United States, the Dutch band was a three-hit wonder, with "Radar Love" topping the gearhead charts. It's basically a song about hearing voices in your head.

Best Lyric: "I've been drivin' all night, my hand's wet on the wheel. There's a voice in my head that drives my heel."

4) The unknown song!

Our fourth most-voted item in our poll of readers was "a song not listed here." We thought we came up with all the possible top hits for the gearhead world, but evidently not. This one's a fill-in-the-blank entry. You get to pick.

5) Fuel by Metallica

While we're partial to "Whiplash" while driving far too fast, "Fuel" is the mainstream car song from Metallica, fronted by James Hetfield who is a legit car guy. He's had a couple cars built by Rick Dore and featured in HOT ROD over the last half dozen years, and here's one from Blue Collar Customs.

Best Lyric: "Ohhh, on I burn fuel is pumping engines burning hard, loose, and clean. And I burn, churning my direction, quench my thirst with gasoline

6) Little Deuce Coupe by The Beach Boys

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The ultimate standard car song! As a point of trivium, the car on the album cover is Chili Catallo's '32 Ford from the March '61 cover of HOT ROD, and the photo came from the same shoot by Eric Rickman.

Best Lyric: "Just a little deuce coupe with a flat head mill, but she'll walk a Thunderbird like (she's) it's standin' still.
She's ported and relieved and she's stroked and bored. She'll do a hundred and forty in the top end floored."

7) Highway Star by Deep Purple

We never thought of the Highway Star as being a '78 Corvette, but that was the spin on this single artwork that came out well after the song's 1972 release on the Machine Head album. Most righteous organ solo ever?

Best Lyric: "Nobody gonna take my car, I'm gonna race it to the ground. Nobody gonna beat my car. it's gonna break the speed of sound."

8) 409 by the Beach Boys

This reminds us of the Chevy billboard a few years ago that proclaimed, "They don't write songs about Volvos." Win. The Beach Boys wrote about Chevys in 1962, with "409" referring to the top GM engine of the time, the 409-horsepower 409 used in the B-body platform cars.

Best Lyric: "When I take her to the track she really shines (Giddy up giddy up 409). She always turns in the fastest times
(Giddy up giddy up 409). My four speed dual quad Posi-traction 409."

9) Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf

The opener mentions getting your motor running and heading out on the highway, but aside from that, we barely consider this a car song. Even so, it's become one of the standards of hot rodding with your eight-track blaring.

Best Lyric: "I like smoke and lightning, heavy metal thunder. Racin' with the wind, a the feelin' that I'm under."

10) I Can't Drive 55 by Sammy Hagar

Sammy used to be pretty reliable with the car-guy songs, even going back to his days in Montrose. We remember seeing his Trans Am in Car Craft and HOT ROD back in the early '80s, and we recall an evening at SEMA with him in a private concert. Sammy still has some pretty cool supercars and Mustangs.

Best Lyric: "A big black and white come and crushed my groove again."

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11) East Bound and Down by Jerry Reed

This is the classic from the soundtrack of Smokey and the Bandit, and while we live the song as our own private anthem, we can't help but feel it dominated Jerry Reed's career in a way he probably wanted to live down. Even so, ever hear the "West Bound and Down" sequel?

Best Lyric: "Keep your foot hard on the peddle, son never mind them brakes, let it all hang out 'cause we've got a run to make."

12) Lowrider by War

We appreciate that the readers picked this one, as the subject matter doesn't exactly hit the hot rodding mainstream. But it is one of the best car songs with great imagery.

Best Lyric: "Low rider don't use no gas now. Low rider don't drive too fast."

13) One Piece at a Time by Johnny Cash

What's really impressive about this one is Mr. Cash's hair on that album cover. Looks like he stole Michael Landon's schtick. The song, of course, is about stealing stuff from the Cadillac plant to build a car with parts over a dozen years of production. Hot rodding, right? It's as close to a novelty song as any on the list.

Best Lyric: "So we drilled it out so that it would fit, and with a little bit of help with an a-daptor kit, we had that engine runnin' just like a song."

