By on March 31, 2012


Recently, while praising the growly note produced by the VW GLI, I made an off-handed remark concerning the multitude of axle-backs I’ve bolted onto my WRX over the years. Unlike most of the hyperbole that is my métier, such statement was actually based in reality.

I really did swap out back-boxes like Jack cycles through guitars, desiring both an uncorking of the rumble produced by a flat-four with unequal-length headers, yet without the yobbish blatting of some angled oil-barrel. A straight STi swap? Nope, all the metallic unpleasantness of chomping tinfoil. The Borla Hush? Stealthy in looks only, but drones like Ben Stein playing the didgeridoo.

If you’re interested, I ended up with a 2.5” single-tip Maddad Whisper, a fine, US-made piece of engineering which I paid through the nose for. Worth every penny though: just enough bass at idle to flip my on-switch, crest 4K in the rev department and suddenly Nicky Grist is calling out the pace notes.

And here’s the thing, of all the facets of the motorcar that are constantly being refined and improved and modernized, it’s the sound I’ll miss the most.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the rest of my car isn’t as tuneful as the exhaust. There are more groans, squeaks and rattles than – well, than something that wouldn’t be possible if not for the invention of Viagra. And the wind-noise, ye gods! You’d get less buffeting rounding Cape Horn in a two-decker Napoleonic frigate.

But it’s all part of the experience: while the visceral tug of lateral or accelerative/decelerative g-forces are what generate a physical connectedness with a car, it’s the sound of the thing that really sparks the emotional connection. The feel, if you’ll allow some pretty puffy-shirted poetic license, of your horse breathing under you.

I felt a great sadness to learn of the new M5′s Active Sound Design, whereby the stereo will contribute simulated engine noise to the tomb-like silence of the cabin. I read this technical tidbit with the sort of dismay one might experience upon hearing that Mark Knopfler had embraced auto-tune.

There is no doubt that the twin-turbo V8 is the new king of the hill when it comes to motivating whichever flavour of teutonic boulevard-strafer you might prefer. But since when does an M5 need the aural equivalent of a foil-wrapped zucchini for added stage presence?

And then there’s the latest Merc’ Hammer. Yes it now has enough torque to strangle a humpback-whale, but at what cost? Even at idle, the old 6.2L engine burbles like the borborygmi of Cthulhu, and when prodded with a violent downshift barks like a stabbed Allosaur.

I feel a great disturbance coming, as though a million cylinders have cried out in anger and are being silenced by five catalytic converters, three resonators, two mufflers and a pair of electrically controlled baffles. Is the future a place where rock n’ roll is truly dead and all we’ll hear is the pious hum of a range-extended EV?

Probably not, at least not too soon. I’ve just finished up with a MINI Cooper S Coupe, and while it’s truly a wretched-looking little car, its tendency to parp with such cheerily enthusiastic flatulence on lift-throttle applications couldn’t help but charm. And then there’s the GLI which, as mentioned, is note-perfect.

Be it the psssst of a excess turbo pressure being vented to atmo, or the *clack* of shutting the door on a 993, or the frenzied howl of Vtec kicking in, yo, what’s your favourite auto-related audio?

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88 Comments on “Sound and Fury...”


  • avatar
    suspekt

    Without a shred of doubt:

    Honda J32A2 with comptech headers spewing straight into a Borla collector out back into a pair of HKS mufflers… reaching for 7,200 rpm in 3rd and 4th as the tach accelerates across the vtec engagement point in a maniacal dash for the redline … It just never got old… 5 years of daily driving and the magic of that motors athleticism and aural delight never got old… 2003 Acura CLS 6 speed…

    The intake switchover at 4,100 rpm to long runners and the vtec engagement at 5,000rpm followed by a seemingly impossible surge in power at 6,700rpm was unreal everytime… It was just the combination of intake and exhaust upgrades that made that motor sing… I went through at least 5 full length variations of the exhaust before being satisfied…
    What an underrated car/motor combo…

  • avatar
    word is bond

    Shame on Bimmer for going with the combover. Just admit you’re going bald.

