It’s a simple fact one cannot drive any car or pickup without using the starter. And nothing can get a person juiced up for a drive nearly as much as a healthy and inspiring sounding starter motor.
Perhaps I should admit that I’m old enough to enjoyed the transition to fuel injection and the resultant differences (read as getting quieter) in the sounds of starter motors. There have been some really good ones along the way but let’s review a few.
Ford had a determined sounding starter motor back in the 1960s. This is me starting my 1963 Ford Galaxie.
GM had some good ones. Perhaps my favorite can be found on this 1991 Silverado although it well represents a host of big GM cars that sounded similarly. This video was about the best I could find for bid GMs. Go to 1:10 to hear the melodious sounds of GM’s best.
But, unsurprisingly, my nomination for best starter motor sound of all time is from Chrysler. Yeah, I know, that was as obvious as stink on a skunk, but we all have our preferences. Go to 1:20 to hear this 383 attempting to start.
This Dodge pickup is obviously a 1994 or newer. Go to 5:10 when he hits the starter. Somebody put an old style starter on this Dodge and it sounds like angels singing. Other than bed length this rig is identical to the 1998 Ram 1500 my parents have and bought new. Seeing this makes me want to tinker with theirs.
Oh, what the hell. Here’s a third. Start at the beginning.
Of contemporary cars perhaps VW has my favorite sounding starter. Problem is, like so many other contemporary rides, they are so quiet one cannot hear them on the videos I’ve reviewed. Another current favorite is, off all things, the starter motor on International trucks.
So what car has your favorite starter motor sound?
Well the starter motor on a big International is just an overgrown version of the old Delco Remy 10MT as found in millions of GM and other vehicles.
Personally my favorite are the cars w/o a dedicated starter motor, ie 2 motor hybrids. No clunk of gears slamming into each other and it spins the engine up to actual running speed before adding fuel, so very smooth starts.
Yes! I have a few old Cub Cadets kicking around and love the way they sound when they ooze over.. “whirrrrrrurururururururururururururuBAM!rururu BAM! BAM! BAMBAMBAMBAM…etc.”
Anyway, here’s an example of one that had a sense of humor..
Though the Chrysler starter is my favorite, and whenever I start my ’66 Mustang it sounds like Steve McQueen starting the Bullitt Mustang at the car wash, I have to agree on the Cub Cadet. I restored my Cub Cadet 100 about 12 years ago from a junker and just love the sound of that starter. If you aren’t used to it you would swear that it is turning over way too slow to start, but it never fails as long as it has gas in it.
“It’s a simple fact one cannot drive any car or pickup without using the starter.”
As a long time driver of manual transmissions, and occasional user of the roll start option, I agree to disagree.
I’m not positive, but I don’t think the new Pacifica Hybrid has a starter; it uses one of the electric motors to spin up the engine when needed.
That is correct, and true of just about all hybrids.
It’s a simple fact one cannot drive any car or pickup without using the starter.
A couple of million EVs would like to disagree with you.
And many more million hybrids.
The starter died in my ’63 Corvair in the depths of the winter and I had no warm place to change it, so I just parked on slopes and roll started it. For about two months.
I’d say there are probably a lot of us, above a certain age, that push/roll started our cars more than once back in the day due to a battery or starter problem, and the lack of time, money and/or space to fix it right away.
Back in the 80s when I was a poor student I had to wait for three weeks before I could buy a new battery. In the mean time I hand cranked my Sunbeam Imp every day. Worked pretty well. I still like to hand crank cars (still have an Imp and able to start it that way).
Not only that, a Corvair with Powerglide is one of the few automatic transmission cars that can be push or roll started.
Most Mopar vehicles, through the mid-sixties at least, can be push started. As I recall you need to be rolling at 15-20 MPH in order to make it happen but it can definitely be done. Chrysler used to put the distributor on the “B” series engines at the lower right front of the block, a location that pretty much guaranteed it would get wet enough to drown out. I had a 1963 Plymouth that required push starting on several occasions.
