The sound and the fury

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I am no stranger to car culture. Like many young boys whose parents tried — and failed — to indoctrinate them to the Cult of Combustion, I grew up surrounded by car memorabilia. The walls of my childhood bedroom were covered in cutouts from classic car calendars; almost every year, we went to see the car show the next town over and gawk at the Model Ts as they rolled past; every night, the serene image of Dale Earnhardt gazed down at me with a saintly countenance from my NASCAR clock. 

Though I never learned to venerate a V8, I still grew up hearing my father muse about many things, and one stands above all else: why, Lord why, do people ruin their cars with loud exhaust mods?

I may not be your target audience, but let me tell you all the same: no one finds it attractive. Whether it’s a mangled muffler that makes your car scream louder than a banshee going over a speed bump or an exhaust tip that makes idling down Northgate sound like a wet fart, no one is impressed. I’m not, your friends are not, the girls in Augustine trying to get some sleep while your Charger makes sloppy fart noises doing donuts at the intersection are not.

So why do people keep doing it? 

Maybe they don’t realize how bad it sounds. If they have only ever heard their car’s exhaust from the inside of the car, shielded in the road-noise isolated comfort of the cabin, then it’s possible they don’t realize how sad their car sounds. 

If this is you, I beg you: start your car, roll down the window and let your car go over a speedbump — foot off the gas — and hear just how much it wheezes and screams for help. Then, consult a good mechanic. 

Maybe they don’t realize how they affect others. Surely, with just one car, the effect can’t be that bad? To you, I reach for Kant’s Categorical Imperative, or as I like to call it, the Agnostic Golden Rule. How would you feel if everyone else ran about, their cars gurgling in the cool crisp night air as you went for a walk around campus? Would you look at the parade of cars that sound like the yowls of a cat in heat and think, “Jeez! I wanna be these guys’ friend!”

Maybe they’re looking to push a new frontier. They’re a freshman in college, their parents have reluctantly let them pick up an old Thunderbird to fix up and drive to school, and they want to show off. In the process, they experimented, bought some parts on AliExpress, one thing led to another, and here they are at UD, their rebel phase begun. Please, reconsider this frontier. It’s true, American muscle looks great, but you know what people admire more than a naturally aspirated V8? A vacuum.

Please understand, this is not an attack on UD’s car lovers. It is with great reluctance that I have agreed to this calling. I love cars. My dream car is a Shelby Cobra. My father drove for the better part of my life a Camaro that he loved like a second son. 

Rather, it is because I know what a tasteful car can be that I cry out. Men of UD, get help. You are more than your project car, but if you’re going to make it your identity, at least make that project car genuinely sound good.

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