  • avatar
    word is bond

    A lot of people have a holy grail car, that they’d just like to see or drive in person. I’d love to hear a 787 in person. Of course I’d love to drive one, but just to hear one would be special.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    To add further.
    This is why I feel the current TL SH-AWD 6 speed manual is such a hidden gem.

    With some simple mods, that car is a musical instrument waiting to be uncorked. The J37 may not have DOHC or even DI, but it is athletic with lungs. Let it breathe and you will be amazed

    And I also think it is a stunning design. Ditch the trunk spoiler lip junk, tone down the chrome accents as they have done and it is simply a world class design.

    • 0 avatar

      Great engine in the TL. Shame about the steering and tires. Easy to mod the latter, but not the former.

    • 0 avatar
      jimmyy

      I have the 12 TL FWD. White with tan leather. I love the vehicle in every way. Except for the gas mileage. This thing uses more gas than my 11 Toyota Highlander, even though the window sticker claimed otherwise. The other wierd thing is the engine jolt when it is started. And, I hate the exhaust noise. I wish it was quieter. Women sure look at this one when I am driving it …

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        @jimmyy: I have the AWD, and the same complaint. I blamed the EPA and their stupid testing regimen…until I loaned it to the wife for the month, and she returned 19+ mpg, one over the sticker number, in 100% city driving.

        In other words, the problem’s not the car, it’s behind the wheel. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t care. :)

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    count me among the highly disappointed in the M5. This synthetic sound alone would be reason for me not to buy one if I had the $

    having been to as many pro and vintage races as I have, I’m not sure where to start lol. I’ve seen a variety of Ferrari’s (333sps, 355, 360 GTC, 430 GT, 458 GTE, 458 GA, 550 GT1, 365 GTB Daytona) all sounded amazing. Aston Martin (DBR9′s and Vantage GTE’s), big block Corvettes, whether the old C2 and C3′s or the modern Le Mans C5-R and C6-Rs, the old Caddy World Challenge CTS-V’s, the late 90′s/early 00′s Champ Cars, the BMW M1 or CSL race cars…I could go on and on they all sound amazing. Of the cars I’ve owned or spent lots of quality time in, it’s definitely my 2004 BMW 330i zhp, with the Infiniti G37 probably second. I’m excluding my rides in a v-12 Jag E type, 1970 Porsche 911 race car, or 4 lap driving experiences in a 458 Italia or Murcielago LP640-4.

    • 0 avatar
      Bruno Balestra

      Your post made me wonder of something:
      I´ve read time and time again that the C4 Corvewtte is the sportiest and most athletic of them all. Yet, no relevant recers of it that I know of. What gives?

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        I believe they were raced in Speedvision World Challenge and maybe Motorola Cup. The C2 and C3 are pretty popular at vintage racing events but I don’t know if the C4 is old enough to qualify. The C5 and C6 have proliferated in racing largely due to GM’s relationship with Pratt & Miller running a works Le Mans team for them. GM first started racing the C5-R in 1999, I think largely as a response to the success Chrysler was seeing with the Vipers at Le Mans and in the FIA GT Championship. Since then, we saw the GTS/GT1 spec C5-R and C6-R which have been raced by the factory as well as privateers, and now the GT2/GTE spec C6.R also in works and privateer hands. Several design elements on the C6 street car (like cooling and headlights/aerodynamics) were actually at least partially dictated by Pratt & Miller as areas where the C5 (which had not been originally designed to be a Le Mans racer) needed improvement, and therefore required changes in the street car. The fact that the car has been very successful makes it a popular platform. To GM’s credit, they show a lot of support for the program. There Corvette owner’s corral is one of the biggest and nicest every year I go to Sebring.

  • avatar
    240SX_KAT

    I love the exhaust that I built. A 3″ turbo back with a high-flow cat and two 3″ in/out perforated core mufflers. Nice and quiet while putting around town and it wails like a banshee when prodded – with none of the blaaaating from the fart-can crowd.

  • avatar
    meefer

    AM Vantage V8. Brabus SLK55.