I never had to roll start any of my cars that had manual transmissions, probably more to good luck than anything else. I did have to change the starter on my first car, a 1961 Ford. This was many years ago but I do remember it was in December, it was cold, and we had a real struggle getting the final bolt loose. It took a while but we finally “got ‘er done”; a good thing because my friend and I needed the car for a double date that evening.
Of it you drive a tesla
While true, as the owner of a manual transmission car, I’ve yet to roll start it. Doing so on flat ground from one garage is a problem, rolling it uphill out of the other is a bigger problem.
I suppose my question would be what percentage of cars built in the last 30 to 50 years have had manual transmissions? It varies by continent but it’s pretty slim in North America, isn’t it? 🙂
In the last decade or so I believe it is under 5% but in the late 70’s and early 80’s it was still very high, probably in excess of 50% on compact cars and trucks.
My old car’s owners manual said not to start it by rolling because the excess hydrocarbons would overwhelm the catalytic converter, leading to overheating and a possible fire. So I assumed this hasn’t been recommended since the 80’s.
Am I the only one who has seen this? Car is long gone so maybe I remember incorrectly.
I have friends who can’t believe that I still drive a car with a manual transmission. Heck, some of them think I’m nuts for still driving a sporty two door car. Anyway, my stick shift paid off a couple of months ago. I stopped at our small town’s mayor’s office on business. when I came out my car wouldn’t start. It was obviously a bad starter. Anyway, the mayor came out and asked me what was wrong. When I told him he went back inside and got two firemen and they push started me. On the way home, since it is a stick I was able to test the starter by shutting the engine off and trying to start it with the clutch in while underway. Yep. it was the starter. It took me a couple of days to get the right starter so my neighbor and I push started it a couple of times to move it in and out of the garage. I prefer to work in the driveway because the light and air circulation are better.
I hope I never have to go back to an automatic again. Every new vehicle I have bought for myself since 1975 has been a stick shift. All but one have also been black.
What no air starters? Mechanical as I am I cannot find much difference. The most pleasing starter sound for me is one that is brief and results in a running engine.
I am pretty much tone deaf and can only distinguish between electric and air start. Yes, I grew up hearing people talk about distinctive Chrysler or GM starting sounds, but they all sound alike to me. Even when they’re running, I can barely distinguish a Harley from an air-cooled VW; sometimes I hear Diesel clatter when it’s just noisy valves or piston slap in a gas motor.
The starter motor found in a Toyota Prius 😉
Jk, if I had to choose, theres two that comes to mind. The starter that’s found on any ford modular engine and the starter motor found in any older heavy duty diesel. Like those found on a Detroit series 71/92 engine
What a great question! All the best starter sounds came from my childhood in the ’60’s and ’70’s, when a car actually starting was never a given, and I didn’t have to be on time anywhere in particular [I walked to school or took the bus] My Father’s DKW Junior was always an event to start, frantic pumping of pedals, whirring of the starter motor, crazy revving in case it might stall, I loved that car! Another car of ours I loved was our ’59 Humber Hawk, a cast off from my Grandmother. The starting procedure was a stately affair, I loved watching the soft green and red ignition lights pulse into action. Both those cars, along with my Grandmother’s Opel Rekord panel van, have given me a love of the manual column shift.
My TR3 had a crank starter, which made no sound.
You sure you as the starter motor didn’t make noises?
Any Honda from the late 80’s to early 00’s, they all sound identical. I grew up in the back seat of one, and anytime I hear one in a parking lot it still makes me pause.
Bonus Points- The Saturn Vue Redline with the Honda engine definitely has a Honda starter as well.
This is very much true, and my long gone ’98 Accord would agree. Very distinctive.
couldn’t find a sound file for either of my two favorites. 1981 Honda Accord 1751 cc 4 cylinder and 1987 BMW 750iL’s 5.0 L (305 cu in) M70 V12 (295 hp) starter motors. The Honda made a nee-nee-nnee metallic sound, that I grew to love. in comparison the BMW was quiet but so powerful sound, I noticed it at every engagement a solid rolling rooooooooom… Was a world apart in sound and sensation of power.
