BangShift Tune Up: Spirit Of America – The Beach Boys (1963)


BangShift Tune Up: Spirit Of America – The Beach Boys (1963)

If there’s a cooler car song out there, let us know. As the only known song every written about a Bonneville car, this is about the best thing ever and it was performed by the Beach Boys! Of course, Craig Breedlove became a literal national hero when he averaged 407mph and took the land speed record to American shores. The boyish, camera friendly California hot rodder was among the most famous people on the planet and he was at the beginning of a multiple year speed war that would further cement his status as one of the greatest hot rodders who has ever lived.

One of the fun facts about this song is that it is listed as being written by Brian Wilson and Roger Christian. As Wilson did not know what end of a car someone sat in, Christian should get most of the credit here. He co-wrote some of the most iconic car songs of the 1960s with the Beach Boys along with Jan and Dean. In this case, stuff like the reference to the J-47 engine, the speed, and other semi-racer elements are all him. We are sure that Wilson scored it.

This is a beautiful song that encapsulated an amazing moment in the history of speed.

Here’s the lyrics of the song –

The Bonneville salt flats had seen some strange things
But the strangest thing yet was a jet without wings
Once as a jet it played in the stars
But now on the ground it’s the king of our cars
An airplane an auto now famous worldwide
The Spirit of America, the name on the side
The man who would drive her Craig Breedlove by name
A daring young man played a dangerous game
With a J-47, a jet for his power
Craig Breedlove had averaged four-o-seven per hour
Both man and machine had given fair warn
They’d set a new record on that warm August morn.

Press play below to see and hear the Beach Boys play Spirit of America –


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7 thoughts on “BangShift Tune Up: Spirit Of America – The Beach Boys (1963)

  1. Gary

    Iconic, for sure. “I’m in Love with my car” by Queen is right up there, though! “Told my girlfriend I couldn’t date her, had to buy a new carburetor”…

  2. Clarence Sifton

    That song spurred a memory of my youth as growing up riding around with my buddies on our hotrod bicycles. We worshipped the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean and the Ripcords as we dreamed of having our own cool cars. This period in time was early sixties pre-Beatles, Mustangs, Cameros and Barracudas. Although I retained my love for the automobile and still do it became un-cool to sing these tunes in the new subculture of the love generation.

    It is amazing in history we go through these movements but people still idolize their self independence and the freedom of being able to travel around in their own vehicles.

  3. bob

    Next we will have songs by strange looking people about riding around with their gender reassigned buddies cruzing their battery powered Chevy Leafs going into gender neutral Bonneville Salt flats to watch someone set the new environmental world bicycle speed record.

    And when the even more Woke Libs hear about the massive environmental damage they will be cancelled.

    And it will be called “the new normal”

  4. jerry z

    Never going to a band like this ever. I remember seeing the Endless Summer album on a tv commercial back in the early 70’s. So many great car songs by the BB that many people have never heard.

  5. Richard Brooks

    I was 13 in1964 music was fun ,drugs wer’nt so wide spread was a good time to be young all the music was more light hearted & lots of it. could’nt wait to get a car to drive on the road.. i was lucky was driving field cars by then

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