  • avatar

    Brendan,

    Your descriptions of the WRX’s wind noise, road noise, and bits bumping against one another would equally well describe my Protege5. EVERYTHING I test (with the notable exception of an Elise driven a few years back) has seemed quiet compared to the Mazda. By the same token, none of these cars are as engaging or as fun to drive on suburban roads (i.e. nowhere near the car’s limits). Unfortunately, the P5′s mill isn’t nearly as interesting to listen to as your boxer, so no use drowning out the din with an aftermarket exhaust.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      Totally agree on the fun factor the P5. Love mine though so far, I’ve not noticed too much rattling, creaks etc, though I only have less than 112K on mine so far.

      The motor noise could be a bit more growly though.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I do love the right exhaust note. Back at my parent’s place in Ohio this summer I did love the sound of a 1967 Ford 289V8 with 4brl carb breathing through true dual exhausts and cherry bombs but quickly realized how tiring the sound would be on anything but a short trip. (Something that didn’t occur to me as a teen simply filled with lust for the car.)

    Same goes for Dad’s mid 1990s Suburban with a 350V8 under the hood and WAY TOO LOUD exhaust. Sweet at idle but droning for a 3 hr trip to Frankenmuth, MI; especially in a closed box like the ‘Burban.

    I know I’ll spend much time looking for that sweet rumble at idle without loud tiresome decibls for my next ride. (As soon as I figure out what my next ride will be.)

    • 0 avatar
      Spartan

      I have an 08 Explorer with the 4.6L, and while it sounds awesome with Flowmaster 40 series mufflers, it’s an absolute drag on the interstate, especially at 2200 RPM. Drones like a sumbitch.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      EducatorDan:

      I totally get the sound thing! While I love much of what a modern car offers, there is something about the sound of old school V8 designs that grips me like no other. Even modern versions like the LSx series of engines sound different. I am too young to remember the musclecar in the wild, but as a kid I went to a car show that featured many of them. I recall going to the back of a ’67 GTO and kneeling behind the idling car and listening to that deep, guttural sound all while being bathed in that unique mix of unburned hydrocarbons that exited those twin pipes. Throw in the occasional miss and the sound was mesmerizing. I was totally into cars from that point onward. And yes, some of these cars would be tiring for a 5 hour drive, but as an enthusiast’s plaything I would want it no other way.

  • avatar
    Silent Ricochet

    When I got a muffler for my car, I wanted something that wasn’t going to get my tickets while cruising around town, but at the same time, sounded nice when pulling up to a friend’s house or when I stomped on the gas. A nice smooth deep tone, with no ricey crackling or raspiness. I went with a Borla ProXS and never looked back. Just enough bass at idle, but quiet in the interior, upon light acceleration, you’d hardly know I had it installed unless you were outside the car. But once I put the pedal down, that all went out the window. A medley of the angry, throaty, growling intake and the bass and burble of my muffler, the dash between 3500 RPM and 6200 RPM is probably one of the nicest 4-cylinder tone’s I’ve ever heard. Forget VTEC. My Engine: General Motors LD9 Twin Cam 2.4L

    That being said, V8′s will always have a special place in my heart for exhaust tones. Any American V8 will do. There’s something about the shrill scream of a supercharger combined with the angry snarl of an LS7 that always sounds perfect. Vauxhall VXR8 Bathurst, look it up. Top Gear did a piece on it. Music to my ears for sure.

    • 0 avatar
      Joshua Johnson

      I know exactly what you mean. While not an LS7, the supercharged 4.2L V8 in my Jaguar S-Type is music to my ears. Now that I have removed the resonator, two exhausts and placed a single, dual in/out x-pipe muffler in its place, it has the right noise at both ends: whine at the front and growl at the rear.

      • 0 avatar
        Shipwright

        Same here. I own a 2008 GT500 convertible with a pair of aftermarket “KR” mufflers. The whine of the blower in front the roar of the KRs in back and the rush of wind is very intoxicating.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “the borborygmi of Cthulhu, and when prodded with a violent downshift barks like a stabbed Allosaur.”