The Honda was my daily driver for over 17 years (I hung on to it for another 12, junking it in 2010 (could no longer get parts for the transmission, and the A pillar was rusting badly). The 750iL were at the dealership I work at, we sold quite a few of them. And as the detailer of choice, I got the ‘big boys’ and important customers cars to prep. Was a great job for a car nut.
A great choice! I remember being disappointed when I had my 68 Newport. I did the opposite of the guy with the pickup – my old car ended up with the modern high-speed starter. It ruined the experience! Fortunately, the car was hard to start when hot and after a few months that “new” rebuilt starter slowed down considerably.
The Studebaker V8 starter had a unique sound, as did the one in my Model A. That last one always started with a sharp engagement that you could feel as well as hear.
The starter design in your Galaxie went away in the mid 1960s. That mid 60s design seemed to get replaced again by around 1970 or so, a design that stuck around for a long time.
JP, you mean you’re not going to do your trademark sound effect of the Highland Park Hummingbird? I’m here for that!
Na-Rayer, neer, neer, neer, neer Vloooom! (Followed by a heat riser rattle)
(My phone’s auto correct made that waaaaay too long to type).
Don’t forget, 3 pumps of the pedal first, CLACK CLACK CLACK !!!
“Fortunately, the car was hard to start when hot and after a few months that “new” rebuilt starter slowed down considerably”
I love that you said “Fortunately”.
I’ve always loved a good hard start. I drive an 85 Silverado and I must say I love its starter. I’m fortunate to enjoy an occasional hot engine hard start or cold blooded I don’t want to go in the cold morning cold start. I’ve also noticed that other men around me do too. Hard hot starts at the gas station always seem to turn heads and get me a thumbs up.
Call me an outlier but my favorite starter sound is an Ingersoll-Rand compressed air starter as used on buses and trucks. They sound like an impact wrench. My second favorite is a Caterpillar pony engine, because who wouldn’t want to use an engine to start their engine.
+1 on both choices.
I seem to remember the New Look buses AC Transit had were equipped with the compressed air starter. Like an impact wrench, indeed. VRRRITT!
As a college student, I spent my summers working for my hometown public works department. They had a Caterpillar grader from the early ’60s with the pony engine arrangement. I had never heard this before, but that summer I never tired of hearing the starting procedure play out. Unfortunately, the next year (1974), they replaced it with a new Cat grader with an electric starter (which I think they still have!).
Ah yes, as I posted earlier, I can only distinguish between air and electric start, and the sound of the air starter on an AC Transit bus still sticks in my brain after almost 60 years. Finally, the bus will leave the terminal!
Agreed on the air starter noise. I spent some time in college working nights at a gas station and that is when they would deliver the fuel, and all of those trucks used air starters, even back in the 80’s.
I’m not sure what the starters are, but I love the sound when Toyota V8-powered BOF vehicles start up, especially the 4.7-liter and 5.7-liter engines. It’s a deep-bellied crank and then a whoosh once the engine catches. I heard it on a 2003-2007 GX 470 in the parking lot just now.
Try to find the starter -HAHAHA!
I’m firmly in the Old Chrysler camp.
Your not the only one. I’m right there with you. The Mopar starters are the best for my ear. They are so unique. I’ve always wondered if anyone, back in the day, bought a Dodge or Chrysler just because of the starter sound.
Here is a great example of that unique sound.
Best is pre-49 Fords. I also enjoy the feel plus sound of a foot-pedal starter. You can feel and hear the engagement of the pinion separately from the motor itself. It’s an articulate syllable beginning with a consonant, not just a vowel.
Never liked the geared-down Chrysler starter. It might have been efficient, but it sounded whiny and argumentative, like the car didn’t really want to wake up and go.
