According to AutoNews.com, the top vehicles among Blackfolk are 1) Honda Civic, 2) Toyota Corolla, 3) Toyota RAV4 and 4) Toyota Camry. AutoRemarketing.com ranked the brands we purchase most: 1) Toyota, 2) Ford, 3) Chevrolet, 4) Honda, 5) Nissan, 6) Hyundai, 7) Kia, 8) Dodge, 9) GM and 10) Volkswagen.
One website (Level.Medium.com) focused only on the brother’s rides, listing their eight favorites as 1) Chrysler 300, 2-3 tie) Mercedes Benz and BMW, 4) Cadillac DeVille, 5) Cadillac Escalade, 6) Dodge Charger, 7) Ford Mustang and 8) Lexus.
But none of these lists get to the heart of the matter and tell us the “Blackest Cars of All Time.” This title goes beyond sales figures and speaks to the impact on the culture, or the culture’s love for and impact on these particular cars.
Well, I’m here to provide you with this critically important information. So, here goes…
#10: Best Friend’s Ride – I don’t care what TLC says, rollin’ in your best friend’s ride is as Black as it gets. Call me a scrub if you want to, I had plenty of good times “hangin’ from the passenger’s side of my best friend’s ride.”
Whether rolling in Danial Akalou’s Datsun B210, Finnley Dru’s Charger or Ron Garner’s whatever car his parents owned, good times were had by all. Neither me nor one of my other ace-boons, Mike Meade, had a vehicle during our high school days. When we rolled together, his brother (Big E) was the chauffeur. Every now and then, during those high school days, I did get behind the wheel of one of my parent’s cars. Which leads me to the next Blackest car of all time.
#9: Hooptie – While off at college, my parents paid me a visit, and blew my mind with an unexpected surprise. They gave me a car. It was the one my mom usually drove—a gray Reliant K. It was a big moment because I certainly didn’t see this coming. I was never a car-centric brother, and never asked my parents for one. So, this gift came out of left field. And it was much appreciated. But it was still a hooptie, and absolutely the least coolest car in the history of cars. I mean, I could have cruised around campus in one of those ancient Model T’s and been cooler than I was in a Reliant K. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.
But, I’m not the only one with hooptie experience. Hell, hoopties are a Black tradition; a kind of rites-of-passage. In fact, I’m kind of suspicious of the three Blackfolk I know who never had the hooptie experience. But I’ve had enough hooptie experiences for all of them. That Reliant K was a step up from the family car we had during my elementary and middle school years—a green, 1960-something Chevrolet Impala with a black convertible roof that had a huge hole in it, repaired with duct tape. And FYI, this was before Impala’s became cool and classic. It was also rusting over, and that has never been cool. But it sure is hooptie. But back to my Reliant K. It served me well… until it didn’t.
One Christmas break, I was heading home from college in Austin, on the road in my Reliant K. It was night, cold and raining as I began the 167-mile trek from Austin and Houston, and my hooptie decided to die at the exact halfway point, with roughly 83 miles to go. Quick aside: the closest city was 10 miles from where my car died. So, I layered up with dirty laundry (remember, I was headed home to the parent’s crib). I put socks over my hands, put my coat over my layers, and started walking.
To the left of me was a house on a hill. I could barely see it because it was so pitch-black outside in the middle of nowhere. I thought, well, before I make this 10-mile trek, let me see if someone in that house would let me call home (this was a gazillion years before cell phones). So, as I’m walking towards this house with no lights on whatsoever, I remember, I’m in the general vicinity of where the actual Texas Chainsaw Massacre occurred—the real-life events that inspired the movie. Plus, I’m Black walking up on a house and some people who have certainly not invited me. They don’t know me, and I certainly don’t know them. I can barely see two feet in front of me. So, I literally do not know what I’m about to step into. So, I chose to turn around and just walk to the next town.
I’ll share the rest of what turned into a crazy story from that night another time. But, suffice it to say, my hooptie reached the end of its journey. As all hoopties eventually do.