    Too much egg in the pudding.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    I’m partial to Ford V8s. I love the way they sound. Very distinct sound without being too burbly and obnoxious.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      I can recognize a Mustang just by ear. Interesting that both GM and Ford V8′s sound so different in trucks and cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Brendan McAleer

      I suggest watching this: http://vimeo.com/20017992

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      Today I was behind a new Mustang Shelby GT500 with Michigan Manufacturer plates. I listened to it pull away from the tollbooth on the Chicago Skyway and head into town. It made me think about cars in a way I haven’t in a really long time.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      In the hands of the right douchebag, trust me, they can be too obnoxious.

      A guy in my old apartment complex had a 2010 GT with aftermarket exhaust. If it didn’t have straight pipes, it was very unrestricted. And he just HAD to rev it hard every time he drove in and out of the complex, usually when I was trying to sleep.

      Of course, at the time I owned a 2011 Mustang GT with 100 more horses than his douchemobile, so I had the last laugh.

  • avatar
    DeeTee

    My fav: Porsche Boxster. On startup (it lives!) and at 5,000 rpm (it yelps!).

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      When the primary criticism (other than the RMS lottery) is that the chassis and brakes could easily handle twice its original ~200-250 horse, I think it is fair to say that the Boxster is one of the most underrated cars of all times.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    I hate exhaust noise, unless it is a V12 Ferrari. Especially the mid 60s 265 and the early 60s GTO. Around Newport Beach, there were a few early 60s GTOs and mid 60s GTBs that you would see on the streets. But the prices went too high, and people stopped using them around town. So, I hear this music no more.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    the amazing thing is that those cars were never designed to sound amazing. They were designed to perform and the incredible sound came with it. Today’s cars, even those that might naturally sound pretty good, are engineered to sound the way they do (even the Ferrari’s).

    • 0 avatar

      Was it ever this simple? I suspect that even with the classics some work went into making them sound a certain way. If anyone has detailed knowledge on how exhaust and intake systems are tuned to produce sounds of s specific character, I’d love to read a piece on the topic.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        Being in mind that cars like the 250 Testarossa and GTO were designed as to be race cars, and sold on the basis of their ability to win, I don’t see the Ferrari engineers doing much other than designing their exhausts to maximize the power. Although the headers are certainly beautiful spaghetti sculptures to behold, that goes for most old race cars.

        I can’t find any specifics to cite but I can think of a few modern examples at least. I remember reading how when the 2003 Acura Cl Type S was being developed, there was some debate over the sound of the car, with the Japanese engineers wanting a higher pitched sound, but the Americans wanting a more throaty guttural noise (the Americans won that debate and forever glad that they did). I also remember reading when the Aston Martin DBR9 race car came out that it was engineered to sound the way they did. I’m sure that no matter what, the Aston having an 8000+rpm unmuffled V-12 naturally would have screamed, but Aston wanted to make sure the shriek sounded as good as possible (having seen the cars race multiple times, I can assure you it was mission accomplished). I’ll have to try to find some specific examples though.

  • avatar
    karlbonde

    I’ve found a short clip on of YouTube of Michele Mouton talking about the sound of the Audi Sport Quattros she drove in the WRC in the 1980s. The clip is interspersed with sounds of the rally cars racing.

    The sounds of those five-cylinder turbo engines are insane.

  • avatar

    I dunno, something about the burble of a V8…

  • avatar
    monomille

    Best of all time – F1 Matra at Watkins Glen back in the day – total smiles all around at every lap.

  • avatar
    jco

    YES x100000000. when I’m driving a car i truly enjoy.. it’s the noise of the experience that I bond with the most. pops, cracks, the ferocity of a proper Honda motor at high rpm; the noise was the entire reason I wanted to own a Mustang. the sound of a fox body with Flowmasters still gets me everytime. so like I said in a previous thread, I will always want to own something simple, analog, and mechanical. then I won’t mind my hybrid transportation appliance for daily duty.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    For 4 & 5 cylinder cars I like the tone of the new FlowMaster dBX muffler. It sounds especially good if you can get it in front of the rear axle and have a longer tail pipe. Great tone and low interior resonance.

    Search “Flowmaster dBX” on you-tube for sound and videos.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Exhausts? Sorry your intake is so far away as my Ducati really plays music two feet from my ears. It’ the nasally growl and rattling clutch that a trained ear will turn heads every time.

