“Cars” is a 1979 song by UK artist Gary Numan, and was released as a single from the album The Pleasure Principle. It reached the top of the charts in several countries, and today is considered a new wave staple. In the UK charts, it reached number 1 in 1979, and in 1980 hit number 1 in Canada two weeks running on the RPM national singles chartand rose to number 9 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Though Numan had a string of hits in the UK, “Cars” was his only US Top 40. It debuted on the American Top 40 on 29 March 1980, and spent a total of 17 weeks in the AT40. “Cars” was released under the ‘Atco’ label, with the catalog number of 7211.
The song was the first release credited solely to Gary Numan after he dropped the band name Tubeway Army, under which name he had released four singles and two LPs, including the number one UK hit “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?”, and its parent album, Replicas. Musically, the new song was somewhat lighter and more pop-oriented than its predecessors, Numan later conceding that he had chart success in mind: “This was the first time I had written a song with the intention of ‘maybe it could be a hit single’; I was writing this before ‘Are “Friends” Electric?’ happened.”
The original UK single was released in August 1979, backed with a non-album instrumental track called “Asylum”. The US B-side was “Metal”, from The Pleasure Principle album. The track has been a UK Top 20 hit for Numan in 3 successive decades: on its original release in 1979 (making number 1); in 1987 as the ‘E Reg Model’ remix (making number 16); and again in 1996 following its use in an advertisement for Carling Premier beer (number 17). Numan has regularly performed the song on stage since its original release and it appears on all but one of his official live albums to date.
The 1987 remixes were by Zeus B. Held.
Cars (Extended ‘E’ Reg Model) 6:11
Are ‘Friends’ Electric? 5:18
Cars (‘E’ Reg Model) 3:38
Cars (Motorway Mix) 4:22