Do violinists like fast cars? /2

Edited: November 11, 2018, 12:40 PM · I thought I would resurrect this old thread in a new guise as it was pretty popular at the time. And, the latest VSA competition gave a lot of emphasis on sound.

So my question for today is: how is sound created, and what makes it?

A few months ago I got a car with a 90° V8 engine. But it doesn't sound ANYTHING like a Corvette, Mustang GT, etc., the similar engine architecture notwithstanding. The reason is the firing order of the cylinders, because it has a flat-plane crankshaft.

Most people don't know the difference between a flat-plane and a cross-plane crankshaft (those who don't can look it up). But how can that influence the sound? Is sound so easy to change within a basic, rigid framework? And to the point, can this be applied to violin making?

Replies (72)

November 11, 2018, 2:50 PM · Man, sound is so complicated. I think of it like trying to predict how waves in the water will interact and end up, but then adding another dimension to the direction the water can travel. Perhaps dumping a bunch of water in a Zero-G environment, and seeing how it bounces around would be a better visual for this.

My luthier and I are constantly experimenting to see what can be done within the confines of a rigid framework. Right now, the experiment involves acoustically graduating the interior of a couple of decently-crafted chinese violins to see how far we can take their sound. Basically, he opens the violins, scrapes them, and then closes them again. I test them, we discuss ideas and perceptions of the sound/response, and then he opens them again and we repeat this process.

Now, more on point, if you have a flat-plane V8, did you end up actually buying a Ferrari?? I actually sold my C7 Corvette because it was getting too expensive (replacing the 2 rear tires because of a bubble in the sidewall in one of them was $1200) and I needed to buy a house. But, my absolute favorite memory of having that car was racing a Ferrari that I just happened across one day, on the best driving-road in the area. Right as I was approaching the turn-off for this great road, I saw a Ferrari 458 or 488 make the turn right before I did, and it was just the most thrilling moment ever. I've always loved seeing Ferraris, but I'd never had a chance to actually pressure one into driving quickly. I hastily pulled up behind him (truthfully expecting him to wimp out because his car was so much more expensive), and he GUNNED it. Coolest sounding car, too, especially from behind, where the exhaust is directly firing at you. We raced really hard for a couple of minutes until a slow car got in the way and he made a pass that I just couldn't make because it was too dangerous. But up to that point, it was probably the most fun couple of minutes in my life.

November 11, 2018, 3:12 PM · Dimitri, the difference in a cross-plane and flat-plane crankshaft will cause the engine to run in a different rhythm. That rhythm will make the sound different. The other factor in an engine's sound is the exhaust system.
I would think of it as the vibrating string would correlate to the combustion chamber of the engine, where the vibration occurs, and the body of the violin would correlate to the exhaust system. Now on a car, the exhaust system is designed to diminish the sound, but on a violin it needs to amplify and enhance the sound quality.

If you listen to different car engines carefully, you can identify the car type without looking at it. Think of the distinct sound of an old VW Beetle, a horizontally opposed engine, and compare it to a car with a modern v8 engine.

Now if you want to hear an amazing sounding engine, I recommend the Rolls-Royce Merlin airplane engine. That to me is the Stradivarius of the sky.

November 11, 2018, 3:37 PM · "Now on a car, the exhaust system is designed to diminish the sound, but on a violin it needs to amplify and enhance the sound quality."

Sort of, but not exactly, right? The strings transferring energy into the interior body of the violin is equivalent to the combustion of the engine, but the exhaust might be thought of less as way to "diminish the sound" as much as a way to "shape" the sound and effect its resonance, much like our F-holes do, and much like the vibrating plates do.

November 11, 2018, 4:04 PM · Timothy, and the Stradivarius is the Rolls-Royce of violins (R-R was my employer until I retired).
November 11, 2018, 5:38 PM · The answer is a resounding "YES" to fast cars :) :)

And many of the industry folks that I know have a roadster/high powered summer car.

Edited: November 11, 2018, 5:40 PM · Do violinists like fast cars?

I like a car that starts the first time I turn the key and is dependable. I have no knack for mechanics and require others for auto maintenance. I don't feel safe in a FAST car. A fast violin is nice though.