    • 0 avatar
      Brendan McAleer

      Anyone who wonders why a Ducati costs so much more than a (roughly) equivalent Japanese bike should just listen to one. Same goes for Triumph. Not that Japanese bikes are slouches either. Drat. Now I want a motorcycle.

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        I, and a number of riders who’ve heard me pull away on it, loved the sound of my ’09 VFR 800. The V4 engine and undertail exhausts had something special to them, even if the stock mufflers weren’t overly loud until the 7,000 RPM VTEC and intake switchover. Some people thought that bike was a little too sterile, but I thought it was perfect for a daily ride. My twin-cylinder TL1000S wasn’t exactly boring to listen to, either, especially when I had a gasket leaking air, occasionally throwing a loud bang, and attendant flame, out of the mufflers on overrun. I nearly bought a Triumph Triple, and that exhaust note would have been ludicrous, too.

        Instead I bought an old Miata with a Borla muffler. That thing is begging to be silenced a little, ideally by a nice turbine just downstream of the exhaust manifold…

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Junking stock airboxes for open element filters is a time honored christening ritual for me.

    Exhaust tuning is a fun but expensive game. Best sound I’ve owned by far was my 99 Maxima. Had pre cats rift off the header that helped quiet drone, but I cobbled together a 2.5″ custom cat back that popped and burbled perfectly while being dead quiet on the highway.

    These new cars are horrible. All the noise regulators need to take a couple of spins with lungs and pipes. BMW is blaspheming with it’s all turbo lineup

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      The only exception on the BMW’s is the 6 cylinder turbos. The 335i’s and 135i’s I test drove were all quite loud even in stock form. The turbo’s didn’t quiet down the party much at all. Sounds like the V8s are suffering a lot more. It’ll be interesting to see how the f30 M3 sounds. Hopefully the new Indy cars will be a sign of good turbo things to come. Seeing them race in person last week in St Pete, those turbo’s weren’t doing much, if anything, to muffle that fury.

      • 0 avatar
        talkstoanimals

        I agree – the exhaust note in my 135 was pretty rorty with the stock exhaust. With a Dinan catback it only sends better. Which brings me to the point I logged in to make – BMW may have screwed the pooch with the decision to synth the new M5′s music. But their inline sixes still sound sweet. Also glorious – Morgan Plus 4/Triumph TR-3, and the Triumph TR-6. Also, I followed a TR-7 down the road yesterday. Man that was a disappointing looking car, but this one sounded great – burbling and popping and rumbling away perfectly.

      • 0 avatar
        Brendan McAleer

        The turbo-six is indeed mellifluous through even the stock exhaust. Quite characterful in a Z4 for instance, and in the 1 and 3. It’s the rest of the 5 that’s really damping down the noise I think, not just the turbos lodged in the craw.

        I drove an M3 cab today: folks with a coupe/sedan are missing out on that snarl above 4K.

  • avatar
    Tinker

    Riding a 1978 Yamaha XS750, winding out at 10,000 rpm in 3rd gear, and catching the (clutchless) upshift just right, knowing you can do it again in 4th, and possibly in 5th (if the road is long enough, and traffic cooperates).

    That 3 cylinder motor sounded pretty much like a healthy six cylinder, I loved that exhaust note.

  • avatar
    tedward

    Easy two answers…any southern fried pickup (gas powered only), and a K20 @8k rpm.

    On the truck front, I consider us all blessed to live in a country where that’s the sound you hear casually walking down many streets. Happens nowhere else in the world (that I’ve been).

    The K20…well, I want Honda to suffer for killing that character trait, so I’m going to mention it all I can while pointing out that the new Si CAN’T DO THAT!

  • avatar
    ajla

    Brendan, I want you to know that I love you right now.

    • 0 avatar
      Brendan McAleer

      Perfectly legal, in Canada.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        LOL love that our frozen neighbors to the north are relaxed enough to not get tweaked about the genders of two people who are in love. While in the good old USA a nice percentage of the population gets their panties in a knot.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        @Dan: Yep, right on cue, some humorless killjoy has to show up and make *everything* political. Congratulations.