“Never liked the geared-down Chrysler starter. It might have been efficient, but it sounded whiny and argumentative, like the car didn’t really want to wake up and go.”
That Silverado does sound just like a ’70’s big block Buick or Cadillac torque master barge! Music to my ears
I may be a little biased here, but my favorite starter sound is my own 2007 Mustang. The only thing that would make it sound sweeter is if it were firing up 2 more cylinders.
It just sounds more beastly than the two Japanese cars that also grace our driveway.
I do like the sound of my Civic’s starter, when I can hear it that is. It is so quiet. But my wife’s Lancer is either uninspiring, or very quiet, because I can’t even remember what it sounds like, and I just started her car this very morning!
A starter I heard recently at a company picnic catered by Mission BBQ sounded really cool. I was sitting in the driver’s seat of Deuce-and-a-Half and the guy that drives it (in the baseball cap in the picture below) came over and said, “Let me show you how easy this rig is to steal.” He flipped a few switches and hit a starter button or lever (I forget now, but no key was required!). The sound of that beast firing up was pretty neat!
the Hamtramck Hummingbird, of course
I always knew them as the “Highland Park Hummingbird”, definitely my favorite; they’re like the gooney-bird of starters.
I’m definitely in the old Mopar camp, it is one of things I enjoy when I start my 70 and 74 Chargers, especially when out in public. The sound is so unique these days.
I also enjoy watching a lot of old movies and TV shows and laugh when that sound is dubbed in and the car is not a Mopar!
Fun topic Jason, and a nice sound compilation.
For sentimental reasons, the Chrysler starters of the 60s and 70s always bring back sweet memories. Though their sound was probably one of the least reassuring.
The town I grew up in was popular with retirees, and for a long time held the Canadian record for highest per capita average age of residents. And Chrysler and GM were well represented through the 1970s in Perth, Ontario. The Slant Six was one of the most easily identified engines based purely on sound of the era. The Slant Six, with the Chev 350, must’ve been the most popular engine (and starter sound) in the community.
I don’t know if I’d call this a favorite (I’m not sure I have a favorite), but the sound of the starter they used on 1970s era Toyotas is seared into my memory. You see, my dad used to always leave for work very early in the morning, before I was even awake, and I’d usually be awakened by the sound of him starting his ’79 Corolla more or less right outside my bedroom window. I can still remember sound of that high pitched Japanese starter and the engine coming to life.
The howl from the old R model Mack i drove for a while is hard to beat but the moaning grind from a Chrysler Valiant Hemi springs to mind as an old favourite, my daily makes hardly any sound being a common rail diesel it just starts no churning on the starter those days are over.
I don’t know about favourite but it certainly is not my Acura TSX. It has an extended and pitiful whirring before a thunk to indicate you have started the engine. I even replaced the starter recently (not an easy job as it is under the intake) but not much better.
Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow – it just, like, starts and you might then wonder if it has done…
A long, long time ago in a land far away, actually it was the 60s and I was in the Navy Seabees as an equipment operator in Vietnam. My equipment was a Caterpillar D8H bulldozer. IIRC and that’s pushing it, it had a 2cyl gas engine as a starter motor for the diesel. Called it a pony engine. I’d start the pony up and pull a control rod out which started turning over the diesel. The fuel was turned off to the diesel, so it was just turning over to oil it up. Then you turned on the fuel to the diesel and it would rumble up to speed. Turned off the pony and I was set for the whole day.
I don’t do well at picking favorites, but my list would include the old Chrysler products, the mid fifties to mid sixties Ford products, and my current ride; an ’06 Cadillac NorthStar. I have heard that a V12 Jaguar has a very distinct sound, but I can’t recall if I ever experienced it.
I clicked just to comment on the Northstar. It sounds mechanically elegant, if that’s a thing. High tech, but definitely still mechanical. The Jag V12 is like a rotary powering up. Like the starter is breathing life into it. I’d also like to add the Toyota GR V6, the Honda J-series V6, and the later GM 3800s to the list. All three sound like the starter overspins, like the engine was taking a time out and would really rather be running. And the 3800 has to be the quickest starter in its action ever made. Its like, you turn the key and before you even let go, the engine is running. Not particularly expensive sounding, but lightning quick.
