A lot of music fans like their road machines the way like they like their rock n’ roll: loud, fast, and sometimes flashy.
Indeed, a connection been car culture and rock culture was forged early on, in the time when R&B was first evolving into rock n’ roll. When rock music first came along in the early-to-mid-1950s, it was also a time when car culture was burgeoning in post-war America, due in part to the explosion of suburbia -- which for a lot of folks meant that the grocery store, barber shop and movie theater were no longer within walking distance. More and more Americans were buying cars; in some cases, more extravagant ones.
To most American youth of that era, cars and rock n’ roll each represented an escape -- a means of “getting away,” either physically or emotionally, from what they felt was oppression -- either from “adult culture” in general or their parents in particular.
And God knows there have been about a million rock songs written over the years about cars or driving -- from Ike Turner’s “Rocket ‘88” to Sir Mack Rice’s “Mustang Sally” to about a dozen Bruce Springsteen turnpike operas about racing in the streets, cruising with his baby, and getting under the hood to give that street rod a little more torque.
And, that connection between cars and rock n’ roll continues to this day. So it makes sense that there are several museums and other organizations that have compiled collections of cars owned by rock stars -- or at least rock artists whose music has meant so much to so many fans over the years.
One extensive and very cool current exhibit is Rock Stars’ Cars & Guitars 2 at The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan, just a couple of miles from the Ford Motor Company’s world headquarters. The temporary but summer-long exhibit, which was unveiled in May and runs through September, features more than 20 classic rock-star cars and other artifacts, mostly vintage guitars. This is actually the second go-round for such an exhibit at the Henry Ford, which presented the first edition in 2007.
Another, permanent (but smaller) collection of rock star cars is at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in Cleveland. Three of the cars at The Henry Ford’s current exhibit are on loan from the Hall of Fame’s collection.
We've rounded up the best from this exhibit here in our gallery.
Additional vehicles on display at the Henry Ford’s Rock Stars’ Cars & Guitars 2 exhibit include Kid Rock’s 1967 Lincoln Continental; Snoop Dogg’s ’67 Cadillac Fleetwood with a chandelier in the back seat; Elvis Presley’s 1973 Cadillac Eldorado Custom Coupe, and a 1940 Ford Coupe owned by Mike Ness of Social Distortion, among others. And another vehicle that is currently part of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s collection is Johnny Cash’s tour bus, which includes a table top made from wood taken from a Tennessee farmhouse near the Cash family’s ancestral home -- a farmhouse that General Ulysses S. Grant used as his headquarters.