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4 Toe-Tapping Musicals for Car-Lovers

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Of all the types of entertainment that car culture has pervaded — from rap music to action-packed movies to children’s shows — it’s had very little crossover onto the live stage. Theatrical productions have very rarely involved or focused on automobiles, probably because they’re so hard to get up on stage and integrate into the production.

With enough digging, you will find some quality musicals for car-lovers that have been on Broadway or the big screen. These are some of our favorites.

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Musicals for car-lovers that prominently feature automobiles

hands on a hardbody musical broadway cast car stage show Musicals for Car-Lovers

Hands on a Hardbody
Photo: Ghostlight Records

Hands on a Hardbody

Most people have never heard of this musical, including many self-professed theater geeks, which is unfortunate because Hands on a Hardbody is full of colorful Southern characters, small-town drama, and clever writing.

Based on the true story of an endurance competition in which contestants try to keep their hands on a truck the longest to win it. The show gradually reveals the stories of each of the contestants who are vying to win this Nissan “hardbody” from a dealership. The staging is quite simple, with choreography centered around the red pickup truck and often even involving it in Stomp-like percussion.

Grease Greased Lightning

Greased Lightning
Photo: Paramount Pictures


It’s a favorite among many Broadway fans and previous generations who grew up watching the movie version. Look past the poodle skirts and leather jackets, and Grease is really about 1950s car culture. Some of its songs and much of its plot involve street racing and souped-up hot rods.

The title itself is a clever homage to greased hairdos and engine grease.
The next time you watch Grease, look at it as a love story to cars rather than the romantic comedy everyone remembers it as.

Read more about Grease

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Photo: Warfield Productions/United Artists

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

The eponymous car of this 1968 musical film dazzled audiences upon its initial debut and remains a definitive entry in the musical cars hall of fame. Since its big-screen inauguration, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has been adapted to the stage many times, with each production recreating the fantastical flying automobile.

The story involves a race car that, after competing in turn-of-the-century European Grand Prix races, is given new life when it’s remodeled into a flying, swimming, and floating vehicle.

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More about the history of the car industry than a story about cars themselves, Ragtime celebrates American ingenuity while putting a critical eye on the less-pleasant realities of turn-of-the-century America.

One of the main characters in this acclaimed production is Henry Ford, whose invention of the Model T earns itself a song and major plot point in this musical. Ragtime reminds us what the invention of the assembly line impacted the workforce and the social status owning a car represented.

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