Edited: November 14, 2018, 8:31 AM · Nope. I like to walk. While I have a car, I don't really like it very much. All it does is eat my money. I hate traffic, tailgaters, people who run stop signs, loud-pounding-hip-hop music blasting from cars, parking, ice on the roads, merging traffic, and oil changes. Bah humbug.
November 11, 2018, 8:03 PM · I don't like cars of any kind. I like motorcycles -racing and classic. I have both-
And related to the sound, motorcycle fans are obsessed about the sound of our machine. And every little bit counts.
Edited: November 12, 2018, 1:57 AM · Sound IS incredibly complicated. Every word spoken in my kitchen can be clearly heard in my dining room, which is not in line-of-sight. And yet the opposite is not true: words spoken in the dining room are inaudible in the kitchen.

It's such an annoyance that I'm thinking of fitting a new ceiling with a series of curved ridges to reduce the sound transmission. My dad was a concert pianist, and he had a studio built with no parallel walls, double doors, and undulating wood paneling to stop echoes while recording, I'm taking inspiration from that.

@Carlos, I'm sure you know that Harley-Davidson actually patented the sound of their engine (which if I am not mistaken is a V-2)! And the desmodromic valve arrangement on Ducatis is pure genius.

@Timothy, Yes, I can easily recognize a flat-four (Subaru, VW Beetle, Porsche 356) also because for years I had a Lancia Gamma Coupé that had one one. The sound is unmistakable, just like that of cross-plane V8. BTW, the Rolls Royce Merlin engine was also used in the P-51 Mustang fighter plane, wasn't it?

@Erik, your research is very interesting. I hope you can come up with some rules that guide sound production, and then how to bend them. The Ford Shelby 350GT has a flat-plane V8 in it too, although I must admit I don't have one of those.

But going back to the question, how does firing order change the sound so dramatically? You can play violin strings in any order you like, with almost no change in sound, although exactly that is what Tartini was experimenting with in his day.

Edited: November 12, 2018, 5:38 AM · The flat-plane crank will emit evenly-spaced exhaust impulses out each side of the engine. A conventional crankshaft will not. Instead, it may fire two cylinders in a row on the same side.

For example, the flat-plane crank will fire, left-right-left-right-left-right-left-right, at evenly spaced 90 degree intervals. The pulses coming out either of the two tailpipes will be an even 180 degrees of crankshaft rotation apart. However, the conventional crank may fire, left-right-right-left-right-left-left-right (as in the older Chevy and Chrysler V-8s).

However, by running some of the exhaust tubes from the left side of the engine over to the right-side exhaust pipe, and some from the right side over to the left, one can get the same sound as the flat-plane crank. At one time, this was called "a bundle of snakes" exhaust, because of the complexity of the exhaust tubing. Now, it's generally called a 180-degree exhaust.

An example of the "bundle of snakes" exhaust, which runs some of the tubes from one side to the other, creating evenly-spaced impulses coming out both the left and right tailpipes:

Some consider this to be a more "pure" or more "exotic" sound. I suppose it is more pure in a way, because it's more similar to the evenly-spaced vibration patterns which we consider to be "musical", or which better define a specific musical pitch.

Edited: November 12, 2018, 5:55 AM · I was looking forward to your comment, David. I think we're getting somewhere - does the sound then have to do with the length that the exhaust travels between cylinder and muffler, as if it were an organ pipe?

BTW a friend of mine has a Ford GT40 and your photo is almost exactly what it looks like under the hood, with exhaust actually crossing from left cylinders to right exhaust pipe and vice-versa. But the car isn't street legal (none of the GT40s are) so I suppose it has to do somehow with performance rather than sound for sound's sake.

Edited: November 12, 2018, 6:48 AM · In simplest terms, the sound of the engine will depend on the number of exhaust impulses per second. For example, a V-8 engine spinning at 6000 revolutions per minute will have 400 exhaust impulses per second, producing a G natural. A four-cylinder engine at the same rpm will have 200 exhaust impulses per second, and sound an octave lower. If one has perfect pitch, they can know the rpm of the engine without needing to look at a tachometer. The length of the exhaust, or the diameter of the piping will not change this.

But there's more going on. The exhaust pattern will also produce subharmonics, or "tartini tones", and these will vary in intensity with variations in the firing order. And the length of the exhaust will reinforce some frequencies, and not others. In some cars, you can hear the exhaust get louder and softer, at different points in the rpm band. I notice this most on Mustangs with Flowmaster aftermarket mufflers. These mufflers have little or no glass wool type material to damp out these resonances.

Also, it's common these days to have the two separate exhausts merge at some point, and then separate again into two separate tailpipes. That will change the sound too, compared to exhaust pipes which remain completely separate.

