It’s back to school time, the time of year that has kids lamenting the loss of summertime freedom and parents (perhaps) celebrating a return to normalcy. High school evokes for most either a sense of nostalgia or PTSD, but whether you savored those years in your letterman jacket or spent it surlily smoking cigarettes under the bleachers, everyone can at least recall that sense of independence you felt when you first got behind the wheel.
Here are our favorite timeless high school classics (in no particular order) with the sickest wheels that crystallize that quintessential coming-of-age that it is high school.
I saw Clueless (1995) in the theater, and it turned out to have that sort of cultish lasting power that has made it a modern day classic. To this day, I can’t get on the freeway without hearing “Yo, you’re getting on the freeway!” and recalling the milestone that was conquering the slow lane. And Cher careening down some boulevard in her white Jeep during her driver’s test certainly set the bar for my own driving test years later.
A different year, perhaps, but a white Jeep in LA never goes out of style. Channel Cher in Ekaterina’s white Jeep Wrangler.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Who didn’t love Spicoli? Arguably Sean Penn’s most iconic role, the lovable stoner made a splash by totaling Charles Jefferson’s 1979 Chevy Camaro in Cameron Crowe’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), a snapshot of vintage ’80s high school life.
While we don’t have a ‘79 Camaro, you can drive much more responsibly (and sans joint) in Cameron’s ‘68 Chevy Camaro.
Dazed and Confused
Another wry, vintage cult classic, Dazed and Confused (1993) plays any vintage car buff like a fiddle. My personal fave, namely because it was the adorably lecherous David Wooderson’s (Matthew McConaughey) signature whip, was the 1970 Chevy Chevelle.
Be the cool upperclassman you always wanted to be and try Dorghum’s 1972 Mustang convertible as a stand-in for Wooderson’s Chevelle.
THE quintessential coming-of-age high school story, George Lucas’ nostalgic American Graffiti (1973) takes place in 1962 Modesto, CA and epitomizes the cruising culture of the 1960s. From T-Birds to Impalas, the cars in this generation-defining flick are some of the most mouth-watering car candy in this whole lineup.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Any movie buff who’s worth her salt remembers Cameron’s dad’s coveted ‘61 Ferrari Modena Spyder that ends up being as much of a main character as Cameron or Sloane in John Hughes’ Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986). The Modena Spyder signified not just status, not just rebellion, but the ultimate freedom — freedom to drive (even for the valet guy) and ultimately, freedom to stand up for yourself.
While it doesn’t have the vintage cachet of Cameron’s, James’ Giallo Ferrari Modena 360 certainly will put a little rebellious pep in your step.