        And unintellectual, too, if you truly don’t understand the difference between “love” and “marriage”. I don’t much care about your opinion on the matter, but please, don’t be lazy.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        Darkwing,

        I think you misunderstood Dan.

        He was merely commenting on how SOME people react when gay marriage is even spoken, even in jest, as in, they get their panties in a knot and was not reacting negatively at all to the above comments. He seems to be appreciative of how nonplussed Brenden was at the comment above him, which would NOT always be the case for someone else, especially down here and conservatively Christian most especially.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        And you missed my point entirely — which is that he’s getting his panties into precisely the same knot, falling all over himself to trumpet his moral superiority. As in: no one cares, killjoy.

        Not that it matters. If he says true to form, he’ll try to turn my dislike for his antics into an attack on his position, and declare that the only reason I disapprove of his douchery is because I hate the gays.

  • avatar
    allythom

    Did you ever try the Scoobysport axleback on your WRX ? I put one on my ’02 Wagon in about 2003. I loved it, always had a window open and tunnels were a treat.
    Our ’05 Cooper S did a similar trick to the one you describe on the Mini Coupe, only overlaid with some supercharger whine – ‘whaaaaaaaaaaaaa, prappp, prapp’. Always brought a smile.
    Current MS3 made no really noteworthy noises, the addition of a Mazdaspeed intake definitely perked up the performance a little, but makes it sound like an angry vacuum cleaner (not an especially good noise)

    • 0 avatar
      Brendan McAleer

      I didn’t run the Scoobysport, but was also considering the Prodrive Oval for a bit. I really wanted to like the Borla Hush, as I think it’s the best-looking option (I love twin-tip mufflers), but the wagon back does tend to work like a resonant chamber at certain frequencies – I would fully bolt one on a sedan.

      Best I’ve heard was a crazy STi with some titanium set-up and a wastegate dump to atmo. Outstandingly rorty.

      • 0 avatar
        Cerum

        Ran an MRT twin tip axleback with a Perrin up-pipe and highflow cat in the downpipe in my 02′ WRX. I might be biased but it was the best sounding combo I had heard. Good rumble at the low end but no highway drone at all.

        Topped that with a giant top mount intercooler and dynotuned EcuTek set to 16.5lbs and it was a blast to drive everyday.

  • avatar
    Brendan McAleer

    As a post-script, I was lucky enough to hear a 355 go WOT in downtown Vancouver some years past. It was very early on a Sunday, and the roads were fairly deserted. I was walking along Georgia street towards the Skytrain station, and this bright-red (naturally) Ferrari turned the corner and found himself nearly alone at the bottom of a ten-block canyon made of forty-story glass-front buildings.

    He walked on it.

    The final crescendo of Nessun Dorma always gets me misty. So did that.

    • 0 avatar
      geggamoya

      Car sounds are diffucult to record well on camera, especially if the car is moving. This dyno video captures the sound of a 355 rather well ;) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fIF6Nh7gCo

  • avatar
    pb35

    I put a Stillen gen 2 cat back exhaust on my G35 about 18 months ago. It has turned out to be one of the biggest automotive mistakes I have ever made. No matter what you do to a V6, it will always sound like a V6. Whatever gains in power that I am getting, the excessive drone is not worth it.

    I wish I didn’t scrap my stock exhaust but I think I am just going to get rid of the car as I’ve had it for almost 8 years now.

    • 0 avatar
      Brendan McAleer

      Now hang on, I have heard at least one 350Z that didn’t make me want to hurt myself. A VQ engine can sound just fine: you just need to do a little more research (and it’s not like someone won’t buy that Stillen off of you).

      • 0 avatar
        pb35

        I did a ton of research, listened to You Tube clips, read through a 65 page exhaust thread on a G35 forum, everything except ride in a car with the exhaust that I purchsaed. The gen 2 is supposed to be more quiet than the gen 1 so I thought I was good to go.

        I was actually hoping to get a nice, mellow sound like a 350z or a G coupe but it wasn’t meant to be. The last thing I want to hear when I get in the car in the morning is the drone of my VQ. The interior rattles like hell now too. Live and learn! It does sound nice from outside the car, however. It’s not obnoxious at all.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        The VQ35′s problem isn’t the exhaust as much as its the headers. With pretty much any aftermarket headers the VQ35 goes from Chewbacca to E46 M3.

