There may be no genre of music that has paid more homage to the classic cars we all know and love as the surf genre. Born in Southern California in the 1960s, surf music and cars go hand in hand, with 1960s So Cal being ground zero for drag racing and hot-rodding. Here we are going to take a look at three of the top surf music car songs of all time.
3: Ronnie and the Daytonas: “Little GTO”
At number three is Ronnie and the Daytonas’ classic ode to one of the finest muscle cars of the 1960s, the Pontiac GTO. Featuring a 389-cid factory engine, and “3 deuces,” a lyric from the song that refers to its 3 carburetors, it was a feared road warrior in the LA drag racing era. The song features clever lyrics that are an interesting glimpse into the car slang of the day. “Tachin’ up” refers to the tachometer of the car, while “pon-pon” was a slang name for Pontiacs. The song also boasts that the GTO “beats the gassers and the rail jobs;” “gasser” and “rail job” referring to two of the more popular styles of drag-racing cars of the era.
2: The Beach Boys: “Little Deuce Coupe”
The Beach Boys’ bouncy shuffle “Little Deuce Coupe,” composed by Brian Wilson and Roger Christian, was the Beach Boys’ ode to the 1932 Ford Model B. The Model B was a popular car for hot-rodding as they were easy to come by and to modify. Released in 1963, the song made it to #15 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was one of their top hits of the ‘60s. Interestingly, the Beach Boys had little interest in cars, or surfing, and were largely crafting anthems that would fit in with the trends of So Cal youth at the time. In fact, Roger Christian was responsible for most of the lyrics, as Wilson’s knowledge of cars and drag-culture were admittedly limited.
1. Jan and Dean: “Dead Man’s Curve”
“Dead Man’s Curve” by Jan and Dean tops the list for not only being one of the most popular surf car songs of all time, but also for it’s tragic but too-strange-to-be-true back story, as the song proved to foretell the near deadly crash of Jan and Dean’s Jan Berry. The song is a narrative about a teenage drag race between a Corvette Sting Ray and a Jaguar XKE, which ended with the driver of the Sting Ray dying in a fatal accident while attempting to round “Dead Man’s Curve.” In the song, and in real-life LA, Dead Man’s Curve is located on Sunset Boulevard very close to North Whittier Drive. In a bizarre turn of events, Jan Berry would later nearly die when he crashed his Sting Ray, of all cars, on North Whittier Drive, very close to the location immortalized by the song. Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction indeed, and it is even stranger when it mimics fiction!
Contributed By Fossil Cars Staff Writer