14) Slow Ride by Foghat

The British rockers unleashed this one in 1975, a time when virtually any new car you could buy was a slow ride. We're a little ashamed that HOT ROD readers picked not one, but two songs about driving slowly.

Best Lyric: There are none. It's all about slowing down.

15) Dragula by Rob Zombie

Here's one off the classic-rock plot! It seems to be a car song based solely on the recall to Drag-u-la, the Tom Daniels-designed coffin-rod seen on the Munsters TV show and Munsters Go Home movie, circa 1966. Surprise to your car fans, Rob might actually be talking about a dude vampire in women's clothes.

Best Lyric: Well, pretty much the whole song is, "Dig through the ditches and burn through the witches, I slam in the back of my Dragula."

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16) Mustang Sally by Wilson Pickett

Because, on your music mix, you usually want to hear Mustang Sally right after a little Rob Zombie. Here's another car tune where the original artist (Mack Rice) got shafted when the better version came out, and that better one came from Wilson Pickett in 1966, just a couple years after the Ford Mustang was let out of the corral. And for the record (pun intended), this is another song with a few too many suggestions about slowing down.

Best Lyric: "I bought you a brand new mustang 'bout nineteen sixty five, now you come around signifying a woman, you don't wanna let me ride."

17) Racing in the Streets by Bruce Springsteen

This is one of the most legit car songs on the list, certainly hitting some highs not seen since the hot-rodding pop songs of the Beach Boys-influenced '60s. We'll forgive the mention of "fuelie" heads for a 396.

Best Lyric: "We take all the action we can meet and we cover all the north east state. When the strip shuts down we run 'em in the street, from the fire roads to the interstate."

18) Theme From Dukes of Hazzard

This one is not so much an epic song on its own as it is the aural icon of some of the most gearhead-influential moments from the childhoods of most of our audience. Without Dukes of Hazzard, there is no post-'80s car-guy population. With Dukes, there was almost no post-'80s population of '68-'69 Chargers.

Best Lyric: "Beats all you never saw, been in trouble with the law since the day they was born."

19) The General Lee by Johnny Cash

This just isn't a good song. We'd rather hear "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" with Jon Schneider. However...because General Lee. See above.

Best Lyric: "I'm a charger that charges through the night like an orange bolt of lightning passing everything in sight. I'm the best pal that you boys ever had, I'm thunder on the highway lookin' bad, bad, bad."

20) Shut Down by the Beach Boys

This one wears out after the ten thousandth time you hear it at an oldies cruise night, but check back in with an open mind and you realize this is a really cool tune about street racing.

Best Lyric: "Superstock Dart is windin' out in low, but my fuel injected Stingray's really startin' to go. To get the traction I'm ridin' the clutch, my pressure plate's burnin' that machine's too much."

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21) The Distance by Cake

Finally we dip into some alternative. The big question with this song is what kind of vehicles they are really talking about. It's about circle-track racing, clearly, but on what? One lyric suggests "driving," another seems to imply motorcycles when the driver is "riding on his horse." We like to think it's a jalopy race.

Best Lyric: "Bowel-shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse assail him, impale him, with monster-truck force."

22) Life is a Highway by Tom Cochran

We can't help but wonder if the popularity of this one was boosted by its inclusion in the Cars movie soundtrack with the Rascal Flatts remake, bringing the anthem to two generations. The Cochran release was 1991, the movie and Rascal Flatts tune came out in 2006.

Best Lyric: "Life is a highway, I wanna ride it all night long. If you're going my way, I wanna drive it all night long."

23) Jerry Was a Race Car Driver by Primus

This band is virtually unlistenable minus the car connection, but this one pulls it together long enough that you can almost sit through the 3 minutes and 11 seconds.

Best Lyric: "With a bocephus sticker on his 442 he'd light 'em up just for fun."

24) G.T.O. by Ronny and the Daytonas

Call it Little GTO or G.T.O., this song broke at the same time as the car, and you gotta wonder if the pop single put the Pontiac on the map. Even the album was called G.T.O.

Best Lyric: "Turn it on, wind it up, blow it out—GTO."

