I know they’re just transportation. People put their political opinions on the back of them, and they are the biggest cause of death for most people my age. They live in the background. But even though I can’t change my oil and I’m screwed if the check engine light comes on, there’s something great about cars. They matter—especially when they show up in books and on TV. That’s why today I’m giving you some CarRecs.
That’s right. I recommend you stuff based on the fact that there are cars in them. I’m a genius, I know.
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BooksHoles by Louis Sachar | The water truck carries the only drink for miles at Camp Green Lake. That truck becomes the source of life for Stanley Yelnats as he works in the hot, hot sun—and the source he tries to abscond with when his friend Zero runs away.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton | The blue Mustang belongs to Ponyboy’s enemies: the Socs. It is by that car that Ponyboy recognizes his attackers and their wealth. In this way, the Socs ride a chariot heralding their most abrasive difference: class.
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer | Bella’s truck reflects her relationships with her friends and family. Her dad bought it for her and even changed the bald tires because he cares. He loves her. It also ties Bella to Jacob since he built the car, especially since she goes on to visit him in it. And Edward mostly sees it as a death trap—but that matters too. In her steadfast adherence to her truck, Bella also holds onto her independence and right to choose where she travels. Even unto death.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz | Ari’s truck is also a symbol of independence and freedom. This is especially interesting because another car comes to represent sacrifice, suffering, and a loss of freedom. Each car functions differently to draw him to a new truth.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater | Though he’s rich, Gansey has an old orange camero called “The Pig.” He wouldn’t have it any other way because that’s how he expresses himself. Or, at least, presents himself. And it’s about freedom when Adam jacks the Pig later on.
Movies and TVSupernatural | I can’t speak for the whole series just yet (I’m stuck waiting for season three), but a few things matter about the Impala: it was a gift from Dean’s father, it is their home on the road, and, above all, it is Dean’s. It’s a friggin’ awesome car, but it matters because it ties him to his family and hunting—the only life he’s ever known. Also, Dean is afraid of flying.
Leverage | Lucille is Hardison’s nerd van. This matters not so much because the car itself has a character but because Hardison characterizes his car. Hardison sees life and importance in technology, but as much as it matters to him, he always sacrifices his technology to save his people.
James Bond | Bond’s iconic car is an Aston Martin, and you can find pictures of Connery, Brosnan, and Craig with it. You watch the movies and see this car and think, “this is what a spy looks like.” Spies, for your information, look very cool.
The Dark Knight Rises | The Batmobile (or Tumbler, I guess, whatever) matters in this movie because while Batman used it for good, Bane and his legions use it to oppress people and hurt them. It isn’t about the car itself, but how it is used, that changes our perceptions of it.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off | TEENS AND CARS AND FREEDOM I WILL STOP AFTER THIS. While most of the show is about using the car to live life at its fullest, its ultimate fate is actually a great source of empowerment to Cameron—he refuses to be ruled by fear any longer.
Songs“Cars” by Gary Numan | I think some of this song is meant to be ironic (as in, making fun of the world as it is) but it also feels like my life sometimes. Is that good or bad?
“Speed of Love” by Owl City | Adam Young has such a way with words. The imagery references driving while looking out at the sky (I think) and I think it is both romantic and poetic in the best of ways.
“Last Kiss” by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers | The theology in this song is terrible, but it interests me that even though this song is from the 1960’s, fatal car crashes remain a contemporary concern for teenagers.
“Drive My Car” by The Beatles | This is one of those fun, boppy things that I don’t think makes a ton of sense. Maybe driving your boyfriend around is romantic? Oh, well.
“Life is a Highway” by Rascal Flatts | Cars bored me out of my mind as a movie but this is a catchy song.
And there you have it—fifteen CarRecs that aren’t going to threaten your life or cost a lot of money. Well, unless you die of emotions. I can’t help you there.