Rock'n'roll at full throttle... the car cruisin' favourites of the 1950s and 1960s.
by JUAN FINNIS and STIRLING BROVEN
THE AUTOMOBILE WAS the glowing symbol of America in the glory days of the 1950s and 1960s. In a sense, it represented the freewheeling spirit of the early settlers heading west.
A car signified a right of passage for any teen. For a boy it represented manhood. It was a ticket to cruise and, if he was lucky, a make-out mobile at the local Drive-In. For a girl it was a status symbol, especially if it was a T-Bird or an Impala convertible.
Some technically minded youths preferred to buy run-down machines and took great pride in customising them for drag racing. Conversely, girls' cars were usually immaculate because they were usually a gift from daddy who would drive an Oldsmobile, Buick or Pontiac. And in the world of rock'n'roll, many a one-hit wonder squandered his royalties on a gaudy Cadillac during the first heady flush of success. All these cars had a style and panache that was often celebrated in rock'n'roll songs.
In pre-motorway and post-ration book England, the dashing bluebloods were tearing up the countryside in their Austin Healeys, Morgans and MGs. The average working class teen (or older brother, more likely) had to be content with a second-hand Hillman Minx or Ford Anglia. In 1957-8, American styling at an affordable price came to Britain in the form of the high finned, chrome-laden Ford Zodiac and Zephyr models, not to mention the smaller Vauxhall Victor. The 60s brought the Mini Cooper and E Type Jag, essential motoring accoutrements for the guy or gal around town.
Whether American or British, the young record buyers were crazy about their automobiles. The car was a natural subject for songwriters and it was frequently celebrated on record. This is a tribute to that era.
Arguably the best car song set on the market, taking in R&B, rockabilly and Hot Rod sounds, Crazy 'Bout An Automobile displays an amazing coherence. It's a pacy, bumper to bumper odyssey through 1950/early 60s Americana that makes for breathless entertainment, whether in-car or on-sofa.