Edited: November 14, 2018, 5:46 PM · You do realize you're bragging on your expensive car to the folks that you're asking to pay handsomely for your product. But of course that means lots of other folks feel they're worth it. Right?

My "fast car" is a 50-cc scooter. It's "fast" because I can park closer to my office. At the supermarket I can pull it right up on the sidewalk next to the door and I've never been ticketed.

November 12, 2018, 7:07 AM · LOL

Edited: November 12, 2018, 10:26 AM · Paul, if you're referring to me, I never mentioned owing an expensive car! And my daily driver is 12 years old, for the record, which replaced the car I kept 13 years. Both bought second-hand, BTW :-)
November 12, 2018, 7:59 AM · My wife had a 50-cc scooter. It was a blast!
That was before she got her Harley.

By the way, the Harley Davidson 45-degree twin, with both pistons sharing the same crankshaft journal, requires an uneven firing sequence. That's one of the reasons for Harley's unique sound, which as Dimitri already mentioned, Harley tried to patent or copyright to prevent other manufacturers from imitating it.

Edited: November 12, 2018, 8:18 AM · Paul, my daily driver is 10 years old, which is pretty old considering the accelerated corrosion caused by the salted roads in Michigan.

I had kept my previous car for 16 years. That car was the first one I had ever purchased new, during my 48 years of car ownership.

Edited: November 12, 2018, 8:39 AM · Your wife has a Harley - cool! She must be some lady.

One of my clients in the UK drives an ordinary car, a Peugeot if I'm not mistaken, but his wife drives a TVR! (TVRs are also known as Blackpool missiles…)

Edited: November 12, 2018, 10:49 AM · @Paul. Your comment has been bugging me all day, and now I know why. I have to say it. It is rude. I think you owe both David and I an apology. What we do with our income is our business alone. I brought the issue of engine sound up because I knew David would have the answer, no more and no less.

Von Karajan had a multi-million dollar yacht (as well as 2 Rolls Royces, a Ferrari Testarossa and a Porsche 959), but that doesn't mean he was overcharging concertgoers.

November 12, 2018, 11:04 AM · I think I'm beyond that now. Been there, done plenty of that. Kudos to you if you enjoy it. I no longer much care so long as I have a way to go. Time pit, money pit for me that I don't need or want.

My cousin just bought a Tesla and was on FB talking about how it drives itself. It really does. That car has a highway and sign recognition system. Even THAT doesn't impress me, so I guess I'm too far gone.

I love my Murano. We should be buying another car but I'm procrastinating buying one because I don't enjoy the process anymore.

I have two other cars we seldom ever drive. One needs to be a trade and the other is sentimental only. I took it out and blew the dust out of it the other day.Everything is payed up. I owe no one for a car. The longer I drive what I have the more money I save.

So yeah, I'm an old curmudgeon who likes what he already has. I'm presently piping propane into my house. Little distractions like that keep me away from cars right now. I change the oil regularly with synthetic. I have no one to impress.I could probably do 200,000 miles plus on my car which translates 5 more years. I simply don't like to push things to the extreme. I know how to make an old car last probably past the point where I'm sick of it.

New cars are old cars fast. Nothing is trouble free...ever.Especially fast cars. If I could walk everywhere or ride a bike and go off the grid that would be my happy place.

Have your fun, enjoy it. Males seem to especially need to work through this, buying cars, fixing them up. I went through some of it. As the old song says, "I can't get no satisfaction". There is no end to the pursuit of things. I occasionally get GAS ( Gear Acquisition Syndrome).Similar to an obsession with cars only it's music gear or instruments.

Everything leads to something else, so I lately try to keep minimal links in the chain.I think we all need healthy diversions whatever they may be.

Edited: November 12, 2018, 11:39 AM · I live in NYC-if I cared about cars I would need to be well-off. I would buy bows with that same money instead. :P Mass transportation is "fast enough" for me.

(My father does love "fast cars" but He's not a musician and lives in a more rural area.)

Must add there's nothing wrong in liking/enjoying/or even collecting fast cars. Everyone is allowed to like what they like, as long as it does no harm to anyone else.

November 12, 2018, 11:40 AM · Dimitri, I hope you realize that you are welcome to call me on the phone any ol' time. But I'd prefer that you did it on US Eastern time, rather than Italy time. ;-)

You and I have had some successful collaborations in the past, like the time we we furnished a Musafia case to a valuable contributor.

We could have done the engine sound thing over the phone, but I think it had more value from you posting it here. Engine sounds, including their psychoachoustic elements, are highly related to the sound of violins, in my opinion.

