Red Barchetta (6:09)

Cover of Moving Pictures

From Moving Pictures and 75 other releases

“Red Barchetta” is a song by band Rush from their album Moving Pictures.

The song describes a post-petroleum future in which the “primitive” gasoline-burning sports cars are prohibited by “the Motor Law.” The narrator’s uncle has kept one of these illicit vehicles (the titular red Barchetta) in pristine condition for some “fifty-odd years” and keeps it hidden at his secret country home (previously a farm before the aforementioned Motor Law). During one of his weekly drives, the narrator encounters an “alloy air car” that begins to chase him along the roads. A second such vehicle soon joins the pursuit, which continues until the narrator drives his Barchetta across a one-lane bridge that is too narrow for the air cars. The song ends with the narrator returning safely to his uncle’s farm.

The song was inspired by the futuristic short story “A Nice Morning Drive,” written by Richard Foster and published in the November, 1973 issue of Road and Track magazine. The story describes a similar future in which increasingly-stringent safety regulations have forced cars to evolve into massive “Modern Safety Vehicles” (MSVs), capable of withstanding a 50-mile-per-hour impact without injury to the driver. Consequently, drivers of MSVs have become less safety-conscious and more aggressive, and “bouncing” (intentionally ramming) the older, smaller cars is a common sport among some.

Rush lyricist Neil Peart made several attempts to contact Foster while working on the album, but Road and Track did not have an up-to-date address, and Rush were forced to settle for a brief “Inspired by” note in the lyric sheet mentioning the story.


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My uncle has a country place that no one knows about
He says it used to be a farm before the Motor Law
And on Sundays, I elude the eyes, hop the turbine freight
To far outside the wire, where my white-haired uncle waits

MetroLyrics Full lyrics at MetroLyrics


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  • YoQueSe666

    If you’re in a band, it’s highly likely you’ll one day write a song about a car. Based on a Richard Foster short story about a future where most cars have been banned, this tune is an ode to joy riding and the freedom of the road. Building on the radio-friendly Permanent Waves album, “Red Barchetta” features tight interplay between Lee and Peart and chompy, rocking guitar tones from Lifeson. The song also makes mild use of synths, which was a sign of sounds to come for Rush. -- watchmojo

    21 Jun 1:52am Reply
  • Hadron24

    that intro ♥

    25 May 11:32am Reply
  • Engmarkinus

    Sci-fi brilliance. Made me dream of things to come as a teenager. Yep, I was disappointed, but got more Rush, so, all is right with the world...I think...

    22 Mar 5:24pm Reply
  • Piroroadkill

    Dr. Krieger was here...

    26 Jan 12:57pm Reply
  • lukasz_pulawski

    check out Working Men Tribute version!

    10 Jan 11:01pm Reply
  • radio_face

    What a RUSH!

    13 Dec 2013 Reply
  • gonetobeach

    An album that I played over and over and over. I Love it.

    13 Nov 2013 Reply
  • pingywings


    20 Oct 2013 Reply
  • davidbowiegirl

    Great song

    15 Sep 2013 Reply
  • vinman07

    Damm good visual of a relationship between Uncle, young man and machine! Straining the limits between machine and man!!!

    29 Aug 2013 Reply
  • DannytaLee

    Band fuck!

    19 Aug 2013 Reply
  • JosephSlack

    Neil Peart is the most bad ass drummer of all time and this is him at his best. Rock and Fucking Roll!!!!

    17 Aug 2013 Reply
  • ButchGantenbein

    Need more Rush, two songs is not enough!!!

    14 Aug 2013 Reply
  • ButchGantenbein

    I are you sure red barchetta is a car? I thought it was some sort of cheese spread? Well it makes sense I guess? Explains why I never was able to find any in the grocery store? heee heeeeeee heeeee I got a ticket!

    26 Jul 2013 Reply

    Only Rush can talk about a car and make it sound art. [2]

    29 Jun 2013 Reply
  • skank_pit

    This is my favourite song about a car.

    14 Jun 2013 Reply
  • forrester66

    This is The 1 that turned me on to RUSH, much like KingOSunsetTown freakin awesome!!

    9 May 2013 Reply
  • ButchGantenbein

    very awesome

    8 May 2013 Reply
  • miserloudd

    This one never gets old!!!!! AWESOME SOUND!!

    21 Apr 2013 Reply
  • umkhhh

    a proper song I call it. Cannot stand this standing whining from the radio like cats in love or somethin' Here is melody you can like and lyrics are a proper story too. Well done Rush - have not heard it for while - I guess I dig rush CDs from my cellar to see if some other nice stuff aint there....

    14 Apr 2013 Reply
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