Car-aoke | #4

“Driver’s Seat” by Sniff ‘n’ the Tears

Few other everyday objects have shaped modern music as much as the car. In this column, our editors write about songs that tell a car-related story. Some of them have even gone down in music history. But by no means all of them ...

2 min reading time

by Holger Mohn, Editor
published on January 10, 2020

I was 17 and it was black, wide … and had a multitude of spoilers. We spelled its name out slowly, almost reverentially: Bee-Em-Double-You Three-Two-Three-i.

What a beast – guys, we're talking about 1983 here - what a car: a straight six with 143 horses under the bonnet, rear axle with such a negative camber, three-piece split alloys from BBS and, in the centre console, the real highlight: the Clarion G80 – a hi-fi system for the car!!!

The 3 Series belonged to our handball trainer. If there was an away game coming up, there was real competition between us youth-league players as to who was going to be allowed to travel in the car with the coach. Three cheers for the person who invented the concept of "first one to sit in the front without arguing – there and back!".

Ok, our trainer's taste in music didn't quite match his wheels. He was rather too fond of happy-go-lucky pop music and the charts for our liking, so the LEDs on the equaliser hardly got to flicker at all. Nevertheless, along with "Sunshine Reggae" (Laid Back), "Do you really want to hurt me" (Culture Club) and – particularly bad, this one - "Juliet" (Robin Gibb), there was one genuine pearl lurking on the BASF 60 cassette "For my Sweetie - Mix III": "Driver's Seat" by Sniff 'n' the Tears.

 Also a child of the eighties: The Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3-16 (W 201) on his world record drive on the high-speed track in Nardò/Italy. Spoilers were just one of them.
Also a child of the eighties: The Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3-16 (W 201) on his world record drive on the high-speed track in Nardò/Italy. Spoilers were just one of them.

The lyrics would never qualify it for the Hall of Fame, but the British band's track had other qualities. drums, guitar, bass - the Clarion could finally come into its own! And the whole car would bellow along with that single, deep YEAHHH at about 2:40. I get goosebumps just writing about it.

Somewhere along the line the hi-fi system was stolen and the 3 Series traded in for an estate car (Sweetie was having a baby), but "Driver's Seat" remained. It became the anthem for our little gang and, once we finally got our own wheels, it was played in our Kadetts, Golfs and Ritmos. Visually, they couldn't compete with the 3 Series, but good sound was a matter of honour.

And once pocket money, student grant and grandma's interest-free and non-repayable loan had been superseded by a regular income, there it finally stood: a Bee-Em-Double-You Three-Two-FIVE-i: black, of course, wide, of course, low, of course. A big grin on my face and in my hand the tape: "Holgi's Auto-Mix I". And the first track? YEAHHH.

Holger Mohn

For whom a car without a serviceable sound system is a bus. A Hesse by birth, he still has a certain soft spot for Opel despite that 3 Series and even after 25 years with Mercedes. Between them, the family owned various Asconas, a Commodore Coupé and, of course, more than enough Kadetts. These things shape your choices, and culminated for him in a red Calibra in the early 90s.

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