Edited: November 12, 2018, 11:55 AM · @Timothy, I hear you, loud and clear. New cars depreciate like crazy, I haven't bought a new car since 1996 (BMW 5-series) and sold it four years later exactly for that reason. It took me to the cleaners and it was always second hand after that.

@David, thank you, I'll take you upon on that phone call. And any time you happen to be in Cremona, don't hesitate to call me, please. And dinner's on me!

Sounds of engines and violins all touch our soul somehow. Even my wife, who coudn't care less about cars, started screaming with joy when I went past 7,000 rpm. Discovering how this mystery works is an interesting project. Unfortunately my cases are mute :-(

November 12, 2018, 12:12 PM · Great discussion. As a musician, I love a great sounding engine. I have a Corvette C3, and it growls like an upright bass. I have many Alfa Romeo GTV6's, and the Busso V6 sings like the finest Italian violin! Any review of the car always praises the heavenly sound. It has a 2.5 V6 Hemi, and the harder you drive it, the better it sounds. A lot of GTV6 people like to upgrade to a 3.0 from a later car for more torque and horsepower, and all I can say is the difference in sound between a 2.5 and a 3.0 is like the difference between a violin and a viola! I have driven Alfa GTV6's all the way across America 10 times now, and Never Once turned a radio on !!
November 12, 2018, 12:14 PM · And any time you happen to be in Cremona, don't hesitate to call me, please. And dinner's on me!

Thanks, but do you have any idea of how much food I can eat? ;-)

You might want to reconsider that offer....

Edited: November 12, 2018, 12:32 PM · @Glenn, the V6 Busso is a legend here in Italy, good for you! First introduced in the Alfa 6 in 1979, they brought it up to 3.2 (in the Spider) but it's the original 2.5 that made it famous. Or infamous, if you have the six Dell'Ortos to tune!

@David, I'll put you to the test: first at the table, and then at the dogleg - or vice versa, maybe that's better, we have good wine around here... oh, BTW, the A21 has a stretch without radar speed traps right near by ;-)

Edited: November 12, 2018, 1:22 PM · Uhh oh. I may not be willing to drive at speeds over 150 mph. The car can bang around 200 mph, depending on the downforce package.

It would be great to have dinner together. Is Detroit not one of your favorite vacation destinations? LOL
November 12, 2018, 1:03 PM · PS. I think a word should be spent for those engineers who designed engines that are known by their name - I can only think of Giuseppe Busso, Tadek Marek, and Aurelio Lampredi. Does anyone know any more?
November 12, 2018, 1:25 PM · I'm going to backpedal on something I said. I looked at the self driving capability of the Tesla.If my cousin gets tired of that car I would be willing to take it off of his hands. Check this out- You could practice the violin on the way to work.

Other than this, I want see the tech the government has that's 40 years ahead of anything we know about. Zero point energy. I would love to see one of those anti-gravity black triangles in action.

Internal combustion engines are so old school :) Good enough for the GP to get around in I guess. I am kidding with you guys.

November 12, 2018, 1:38 PM · Credit is also due to the GM and Chrysler engineers, who have put out (arguably) the most powerful passenger car engines on the planet, while still meeting emissions and fuel economy standards.
November 12, 2018, 2:19 PM · I'm not at all sure it's FAST cars or sound.
I remember reading years back a memoir from Peter Mountain - when he was in the Philharmonia and cars were rare. ALL the first violins took their cars on tour - much to the conductor's dismay.
I enjoy driving. Full stop.
My car is a Jaguar XE that's almost silent, but goes!
I think it's much more having the control at your fingertips.
Also, most violinists I know are GOOD drivers - fast but safe.
I'm a boring old fart who keeps to speed limits. But I doubt if anyone's much quicker than me if they're staying legal.
Edited: November 12, 2018, 2:55 PM · Since you brought up the planet, what about the planet? I feel an undeniable sense of shame every time I drive my four cylinder car. I know that I'm behaving unsustainably. And I know that my behavior is going to cause misery for many people, and other life forms on the planet. I'm a first world spoiled brat.
November 12, 2018, 2:32 PM ·
November 12, 2018, 2:33 PM · For sustainability, I love Jeremy Clarkson's terminology.
When he referred to the Toyota Prius (hybrid) as the Toyota Pious.
Edited: November 12, 2018, 3:54 PM · That sounds like a satisfying career working for Rolls Royce Timothy.My father was in the Royal Canadian Air Force for four years as a mechanic and worked on the Merlins in the P51 Mustang and the B25 Mitchell.I remember him saying how it was an all day affair to set the valves.
Before he passed away in 2006 he bought the Lexus GS430 and said the engine was as close to aircraft quality as he had ever seen.
I just bought a 2017 Hyundai Accent .....quintessential" putt putt."
November 12, 2018, 4:01 PM · Paul said: "You do realize you're bragging on your expensive car to the folks that you're asking to pay handsomely for your product. But of course that means lots of other folks feel they're worth it. Right?"