      • 0 avatar
        CA Guy

        My 300ZX Turbo had a wonderful exhaust burble. My G37 not so much though the tractor-like sound the G37s all make when started up from cold is kind of fun, even if it lasts just for a moment.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    The one thing I did not like about my 328i Touring was that it was too quiet. The engine was a far-away whine at anything less than 4500 rpm, when it finally came in with a hushed snarl. The solution was the OEM BMW Performance Exhaust kit, and the matching BMW Performance Intake. The results are puurrrfect. Just the right amount louder, a nice burble on the overrun, and a sharp bark on cold start. And the fit and finish are absolutely superb. Installed it all myself in a couple of hours. The exhaust is a bit of a bargain, the intake a TOTAL ripoff price-wise, but they make magic together. Probably 90% as good as the tunes from my Alfa GTV-6, and that is high praise indeed.

    I do agree though, some engineer at BMW needs to be strung up for the F10 M5 using the bloody stereo to enhance the engine sound. Sheesh.

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

  • avatar
    arbnpx

    The Lexus LFA accelerating at full throttle. The first time I heard audio of a launch from a dead stop, I smiled, and shed a tear of joy. The engine is literally singing to the driver, pleading for him to hold the gear until 9000 RPM, and to never shift a moment too soon. When you hear that Yamaha worked with Lexus on the audio of the exhaust note, it all makes sense.

    Aside from that, I’d have to say the wail of an inline-six engine; sadly, this is becoming rarer, with fewer manufacturers making cars with I6 engines that truly sing, and V6 engines vary so wildly in auditory response, from GM’s terrible hodgepodge of V6 engines, to the loud Nissan VQ, to the more refined but still not like an I6 VR38DETT of the R35 GT-R, to the civilized but stern Toyota 2GR that’s found in anything from the Toyota Camry to the Lexus IS350 to the Lotus Evora.

    I also have a special place in my heart for the good old sound of a 4 cylinder engine, since that’s what I grew up with. Probably my favorite is the buzzy high-revving fast-reacting 4A-GE in the AE86 Sprinter Trueno, especially the AE111 20-valve version as popularized by Keiichi Tsuchiya. This engine note was used as the model sound for the Subaru FA20 / Toyota 4U-GSE that’s in the Scion FR-S / Toyota 86 / Subaru BRZ. For all those car reviewers complaining about the non-Subaru sound of the engine, they’re forgetting that Toyoda-san was attempting to bring back hachi-roku, in auditory form as well as physical form.

    I should like V8′s, I know, but I’ve grown bored of them. I’ve heard plenty of hoons in pickup trucks, Corvettes, Camaros, and so on stomping on the gas in their slushbox-equipped V8-powered torque monster. Yawn. I’d rather hear the biting brashness of a V10 from a BMW E60 M5 or a Lamborghini Gallardo. Or better yet, the insane musical instrument known as the 1LR-GUE, in the Lexus LFA.

  • avatar
    beach cruiser

    I think the best car exhaust system I have heard is on a past client’s 1970 Hemi Challenger. He bought it new and it is the factory system. Good stuff. But my all time favorite exhaust system was on a race boat called Miss Bardahl. There is just nothing like an unmuffled Rolls Royce Merlin 12 cylinder to get your attention.

  • avatar
    cannyfriar

    I loved the 5-cyl warble of my Dad’s original Volvo 850. It wasn’t particularly bassy and there was an element of drone in the mid range, but the vibrato was much more appealing than any operatic soprano. It was just so distinctive and characterful that the VW or Fiat 5-cyls couldn’t hold a candle to it.

    My own, later S60 with 5-cyl was fine, but had lost a lot of that character.

  • avatar
    Carzzi

    Anyone else disappointed by the sound from the new Ford Mustang’s Coyote 5.0? They sound blatty to me, even with aftermarket axlebacks.

