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V8 Engine Noises
"I'm surprised it doesn't come with a CD of V8 engine noises!"
Jeremy Clarkson regarding the Tesla Roadster

In real life, there are many different kinds of engines. They all sound different, depending on their construction, operation, and even how the intake and exhaust are routed. While there are general "base" noises each kind of engine makes, the V8 engine is the most nearly unique in sound. Because of the lore of V8 engines, or maybe because they are a little behind the times, The Coconut Effect comes into play, and oftentimes film makers overdub the sound of a mundane car so it sounds like it has a V8. This, somehow, is more realistic for viewers who know nothing about cars.

To be noted: the classic V8 burbling sound is almost always generated by 90-degree odd-firing V8s with cross-plane crankshafts usually associated with American Musclecars. Any other V8 design, from the flat-plane Ferrari or Maserati engines to the high-rpm Lotus Esprit V8, and especially today's V8 Formula One engines, sounds different.

Examples:

Comic Books
  • In Sin City, the sound of a V8 engine is said to be vastly different from the sounds of other engines.

Film
  • Played with in Jeremy Clarkson's Thriller, where he creates a movie chase scene with a Mini Cooper and a Renault Twingo, both tiny 4 cylinder hatchbacks, and both overdubbed with V8 soundtracks. Special mention goes to this one for also synchronizing the exterior and interior sounds perfectly to the action.
  • The Remake of The War of the Worlds has the first generation Dodge Caravan, in all its fake woody panel, 4-cylinder engine glory, speeding away in the beginning thrumming out the sound of a V8.
  • Back to the Future was a prime offender, the DeLorean normally has a V6 (the PRV6), but they overdubbed V8 engine noises.
    • It is worth noting the original engine was swapped with a Porsche flat six for performance. Although that particular engine does not make the same noise as a V8.
    • Flat engines (easily distinguished in flat-fours like Alfa-Romeo 33 or Porsche 356 / Volkswagen Beetle, the greater the number of cylinders the less specific the noise is) have their own unique sound due to alternately-firing cylinders on both sides, a doof-doof-doof noise.
  • Never Been Kissed does this with Josie's Mercury Sable, which has been modified by Rob to have Tiki Post liveries. In the scene in question, he pulls off to the sound of the V8 Burnout.
    • It should be noted that in the mid-90's Ford did make an SHO variant of the Sable's sister car, the Taurus, with a unique V8 engine. But that's not much of an excuse for its use here.
  • Justified in Bullitt. Both cars involved in the famous chase scene were actually V8-powered - the villains' Charger used a 440ci (7.2L) Magnum V8, while McQueen's Mustang GT350 was powered by a 390ci (6.4L) V8.
  • Averted and played straight at the same time in the short film C'était un rendez-vous director Claude Lelouch dubbed the sounds of his V-12 Ferrari 275GTB over the V-8 noises of the Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 actually used to film the sequence. It wouldn't be so bad if he hadn't dubbed very fake-sounding tire squeals as well...

Live Action Television
  • Top Gear has been accused of this, and in the episode when Clarkson and May had to make a Volkswagen ad for the Scirocco Diesel, they apparently "enhanced the sound" in one of the commercials, and were called out for it by the advert producers.
  • Gold Rush seems to use the sound of a carbureted V8 that doesn't want to shut off while various large, diesel engine powered machines are seen being shut down. Diesel engines never make that noise.

Pinball
  • Averted in Corvette, which uses engine sounds from a real Chevrolet Corvette (reportedly a 1963 Grand Sport).

Video Games
  • The Skyguard anti-air buggy in PlanetSide makes a heavy, burbling V8 noise when idling and revving - which stands in stark contrast the crappy diesel-sounding four-banger engines in the other buggies, which are ironically, faster than the big V8 Skyguard.

Web Originals
  • Part of what makes this Freddie Wong video so awesome is the dubious overdubbing of real vehicle sounds and effects.

Real Life
  • The ultimate Real Life aversion of this will likely always be classic Indianapolis 500s, where the sounds of competing engines of different designs (most notably numbers of cylinders) could be and were regularly commented on not only by motorsports journalists present from both radio and television, but also the fans in the stands.
  • Enforced with some modern German luxury cars in order to appeal to customers. Especially diesel engines are supplemented by sound actuators, which are supposed to compensate for the acoustic deficiencies. However, gasoline engines as well employ them increasingly in order to avert the sound downgrade which comes in conjunction with the trend to downsizing. While they don't necessarily create V8 noises, this is specifically the case for high powered six-cylinder diesel engines of BMW and Audi (with more than 221 kW/300 hp). Funnily enough, the Mercedes-Benz M 152 DE 55 and the Audi 4.0 TFSI engine, while being genuine V8s, make use of this as well, because they feature cylinder deactivation for improved fuel economy. In that operational mode, in addition to suffering from reduced engine balance, the common V8 sound is lost due to the increased time between power strokes. The utilisation of the actuator avoides this.


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