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Thread: Distinctive VW engine sound?

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  1. #1
    ohekk is offline CHR Member Visit my Photo Gallery
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    Apr 2001
    Car Year, Make, Model: 34 Ford Roadster - 51 Merc - 33 Austin

    Distinctive VW engine sound?


    I've been asked: "What is that makes that distinctive VW engine sound?"

    Some people (NOT me!) are keen to the different engine sounds of a Chevy, Ford or Mopar coming down the street. Some will even tell you if it's a BIG block or a small block.

    Most anybody can tell the difference between a Harley and a Honda.

    ...and I'll guess that everybody can recognize that distinctive sound of a vintage VW.

    What is that makes that unmistakeable sound?

  2. #2
    RestoRod's Avatar
    RestoRod is offline CHR Member Visit my Photo Gallery
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    Jun 2004
    In the Boonies of Ontario
    Car Year, Make, Model: 40 Graham Sharknose :58 MGA/Ford V6

    I would have to think it is the 'boxer' design of the engine especially since I have heard a very similar sound coming from a Subaru with a noisy exhaust.
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  3. #3
    Rrumbler is offline CHR Member Visit my Photo Gallery
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    Jun 2004
    Las Vegas
    Car Year, Make, Model: Sans hot rod, sold the truck.

    Seems to me that it is a combination of things: foremost in my mind is the sound from a stock exhaust, has a sort of whistle in it, then the cooling fan and tin gives a unique sound to the running engine. Also, even a stock V-Dub has a mild "lope" to its timing, and one running open flowing headers and straight through mufflers has a sound reminiscent of a V-Twin in my estimation. And, yep, I'm one of those who senses the differences in engine sounds; sometimes I'll perform feats of amazing agility, for a broken, old guy, just to get outside to see what is going down the street or flying overhead.
    Rrumbler, Aka: Hey you, "Old School", Hairy, and other unsavory monickers.

    Twistin' and bangin' on stuff for about sixty or so years; beat up and busted, but not entirely dead - yet.

  4. #4
    glennsexton's Avatar
    glennsexton is offline CHR Member/Contributor Visit my Photo Gallery
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    Mar 2005
    Car Year, Make, Model: 63 Nova SS

    Roger on the sounds - years ago I was working in the yard with my kids and a helicopter was approaching, "sounds like a Chinook" I told them to which they replied, "what's a 'Chinook' dad?" "It's a big helicopter with two horizontal rotors." Sure enough, an Army Guard Chinook swung overhead and the crew chief waved to us. Kids thought that was pretty neat that I could recognize a helicopter by the sound.

    Now it's fun to hear a Harley coming and tell folks it's a Sportie, open piped - maybe Vance and Hines.. After all, Harley did patent the sound of their V-twin so that the Japanese bikes couldn't copy it!

    As mentioned - the V-Dub is unique in it's horizontally opposed (boxer) configuration and thus produces a unique sound.
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