Episode 17: Drummer Cars with Jim Garrett of Harman

This episode I talk with Jim Garrett, fellow drum nerd and a first-rate car nerd, about cars for drummers. We discuss different considerations for selecting a great drum car including car types, special needs for where you live, and the type of gear and people you’re moving. We then run through each category of cars and discuss our recommendations for cars to check out.



Jim and I worked together at Harman, parent company of JBL, Harman Kardon, AKG, and many other professional and consumer audio brands, and he runs the company’s high-end home audio product marketing program. Jim’s a lifelong drummer who’s been playing since he was five. He calls himself a utility drummer—studio, stage, bands, projects, he does it all— and he’s a vintage Ludwig collector. He was two sons, both of whom are musicians.


Jim is a career audio guy with a degree in film, TV, and audio production. He began in retail with Best Buy and high-end specialty audio store, Sound Pro, in his native Indianapolis. He then spent nine years in product planning at loudspeaker titan Klipsch, provided consulting services to subwoofer specialist Velodyne, lead technical training at CEDIA, which is the industry association for custom home-technology installation, and has spent the last eight years at Harman.


Jim and I had a great conversation starting with his and my personal car stories, and then moving into types of cars we like for drum gear.
  • Sedan/Coupe – difficult but can be done with small kit, no passengers
  • SUV/Pickup – good choice but often poor fuel economy, high loading height, and may not be fun to drive
  • Van/Minivan – uncool but very functional, useful, especially for percussionists and drummers with PA equipment
  • Hatchback/Wagon/Crossover – ideal balance for kit with one passenger or one to two speakers or amps


We get into considerations for the load you’re hauling and where you’re hauling it such as city vs. suburbs/rural, winter weather, insurance cost; and I offer some things I learned living in New York City and Chicago, which have high prevalence of public transit, high parking costs, and high availability of tech-powered alternatives like Uber and Zipcar.


A consideration I like to think about is visibility. Can you see out the back window with your bass drum back there? How high do you need to lift that heavy hardware case at 2am? I like to bring a bass drum bag or case with me on the test drive for this reason.


Another topic is advances in availability of alternate energy sources including hybrid, electric, and diesel. Jim recommends drummers check out the space savings available to electric car (EV) drivers and suggests drummers might be able to size down without the traditional drivetrain equipment. You can see Mike Johnston fit his kit into a Tesla Model S here!


We spend the rest of the show discussing picks for recommended drum cars, which I based on an aggregation of car-review sites, reliability reports, and safety ratings. Here they are. Do you think I missed some? Or are there some you’d recommend against? Leave a note in the comments below.


Hatchbacks (and a Sedan)
  1. Ford Fiesta
  2. Honda Fit
  3. Mazda 3
  4. VW Golf (also available in e-, GTI, R)
  5. Audi A3 e-tron
  6. BMW i3 (REX hybrid option)
  7. Tesla Model S


  1. Kia Soul (comes in EV and Turbo)
  2. Subaru Outback
  3. VW Alltrack/SportWagen
  4. BMW 3 series (diesel option)
  5. Audi A4 Allroad
  6. Volvo V60/V90 (Cross Country options too)


SUVs and Crossovers
  1. Honda HRV
  2. Mazda CX-3
  3. Toyota CHR
  4. Ford Eco Sport


SUVs and Crossovers
  1. Honda CR-V
  2. Mazda CX-5
  3. Toyota RAV4
  4. Subaru Crosstrek (Hybrid)
  5. Ford Escape
  6. Subaru Forester
  7. Acura RDX
  8. BMW X3 (diesel option)
  9. Jaguar F-Pace
  10. Porsche Macan


Midsize SUVs and Crossovers

  1. Ford Edge
  2. Kia Sorrento
  3. Nissa Murano
  4. BMW X5 (diesel option)
  5. Lexus RX350
  6. Volvo XC90
  7. Porsche Cayenne
  8. Tesla Model X


  1. Toyota Siena
  2. Chrysler Pacifica
  3. Kia Sedona
  4. Honda Odyssey


Compact/Midsize Pickups
  1. Honda Ridgeline
  2. Chevy Colorado (diesel option)
  3. Toyota Tacoma
  4. GMC Canyon


Full Size Pickups
  1. Chevy Silverado 1500
  2. Ford F-150
  3. Ram 1500
  4. GMC Sierra 1500




Listen to Drum Showroom Episode 17 here, and please subscribe and leave a review if you like what I’m doing. It would really mean a lot.

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