Classic Summer Cruising Tunes

by: John R. Paul

July 09, 2013

It’s summer; time to let the top and your hair down, hit the open road and sing along to your favorite summer tunes. We asked the HVA Facebook page fans to give us a few of their favorite summertime driving tunes. Check out this shortlist of some of the great suggestions we received.

“Radar Love” – Golden Earring
submitted by Dave Hoskins and Joy Batchelor Colasacco

Released in 1973, Dutch rock band Golden Earring’s “Radar Love” quickly became an all-time classic driving song. From its imagery of racing down the highway to the driving rhythm, “Radar Love” hits all the right notes, ensuring it will never become some forgotten song.

“Highway Star” – Deep Purple
submitted by Julie Dobbins

The propulsive, driving intro of the lead-off track on Deep Purple’s 1972 classic Machine Head makes this hard rock classic perfect for racing with the top down. When Ian Gillan’s vocals come screeching in, you’re already well on your way to flying down the highway, fists pumping in the air.

“Low Rider” – War
submitted by Azar Attura

Few songs are as instantly recognizable and carry as infectious a groove as War’s 1975 hit and soundtrack to an automotive subculture, “Low Rider.” With a song that celebrates the virtues of driving a little slower and riding a little lower, one would be hard pressed to come up with a better song for cruising the strip and showing off your finest set of wheels.

“Born to Be Wild” – Steppenwolf
submitted by Bob Barth

It’s darn near impossible to put together a list like this without including Steppenwolf’s 1968 anthem “Born to Be Wild.” From the opening snare hit on through the ascending guitar riff, it’s easy to picture yourself cruising Easy Rider-style down the open road, wind whipping through your hair, sunglasses artfully perched and a cool, knowing look of self-satisfaction on your face. In list of the all-time great driving songs, “Born to Be Wild” has to sit near the top.

“Maybellene” – Chuck Berry
submitted by Steve Krulin

What would a car show be without Chuck Berry’s tale of an illegal street race and romance gone wrong? Released in 1955, “Maybellene” was not only his first single but also his first hit, establishing a template that would bring about a string of hits for Berry on the Chess label and the soundtrack to an entire generation’s days and nights of cruising in their souped-up creations. An absolute must for any cruising playlist.

So what’s your favorite classic driving tune? Take a moment to comment below, or head on over to the HVA’s Facebook page to give us your pick and see what other members are saying.



  1. Tony Doughty Minnesota

    Gotta include something from Detroit's original rust-belt rocker Bob this great version of "Fire Lake". Check this link:

  2. Dick McPherson Knoxville, TN

    Summer In The City... The Lovin' Spoonful

  3. Tim Jones Butler, PA

    1. Hot Rod Lincoln 2. Little Deuce Coupe. 3. 409. Hey Little Cobra. 4. Yun, Fun, Fun. 5. Dead Man's Curve.

  4. John McGuire Annapolis, Maryland

    You forgot the greatest driving tune of all: Green Onions by Booker T and the MGs

  5. Chuck Flood US

    Highway 40 Blues - Randy Skaggs

  6. Joe bauer Ga

    Mustang Sally

  7. Marc Texas

    Summertime Blues...The Who

  8. joe blazek mantua ohio

    sammy johns, 1973, checy van

  9. Ron Alsop Missouri

    Favorite classic driving song (and there are many): I GET AROUND by the Beach Boys

  10. Bill Van Eck Michigan

    The tunes listed are great tunes but you need to include Iron Butterfly In A Gadd Da Vida the 17.04 minute version This song was great in 68 and it still is great today.

  11. Diehl Jones Fayetteville NC

    Any Beach Boys "carb love" music (shut down, little deuce coup, etc,)or Wagner

  12. Jon Anderson Pennsylvania

    Hot Rod Lincoln, both the Charlie Ryan and Commander Cody versions. I can't drive 55, Sammy Hagar.

  13. Grady Hamlett Dallas, Texas

    Best cruising song: Hot Rod Lincoln Not the original by Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen, the recent version by Bill Kirchin, who was the guitar player for Commander Cody on the original version. Its full of every signature guitar lick you can recognize, but it still rocks out just like the original. It will put the lead in your right foot!

  14. Don Mystic Ct

    Sam And Dave's "Hold On, I'm Coming" as featured in the movie "Blues Brothers". Still remember watching that old 70's Mo-Par surplus cop car with it's 440, fish tailing at the maul

  15. Darryl Barkel Byron Center,Mi

    Runaway by Del Shannon.

  16. John C. Cargill Hanover Park Illinois

    It changes with my mood. The above are all good. I would add, Soul Sacrifice by Santana. Let's spend the night together by the Rolling Stones, The voice section of Beethoven's Fifth as recorded at the Berlin Wall with Leonard Bernstein. And more others than I can remember offhand.

