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Drew Dowdell

The Sound of Cars

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I'm wondering if you guys do this to. There are certain cars that, with my eyes closed, I can identify simply by noises they make.

List the car and describe the sounds that you can identify.

Honda 4-cylinders - sound on startup

Mitsubishi 4-cylinders - sound when engine revs <they have a very unique whine to them>

Chrysler FWD automatics - sound when decelerating to a stop.

GM 3800s - start up, engine rev

GM Quad4 with low oil - has a very unique engine knock after it's been abused.

Ford 302s - very unique, unrefined, start up sound

Northstar V8 - unique startup sound

GM 5.3 - idle... though I'm not sure that I've not mistaken a 6.0 for a 5.3

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VQ engine in RWD Nissans and Infinitis: Best sounding V6 this side of an exotic.

3.0L V6s in Toyotas and Lexuses have a distinct starter and idle sound.

Aircooled Porsche 911s: Unmistakably angry-sounding SOBs.

Subaru boxer engines have a distinct sound as well (especially WRX/STis with aftermarket exhausts).

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The starter motor sound of an old Chrysler product - can't miss it.

69 Plymouth Satellite, Jesus the battery would die before that thing started

69 Mach 1 mustang 351 I know the sound of that thing from any where. Another car that never wanted to start left me stranded more than 78 times

any late 80's Mustang 5.0 L

GM 3.4 and 5.3

I can go on but those are the ones i can tell you from anywhere what they are.

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BMW inline-sixes

BMW V-10

Porsche flat-sixes

VW inline-five


Ferrari V8s

Audi V8s

Nissan V6s

GM starter sounds

Honda starter sounds

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Start-up and idle are very distinctive for me... that old Chrysler starter (yeah Camino), a 5.0 Mustang or any older Ford V8, Chevy smallblocks, every engine has a distinctive voice.

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Guest YellowJacket894

I'll just make a quick list of my top three:

  • Vortec 4.3L (I could identify the sound of this one even in my sleep. We've had two vehicles with this engine, both of GMCs -- an '88 S-15 and a '97 Jimmy -- and they have a distinct sound when you start them.)
  • Magnum 318 (As WMJ said, these tend to sound like a diesel, although I'm more used to the sound of the 318 in the late 90s Chrysler products. I blame the catalytic converters on that one, though -- after about 50,000 miles total they start to go and they rattle like crazy. Which brings me to another point, I can also tell if a 318 is running without one, too. :P)
  • GM 3400 (These things just roar when you take off in them.)

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Camino is correct about those old CHrysler starters...I would know my '85 Fifth Avenue had "that sound" I can also identify Hondas, Jeeps with the 4.0 liter on start up, as well as the FWD chrysler products that a few mentioned that have that moan, groan, whatever you want to call it sound, when they're slowing down or being put into gear.

Also Rocket 350's I've owned 2 so far, I can tell when an older Olds have a rocket under its hood.

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Yes, very true about start-up noise for the stuff mentioned.

Back in the day I owned a couple of GM cars with the 12

valve 3.1 V6s, those have a distinct sound too... but who

cares? New stuff is all generic, there's not much sound in

today's cars anyway.

The real story is all the old school stuff. Ever heard a GTO's

Tri-Power 389 going down a dragstrip? Or how about a

true DZ302 powered, cross ram 1969 Camaro Z/28 at high

RPMs? It's a sound one can never forget.

A Cadillac 472 or 500 also makes a very special sound

when echoing inside the fenders of a early 1970s car?

With some cars it's the LACK of sound that makes 'em so

special. Ever heard a super-quiet 1940s car with a 7.0:1

compression motor? Course you haven't, that's the point!

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I can recognize

3100, and 3400 engines by rev and start up...

I can usually recognise the dodge 3.3 in the vans from rev

I recognize civics by startup and rev....

hmm....thats pretty much it? I think?

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