Putting together a list of best sounding cars is pretty easy. Take your own passion, combined with a bit of historical knowledge so that you can include cars more than 20 years old and venture onto YouTube to sift through hundreds of videos of your favourite cars.
Crafting a listicle of the worst sounding cars isn’t quite so easy, at least it isn’t for me. I’m a guy who can find redeeming qualities in a Yugo. Every car is cool in its own way, and there have been very few that I can say that I truly hate. That is a tough sell when you call yourself an automotive journalist. Beyond that, “they” don’t tend to shoot videos of crappy cars and post them to the internet, so video evidence of such crappy sounding cars isn’t as easy to find.
I am going to start my list by asserting that every single car with a traditional automatic transmission that some kid has hung a fart can off of is the absolute worst. There is nothing sadder than the wuh-wuh noise an engine makes when a slushbox shifts. I appreciate your enthusiasm, I really do, but just stop doing it!
From there, things get a bit more controversial.
80’s through to the 90’s era Chevrolet Cavalier/Pontiac Sunfire
A whole generation of GM fans are going to dislike me here, but a quick scan of the internet shows that I am not the only one who hates this one.
For years, the streets were full of GM’s entry level econo-sports twins, the Chevy Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire. Wannabe street racers inevitably removed the stock exhaust in favour of a dirt cheap aftermarket solution. The resulting wooo sound was made all the more annoying by the fact that most of them had an automatic transmission.
Fortunately, there aren’t many videos of these turds on the interwebs.
First Gen Viper
I’m going to take heat from this one, but trust me, I worked at a Dodge dealer when this thing came out. The first generation Viper sounded like a pair of slant sixes bolted together.
This sexy monster of a beast sounded embarrassingly wheezy. I can’t find a video of a stock one, probably because most of them were modified to sound more racy.
It doesn’t help that something like half of them have been crashed by inept owners.
If you are a regular Wheels reader, you know that I am one of those who believes that the Le Mans winning Mazda 787B is the greatest sounding car of all time.
To my ears, Mazda rotaries of all generations are just awesome!
Just like those who love country music, you can’t explain everyone’s tastes and there are many people out there who absolutely despise the wail of a rotary engine.
Like the Cavalier, the Neon was intended to be a cheap and sporty little runabout when it was introduced in 1995.
The focus was on cheap, although the company did add in a club racer package known as the ACR which became popular in entry level motorsport for a time.
The 2.0 L four cylinder, with its cheesy plastic intake manifold, sounded like a wheezy little truck at best. This is another choice which isn’t supported by many videos.
There is a running joke in the motorsport community that says no matter what the question, Miata is the answer.
A glance around some motorsport forums shows that the beloved first generation Miata, known as the NA, is also the answer to what are the worst sounding cars.
Personally, I don’t mind the sound of an original Miata. The stock one in this video actually sounds pretty good to me.
Here is another one that I appreciate, but I have been involved in the rally community for years.
Both of my boys drive Subarus. Outside of this community however, there is a general distaste for the flat four sound.
The one which seems to generate the most disgust seems to be the lumpy, uneven sound of a turbo Subaru with equal length headers.
The coal rolling community might love the noise their diesels make, but the sound of pretty much all of them is just that: noise.
Call it aggressive bawling interspersed with cannon fire. No thanks.
I’m going to take a beating for this one, but the new Ford GT is one of the worst sounding cars of all time.
The hard part for me is that I am a huge supporter of the car. I absolutely love that it is built right here in Canada. I love that so many people I know were involved in the testing and development. I am proud of this car.
I still can’t help but thinking that even the race car sounds like some bit of construction equipment that is loud just to be loud. Something that looks as sweet as the Ford GT does should sing an equally sweet song!