I kind of like the starter sound on the Ford Modular V8. They have a sound all their own – you can hear it and know what it is without looking at it.
The “Nang Nang Nang Nangggggg” sound of the Mopar “Highland Park Hummingbird” gear reduction starter of the 1960’s and 1970’s will be forever etched into the synapses of my automotive obsessed mind as my all time favorite.
Other cars just sounded so bland, so dull, so “Blahhhhhhhhhh” by comparison!
I like the starter sound on my ’65 Mustang’s 289, but mainly because I’ve been listening to it for over 30 years now.
This old Dodge (’25) is a bit unusual. The starter is turns the engine via chain to crankshaft. It makes a low rumbling sound. The other odd thing is that it does double duty; it’s the generator too. Dodge did this until 1926 or so.
I never gave the starter sound much thought. But I do have one that I had great respect for. It was a magic starter in a magic car.
In ’93 I had an ’83 Cavalier. Basic sedan with an injected 2.0L. The clutch went out, but the neutral safety switch had previously been disabled. I had to drive it to work, so for a week I started it in gear at every stoplight and stop sign.
There was a steep hill right after a stop sign to merge onto Cline Avenue from Interstate 80. Northwest Indiana people may remember it. It was bizarre to me how the starter was strong enough to pull the car uphill from a dead stop. Lugging the motor uphill to shift with no clutch was an adventure, slow and scary. After the clutch was replaced, I drove it for years and it never did need a new starter.
Off topic, do you guys remember “Slick 50”,one of those PTFE treatments for the engine? Well, I used that in that Cavalier once. The guy who bought the car from me told me years later that an oil seal had given out while he was driving home, and he figured it was an old car and he’d gotten his use out of it, so he kept driving. About 20 miles. With no oil. It had all blown out in a giant cloud. The car never overheated or locked up. He actually looked me up to ask me how that was possible and that’s when I remembered using the Slick 50. You could see the Teflon coating on the oil plug. I sold it to him with 80,000 miles and he drove it, neglected it completely and it had 200,000 on it when he sold it, still running well.
I’ve heard negative things about putting solid additives into your oil, and I won’t do it now, but his story does seem to give the claims Slick 50 made some merit.
I’ve always been partial to the two that I can recall from my earliest age, my mom’s 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee with its high “ih-ih-ih” sound and my grandfather’s 1997 Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight with its deep confident “Chi-chi-vroom” 🙂
I love the sound of my G37 sedan firing up. This isn’t my car but the same year and model:
Don’t think Tesla has a starter motor and I am happy for it. After EV, can’t tolerate the smell, the fume of an internal combustion engine starting from cold. My garage DOES NOT smell, oh, and silent.
Good point about the Tesla, but if one looks at Tesla’s market share over the last 5 to 50 years, they are rather the exception in how their motion is initiated. 🙂
This week I am enjoying the sound of the starter in the 07 Mustang. For a “new” car it sounds rather direct and determined.
I also appreciate that it works every time so far, which is great. Dad and I left Asheville this morning and are relaxing in Myrtle Beach tonight.
Glad to hear your trip is going well, Doug.
Like you, I enjoy the sound of my own 2007 V6 Mustang as I stated above. “Determined” is a good description. Since it’s not my daily driver anymore, I look forward to hearing the old girl fire up.
I love the sound of an old 350+ cubic inch Pontiac V8 starter while cranking. Yeah, the starter motor is common across the GM lines, but for some reason, the old Pontiac V8s have a unique cranking sound. The later 265 and 301 emission engines sound different probably because of the lightweight flexplate.
Oh, and I like the way an older Ford 400/429/460 starter sounds too. Unique.
Good point on the Pontiac. Looking for the Silverado starter motor sound, I encountered a ’77 to ’79 B-body Pontiac wagon with a 301 being started. It does sound different than the others.