25) Maybellene by Chuck Berry

No song has led more mid-lifers with wives in poodle skirts to paint its title on the quarter panels of a '50s car. Guaranteed. OK, maybe "Peggy Sue."

Best Lyric: "As I was motivatin' over the hill I saw Mabellene in a Coup de Ville. A Cadillac arollin' on the open road nothin' will outrun my V8 Ford. The Cadillac doin' about ninety-five she's bumper to bumper, rollin' side by side."

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FAQs

Who sang about hot rods and car culture? ›

The Beach Boys

Considered one of the most influential bands in rock history, those early hot rod songs cleared the road for a wave of hot rod and surf songs as the California car scene heated up. Check out “Shut Down,” “409,” and “Little Deuce Coupe.”

What music do they play at car shows? ›

Our Top 10 Car Show Songs
  • “Mustang Sally” by Wilson Pickett.
  • “I Can't Drive 55” by Sammy Hagar.
  • “Rockin' Down The Highway” by the Doobie Brothers.
  • “Cruisin'” by Smokey Robinson.
  • “Litte Red Corvette” by Prince.
  • “Low Rider” by War.
  • “Ride Wit Me” by Nelly.
  • “Cars” by Gary Numan.

What cars did the Beach Boys sing about? ›

The country went crazy for the Beatles and Rolling Stones back in the day, but those looking for a band that was truly tuned into American culture need look no further than the Beach Boys.

What songs have a vehicle in the title? ›

Top 10 Best Songs With Vehicles in the Title
  • “Somethin' 'Bout a Truck”—Kip Moore.
  • “Long Train Runnin'”—The Doobie Brothers.
  • “Drive My Car”—The Beatles.
  • “Bike”—Pink Floyd.
  • “Helicopter”—Bloc Party.
  • “Somewhere In My Car”—Keith Urban.
  • “Aeroplane”—Red Hot Chili Peppers.
  • “Big Green Tractor”—Jason Aldean.
16 Oct 2021

Who wrote hot rod race? ›

How do you jam a car window shut? ›

Quick Fix For Car Window That Won't Stay Up - YouTube

Who sang Little GTO first? ›

"G.T.O." is a song written by John Wilkin and first recorded as the 1964 debut single of his band, Ronny & the Daytonas. It was also featured on their album of the same name. The single reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on September 26, 1964, and sold over one million copies, being awarded a gold disc.

What movies have songs from The Cars? ›

Filmography
  • Known For. Transformers Soundtrack (2007)
  • Super 8 Soundtrack (2011)
  • Bumblebee Soundtrack (2018)
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High Soundtrack (1982)
  • Soundtrack. Hollywood Stargirl (2022)
  • Animal Kingdom (2021)
  • Family Guy (2001-2021)
  • Morning Joe (2021)

What car is the 409 in the Beach Boys song? ›

The lyrics of the classic Beach Boys car tune She's Real Fine My 409 are largely comprised of the phrase "giddy-up" - which, while perhaps less than imaginative in song-writing terms, isn't at all inappropriate in describing a 1961 Chevrolet Impala SS loaded for bear with a 360-hp, big-block, 409-cubic-inch V-8.

What car are the Beach Boys singing about in 409? ›

Yet "409" was actually recorded in 1962 by the famous pop group, the Beach Boys. They weren't shills for the household cleaning product - the song was actually a tribute to the Chevrolet 409. This wasn't a specific model, but an engine offered by the automaker in the early 60s, especially in models like the Corvette.

Who made a 409? ›

“The first Muscle Car” – In 1961 Chevrolet decided to fine tune the company's performance image and boost sales further by offering a “Super Sport” package on its full-sized Chevrolet Impala. The “SS” package was introduced late in the model year with an “all new” 409 engine option.

What song talks about a train? ›

  • “Stop This Train” by John Mayer (2006) ...
  • “Peace Train” by Yusuf/ Cat Stevens (1971) ...
  • “Train Wreck” by James Arthur (2016) ...
  • “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne (1980) ...
  • “Girl on a Train” by Skizzy Mars (2016) ...
  • “Long Train Runnin'” by The Doobie Brothers (1973) ...
  • “The Train” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (2016)
24 Aug 2018

What songs did the cars sing? ›

The Cars

What band is named after a car? ›

Chevelle — Named after the car.

