What Makes a V8 Sound So Good?
A detailed look into what makes that instantly recognizable rumble we know and love.
Cold starts. There is always a silver lining and when the weather is cold, and you have to get up at 6am, at least you can start your day with the satisfying cold start of your engine.
Particularly, what about V8s sound so unique? Why does it have that distinct deep growl we can identify? Don't get me wrong, I love V10 and V12 engines, supercars sound amazing. Some of my favorites include the Lexus LFA, Lamborghini Huracan SV, and Porsche Carrera GT. But being an American, the special sound of freedom has it's own place in my heart.
Anyways, the engine's sound is mainly referred to as the "exhaust note" because while cars have a bunch of moving parts, the loudest one, the one that we therefore hear the most, is the explosion sound, produced by the valve timing and exhaust gas leaving the combustion chamber and then exhaust manifold.
So now we know where the noise comes from (apart from numerous other factors like turbochargers, superchargers, or custom exhaust pipe set ups), we can address that many V8 engines sound different. Some are louder at higher revs, some are deeper, etc. Firing order has to do with a lot of this. A lot of American muscle V8s are set up on a flat faced crankshaft, meaning that often times they're set up so that when the left bank cylinder fires, the right bank cylinder fires after. This opposition is what makes that rhythmic, balanced, orderly rumble.
The other main thing is the frequency made by the engine, which has to do with Engine speed (RPM, the variable) and the number of cylinders (a constant). So my theory is that the constant, (in this case 8) or cylinder count is responsible for the savory reverberation of the clamoring V8.
Now, here is my take on the top 8 best sounding V8 engines:
1) Mercedes-Benz AMG 6.2L V8 (SLS AMG)
2) Maserati 4.7L V8 (GranTurismo)
3) Ford 302 5.0L V8 (Mustang GT)
4) Audi FSI 4.2L V8 (R8)
5) Chevrolet LS7 7.0L V8 (Corvette zo6)
6) Aston Martin 4.7L V8 (Vantage V8)
7) Ferrari TT 3.9L V8 (488 GTB)
8) Dodge HEMI 6.2L V8 (Challenger SRT Hellcat)
Whatever the sound may be, or your favorite engine configuration, ever yone does have a different taste, just like music. Some may prefer the sound of an old-school British straight-six at high RPMs, some the roar of an Italian V12. But to a lot of us, there truly is nothing like the thundering bellow of the V8. What is your favorite exhaust note, and tell me why in the comments.