And the 460 in my ’75 Thunderbird had a pleasing sound also.
I never knew you had a ’76 Thunderbird!
Any John Deere 2 cylinder Diesel with a pony motor starter or an old Cat with a pony motor… nothing can come close to the sounds of them!!!!
5.0 fox Mustang starter but I don’t know if that’s really like or just familiarity. Sure sounds good to me though.
I think any 6 volt starter sounds more dramatic than most 12 volt starters. Especially in cold weather. They remind me of “The Little Engine That Could”. You can almost hear them saying “I think I can, I think I can.” Sometimes they couldn’t. But they sounded good trying, just not as good as the engine actually starting. When it was doubtful that the car would start in arctic weather, we used to bring the battery into the house at night, to give it it’s maximum punch in the morning. Yes it was a pain in the butt. But it always worked.
I am in the Studebaker V8 camp. They just sound cool. Mine will start with the slightest flick of the key when it is warm. Another one I find interesting is the ’58 GM starters. I had a junk 58 Cadillac as a kid in the 80’s and it had a very distinct sound especially when it hit the cylinder with no compression. Fast forward 30+ years and an acquaintance has me do some work on a 58 Buick Roadie. Starter sounds exactly the same minus the no compression cylinder. The starter in my 71 Sweptline has the Mopar sound except it is way too fast. Low compression motor I guess.
Nothing like my 1962 Studebaker V-8. Had a manual transmission.
The International T444E Diesel Engine. Very High Compression, so it always struggles to turn over. Once the engine catches, the computer will give it a quick throttle blip. Very satisfying!
Interestingly, my current car (2017 Chevy Volt) doesn’t have a starter. It uses one of the electric traction motors clutched to the engine to spin it up. It can be a bit rough if the engine hasn’t been run in a few weeks. Once up to operating temp, its restarts are much smoother.
8N Ford, for me, just because it brings back pleasant memories. I haven’t heard one start in decades but I still remember the sound: More of a suggestion than a command to start. Not much more energetic than hand cranking it.
My 6v 8N was going to be one of my suggestions, but you’ve arrived there first, I see!
Still starts on the second or third ‘rowrrrowrrr’ after more than 11 years of hard use on our farm after the restoration.
That’s the sound.
My Dad’s procedure was to get it cranking and then give it a brief in-and-out on the choke. Never seemed to fail.
Thanks for the video.
As a kid, I was very aware of how different cars sounded during various phases of their operation,
When it came to starter motors I didn’t notice a lot of difference, our Massey Ferguson had a heavy solid mechanical sound. our Holden made a similar less mechanical sound.
Mums old Hillman had a slow deep gear grinding ROWE, ROWE,ROWE, noise.
(I used to hope it wouldn’t start so I wouldn’t have to ride in it)
6 cylinder Falcons would often emit a SCREEEEECH as the pinion didn’t quit mesh with the ring gear.
Then I began to hear the noise some Valiants made, now thats what a car should sound like on start up, I thought it was as modern as tomorrow.
It wasn’t very common at first because only the V8s had it.
But when the “HEMI” sixes were introduced they had the reduction gear unit and the world started (sorry) to sound pretty good to me.
Another favourite was a forklift I used to drive, it had an Isuzu 6 cylinder diesel, it sounded a bit like the Chrysler but it seemed to flick the engine to life within one revolution of the starter, very cool sound.
according to Allpar, the Mopar site, it’s the “Hamtramck Hummingbird”
Unique features included self-adjusting brakes, foot pedal operated rear drum parking brakes, lube-sealed 32,000 mile suspension fittings, printed circuit dash wiring, and the “Hamtramck Hummingbird,” a new reduction gear starting motor that would come to signal by sound alone the starting of any Chrysler product on any parking lot anywhere.
