Cars and Music Videos – Tom Petty Free Fallin’

Tom Petty is an absolute legend. Generations of people relate to his music. In 1989 Petty’s album Full Moon Fever was released and became a massive success. It was hard to turn on the radio without hearing one of the singles from this album.

Although Runnin’ Down a Dream was my personal favourite, there is no denying how massive of a hit single Free Fallin’ was. And being a popular song, there of course had to be a music video. The video was simple in concept, following the themes from the song. It takes place in the 1950s and the 1980s at the same time, sort of. Oh, and I need to make a special shoutout to the half pipe skateboarding scene.

But is about cars so let’s focus in on that. Sprinkled within the video are a few fantastic (and not so fantastic) automobiles. They don’t show up a lot during the video and we only get a brief glimpse of them, but here is what I found.


The opening shot of the video starts with a vintage Ford F-Series pickup, probably sixth generation. There is also a pair of Volvos, a 240 sedan and a 740 wagon. Also sliding into this shot is a Toyota Van and what looks like a Dodge Ram cab & chassis flatbed. A solid start.


In the background we see a parked Porsche 928 while a convertible white Toyota Celica drives-by. There are a few classic American cars down below including a Chevrolet Impala and Ford Thunderbird that will be shown in more detail later.


Here is a whole whack of cars. Many are too blurry to make out thanks to 1980s film technology. But there is definitely a classic, original red Honda Prelude cruising by. And is that a white J-body convertible just behind Tom?


The third generation Ford thunderbird and a modified fourth generation Chevrolet Impala are shown from various angles here in greater detail. Of course, the Impala is a heavily modified custom.


Another long distance shot full of blurry cars, but there is an Oldsmobile Cutlass G-body behind Tom. A better shot of the car is shown in a minute or so.



The Ford Thunderbird returns and passes a 1959 Ford (thanks to our astute readers for the correction). The shot quickly fades into the same stretch of roadway with a Honda Prelude, Toyota Tercel hatchback, Ford Festiva and Volkswagen Fox all passing on another.


And now I need some help. What car is Tom Cruising up in during the epic ‘80s halfpipe scene? I’m fairly certain it is a Pontiac, but the Bonneville, Catalina and Grand Prix don’t seem to match up. I need your help identifying it.


Here is a better shot of the Oldsmobile Cutlass and various blurry cars driving by. The same shot pans down again at the 3:40 mark.


Now the modified Impala and that convertible Pontiac pass each other, followed by the Prelude, Tercel, Festiva and Fox quartet.

One thought on “Cars and Music Videos – Tom Petty Free Fallin’

  1. Hey, thanks for making this website. I think it’s awesome that we’re still talking about this music video today. Now, about that mystery car. I’m curious as to why you ruled out the Catalina, because that is 100% a 1970 Pontiac Catalina.

    I know the video doesn’t give us much to work with, but If you google image it, you can compare the exterior door handle, door lock knobs, side mirror, center hood ridge along with the hood vents and see that they all match. Also, from the aerial view, you can see the car has fender skirts which the ’70 Catalina sports as well.

    Hope this helped.


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