What is the name of the song depicting a famous race up what Hill name the song and the Hill? ›

Huge hit was written about early-1950s race up Lewiston hill. Charlie Ryan was racing a beer distributor up Lewiston's Spiral Highway back in the early 1950s when he says he got the inspiration to write his signature song, "Hot Rod Lincoln."

What makes a car window go down by itself? ›

A sign that you have a faulty motor is if your car window goes up or down by itself, even when the switch on the driver's panel is in an off position or when nobody is in the car. This means that the window has to power to go up and down on its own.

What can I use to keep my car window from sliding down? ›

Temporary Solutions to Keep Your Window Up
  1. A Little Duct Tape. Duct tape is one of those materials that can fix anything. ...
  2. Use Junk Mail. ...
  3. Use a Command Strip. ...
  4. Try a Suction Cup. ...
  5. Tape Plastic Over the Window. ...
  6. Take it to a Mechanic. ...
  7. Slam Your Door (the Most Fun Option) ...
  8. Fix it Yourself.

Will duct tape hurt car paint? ›

On its own, duct tape does nothing directly to car paint apart from adhering to it. The exception to this is if the car needs a new coat, in which case the paint could flake or peel. Otherwise, duct tape will often leave behind a layer of sticky residue, requiring careful removal to prevent further damage.

What engine came in the 1964 GTO? ›

All GTOs built from 1964–66 were powered by a 389-cubic-inch V-8 with 10.75:1 compression. Pontiac first offered three two-barrel carburetors in 1957 and the Tri-power set up was an option on the GTO from 1964–66. Along with a cam swap it boosted horsepower from 325 hp with the four-barrel carb to 348 hp in '64.

What is a GTO? ›

This ritual is summarized by the three most famous letters ever worn by an automobile: "GTO" stands for "Gran Turismo Omologato," which, loosely translated from the Italian, means homologated (recognized for competition) grand-touring car.

What year did the song Little GTO come out? ›

What song does DJ play in cars? ›

The song DJ plays in his introduction is "Rollin' in the Rearview" by Headbone and Jabu. Despite Cars: Lightning League being used to promote Cars 3, DJ appears as a playable character, despite him not appearing in the film at all.

Who sings the song at the end of cars? ›

Gary Clark Jr. - Ride (From "Cars 3") [Official Video]

What movie has the cars drive in it? ›

“Drive”

Although it was featured in Transformers (2007) and Ziggy Marley covered it for 50 First Dates (2004), the fan favorite hit fits in best on the soundtrack for The Squid and The Whale.

How much horsepower does a Chevy 409 have? ›

The 409 featured a 4.31-inch bore and 3.5-inch stroke. The intake valves were 2.06 inches and fit next to 1.72-inch exhaust valves. Both actuated by a mechanical camshaft that fed air and fuel to forged pistons that created more than 11:1 compression. With its single four-barrel carb, the engine was rated at 360 hp.

What is a Chevy 409? ›

409. A 409 cu in (6.7 L) version was Chevrolet's top regular production engine from 1961 to 1965, with a choice of single or 2X4-barrel Rochester carburetors. Bore x stroke were both up from the 348 cu in (5.7 L) to 4.31 in × 3.5 in (109.5 mm × 88.9 mm).

What year did the 409 come out? ›

The 409 was introduced at the end of 1961. With a bore of 4.3125 inches and a stroke of 3.5 inches it had a solid lifter cam, a single Carter AFB, and was rated at 360 hp. Due to the late introduction, there were just 142 Impala SS 409 cars produced, making them very rare.

What is the car on the Beach Boys album? ›

A Deuce Coupe is a 1932 Ford Coupe (deuce being for the year).

Who wrote the song Little Deuce Coupe? ›

Little Deuce Coupe

How do you tell a 348 from a 409? ›

However, I have always been able to tell them apart because the 348 oil dipstick is on the driver's side of the block and the 409 and Z11-427 "W" engines have the dipstick on the passenger side.