  17. Steve Black Titusville Florida

    Little duece coup. Beach boys that's what muscle card were about!!hhm8h

  18. David Katterheinrich New Knoxville, Ohio

    I am not 100% sure what year is the cut off for classic. I like " I can't drive 55" ,"Little Deuce Coup", "409", "Little GTO"," Dead man's Curve", "Mustang Sally","Hot Rod Lincoln", "SS 396".Need to go through my 8 tracks in the workshop.

  19. Jason McDaniel Raleigh, NC

    Hot Rod Lincoln by Commander Cody

  20. Bill Golden,co

    Paradise by the dashboard lights, Meatloaf

  21. Randy Moore Andover, KS

    Let It Roll Down the Highway - by Bachman Turner Overdrive

  22. Frank Zepeczauer Michigan

    Highway song by Blackfoot or anything by the Beach Boys.

  23. Mike Cullity Novi, Michigan

    My favorite would be "I Get Around" by the Beach Boys as far as a great cruising song.

  24. Chris Portland, Or

    Sammy Hagar I Cant Drive 55, Beach Boys I get Around, Beach boys Be true To Your School

  25. charlie Yegen Billings, MT

    A couple of suggestions; Pink Cadillac, Springstein, Hot Rod Lincoln, Little Nash Rambler "Beep Beep, Beep Beep, his horn went Beep, Beep, Beep." I would also be interested to know what cars are and have been most often mentioned in song. I have to believe Cadillac is on top but wonder if there is some research that's been done in this arena. Thanks, Charlie Yegen

  26. Matt v Charlotte

    Gotta go with Tom Cochrane "Life is a Highway"

  27. Craige Keen Waterford, Michigan

    The Beach Boys brought cool cars into everybody's focus with Little Deuce Coupe, GTO and Surfin' Safari, but you can't leave out Little Red Corvette by Prince.

  28. Steve Taylor Port Orford, OR 97465

    A good start, but nothing by the Beach Boys? A glaring omission! And for singles, how about "Summer in the City" by the Lovin' Spoonful? Or, "Hot Rod Lincoln" by (most notably) Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen?And no list would be complete without Willie Nelson's classic, "On the Road Again" as the opening tune to the set...

  29. Gayle Detroit

    Light My Fire by The Doors, Sittin on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding, Proud Mary (TinaTurner), Stairway to Heaven by Zeppelin

  30. Sam Cicalese New Jersey

    So far, all the above music with it's themes are defintely memorable & cool! One of my all time favorite's due to the circumstances, exactly what I was doing at the time & the vehicles that picked me up when I was hitch-hiking from Newark down to the Jersey Shore in 1968, was "Hitchin' A Ride." I was just 17 & my own beat-up 1956 Belair was in too bad shape to take the long haul down route 35 from up north. So I walked from what's known as the Ironbound section of Newark to the entrance of the NJ Turnpike south just before the Communipaw ave bridge. There, I hitched a ride on a truck down the Turnpike, which then the driver merged with routes 1& 9 south. "Hitchin' A Ride" must have played on his radio at least 5 times from the old music 1010 am. Then I got on a great ride from a guy & his girl heading to nearby Sayerville (old route 35 bridge) & 'Hitchin A Ride" had to play at least 4-5 times on their radio, tuned to I think wabc am. I hitched a ride aboard a neat blue pained 1954-55 2 seater chevy truck with a bunch of junk bunkered down behind us in his trunk. He took me over that rt. 35 bridge and droped me off near the old Hazlet Airport Strip Mall. Must have heard "Hitchin' A Ride" at least 3 times on his dash board 1 speaker radio. But he had a "reverb" unit in the glove compartment & it sounded really wild. Got a guy & his girlfriend leaving that Mall to give me a lift al the way to Seaside Height.They had a sweet yellow Chevy convertable '69-'70 malibu.FM stereo radio, too. I was "Hitchin' A Ride" & made it about 4 hours after leaving home. Heard "Hitchin' A Ride," like it was my own way of doing things. Great time!

  31. dave ny

  32. richard birmingham

    Kashmir by Led Zepplin

  33. Michael A. Des Plaines, IL

    Ventura Highway by America

  34. Dan Archer Laveen, Arizona

    I like to go "crusin " listen to Surius xm radio channel 5 Oldies all the time.

  35. Kota st louis mo

    Great cruisin' tunes!

  36. Mark Dungan Tacoma, Washington

    I gotta go with T. Rex and "Bang a Gong (Get It On)". You're built like a car, you've got a hub cap diamond star halo/ You're dirty sweet and you're my girl. Always reminds me of driving my '66 GTO in high school cruising along Alki Beach. Now I have a '63 Falcon but I still regularly listen to the song! BTW, I saw "Radar Love" on the list... got my first speeding ticket while listening to that song blasting on my $10 eight-track player!

