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Hot Rod Lincoln

by

Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

As given by the official site, this song was originally written by Charlie Ryan. It was first recorded and released by Charlie Ryan and The Livingston Brothers in 1955. It tells the second half of the story started by the song Hot Rod Race, recorded in 1951 by Arkie Shibley and his Mountain Dew Boys, as referenced by the opening: "Have you heard this story of the Hot Rod Race, when Fords and Lincolns was settin' the pace? That story is true, I'm here to say; I was drivin' that Model A." While the song tells of a race between a Lincoln and a Cadillac on the Grapevine grade in California, the actual location was on the Lewiston grade in Idaho.
The most iconic line from the song is: "Son, you're gonna drive me to drinkin' if you don't stop drivin' that Hot Rod Lincoln!"
Was there really a "hot-rod Lincoln?" Yes and no. Actually, it was a rebuilt car with the body of a Model "A" coupe set into the frame of a 1941 Lincoln, along with a "hopped-up" Lincoln engine block. However, at the time of this song's writing, Ryan built a second car, this time with a chop-shop melding of a 1930 Model "A" Ford coupe and a wrecked 1948 Lincoln. It is this second restored car with which has Ryan toured.
Both the songs "Hot Rod Lincoln" and "Hot Rod Race" are defining anthems of the hot rod community and 1950s car song culture. "Hot Rod Lincoln" has appeared in the soundtracks to The Beverley Hillbillies and MTV's Beavis and Butthead.
This was the only hit for Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, who were a County-Rock group formed at the University of Michigan. Commander Cody is lead singer and piano player George Frayne.
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Comments (11):

I remember the Charlie Ryan version, but also recall the Johnny Bond version was more popular in my area when growing up in 1960. Then later on, I dug the Commander Cody version, but for me, it was the Johnny Bond version that was really cool. This was all 55 to 65 years ago, kids. And thanks to Tom of Marble Falls, AR. I agree with you about the first hot rods being Lincolns & favorites of the bootleggers. We had many of those in my family & a few hot rod Lincolns as well. Cannot agree ith Rich of Portsmouth, NH. But then, New Hampshire was never "hot rod" country anyway. That was mostly in the South and West Coast back in the early 50s, then it spread. Now don't get me wrong----Commander Cody's version is very cool. As a personal preference, I like Bond's version. Well, actually you could say that they all are COOL. Howz that for being very diplomatic?
- Rocky, Fort Smith, AR
Lincolns were never hotrods! (big,heavy,luxurious) If you strip one down... maybe. (Charlie Ryan's sequel, "Side-car Cycle" was good too)
- rich, Portsmouth, NH
Jim Varney did a great cover of this in 1993 for the end credits of the "Beverly Hillbillies" movie.
- esskayess, Dallas, TX
As someone has done here, Hot Rod Lincoln is often referred to as the first ever rap song. I think it's only meant jokingly. But still, it can't be the first, since Hot Rod Lincoln is really just a remake of "Hot Rod Race", done with different words.
- wayne, midvale, UT
Tiny Hill also had charting hits with this classic tune, and a response record; "Hot Rod Race #2"
- Michael, McFarland, WI
I never did care for the remake of "Hot Rod" link, by Commander Cody. For me, the REAL version was done by Johnny Bond in 1960. When I first heard Commander Cody's version...my first thought was..."who the hell is that?" Unfortunatly as the years went by....the oldies station seem to always play the Cody version..I guess the program directors were too young to know the difference.

Jeff Butler
Ontario, CA
- Jeff, Ontario, CA
When Charlie Ryan re-released this song in 1960 his back-up group were The Timberline Riders and it peaked at No. 33. Johnny Bond also charted with it; he made it to No. 26 in 1960!!!
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
First ever recorded rap song ??????? You decide!
- John, Kirkland, WA
Lincolns were the first "hot rods," so much that they became a favorite getaway car for bootleggers and gangsters in the late forties, and early fifties.
- Tom, Marble Falls, AR
Commander Cody did piano work on the New Riders of the Purple Sage's first, self-titled, album, released in 1971. Others who played on that album include Jerry Garcia of Grateful Dead, and Spencer Dryden of Jefferson Airplane. This song was deliciously retro, even in 1971, 21 years after its introduction, as we see in the songfacts. Thanks, Darrell!
- Fred, Laurel, MD
Love the song! Great story. Great storytelling.
- Guy, Woodinville, WA
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