#8: Toyota Camry – Quick. Name one Black family you know that doesn’t have a Camry or two or 10 somewhere in their family tree. That’s what I thought. You can’t do it. Because Camrys are like cornbread, mac & cheese, borrowed Netflix accounts and God—where two or more of us are gathered, there a Camry is also.
#7: General Lee (Dukes of Hazard) – I’m almost ashamed to even have this car on the list, and y’all know why. That huge, racist-ass confederate flag painted on its roof. But, when we were kids, and before we became aware of the racist over- and undertones of that symbol of white domestic terrorism, when the “Dukes of Hazard” came on, we were in front of that TV cheering on Bo and Luke Duke to not get caught by the… Oh, that’s why this car makes the list. Law enforcement was always, always looking to pull it over and harass its occupants. If that ain’t Black, I don’t know what is.
#6: The Mach 5 – Going back to childhood, one of the first cars er’body and they mama wanted to own was the Mach 5. Even for someone like me, who wasn’t really into cars, I wanted to drive the Mach 5, Speed Racer’s car built from the ground up by Pops Racer, and used as a stowaway station for Spritle and Chim-Chim every week. But it was family drama that helped give birth to Speed Racer driving that classic vehicle with all those buttons (bonus points for those who know the functions of each button, A through G). Speed’s older brother Rex Racer had conflict with Pops and bounced. But Speed had a love/hate relationship with his brother—even though he didn’t know it was his brother (Racer X). What Black person (or any person, really) do you know who doesn’t have some level of family drama? And for Speed, getting behind the wheel of the Mach 5 and battling the Car Acrobatic Team and others, provided him enough of an escape to keep it moving. So, in a sense, we’re all Speed Racer… or Racer X (the much cooler of the two).
#5: Deuce & a Quarter – Introduced in 1959 as the Electra 225, named for the car’s 225-inch length, the big Buick became known as the “Deuce & a Quarter.” How Black is that! Hell, McDonalds actually refers to themselves as Mickey Ds in commercials because that’s what we do—nickname stuff. Millennials and Gen Z folk don’t even know what the International House of Pancakes or Kentucky Fried Chicken are, because we “Deuce & a Quartered” both of’em, turning them into IHOP and KFC. But this ride isn’t on here just for that. This was the ride your uncles and ‘nem were rollin’ in when they were doing things they say “you young folk don’t know ‘nuthin’ ‘bout that.”
#4: Buick – Yes, I know the Deuce & a Quarter was made by Buick, but Buick, the brand, has to be on here all by its lonesome. Somewhere along the line, Buick lost its luster with the Blacks. But there was a time when we bought Buicks like we’re buying up Toyotas now. Respect.
#3: The Batmobile – Black, intimidating and indestructable. Enough said.
#2: Cadillac – Of course, Cadillac is number one. Cadillacs are so Black I don’t even have to finish this sentence to explain it to you. Except, on my list, Cadillac is not number one. And for good reason.
#1: Cars Made by African/Black Manufacturers – There are several African-owned car manufacturing companies on the continent with leaders who were tired of being merely consumers of imported cars from Europe, Asia and America. Ghana’s Kantanka and Nigeria’s Innoson Motors are just two of them. So, they said, like Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, Ida B. Wells and our ancestors from ancient Egypt, Ghana, Mali and Songhai—we can build our own stuff. And they have. And according to international standards, their cars are just as good as, if not better, than anything else on the road. Which is probably why most of us have never heard of these cars and their manufacturers who are Black like us. Knowing of this Black genius and creativity just might inspire Blackfolk across the diaspora to recognize our inherent greatness and not only flex it, but partner with our sisters, brothers and cousins across the globe instead of finding reasons to build walls between us.
Honorable Mentions: The Aston Martin DB5, James Bond’s ride, is the coolest car in movie history. Period. And we know, anything cool that our non-melanated cousins rock with, more than likely originated with us. Also, the Toyota Corolla deserves a mention. But just see the write-up for Toyota Camry, and keep it moving. Why do we love Toyotas so much? Holla if you have an answer.
Please let me know your thoughts on what I got right, what I got wrong and your lists for Top Black Cars of All Time, by forwarding them to me at email@example.com or hitting me on Twitter (@Aswad60), Facebook or Instagram (aswadwalker).