Question of the Week: What is the best sounding engine?


That is a very tough decision, but I do know that it would be a straight six. So either an Austin-Healey 3000; a Triumph TR250; or a Jaguar E-Type. I love the purr of each engine. Not much beats driving down a country road with the sun glistening through the trees, and the purr of any of these three engines in these cars.


Ferrari 12s sound good but for that F1 sound, my favorite is the Lexus LFA. I had an '79 Countach S with carburetors and sport exhaust that had a great throaty sound. And a Bugatti 16 sounds pretty good! Check this…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImaWisey-IU High end exotics doing burnouts.


inestes12, If you knew my welding skills you’d know why I’m fortunate that (IIRC) both Offehauser and Fenton offer cast split manifolds these days. :sunglasses:

Readers’ choice: The 4 best sounding engines

Flowmaster exhaust connected to header’s is the best sound for my 1966 327 HP engine. Mild street camshaft


No doubt in my mind, among the sweetest sounding engine is the flat six in the 2015/16 Porsche Cayman GTS - especially at full tilt.


Hard to beat an Offy at Indy.


I’m 21 and I drive a ‘72 Ford Thunderbird with a 429 4V. Basically all stock motor except for a Holley 750 carb, and a dual 2.5 in. exhaust with Flowmaster 40 series mufflers. It has the most satisfying muscle car rumble when you’re cruisin thru town, 30-50 mph. My dad has a couple of 67 Mustangs; both are 289 4V. One is all stock dual exhaust (sounds awesome) and the other has cherrybomb glasspacks. The glasspacks are old and worn in, so they sound pretty radical. We also have a 79 F-250 with a 460 and no exhaust at all. There’s no headers on it though, just stock manifolds but still, that thing revs like a boss! I have never thought any 6 cylinder motor or smaller engine ever sounded good. They sound like an annoying bug buzzin’ around my head. But I do like the sound of my dads Sthil 044 chainsaw, though. Badass tool.


That depends on the circumstances. My opinions:

  • At idle: almost any solid cam small block, with the 302 in the first gen Z/28’s being my favorite, with a comparably equipped big block being a close second

  • Around town: air-cooled 911’s have that unmistakable cacophony

  • On the gas: new Mustang Shelby GT350’s with the flat plane crank are sonorous

  • Full song: either the shrill note of the E46 M3 or the wail of almost any Ferrari


At first I thought the question posed dealt with how the engine, itself, sounded. That means an engine only with an absolutely quiet exhaust. Then I thought many would actually base their response on the sound of the engine through the exhaust which is what is happening. That, of course, opens that well known Pandora’s Box of which muffler sounds the best in the end. Now one can end up with the same engine, different exhaust systems, and very different sounds.


You’re right mmcd7276…up to a point. But many engines by virtue of there construction have a unique character regardless of the exhaust system. It’s hard to imagine anything significantly disguising a Ford flat-head, a VW or old Porsche boxer, or any rotary, especially a heavily ported one.


Three thoughts:

  1. My 71 Road Runner with a 440 and a .509 cam through a set of Street Hemi mufflers was enough to make your pants fit funny!
  2. Don’t kill me, but is it just me or do most of the newer Fords (like the Mustangs) sound really crappy?
  3. There are a lot, like the Matra, or a Ferrari at speed that are kinda like listening to a Mick Jagger tune way too loud - annoying as hell in themselves, but in context somehow sweeter than angels singing!!!


@crucifyd I never noticed how that in the split seconds after the guy wings the throttle and the RPMs are coming back down that it sounds like the engine isn’t running (the cackle is not there at all). When I run a car with open headers, you can hear the individual cylinders firing on the way up and back down again. Is it because of the supercharger, or…???


I’m a big block Chevy guy, but a modified Chevy 6 cylinder with Flowmaster 40’s does it for me!



The 440 magnum, 440 six-pack, and hemi of the 68-71 era is best. Also the 928 Porsche has a nice rumble.


good question, i have noticed that myself but never really thought about why it’s happening…maybe it’s turning to fast hear the “cackle”? IDK…


Ford 427 SOHC, Ford flathead, Ford Thunderbolt 427, I have a 351W in my Mach1 that has a nice rumble too


Admittedly Bias for American built that said 427 Ford always raised the hair on the back of my neck.


I waited to see how this would play out. With that said I am surprised that no mention of a 270" Offy was included. Very distinct sound all its own. My personal favorites other than the Offy is any solid lifter HP Ford FE, [352-390-406-427] A high compression [over 12 to 1] 385 series Ford, preferably a stroker in the 500"+ range any V-12 Allison. Y-Block and flathead Fords, Many more come to mind but some aren’t automotive engines [4-8-8-4 “Bigboy” locomotive at full power] any 16V 149 Electromotive diesel at full power, 12V-71 Detroit diesel…and the list goes on.


I’ve also waited to see where this would go. It breaks my heart and I guess shows how old I’ve become, but I can’t believe I’m the only one old enough to have heard a Novi at full revs at Indy. We’ve lost something in time.