There isn’t much left to write about AC/DC. The Australian rock legends have been at it for more than 40 years, eschewing nearly all critical acclaim and artistic respect in favor of head-crushing guitar riffs. We’ve heard all about their insatiable lust for booze, broads and bombastic drums. We know the tale well of lead singer Bon Scott’s death and the titanic album that followed. Shit, they’ve been in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for 13 years already. Their mythic status has been carved into stone.
For this reason, we have decided to celebrate the band’s latest (and possibly last) world tour through Houston this week by delving into a subject largely unexplored by the mainstream media: What sort of car or truck is the fucking coolest ride to jam AC/DC in? After all, they’re one of the loudest bands in history, and this is H-Town. When it’s time to turn the stereo up to 11, we don’t pop in earbuds around these parts. We hit the open road.
Now, to be sure, the best ride in which to sing along to your copy of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap is whatever car you happen to find yourself in. But assuming that money and logic are no object, some whips simply rise to the top. What follows are the ten baddest-of-ass autos in which to enjoy AC/DC as the Devil intended. If you plan to test ’em out for yourselves, be sure to wear your seat belt. Maybe a helmet, too. Because once those drums kick in, you won’t be able to help stomping that pedal straight to the metal.
10. CLASSIC FORD BRONCO
The Ford Bronco might look like the granddaddy of the modern compact SUV, but this machine was no grocery-getter. When it debuted in 1966, it was designated an ORV: Off-Road Vehicle. As such, it was essentially built as a box, with flat glass and 90-degree angles everywhere. The classic Bronco was at its best, though, when the top came off. Now, you were basically piloting a land-boat that could go anywhere there was dirt and look awesome doing it. For roofless cruising over the back roads of Texas (or Australia), it doesn’t get much badder-ass.
A CB radio was one of the many options Ford offered on the original, which also included snowplows, winches and post-hole diggers. Didn’t seem to come with a stereo, but a vintage ghetto blaster in the backseat solves that problem nicely.
9. TESLA MODEL S P85D
AC/DC’s very name conjures images of crackling electricity, and for good reason — high-voltage rock and roll has always been the band’s stock in trade. To find a car that can match the kind of supercharged horsepower AC/DC can wring out of a few alternating currents, there’s only one name we can turn to: Tesla. Elon Musk’s gorgeous Model S P85D is just about the quickest electric car one can lay his hands on, assuming you lack the resources to fund your very own research and development team. Hell, it’s pretty much the fastest four-door car ever produced. The electric stunner can go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, making it just a tiny bit quicker than a McLaren F1.
And hey, if you opt for the Ultra High Fidelity Sound package, your Tesla will arrive fitted out with a 12-speaker setup, including an eight-inch subwoofer. We’re sure that you’ll have no trouble hearing “Thunderstruck” over the engine.
8. CHEVY IROC-Z CAMARO
IROCs were made for AC/DC fans, and even though the band had been around for more than a decade before the first one rolled off the assembly line, they were kinda made for IROC fans, too. If you enjoy one, you really owe it to yourself to give the other a try. I mean, look at the guy in the picture above with his IROC. He’s an AC/DC fan; that’s not up for debate. If I asked you to close your eyes and picture an AC/DC fan, that right there is the man you would imagine. He likes to drive fast, and he likes his tunes loud, baby, and any woman he sets his sights on is going to know all about it. That’s why around 70 percent or so of the classic IROCs on the market are purchased with a For Those About to Rock cassette jammed into the deck.
That tape will be worn out as hell, sure, but let’s be real. It will probably be in better shape than the car.
7. OLD-SCHOOL EL CAMINO
The Chevy El Camino lives a double life. Up front, it’s a perfectly respectable two-door coupe. Out back, it’s a bitchin’ pickup truck. It’s basically the mullet of automobiles, and it’s been a favorite hesher fashion statement since 1973, at least. Much like an AC/DC world tour, you don’t see a whole lot of ‘em these days, which is why each and every one should be treated with care — like a special, rare flower from the Amazon that can help you move a recliner.
The El Camino is one of the few cars (er, trucks…whatever) that are as much fun to listen to AC/DC in when they're parked as when they're speeding through the seediest part of town. A few friends in the back, couple of beers, maybe a clove cigarette or two? All that party needs is some righteous tuneage. In the early ’70s, 8-track players were available as an option on Chevys. We highly recommend you exercise that option.
6. BRIAN JOHNSON'S 1928 4.5-LITRE BENTLEY
In Texas, the only Bentleys blaring music are universally going to be banging hip-hop out the trunk. Even then, they’re gonna be fairly rare. But not as rare as AC/DC singer Brian Johnson’s 1928 model. That ain’t just old-school. That’s pre-school.
