Nostalgia FM – motoring memories

14 September 2015

Two thirds of drivers love to ‘car-aoke’

New research from The Co-operative Insurance has revealed that we are a nostalgic nation of drivers with four in five motorists associating their first set of wheels with fond memories from their past.*

Women are more likely to belt out tunes in the car 80% vs 59% of men. Pop songs are the most popular music choice to sing along to (23%), followed by 80s tunes (16%) and 60s music (11%).

Top 10 music sing-a-long styles

  1. Pop music
  2. 80s music
  3. 60s music
  4. 70s music
  5. 90s music
  6. Rock music
  7. Current chart music
  8. R n B music
  9. Indie music
  10. Music from the noughties

Over a fifth of drivers (23%) remember the songs that were playing in the charts when they passed their test with over half (61%) feeling nostalgic when they hear these tunes, 40% reminiscing about the past and 39% feeling happy to hear them.

The research coincides with The Co-operative Insurance’s launch of Nostalgia FM, a musical flashback to when you passed your driving test that allows users to enter the month and year they passed their driving test which then creates a playlist** of number one's from around this time . See more on Twitter from Monday via @coopinsurance #NostalgiaFM.

Following a Freedom of Information request to the DVLA, The Co-operative Insurance can reveal the dates when most people passed their driving tests. Below are the top songs that were playing when the most people passed their driving tests in the UK over the past 50 years:

Songs to drive along to

Decade  Time when most people passed driving test  Artist/Song
1970s  October 1975
  • David Essex – ‘Hold me close’
  • Art Garfunkel – ‘I only have eyes for you’
  • David Bowie – ‘Space oddity’
  • Queen – ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’
1980s March 1988
  • Aswad – ‘Don’t Turn Around’
  • Pet Shop Boys – ‘Heart’
  • S’Express – ‘Theme from S’Express’
  • Fairground Attraction – ‘Perfect’
  • Wet Wet Wet – ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’
1990s June 1990
  • Adamski – ‘Killer’
  • England New Order – ‘World in Motion’
  • Elton John – ‘Sacrifice’
  • Partners in Kryme – ‘Turtle Power’
  • Bomburalina – ‘Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polkadot Bikini’
2000s  October 2007
  • Sugababes – ‘About You Now’
  • Leona Lewis – ‘Bleeding Love’
  • Eva Cassidy – ‘What a Wonderful World’
  • Basshunter – ‘Now You’re Gone’
  • Duffy – ‘Mercy’
2010s March 2011
  • Nicole Scherzinger – ‘Don’t Hold Your Breath’
  • Adele – ‘Someone Like You’
  • Jennifer Lopez – ‘On the Floor’
  • LMFAO – ‘Party Rock Anthem’
  • Bruno Mars – ‘The Lazy Song’

Nearly half (43%) of drivers remember the day they passed their test clearly with the other most memorable things associated with their first car were good times with friends, favourite holidays, meeting partners for the first time and university. Almost a quarter (22%) look back fondly on their first car as a bridge to freedom.

Almost two in five (38%) recall feeling excited when they passed their driving test and more than a quarter felt a sense of relief (29%). 

The findings show that naming a first car is a modern phenomenon – 36% of those who passed their test in 2010 did this, versus 5% who passed their test in the 1950s or earlier.   The most common name for a first car was Betty.
Other names took inspiration from TV shows or celebrity characters including:

  • Kermit
  • Minnie Mouse
  • Herbie
  • Zebedee

Nearly everyone (97%) remembers the colour of their first car with blue being the most popular colour, followed by, red and black. 

Charles Offord, Director of Marketing at The Co-operative Insurance, said:

“Passing your driving test is an important milestone in people’s lives which is looked back on fondly as their first step to freedom on the roads.

“Despite technological advances in almost every area of life, music is a constant companion for many drivers on the roads. Music can often make us nostalgic and stir memories we’ve long since forgotten which is why we’ve created Nostalgia FM.”

Psychologist Donna Dawson, says:

“Passing your driving test is a rite of passage, and the songs that are associated with it will never be forgotten.

“The memory of the time and place when we heard a song will also become infused with the mood we were in at the time - and so hearing that song again, even if it is many years later, will recall not only the associated event, but the associated feeling.”

Notes to editors

* Research conducted by OnePoll on behalf of The Co-operative Insurance with 1,500 adults online across the UK.

**Nostalgia FM is an interactive tool which can be found at and allows people to create their personalised driving playlist.

Playlists can be heard via Spotify, users will need to sign up to Spotify/Spotify Premium to discover their playlist. Nostalgia FM may not contain all Number 1s due to some artists not being on Spotify. Songs featuring profanity and without an appropriate radio edit may also not be included.

For more information contact:

Jenna Moss
Press & Media Relations Manager
The Co-operative
0161 767 4354
07770 441 828

Alex Wilson
Press & Media Relations Manager
The Co-operative
0161 7674281
07540 641368