Paul referenced same here:
While just about any air-cooled VW would fit the bill, I’ll specifically nominate the Type II. Twisting the key results in noise, but it’s like it’s coming from the next room or two over. My ’64 Beetle (still 6v) was also great – the noise was a bit closer, but with that slow, purposeful sound from a 6v system.
Well I am partial to the aircooled VW. Well that’s an understatement haha. I love the sound of my ’59 Beetle, still 6 volt, on a cold morning. It’s slow but determined. It’s like the car in general, slow but determined to get you there.
That being said, I’ve always loved those old Mopar starter sounds. In the late 90’s-early 2000’s my mom drove a ’72 Plymouth Scamp and I loved that starter sound. That video brought back memories of cold mornings going to school when the choke would stick, haha. The dash looked exactly the same.
The 6v’s forever sounding slower than a crank handle, yet somehow never failing to succeed.
The starter on the K- Cars and its derivatives. You could always tell when somebody was starting up a K Car or a Dodge Shadow or any of the countless K car derivatives from 1981-the mid 1990’s
It was a very distinctive sounding starter
Go to minute 1:
I need to know what the lyrics translate to !
My 65 Corvair Monza convertible. With the top down it sounded like a cotton gin as it cranked and like a huge truck mounted leaf vac when it fired up.
Not sure about it being a fave, but a 6-volt VW is certainly familiar. In our (then-detested) splittie Kombi, there’d be a jingle of mum’s keys, and somewhere far, far to the back what was, surely, a furtively-kept and depressed old dog started up a mournful and muffled “No-oo! No-oo! No-oo!” But old furtive never won, because it always did start.
Next would be the very identifiable Mini and Morrie Minor jobs. Initially, an almighty dulled-metallic clang (out of all proportion to the 1000cc’s being churned) then a Kenneth Williams dismayed and fading “Ohhrrr!”. That’s if it caught, which often enough, it did not. The whirring which followed never sounded fully and frantically enthusiastic enough to finish the job, and frequently, it didn’t. (See Basil Fawlty below for how frustrating that might become).
French Paris-Rhones fitted to all sorts of Frog mobiles of the ’60’s-’70’s sounded as if they were not properly bolted down, and irritable and close to burnout – which too often, they proved to be. (Understandable, really: here you are, you who are always solely responsible for starting the whole proceeding of this Citroen DS, and all they rave about is greasy suspension bits and the ride and the stinky fuel injection and that styling and Goddess badging – well, you too would begin to behave poorly and ultimately go into a smoky sulk, your vengeful remaining pleasure being that the entire operation will now be garage bound for 2 full days while they extract and revive you from under the steering rack and exhaust and much else besides).
Finally, 4-cyl Beemers from the ’90’s. Sleek looks. Trend-setting interiors. That badge. The handling rep. That balance. The high price tag, show ém you’ve really made it. Let’s turn the key of the Ultimate Driving Machine and…HOLY SHIT, a gigantic asthmatic rabid bat just screeched at me from under there! As Sesame Street might have put it, one of these things just doesn’t belong here.
Nothing brings back memories, good (’74 Roadrunner, friend’s 440 Cuda) and bad(’77 Dodge W150 yellow and black Macho Power Wagon) than the old Mopar starters. On the bad side, my strongest memory is almost crashing into the back of a new Toyota with no brake lights on the Las Vegas Strip, south of Tropicana, running off the road on two wheels(!!) the engine stalling due to the carb floats bouncing around. I was sitting there, yelling, “I’m gonna kill you!!” at the moron in the Toyota who stopped for no reason at all. I remember the gas smell of the old leaded Premium, the starter singing and finally the modded 360 started up. With headers, huge turbo mufflers and just enough pipe to clear the undercab of the truck, it was always loud as hell and after a few revs to clean it out, I went after him. He blew the light at Trop and got away, and I always wondered what I would have done to him if I had caught him…probably for the best I didn’t.
After three Mopars-in-a-row, my non automotive Mother complained to me: “My new car sounds odd to me! It doesn’t sound quite right when it starts up!”