Turns out that Johnson is a total car guy, with a collection that includes a Rolls-Royce Phantom, a Ferrari 458 and a ’64 Mini Cooper, among plenty. But the ’28 4.5-litre Bentley is his favorite, and he drives it all the time. FM radio was still a few decades off when it was built, so the proper way to have some AC/DC blasting out of this car is simply to have Brian sing some for you while he’s driving. Might be tough to make out the lyrics with the wind rushing past, but he’s pretty good at making himself heard.
5. CADILLAC HEARSE
Hells bells, this thing is sick! Cranking up AC/DC in a Cadillac is always a good idea, obviously, but if you want to really do it right, it’s gotta be a hearse. The band always cultivated a strong flirtation with evil, and Bon Scott’s early passing cast a devilish pall over them that never really left. With classic tunes like “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be,” maybe it was never in the cards.
Who cares? “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be” rocks hard. So does “Hells Bells.” And if Houston drivers hear it booming out of your tricked-out Caddy hearse, it’s a terrific bet that they’ll get right the fuck out of your way. Especially if you've got that yellow beacon spinnin'.
4. THIS BADASS VAN
Vans were never meant to be cool. Hell, most aren’t. And if you’re a child or a young woman, please don’t ever get inside one that you aren’t familiar with. But if you’re a true rock and roller, and you’re handy with an airbrush, there’s nothing stopping you from turning a Ford Econoline into a ridiculously awesome concert conveyance/apartment. Just like this one here.
If you really want to impress your many dates, of course, you’ll need to have plenty of AC/DC on hand. No need to pump Back In Black incessantly — you’re already driving an airbrushed van. Go with some deeper cuts, like “Snowballed” or “Overdose.” “Night Prowler” might be a little too creepy, though. No matter how badass, you’re still driving a van.
3. FLATBED TRUCK
If this article has proven anything, it’s that AC/DC rocks a little too hard for enclosed vehicle cabins. Pretty sure that’s why Ballbreaker is banned from commercial airlines. If you want to hear the band at full volume, those tunes have got to be an open-air affair.
It’s a fact that AC/DC has demonstrated they know all too well. That’s why, when it came time to film a clip for the Australian music program Countdown in 1976, they hired out a flatbed truck upon which to tool around Melbourne and play as loud as they possibly could. Considering they took a group of bagpipers with them, there’s little doubt that their impromptu parade was rather ear-splitting. As far as anyone knows, that clip for “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock and Roll)” was the last time they ever tried such a stunt, but if you’ve got a flatbed truck handy, what’s the harm in asking them to give it another go?
2. GREEN GOBLIN BIG RIG
It’s no secret that Stephen King isn’t the world’s biggest fan of the film adaptations of his work. He may well be the only guy willing to publicly call Kubrick a hack. So, when King finally got a chance to direct a film himself in 1986, he made sure it was fucking radical. Maximum Overdrive tells the story of machines achieving sentience courtesy of a passing comet and declaring war on humanity. It stars Emilio Estevez, who we can all agree is a huge pimp. And best of all, the movie’s sound track is composed entirely of songs by AC/DC, King’s favorite band.
The weirdest, creepiest "villain" in the film is a bizarre big-rig with the face of Spider-Man’s arch-nemesis, the Green Goblin. Why did Stephen King give the evil truck a comic-book character’s face? That was never sufficiently explained. It’s enough to know that the monstrous 18-wheeler was extremely vicious, and that it’s impossible to look at it without hearing the strains of “Who Made Who” thundering through your head.
1. YOUR GIRLFRIEND'S DAD'S CAR
Doesn’t matter how old you are. It doesn’t matter how fancy your ride is. It doesn’t even matter how far your rims poke out. There is no greater, more devious thrill in the world of automotives than taking your girlfriend’s dad’s car for a spin. It sends a special little shiver up your spine when she hands you those keys, because you’re out of gas or she’s afraid to drive at night or for whatever other reason the two of you can contrive. In the end, the transgressive joy of the act is simply too sinfully delicious to resist.
That’s what makes AC/DC the ideal sound track. It’s loud, it’s fast and, above all, it’s coursing with energy — and with the tank on F and a willing partner-in-crime in the passenger’s seat, it’s the only music that matches the spirit of deathless freedom you’ll feel behind that wheel.
AC/DC rolls into Toyota Center (1510 Polk) this Friday, February 26. Doors open at 8 p.m.
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