Paul, I'm not sure if this comment was meant as sarcasm, but in case not: it's none of anyone's business what Dimitri or anyone else decides to spend their money on.

Is it my students' business what I decide to spend their lesson fees on? HELL no. It's none of their concern. I could be using it to just buy outlandishly expensive clothing or expensive cars, or using it to donate to charity; but either way, it's NONE of anyone's concern except my own.

Dimitri makes a great product that everyone will keep buying regardless of how they personally feel about what his funds go towards, so this is all moot. But I'm upset by the tone of entitlement in that comment, because it's almost like you're implying that any profit a business makes above and beyond what's necessary just to survive is somehow a grave offense.

It's not like he is an heir to a fortune and bragging about buying something expensive with money that was easy to acquire: he has worked hard to make a strong brand and a good product, and he shouldn't be ashamed of talking about what he's used his hard work to acquire.

Not only all of that, but he didn't even mention which car he even bought (probably because he's afraid of responses like yours). He only mentioned the characteristics of the car.

Other posters here have mentioned their expensive violins and no one ever dares to criticize that, because it meets everyone's standards of "humility" and "art." But, we could easily say "well, a good modern violin would cost 1/10 that and get the same job done." The thing is, it's not just about practicality. It's about passion. Some people really love cars. Some love expensive and impractical old cars, and some love expensive and fast new cars. The same can be said of buying violins or any other *luxury* purchase. So if they want to spend their money on a fast, loud car instead of something that is more universally-accepted and humble, I say go for it! It's hard to find things to be passionate about, so if one has the means to pursue a passion, I think that's awesome. And remember, someone had to build that car, and that person deserves to get paid, too. Money doesn't just disappear into thin air because it's spent on a luxury good.

Mark Bouquet: regarding the planet, high-performance cars don't get driven many miles. Usually they're taken out on the weekends for a bit and the rest of the week they're left alone. So although their MPGs aren't great, the paltry amount of miles put on them compared to commuter cars ironically makes them much better for the Earth.

November 12, 2018, 5:24 PM · A question for the real engineers out there. How would this compare for overall energy efficiency?: Always-on small diesel engine from a tractor, connected to a generator, connected to large, light capacitors instead of batteries, connected to 4 electric motors at the wheels. Electric is good for acceleration. Diesel is good for efficient energy output. Diesel-electric has been around since 1930s locomotives and WW1 submarines.
November 12, 2018, 5:43 PM · I've come to realize and accept that it's just Paul's strange way of speaking, and he probably doesn't have any bad intentions or mean to offend anyone. I was triggered when I experienced my first 'Paul comment' on a post I made a few months ago, but I see everyone around here copping it so I guess I'm fine now :)
November 12, 2018, 6:15 PM · I like fast cars and fast violins.

James, lets not excuse rude comments because they are the trend of a particular person and allow them to become the norm. They are still rude.

Edited: November 13, 2018, 7:16 AM · @Joel: I always wondered the same thing. I would imagine that the ideal setup would be a direct-injection diesel, perhaps with forced air induction, running at a fixed RPM (calculated best compromise between fuel consumption and torque) charging batteries that would supply more or less power on demand to electric motors for motion.

@David: " Credit is also due to the GM and Chrysler engineers, who have put out (arguably) the most powerful passenger car engines on the planet, while still meeting emissions and fuel economy standards."

True, but what bugs me about GM is that often they seem to do the job 95% and then leave the remaining 5% undone. Northstar engine is a perfect example: great engine ruined by inadequate head bolts! (and they should have learned that lesson from the infamous 350 cid Oldsmobile diesel). Not to mention the EV-1, whose cancellation left so many potential clients to have to go to Toyota; or that they either can't or won't resolve the reliability issue of the Cadillac CUE system, forcing customers to shell out $1,500 every few years for a new one, which will then break again.

