QOTD: Familiar Engine Sounds

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

Last night I walked past a parked older -- early Aughts -- Honda Accord, and then I heard it start up and I immediately recognized that sound, in part because I owned a '97 Accord myself.

That sound is one that will always stick with me. Another engine sound -- the one made by any Ford 5.0-liter (fine, 4.9) from the late '80s/early '90s. You know, the one that went into Fox-body Mustangs.

So now I ask of you, what engine sounds have stuck with you over the years? I know most internal-combustion engines are pretty silent now, or at least the cars have good sound deadening. And of course, the shift to EVs will make things a lot quieter.

Still, some of us, maybe most of us, have an engine sound or two that's instantly recognizable.

What's yours?

Sound off below.

[Image: Honda]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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4 of 65 comments
  • EngineerfromBaja_1990 EngineerfromBaja_1990 on Apr 20, 2023

    IMO, from easiest to hardest startup sound (in this order)

    1. Ford Triton
    2. Any A-body with a GM 60 degree V6
    3. A Mopar with a 318, 360 LA V8. I believe the 3.9 Magnum used the same starter as I drove a couple work vans with it.
    4. Any Jeep with the 4.0
    5. Any 4cyl Honda from the 90s
    6. The high pitched fuel pump sound of a 90s SBC with Vortec heads
    7. Toyota 22R

  • KevinB KevinB on Apr 20, 2023

    The GM Iron Duke. I know when my mail has been delivered just by the sound.

  • Jeanbaptiste Jeanbaptiste on Apr 21, 2023


    B series Vtec switchover

    Trumpeting sound of VQ35 motors in various Nissans/Infinitis

    D-series Honda engine starting up

    (so many Honda references...)

    80's-90's Honda key in-the-ignition-and-door-open sound.

  • TCowner TCowner on Apr 21, 2023

    4.6L Ford starters as mentioned by many and

    the sound of a Crown Vic P71 at WOT from start to about 50 mph sounds awesome and instantly recognizable