Is there a 61 Impala SS? ›

Of them, only a handful were true '61 Impala Super Sports. Few enthusiasts today even remember that Chevrolet produced an Impala SS in '61. Offered in the spring of that year, only 453 Impala Super Sports were built.

How much horsepower does a 348 Chevy engine have? ›

The Turbo-Thrust 348-cubic-inch engine had 4.125-inch cylinder bores, and a stroke of 3.25 inches. With a four-barrel carburetor, the Turbo-Thrust produced 250 horsepower.

What is hot rod culture? ›

Hot rod culture is defined by many subcultures, but more than that, it's defined by the very people who whole-heartedly dedicate themselves to the scene. Whether you're just starting in the industry or a long-time member, the hot rod world offers something for every taste, walk of life and budget.

Are hot rods still popular? ›

Overall, our industry experts agreed that the hot-rod market remains strong—with some caveats.

Are hot rods still made? ›

There is still a vibrant hot rod culture worldwide, especially in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Sweden. The hot rod community has now been subdivided into two main groups: street rodders and hot rodders.

Are muscle cars hot rods? ›

The traditional look of a hot rod comes from the vehicle styles of this era. Once the muscle cars of the 60's arrived the hot rod wained in popularity for a time. The “Hot Rod,” became a term generally used for vehicles customized for performance. and raced at very fast speeds.”

What was a favorite car of the hot rod culture? ›

Early hot rods were mostly built from the Ford Model T, which was inexpensive and widely available. When World War II started many men were shipped overseas and their hot rods sat on blocks, the popularity died.

How fast can a hot rod go? ›

A home-built hot rod might take two to 10 years, while one built at a professional shop could be done in a year or so. It all depends on the condition of the vehicle and the number of modifications. How fast do they go? Depending on the engine and the body style, I've seen them run 200 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

What does hot rod mean in slang? ›

(colloquial, slang) To modify a vehicle for enhanced driving performance, top speed, and/or to accelerate faster.

What does DD Speed Shop do for a living? ›

WINNIPEG -- A Winnipeg couple restoring vintage hot rods in their two-car garage is making waves on the internet. Danielle Lester and Dan Malcolmson started DD Speed Shop, named after the pair, out of their suburban home.

What type of car is a hot rod? ›

A hot rod is any car that is modified to be its own. Usually, it's been lowered in the front with a tough stance, with a built motor and transmission with floor shifter, loud exhaust that you can see, a standout paint job, cool rims with fat tires in the rear and finishing with a cool interior to go with them!

What is the point of a rat rod? ›

Definition. Originally, rat rods were a counter-reaction to the high-priced "customs" and typical hot rods, many of which were seldom driven and served only a decorative purpose.

What state has the most hot rods? ›

Here's how they line up.
  • Number 1. Nevada. Casinos make Nevada a great place to party for the general public, but it's also the most hot rod-friendly state in the country as well. ...
  • Number 2. Montana. Up in Big Sky Country, sparse population is both a blessing and a curse. ...
  • Number 3. Florida. ...
  • Number 4. Kentucky. ...
  • Number 5. Illinois.
1 May 2011

How much does it cost to build a hot rod? ›

Typically, a rod can take 1,000 hours to build which equates to $100,000 and that's plus parts.

When was the term hot rod first used? ›

Moving on to a more traditional search, I looked up “hot rod” on merriam-webster.com, and the definition came up as “an automobile rebuilt or modified for high speed and fast acceleration,” with its first known use being some time in 1943.

Why are cars called rods? ›

The hot rod is a staple of American history. Often called a street rod, a hot rod is a classic American car with an oversized engine modified for speed. It is this powerful engine that gave the hot rod its name. The term “rod” comes from the connecting rods in the high-power, or “hot,” engine.

How much does a rat rod cost? ›

Compared to the street-rod scene, where enthusiasts can spend thousands of dollars on individual chromed billet parts, very few rat rods cost more than $5,000 total. A lot of rat rodders build cars for much less because they are able to use junk parts that they fabricate into something useful.

What is a muscle car? ›

: any of a group of American-made 2-door sports coupes with powerful engines designed for high-performance driving.

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