@Erik: thank you, I was thinking the expensive violin parallel too,and I've always said that if someone can afford to buy a yacht he is directly paying the livelihood of a few hundred workers who build it: kudos. Those people who have chosen to commission one of my cases (thank you!!) allow me to pay my employees (their average seniority is almost 20 years) the salary they deserve for their dedication, enabling them to purchase a home, build a family, and put their kids through school. I wouldn't have it any other way, and they know it too, and are happy to do the extra mile without which, quite frankly, my product would not be possible.

I like cars because they so often represent a man and his dream (that's even the title of a Coppola film) and I feel an affinity to those who design and build something special. So many legendary cars were made simply because an engineer wanted to express his creativity: often against management, against odds, against naysayers.

Enzo Ferrari infuriated his unsatisfied client Ferruccio Lamborghini by telling him to go back to driving his tractors, so Lamborghini set out to teach the commendatore a thing or two, which he did, revolutionizing the supercar world with the mid-engine Miura. How boring the car world would be without such individualists: people like Erich Waxenberger, who, working for Mercedes, prepared a prototype 6.3 built in secret, after hours, unpaid, then gave the keys to his boss: "take it out for a spin and tell me what you think" (they went on to build 6,500 of them). Like, how cool is that?

Or John DeLorean (the DMC-12), Preston Tucker (see the film I mentioned), the scuptor Flaminio Bertoni who penned the Citroen DS which in 1955 looked like a spaceship, importer Max Hoffman who talked Mercedes into building the iconic Gullwing, and many, many, many other examples, too many to list here. Men and their dreams.

November 13, 2018, 8:40 AM · I'm 58 and I've never driven a car in my life.
I wouldn't mind a BMW 750iL; or if I lived in Exmoor, a Range Rover.
But Tuesdays at midnight when I'm drunk, the P4 bus gets me from Lewisham to Brixton in just over half an hour, and it costs £1.50. And when I'm 60 it will be free and I'll have saved enough for pro violin.
November 14, 2018, 1:53 AM · Me, not :-) I have a comfy and practical car, safe for my family and instruments :)

November 14, 2018, 2:13 AM · I now remember when Pierre Amoyal's Porsche was stolen with the 1717 "Kochanski" Strad inside. They found the car immediately, the Strad took four years to show up.
November 14, 2018, 5:06 AM · Dimitri, since you mentioned the Cadillac CUE system:
Touch-screen controls are among my biggest complaints about modern cars. They require that one take their eyes off the road to operate them, sometimes going through several menu layers to find what you want. I could learn to operate most real knobs and buttons by feel, without needing to look. As if things weren't already bad enough, with people texting and driving, on the internet, etc.

Voice activation of some functions on some cars is getting pretty good though. But I do worry about mischievous children or grandchildren being able to tell the car what to do.

Edited: November 14, 2018, 7:10 AM · my 24 yr old Volvo goes 70mph on the freeway, that's pretty fast, isn't it??
November 14, 2018, 7:33 AM · @David. Oh yes, I agree about the touch screens, which also get full of fingerprints very quickly. But voice activation (my wife has it in her car) I think is even more of a distraction because you really have to work hard to get the car to understand. She never uses it.

Some areas are starting to make phone usage even with hands free system illegal, because it always takes away some of your concentration from the road. Texting while driving is suicidal and irresponsible towards other drivers.

That said, knobs and buttons rule!

Edited: November 14, 2018, 12:55 PM · There was once a sign by the road in my area that said something similar to this, " In a hurry? Slow down the mortician can wait." I've never forgotten that.

One of the most banal activities in my life is my 1 hour morning commute.

No matter how backed up the traffic is there are always what I'll call the "dodgers". They impress me so much- Congratulations, you shaved a whole 5 seconds off your commute so that you could look at the back of the car I was looking at that happens to be going the same speed I was going *sarcasm intended*. Then there's what I'll call the Philadelphia squeeze. This is when you allowed just enough room in front of you for one car and a few hairs. I think I've had the dust removed from my bumper a few times by these "squeezes". So close you were sure they hit you.If you don't hit the brakes you'll be standing alongside the road with them filling out an accident report with the cops.

I'm not sure if these people had too much coffee? Red Bull should be outlawed. The pickup truck drivers are hands down some of the rudest drivers on the planet. They think if they get close enough to your back end you'll eventually move over. Stop trying to make up for inadequate anatomy with a pickup truck.Real men don't need to prove anything.

