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Grace
Hagerty Employee

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.

 

Read the full article on Hagerty.com: https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/synthwave-car-culture-a-new-wave-of-automotive-enthusiasts/

26 REPLIES 26
SamAdamsPaleAle
Advanced Driver

holy crap. Thank you! Gen Z and most of the later millennials have a weird fascination of the 1980s. We see it as some distant utopia, and I guess the media most Gen Z car guys consume reflects that.
geozinger
Detailer

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

Supremebrougham
Passenger

Better get used to it George, because I’m planning on covering a lot of it 🙂

Pepperalls
Detailer

"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.

Sajeev
Community Manager

Think less MOOG and more Roland TR-808...that's the sound of a lot of modern music.  

 

Ya know, that is a form of justice I stand behind.  Now if only we could do something to improve the status of the Mustang II. 

Pepperalls
Detailer

Moog as in the artist that nicknamed himself after the keyboard/synth? Pretty sure he has a presence on iTunes.
Sajeev
Community Manager

MOOG is also a person?  Wow, I learn something new every day.  
Djjankus
Passenger

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

Sajeev
Community Manager

That is awesome, I knew this would bring more enthusiasts into the community.
Trashboat
Pit Crew

Wow coincidence! I had to watch the opening credit to Knight Rider after reading the article but a minute before i saw your comment!

Im a “ford guy” but obsessed with Kitt 🙂

DavidHolzman
Detailer

**bleep**! It works! Drive fun Djjankus!

Trashboat
Pit Crew

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

Sajeev
Community Manager

Agreed. All later TV/Movies of that series were pretty horrible.  

Sajeev
Community Manager

@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! 

SamAdamsPaleAle
Advanced Driver

Gen Z have an odd obsession with the 1980s because to be fair, life now kinda sucks quarentine excluded. Climate change, a feeling of helplessness, and over all a bad time makes us want something pretty good. Not to mention, most of our generation's parents were either Gen X or early millennials, so we grew up on that. I distinctly remember my mom putting on dire straits for a 5 year old me. I hope this comment was too doomy gloomy, but a combination of feeling bad and wanting good has made us idealize the 1980s.

Will
Intermediate Driver

I always knew it wasn't just me. The '80's is my favorite decade too, and I'm 64. It is definitely the best decade for music too.
Sajeev
Community Manager

That's a fair assessment and it makes sense.  Your generation is really getting the short end of the stick: two major fallouts in 11-12 years is not cool.  I was lucky to grow up in the relatively calm 1980s, so yeah, I can see why that era has a lot going for it now more than ever.  

FlatheadsFoe
Intermediate Driver

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

Sajeev
Community Manager

Glad you see it our way 🙂 

Musclebrose97
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.

Sajeev
Community Manager

I want to see that.  I would probably even pay to help make that happen. 

Ark-med
Pit Crew

There is a car whose exhaust note stirs the same visceral, rousing pangs of let's-get-outta-here as does the hollow lopey rumble of a hotted-up '65 Stang slow-rolling by your home-office window. It's the sonorous trumpet-blast of a GranTurismo rushing to redline, broadcasting from a nearby underpass, its orchestrated cambiocorsa shots ricocheting in defiance off the anti-echo freeway walls. 

DavidHolzman
Detailer

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.)

Ark-med
Pit Crew

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.

Sajeev
Community Manager

I like the way you think. And yes, the 84-89s were way better looking, inside and out.
80sEnthusiast
Passenger

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!