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Old September 8th, 2011, 04:39 AM   #1
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The Oldsmobile Sound

Ok, What is it that gives the Olds engines a bit of different sound than most all of the other makers. I've had several people comment on how Olds engines have a different sound. I understand what they mean but it's just hard to describe.
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Old September 8th, 2011, 05:13 AM   #2
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I always thought it was from the two center cylinders sharing an exhaust port that gave them their distinctive sound (as opposed to an individual port for each cylinder). Flathead Fords have a unique sound and they too share the center port (8 cylinders yet 6 exhaust ports). Correct me if I'm wrong please.
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Old September 8th, 2011, 05:21 AM   #3
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I think it is due to the tremendous torque and HP the Rocket engine generates!
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Old September 8th, 2011, 06:26 AM   #4
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My 2Cents - It's the Rochester Quadrajet. There really is no substitute when you are wide open throttle and those big secondaries open. Back in the day, we used to flip the lid over on the air cleaner - ran a bit leaner, but damn, it sounded nice.

I recently was convinced (coerced?) to change out my aging q-jet for a holly carb on my '67. While I'm satisfied with the performance, I miss the sound....
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Old September 8th, 2011, 06:28 AM   #5
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I've often wondered the same thing

Silly as it may seem, it's one of my favorite things about Oldsmobile...I always like the sound of an Olds engine with a slight exhaust leak... When I was just a little kid, our next door neighbors (picture the Brady Bunch minus the three boys) had an average condition '67 Ninety-Eight Convertible with some kind of huge exhaust leak.

I was initially terrified of the car because it was just so loud but when I eventually realized it would not explode or attack me if I got close to it, I ended up enthralled with it & would always keep tabs on it until the sad day the family moved away.
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Old September 8th, 2011, 06:51 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmurphy77 View Post
I always thought it was from the two center cylinders sharing an exhaust port that gave them their distinctive sound (as opposed to an individual port for each cylinder). Flathead Fords have a unique sound and they too share the center port (8 cylinders yet 6 exhaust ports). Correct me if I'm wrong please.
I think that is at least part of it. I once inserted a pair of stainless steel block-off plates and went with an electric choke. Result: that distinct "Olds" sound changed noticeably.
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Old September 8th, 2011, 07:27 AM   #7
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I am curious as well. Even with the 260 V8 I have, it has that Olds sound which is different to my 305 in my Chevy. On my Olds, I have a 2.25 pipe with no cat, going to a slight performance muffler and even for a small V8 it has a nice sound to it.
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Old September 8th, 2011, 08:23 AM   #8
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I think it is due to the tremendous torque and HP the Rocket engine generates!
remember, only the gold "rocket" motors make said noise
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Old September 8th, 2011, 08:41 AM   #9
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I think big block Buick , Olds, and Pontiac all share the same sound that Big Block Chevies make.

BOP all share very similarly designed motors with little making them unique.
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Old September 8th, 2011, 08:53 AM   #10
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I always thought it was due to the record player in the trunk.
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Old September 8th, 2011, 09:47 AM   #11
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It's not the QuadraJet because I remember that distinct Olds sound on 50s-60s cars which did not have them. 2-barrel cars have that sound too.

I think it's a combination of firing order, exhaust ports, exhaust system tuning and even from the transmission.

I first noticed it on an uncle's 60 Dynamic 88, when I was a little kid. I could tell that Oldsmobile didn't sound like other cars. Didn't know why, just knew it didn't.

Big-block Mopars and six-cylinder Chevys have their own sound too. I never really noticed Buick or Pontiac sounding much different from other cars.

But I sure do love that unique Oldsmobile sound!
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Old September 8th, 2011, 10:02 AM   #12
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One thing is for sure, the 350 in my 72 sounds way different than the SBC in my 79 Z28. The Olds sounds more like a big block.
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Old September 8th, 2011, 11:47 AM   #13
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Personally I think they all sound good with the right cam, headers, and exhaust!
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Old September 8th, 2011, 03:02 PM   #14
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The w-30 or 31's off High idle do sound great.
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Old September 8th, 2011, 03:36 PM   #15
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Well i dont have a Q jet on my engine or exhaust manifolds bu i have still been told they love the Oldsmobile sound my car has.
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Old September 8th, 2011, 04:33 PM   #16
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Sound of a 455 in a 57 Olds

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bj_FFB2F8N4
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Old September 8th, 2011, 05:00 PM   #17
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It's b/c the center exh. divider thingies on each side sharing the same port AFAIK.
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Old September 8th, 2011, 06:55 PM   #18
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I have Edelbrock heads with headers. There's no shared port. My car just has a throatier sound than a buddies car with the same exhaust system and similar build specs. but mine still has a similar tone to a W30.
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Old September 8th, 2011, 06:59 PM   #19
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Older Hemis have their own tone too but I guess I figured it was the solid lifter cam or the weird echo in the combustion chamber... I dunno.
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Old September 9th, 2011, 06:47 PM   #20
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I have had flowmasters on both 350 Olds I have had, the 69 and 71. One was cammed w/heads ported and headers the other was stock. Both have a great sound tone. Cams in Olds motors always seem to sound more aggressive to me.
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Old September 9th, 2011, 06:52 PM   #21
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Damn Citcapp that sounds sweet. Sounds like it's idling at 400 rpm, lol.
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Old September 9th, 2011, 07:19 PM   #22
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Old September 9th, 2011, 07:36 PM   #23
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I noticed a big difference in sound on my 71 cutlass going from the stock single exhaust to the pypes 2.5 inch exhaust system. I usually dont even listen to the radio in this car, I just listen to the exhaust.
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Old September 9th, 2011, 07:44 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by citcapp View Post
Sound of a 455 in a 57 Olds

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bj_FFB2F8N4
I think it sounds remarkably like a PT boat engine on idle. They had 3 Packard engines that didn't know the meaning of 'fuel conservation'.
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Old September 9th, 2011, 08:54 PM   #25
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My '68 has that unique Olds idle sound that really brings back memories. When I was a senior in high school, my dad brought home this 4-4-2 for a test drive one night after work. The garage at our house was an add-on to the house and was right next to my bedroom. In fact, I had windows in my bedroom that looked directly into the garage.