I drive with large 18 wheeler trucks here and they move fast on the open highway. They need 100's of feet to stop. Many don't realize the implications of getting in front of one and suddenly braking. A few years ago a truck driver was put in jail for manslaughter because he rear ended a hatchback in a construction zone.He apparently didn't see the slow down signs. The car caught on fire and burned up two little children trapped inside.
Modern highways and drivers are one of the most neanderthal activities on the planet. Proof that generally mankind can't be trusted with anything of importance and probably a good study in the psychology of the human mind.
Nice people become *insert chosen expletive* when they get behind the wheel of a car.

November 14, 2018, 9:45 AM · Amen to that.
Edited: November 14, 2018, 12:53 PM · My apologies Dimitri. I was thinking out loud. It isn't difficult to find problems in the world. We don't even need to look very hard.

I think this is close to me because I do so much driving and frankly I get tired of it...not that you couldn't tell from my post ^^^^.

Some days I keep my thoughts to myself. Some days I wish I would have kept my thoughts to myself :)

On the drag racing track cars can be so much fun. I am of a dual mind on the subject. It all depends.

November 14, 2018, 11:05 AM · Agree with David and Dmitri. Touchscreens have to go. I test drove a Tesla 3 and it ONLY has a 15" touchscreen interface. To make that more difficult, different functions are on different tabbed screens, so that if you're on autopilot and want to turn your heated seat off, you have to entirely leave the autopilot data screen. Very disconcerting, Elon!

My current car had a bank of buttons with a few blanks. I labelled them "Missiles", "Rear Guns" and "Passenger Eject". Always gets a comment when someone new gets in :-)

November 14, 2018, 1:09 PM · Douglas, you clearly need one for the "Caviar slick". Pardon me...:

November 14, 2018, 2:47 PM · Timothy, traffic-weavers aren't exactly the type of people who drive nice cars. Generally, the people doing that have the crappiest cars, because they don't care if they get scratched up. And you don't need 600 hp just to cut someone off :)
Edited: November 15, 2018, 9:14 AM · Dimitri and David, sorry if I offended. Truly, I was just kidding around. And Erik, I'm truly sorry you had to waste so much time, effort, and thread space lecturing me on manners.

David and Dimitri have both been successful making beautiful, artistic products. Likewise I find no fault with authors like Stephen King or JK Rowling having become rich by writing a book that folks want to read. There are so many filthy ways to make money in this world -- think of all the crooked bankers and such -- that it's refreshing to know at least some folks who still do it the old fashioned way, by turning out an excellent, wholesome product. (That's what I was getting at when I wrote, "But of course that means lots of other folks feel they're worth it," but apparently nobody picked up on that. I'm not a very good writer I guess.) Anyway I have nothing but respect for David and Dimitri, and I hope they enjoy their lives.

What prompted me to write (and honestly I don't remember any more whose post it was) was that I was reminded of the time I had hired a contractor to remodel one of our bathrooms. I was chatting with their lead carpenter who told me, in passing, that he gets a really handsome tool allowance from the boss. I reminded him who's really paying for those tools, and we both had a good laugh. That's the trouble with internet forums, there's no gesture or facial expression or other body language possible to let the reader know when you're just pulling their leg.

November 15, 2018, 4:02 PM · Speaking of Merlin engines, we were lucky enough to find ourselves at Prestwick in 2014, where we got to see the only two remaining airworthy Lancaster bombers flying in formation. If you think one Merlin sounds good, try eight!

As for spending one's disposable income, I haven't spent much on cars, regardless of how they sound. But the 6-cylinder horizontally-opposed Continental O-300 in my older-model Cessna 172 has a wonderful deep-throated sound that is much nicer than that of those newfangled four-bangers.

Maybe things here in Vancouver are different, but many of the worst traffic-weavers drive BMWs. I suspect that before purchasing a BMW you are required to sign a letter of undertaking promising that you'll act like an arrogant asshole at all times. The other menace is large late-model 4X4 pickup trucks; the worst driven ones are spotless, and have probably never been off pavement.

As long as my 2007 Civic gets me to orchestra rehearsals and bluegrass jams, I'm content.

Edited: November 16, 2018, 6:41 AM · I think horizontally-opposed engines, which do have a very characteristic sound, lend themselves to air-cooling, due to the 180° angle between cylinder heads. Citroen made them for years (2CV, Ami, GS, etc.), as did Panhard, and of course Porsche and VW, all air-cooled. The Continental O-300 in an airplane of course makes perfect sense.

