Learn about the iconic rock song and music video…
If you watched MTV back in 1984, a magical time when they actually played music videos and not garbage “reality” shows, you no doubt saw Sammy Hagar flogging a black Ferrari 512 Berlinetta while singing about how he can’t drive 55. We all know the frustration of wanting to just get on the road and drive, but you have a hot car that easily gets going well past the speed limit, then before you know it a cop chases you down to hand out a ridiculous citation. When the song came out the top speed limit in the United States was 55 mph, a federal law which many felt was outdated. But the story of this song goes beyond that, as revealed by Hagar himself.
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Posting to Instagram, the rocker took us behind the music to tell the story of his mechanic Claudio Zampoli and the tune which rocketed up the charts and is still considered by many to be among the top rock songs of all time. Zampoli was Hagar’s mechanic and apparently bought the musician his first new Ferrari, the 512 BB. That started a love affair with the Italian brand, fueling the singer’s love of driving fast.
That’s not where the story of Zampoli’s influence with Hagar ended. The mechanic apparently gave Hagar’s phone number to Eddie Van Halen and the late guitarist called him from Zampoli’s shop. In just two days’ time Hagar was officially a member of Van Halen and the rest, as you know, is musical history.
As it turns out, Zampoli was the mechanic for all the members of Van Halen. Cars figured in big for the band, including Eddie Van Halen famously using his Lamborghini Miura for sound effects in the song Panama.
Being a car whisperer, Hagar claims Zampoli could just listen to a vehicle running and figure out what was wrong with it. Hagar said one time the mechanic just heard his Ferrari Daytona running rough and immediately knew which spark plug wire was the problem, fixing it right there. Many of you probably have done something similar, but to those who don’t live, eat, and breathe cars that kind of ability seems superhuman.
As Hagar noted in his Instagram post, Zampoli’s personal car was a Cizeta V16T. The fact the man chose such a unique, daring Italian supercar tells you plenty about how he lived.
While it’s true Hagar got a ticket for doing 62 in a 55 mph zone while driving in New York, prompting him to write the rage-filled song and produce the music video to air his frustrations, the deeper story behind the man who inspired his love of fast cars is even more interesting.