  37. dave Raleigh

    Beach Boys- Pick any- Little Deuce Coupe, The Cars- Just What I needed, Everything from American Graffiti

  38. Rob Stadnicki Havertown, PA

    Mississippi Queen by Mountain

  39. Bob Morgan St. Louis, MO

    "Hot Rod Lincoln" should be in this group of songs

  40. Garth California

    "I can't drive 55" by Sammy Haggar, and "Red Barchetta" by Rush are two of my favorites!

  41. Richard Reinstein Vermont

    Little Deuce Coupe--Beach Boys

  42. Steve Sharpe Ellicott City, MD

    Bruce Springsteen has done a lot of car related songs but Born to Run screams for you to get out of the house and head down the highway. "At night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines, Sprung from cages out on highway 9, Chrome wheeled, fuel injected and steppin out over the line".

  43. Ralph Ellicott City, Md

    Don't forget Commander Cody and "Hot Rod Lincoln". Also, "Motorcycle Mama" By Sailcat. The Beach Boys "All Summer Long"

  44. Kirby Maryland

    All great songs, but everybody still remembers the song "Beep, Beep"

  45. Harry Radtke Sterling Heights, Mi

    "little GTO" by ronnie and the Daytonas is my choice for a great cruisin' song. This was the onset of the musclecar era.

  46. Roger Moneymaker Panama City, Florida

    ZZ Top's.... I thank You, or my personal favorite ZZ Top's ...Manic Mechanic, then you have Foghat.... Slow Ride, Chevrolet, Drivin' Wheel, Fool For The City or even Van Halen's Panama!... as a Disc Jockey since 1979 this could take all day but I'll stop now!

  47. Mike Moore Atlanta, GA

    "The Race Is On" --Jack Jones

  48. daryl judd spokane, washington

    Thunder road by Robert Mitchum

  49. Bob Crow Port St Lucie, FL

    Highway Star - Deep Purple....!

  50. Bill Meriden, CT

    And how about The Crew Cuts' "Life Could Be A Dream (Sha Boom)," the cruzin' song from CARS. Mater would be proud!

  51. Dave Lake George

    Riding the red line by foreigner

  52. Jim Robinson Erlanger

    I always liked the logical song by super tramp probably because I discovered it when I found a homemade tape of it on the beach at myrtle beach and listened to it on the road all the way back to Kentucky

  53. Glenn New Milford CT

    In the Summertime by Mungo Jerry and I think the name of my 2nd choice is "Pipeline":

  54. dick Smallenberg Abbotsford B C

    Hard to argue against any picks, so I am going to agree with John McGuire, it's gotta be green onions. How "bout, Hot Rod Heart, by John Fogerty?

  55. Allan CT

    Ol 55 by The Eagles and Ridin' In My Car by NRBQ

  56. Jack G. Freeman Alden, NY

    Any selection from Peter Frampton's double live album... or the whole thing!

  57. Paul Nicholas Glendale, Arizona

    You can't leave out the Doobie Brothers "Rockin' Down The Highway" Great driving tune!!!

  58. Bob Peoria, IL

    "Voodoo Cadillac" by Southern Culture on the Skids; anything by The Reverend Horton Heat (Big Sky, Galaxie 500, 5-0 Ford, etc)

  59. Jim Gruber Dayton, OH

    Another vote for SS396. Never got any airtime that I remember but my CD of Car Tunes starts with Hey Little Cobra, Lil GTO, SS396, and then into Beach Boys, Little Deuce Coupe, 409, Shut Down, Fun, Fun Fun, Surfer Girl, Surf City, A great tune SS396 :)

  60. Andrew Pennsylvania

    It's gotta be 'Take it Easy' by the Eagles

  61. Dan WV

    Rt 66

  62. steve spring hill, fl

    Old school must have the VENTURES "Walk, don't run"

  63. Steve Wildstrictly Ann Arbor, MI

    It's strictly and instrumental but for some reason nothing says cruising like Green Onions by Booker T & the M Gs.

  64. Miki Florida

    The Who - "Going Mobile" from the album "Who's Next" I don't care about pollution I'm an air-conditioned gypsy That's my solution Watch the police and the taxman miss me I'm mobile

  65. Gene Cowden Chattanooga, Tennessee

    4 speed, dual-quad, posi-traction 409 !! Can't beat the Beach Boys stuff for cruisin'

  66. Loren Moore Dearborn, Michigan

    The theme music from the old tv show "Route 66." And the old original song "Route 66."

  67. bill merrick cadillac Mich

    "Little GTO,your really lookin' fine.3 deuces and a 4 speed and a 389"!

  68. Doug Struble Riverview, Michigan

    The Breeze by Lynyrd Skynyrd

  69. 73 Stanger Louisiana

    Long Time (with prelude)...Boston

  70. Gary Sacramento, CA

    I did not see these mentioned but I would have to say a couple my old time fav's when I hit the road were the Blue Angels Theme by Davie Allen and the Arrows, and one the best all time road tunes Time is Tight by Booker T and the MG's...

  71. jeff boone covington ky

    LA WOMEN by THE DOORS how can you not want to downshift when this song plays