And yet, the decidedly unconventional Tatra used an air-cooled 3.5 liter 90° V8, placed in back no less, in their executive cars until 1999. Yes, even the Communists made luxury cars. I'd love to own a T-700, I can imagine the neighbors asking, "what is THAT?" :-)

Edited: November 16, 2018, 6:39 AM · Haven't a clue what this thread is really about.
The OP says "how is sound created, and what makes it?"
My brother had a BMW 325i in the 80s. That made a nice growl when he wanted it to.
Anyways, in agreement with the more practical-minded contributors, I've got a friend in Bristol who gigs with his jazz guitars, and his ideal vehicle for that is one of these, and he shopped around for a long time until he found exactly the right one:

Personally, I hate Mercedes.

Edited: November 16, 2018, 6:41 AM · The thread is about engines and their distinctive sounds dependent on architecture and firing order, although it is easy to digress :-)

BMW made fabulous straight-sixes, an architecture which I understand is the most balanced there is among mass-produced engines, sadly now pretty much sacrificed to economics of scale.

Edited: November 16, 2018, 7:04 AM · Someone says the exhaust pipe isn't to muffle, it's to reshape?

I couldn't disagree more - the engine literally creates regular explosions. They make a hell of a racket. The exhaust pipe is designed to let out the gases they produce but not let out the noise they produce.

Edited: November 16, 2018, 8:45 AM · That would mostly be the muffler. ;-)

The exhaust pipe is more to move heat and toxic gases and noise to the rear of the car.

November 16, 2018, 9:10 AM · Transatlantic semantics were always going to affect this thread.
November 16, 2018, 10:37 AM · Andrew, maybe you are right, I grew up in southern California and never knew you could wear a muffler, let alone that Burberry made them :-)
November 16, 2018, 11:09 AM · So far nobody has mentioned the Mostaciolli X45Y with the Turbo-Wankel-Diesel... surely these can be seen tooling around Cremona.
November 16, 2018, 4:55 PM · "Do violinists like fast cars?" - Doesn't it depend on where the car is, relative to the location of the violinist?
Edited: November 17, 2018, 3:16 PM · In answer to the OP's headline question, my answer is No, if it's overtaking me when I'm driving at the speed limit!
Edited: November 18, 2018, 2:33 AM · That, Trevor, depends on the speed limit. On the Autobahn in Germany there are many stretches without!

In order to maintain that privilege by avoiding dangerous speeding, most German automakers got together and agreed that they would electronically limit their car speeds to a reasonable 155 MPH.

November 18, 2018, 3:28 AM · that's WAY to fast!!
November 18, 2018, 7:57 AM · If the speed is electronically limited you can be sure that someone, somewhere, has come up with a way to delimit it! You just gotta know the right people to ask.
Edited: November 18, 2018, 10:15 AM · My brother and I did 115MPH on the Autobahn about 30 years ago.
It's not a nice experience. Surprisingly, the road maintenance is not great, and basically the ones who drive regularly over that speed (I'm quoting my brother, in case someone wants to doubt me) have to do it with headlamps and indicators on, as there's no way you can guarantee someone won't pull out in front of you.
Edited: November 18, 2018, 10:21 AM · @Trevor: you're absolutely right! But what has always mystified me is how in the UK there aren't more road accidents, when everyone is driving in the wrong side! ;-)

@ Andrew: hitting 115 here in Italy, although it's illegal, is common practise especially while passing. However I must say that the Autostrada is one of the best features of Italy, in terms of maintenance (which you pay dearly for with the toll) and general construction (width, curve radius, self-draining pavement when it rains, etc.)

Edited: November 21, 2018, 7:29 AM · @Dimitri: there's a good hidden question in your last comment - why does the UK drive on the left (with the steering wheel on the right for safety's sake)? The answer is complex and historical, so the best I can do is to suggest a Google search on "driving on the left" or similar.

One thing is certain, or so I've been told by a Maltese person: in Malta they drive neither on the left nor on the right, but in the shade ;) When I was in Malta a while ago I could well believe that!

November 21, 2018, 2:22 PM · Trevor, I did hear that the Irish Republic saw the light and were changing from driving on the left to driving on the right. However, to lessen the shock, they were doing it gradually - Cars and motorbikes and bicycles first, and then, a month later, everyone else.
Edited: November 22, 2018, 12:56 AM · @Trevor: Yes, I did look it up and there are interesting points! Although one could counter that most people are right handed and that makes it easier to operate a manual transmission.

Just for your curiosity, in Italy trucks built up to the '60s had steering on the right, and it was a luxury option (!) on aristocratic Lancias such as the Appia and Aurelia.

That said, changing from RHD to LHD must be a collective nightmare.

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