On the evening of March 27, 1969, I was in my room doing homework when my dad got home from work. Dad always backed into the garage and, when I heard him coming in, that unique Olds idle sound struck me like a ton of bricks. I had no idea he was bringing home a car that he was thinking about buying. The sound so caught my attention that I got up and pulled the curtains away from the window, only to see that beautiful white 4-4-2 convertible backing into the garage. Needless to say, as an 18 year old senior in high school with a driver's license, I was impressed!

Dad bought the car the next day and it has been in our family since then. I now own it. I just got back from a car show tonight and, as I was driving into the garage, I heard that unique Olds engine idle sound yet again, and it brought me back to my bedroom at 18 years old for a few seconds. It truly is a unique sound, I don't know what makes it that way, but it sure sounds neat!

Randy C.
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Old September 9th, 2011, 09:04 PM   #26
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my .02 cents, a combination of the fact that the center divider on the two center exhaust ports is cut back to give kind of a scavenging effect, and the shape of the exhaust port on the head, its unique in the fact that it turns down pretty hard, harder than any other cylinder head ive seen.
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Old September 9th, 2011, 09:16 PM   #27
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Neat story Randy.

Yeah, Gotta be the cam.
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Old September 9th, 2011, 09:22 PM   #28
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I was commenting to my longtime buddy (he had a '70 442, '73 Supreme 455, and has a '68 442) this weekend at a car show about the sound of our Olds engines, and how way back when I was 19-20 years old (1976-77) that I would start my SX up during the winter and then stand behind it waiting for it to warm up. I would crouch down about 5-6 feet behind the trumpets and just listen to it....probably explains the brain damage.
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Old September 10th, 2011, 12:43 AM   #29
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Man, that is exactly what I was doing last winter! Love that sound.
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Old September 10th, 2011, 10:15 PM   #30
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The Oldsmobile tinny sound..........Loved it since I got my car in 1987.....
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Old September 10th, 2011, 10:58 PM   #31
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Hmmm, the shared exhaust port?

What about guys running headers? Notice a change in sound with a header install?
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Old September 10th, 2011, 11:11 PM   #32
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No not really/ no real change to the basic sound or tone with headers. A bit different but still the specific Olds sound we all seem to agree exists only with this design of engine. I also have no radio in my car but the sound is magic. Still brings me back to 84 when I bought it. It had the 350/4 bbl 4 speed that was stock with stock exhaust manifolds and Thrush glasspacks and now I have a decent 455/4 speed with edelbrock heads, headers, and theres still an exhaust note that seems specific to Oldsmobile.
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Old September 11th, 2011, 07:57 AM   #33
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I am going to throw my 2 cents in by either talking outta my a$$ and also by seeing what everyone else wrote. Could it have something to do with the accoustics from the angle of the pistons and how they explode? cause from what i see on what people wrote they all have that sound but there is one common denominator... the block itself. Arent Olds engines a lil wider and different angle on the pistons then other cars?
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Old September 11th, 2011, 03:10 PM   #34
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When I had my SX, and my buddy had (still does) his 70 442, 35 years ago the comment was although our engines had an "Olds" sound, his 442 sounded slightly different. Was it due to the 442 having a more aggressive muffler? or because my 2bbl 455 had smaller valves? Just something we pondered. I also recalled my dad's '67 and later '71 98's and the sound they made when he pulled into the driveway.
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Old September 11th, 2011, 03:18 PM   #35
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It's the high-nickel content...
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Old September 11th, 2011, 03:56 PM   #36
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Quote:
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Sound of a 455 in a 57 Olds

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bj_FFB2F8N4
I LOVE it!!!
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Old September 11th, 2011, 04:33 PM   #37
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I do like the "thrum" of my w-30's 455. I think all similar makes of cars tend toward a similar sound.

When I was 18-20 (1972 to 1974) I had a summer job as a marina attendent on the north shore of LI (Huntington). Right behind the small office we had was a main road in town. My buddies and I (being bored just sitting watching boats for 8 hours) would play the guess the car by only the sound (as it came up street) game.

We got pretty good at distinguishing Fords, from Chryslers, from GM models. It was more difficult of course to tell individual models, but when the big block muscle cars roared past we did pretty good on naming them.

As a side note here - the sound of the Chrysler starter motor always sounded tinny to me....kinda cheap in a way.

Last edited by coltsneckbob; September 11th, 2011 at 04:50 PM.
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Old September 11th, 2011, 04:42 PM   #38
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As a side note here - the sound of the Chrysler starter motor always sounded tinny to me....kinda cheap in a way
I call it the "Shemp Howard starter".
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Old September 11th, 2011, 05:02 PM   #39
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The sound of the 455 idling at low RPM is sweet. Just doesn't get any better. Then when you get on it just keeps getting better
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Old September 11th, 2011, 05:41 PM   #40
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