    The old pushrod 289 & 302, 4.6′s (all varieties) and the 5.4′s have that hollow, echo-ey rumble, while just skulking about, that evokes an involuntary sharp breath every time one gets within earshot. This new one, is just… meh.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    While a good exhaust note is a beautiful thing, I think the custom exhaust market should be made illegal.

    Too many hicks put deafening straight pipes on their pickups and idiot fast and furious wannabes mount the obligatory fart coffee can exhaust on their 100 hp mid 90s Civic hatches.

    Around these parts in Florida the custom exhaust notes you’ll hear are usually loud, obnoxious, and coincidentally from your idiot tweaker neighbors at 2AM.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      How about the morons with straight pipe Hogs “redlining” at 5500 rpm? I have no problem until somebody decides to make a racket at 1 am. Would it kill to short shift and keep the revs down when riding late at night? All noise and no power. That I do not get.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        My grandmother lives in a small town in Ohio. Accross the street from her lives a 50 odd year old gentelman and his family. The guy has several “HOGS” but is very respectful when riding through the neighborhood, lest he disturb anybody too much.

        A young gentleman moved next door who also had a Harley. He was doing the moronic “high revs” through the neighborhood no matter the hour. The 50 something gentleman quickly went next door and “had a talk with him”, things are much quieter now.

      • 0 avatar
        NateR

        The last apartment complex I lived in, a neighbor had two beautiful custom choppers in his garage, and liked to ride them late into the night all summer long. You’d never know when he came home though, because he’d kill the engine a block away and coast home.

        I always liked that guy.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    No one mentioned a SBC with a Quadarjet?

    My FIL has a 1969 Corvette L47 4-speed he bought new, somewhere in the intervening years he put on the sidepipes that give the ‘Vette a mellow rumble at idle.

    Hammer through the gears and let the garbage-can secondaries open wide. Between the howling wolf wail of the carb and the sonic artillery of the sidepipes bombarding your senses, it is an automotive experience I savor on the few chances I get to play with his toy.

    Then you realize you’re doing 115 MPH in third gear and that damned Sentra just pulled into your lane…

    • 0 avatar
      NateR

      In the 80′s, my mother had a stepside Chevy truck with a smallblock V8 stuffed under the hood, painted Corvette Yellow, with sidepipes (I have no idea what year the truck was, or which engine was in it – I was about 10 years old at the time). I always loved the look and sound of that truck (I was pretty mad when she sold it), and those pipes were a big part of the appeal.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    Best exhaust sound is when the Blue Angels take off in finger four formation….and while you are distracted watching them climb out, number five comes along and dumps a whole LOT of JP into the jets. The sound pressure level is somewhere short of explosive levels, but mighty impressive. Second time, I brought hearing protection for my son and I. Definitely into permanent hearing loss territory. I can’t understand how the nannies haven’t prohibited this. I suppose they don’t go to air shows.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      Even better: the old Super Tomcat. That thing at full afterburner could shake the ground like a James Bond villain’s earthquake machine. Sublime.

    • 0 avatar
      Brendan McAleer

      Early last year, somebody was ripping around (above) town in a restored F-86 Sabre. Incredible noise, like tearing sheetmetal.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        we’re in the middle of air show season in Fl right now. Went to Titusville few weeks ago, Sun n Fun this weekend, and then Ft Lauderdale in April. Thunderbirds were at Sun n fun as was an FA-18 Hornet, F5, T38, and AV-8 Harrier. Last couple years TICO has had an F104 Starfighter…now that’s a noise. I’ve seen the F86 Sabre performing at air shows a lot for a few years but haven’t in a while. Guess Snodgrass is taking some time off. Nothing like the sound of pure unfiltered unmuffled power out of a jet engine….well except maybe a P51 Mustangs V12 Merlin at full song.

  • avatar
    NTI 987

    The thing I miss the most about my ’06 M5 is the sound. I shopped for a long time to find the right exhaust for it and it sounded like an F1 car. The new M5 sounds milquetoast in comparison.

  • avatar

    The pure symphony from our Z06 “dual mode” exhaust…especially that last run from 4500-7000 redline at WOT.

  • avatar
    stottpie

    a SBC 350 with a carb, N/A


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