V8 Engine Noises

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"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 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 of V8 Engine Noises include:
  • 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.
  • The Remake of 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 the V8 used in the contemporary Mustang. But that's not much of an excuse for its use here.
  • 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.
  • In Sin City, the sound of a V8 engine is said to be vastly different from the sounds of other engines.
  • 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.
  • 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.