After starting and stopping the engine of her new car several times, I assured her everything was fine.
She then plaintively said: “It just doesn’t sound like my Cordoba did!”
Almost a decade of hearing the “Highland Park Hummingbird” gear reduction starter “nangging” away had influenced her mind as to what was right, what was to be expected.
Reading through the comments, I’m fascinated by the transliterations of the “Highland Park Hummingbird.” I waited to offer my own (ahem, DEFINITIVE) version…
My qualifications? Listening to Dad start up his ’75 Dodge D100 Club Cab with a 318…regularly.
Here it goes: “Chee-yeep-cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep-VROOOOM” (followed immediately by the sound of marbles falling into a metal coffee can).
The Mopar folks identify the marbles-in-the-coffee-can sound as heat riser rattle, if I’m understanding correctly…
My ’53 Ford F100 with a very late flathead V8 has what I call the “sick dog” starter. And it sounds downright deathly ill if there’s not enough charge in the (6 volt) battery.
The Ford “sick dog” goes something like this: “Purr-lurr-lurr-lurr-lurr” (starter spins out on first attempt). Pull choke out (because I forgot), then, “Purr-lurr-ZHOOOM.”
Basically, my life every day.
I dunno about starters but I love the Chrysler chime that was around from the mid to late ’80s until 2017 with the discontinuation of the Patriot (by then, the Patriot was the only car with the original chime).
All the current CJDR products have an updated chime which first appeared on the new-for-2009 Ram. With few exceptions such as the JS-platform 2011-14 200/Avenger, as each platform was refreshed or overhauled (e.g., first-generation [2005-10] LX to second-generation [2011-present] LX, or the 2011 refresh of the RT minivans) the cars were shipped with the updated chime.
The chime on my 2013 200, 2006 Ram HD, 1993 Concorde and 1992 LeBaron convertible are all the same.
3406 Cat with Air Start.
Close second would be a any member of the 2 Stroke Detroit Diesel with air start.
I’m very partial to the sound of the Ford starter before the gear reduction years began in the 1990s. Loved the solid ‘thunk’ of the solenoid engaging and disengaging. But I also love the higher pitch whine of the Panther starter. Music to my little ears.
Exactly, the Ford starter that was on every application from the 351W on down – it really was closest sounding to that Galaxie starter earlier on in this thread – where the solenoid was affixed NOT on the starter itself but closer to the battery. You could jump it with a screwdriver (yikes!). That Ford starter sound gave me confidence every time I heard it. Next is the GM starter sound (a la 350cid, and so on), then the 1980’s Buick 3.8, the Lexus 4.0 V8, and finally the Toyota 3.0, 3.3, and 3.5 V6 sounds.
I too paid attention to starter sounds, but couldn’t think of a particularly favorite.
So I wasn’t the only one listening to starter sounds?
I once visited a crowded site with my then leash-free dog. As usual, she went her way, I went mine, as part of the freedom pact she’d “check in” now and then and was expected to stay out of trouble and be ready when it was time to go.
Some time later I was casually observing a Ford that was leaving. The start-up drew my attention only because the car happened to be similar to the car that I had driven to the sale, which by the way wasn’t my usual car.
Despite it not being a “regular” driver, just then I noticed that my dog was charging out of the congestion, apparently in a rush to be sure not to miss her ride. From my distance I observed the dog’s focus on the just-started Ford, yet confusion that it wasn’t quite it.
That’s when I realized that apparently the dog had learned to “tune in” to various starter sounds and catalog them, even if they were only a short-term ride. There were at least dozens of vehicles parked there and probably many starts during our stay. Even though it turned out to be not “her ride” apparently the starter sound was similar enough to what was “on file” that day to not chance being left behind.
The dog had many other similar astonishing intuitions.
I worked at Butts British Imports in Santa Barbara while in college. The Jag XKE V12 starter was fantastic, just a constant speed constant frequency whine, as if there was no engine compression… until the engine lit off. Those fresh new engines didn’t sound too bad either!