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Synthwave car culture: A new wave of automotive enthusiasts

I was once a man of loosely defined, youthful ambitions: I wanted to pursue a career in automotive design and meet folks that would forever alter my path. The Glassell School of Art introduced me to a woman in her late 50s who, at first glance, seemed like another free spirit seeking inspiration via afternoon workshops. That changed when she busted out a copy of Blood Sugar Sex Magik in an open studio. The past 23 years fogged my memory, but one comment remains clear:


"I crave the music that young people enjoy. I need their inspiration, their energy to create ... the Red Hot Chili Peppers motivates me."


After that exchange, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing that crazy diamond gettin' her shine on. Perhaps that's why I'm following in her footsteps with the electronic music of Gen Z and millennials, which I discovered because of their bottomless love of modern classics on YouTube. I stumbled upon a trove of videos starring everything from a Nissan 240SX or BMW E36 to a Corvette C4, Lexus LS400, or Mazda RX-7, all overlaid with synthesized tunes. This isn't some obscure corner of the internet; it's a full-blown automotive subculture.


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Replies (10)

Replies (10)

Not my cup of coffee, but not any less because of it. The more things change, the more they stay the same. 🙂

Pit Crew

I will admit, the video above is most of the reason I bought my Trans AM


I don't know if I'd even call this synthwave stuff music. I had to turn off the sound. Even the video without the sound on didn't do much for me. Nonetheless, if it really helps gen Z and millennials appreciate cars, I'm all for it. (I wish it would make them want a third pedal.)

Intermediate Driver

@SamAdamsPaleAle one day I need to meet a millenial/GEN Z member that can explain the fascination with the 1980s.  I get it, because I was a kid back then, but it's frankly amazing to see younger people like crazy things like VCR filters on their videos and a lot of the cheeseball things that I assumed were gonna age poorly...guess not! 

Community Manager

"It's still rock 'n' roll to me..."   [tuner = hot rod and so on]


This music makes me think of Moog (even if it isn't a correct match) and video games. This isn't a bad thing.


I've found myself looking at ads of for sale C4s lately. Probably doesn't happen, but wouldn't have been something I'd have looked up even 4 years ago. I was a kid when they were the "cool new Vette" and then became the maligned generation (not Mustang II level ---I appreciate them now too).


I think there is a sweet justice to a stanced C4 at a show getting more attention from the under 45 crowd than more "valuable" cars.


Cool cars, cool videos all done to 80’s synth music? The downside is what? 

New Driver

These videos are making want to watch and post the intro to “Knight Rider”. The original version of course. 🙂 with Hasselhoff!

Pit Crew

My great uncle blessed me early on with the indoctrination into his 1969 and 1982 c3 corvettes. Ever since i saw that angular fighter cockpit, I wanted one, and when he passed away in 2015 when i was 15, I hoped to one day own those wonderful cars for myself, while those exact cars went to his sons, I can say at 20 that i own a 1982 C3 and a 1984 C4! And synthwave culture was a part in both of them. My father raised me on New Wave music which holds similarities in the level of synthesizing within the songs to synthwave. So it ended up being the perfect storm! (btw I'm also proud to say my 82' received a t56 magnum last fall which makes me a Z that drives stick! :D) Thank you for this awesome article!  


Purely coincidentally, I was trawling through CL for TPI C4's because I prefer their concave rear end and perfectly round taillamps. This genre of lo-fi shall now serve as the soundtrack for that bedtime browsing.

New Driver

Why would I want to leave a 65 Mustang for a Maserati Gran Turismo? You think that's too old for us youngins? I think this sort of music would still go fine with a classic, American, muscle car. I actually want to make some music videos similar to these, with some shots of my classics driving the local country roads.

New Driver