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why does a Healey exhaust sound the way it does?


Jedi Knight
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I did a couple of searches on this site plus on the web, but the best I could find was in a for sale ad: "Nothing beats the purr of an Austin Healey exhaust sound and there is a mechanical explanation for the unique harmonic sound of Healeys and Jags of these years."
Okay - what is that explanation, and can the sound be reproduced using other six cylinders engines (eg BMW)?


Jedi Warrior
I'm sure that it has to do with the firing order, the divided/split exhaust manifold, and the diameter and length of the twin exhaust pipes creating a zero-beat frequency as they bounce off of each other.

I don't know about many other cars, but I know by comparing the two in the late 50s, a 1954 Chevy Blue Flame 6 cylinder with a split exhaust manifold and dual glass packs comes pretty darn close.

Country flag
Both my ///M Rdsts are inline sixes, same firing order and similar under-square displacement (3.2 litre).

The two (2) BMW engines, the 99 a type S-52 and the 01 a type S-54, sound distinctly different from each other (even with the same OE or aftermarket exhaust fitted) and likewise sound nothing like the Healey.

There is some commonality of design parameter, but I think the inlet and outlet port configuration, cam and ignition timing has more to do with the audio quality of the combustion process.


Luke Skywalker
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I remember hearing a works Pound-and-a-half (240Z) Datsun on the RAC Rally of BG some years ago. It had a similar sound.


Jedi Trainee
When I was in college I used to be able to recognize the sound my friend driving up to my house, in his 1967 3000, from about 100 yards away. What was it? The hiss of the SUs.

Michael Oritt

Country flag
Simple--the exhausts were tuned to the cash register.


Jedi Knight
I don't know why a Healey sounds like it does but just glad it does! Nothing
will cure a bad day like starting up your Healey and listening to that
great exhaust note as you take off down the road.
Country flag
You get a different sound depending on the exhaust system you use (duh). When I put an Ansa system on my BJ8 I thought the exhaust note had a higher pitch than a stock system--almost like a Ferrari note (but half as many pulses, of course). I cobbled together a system with the Ansa piping and some off-the-shelf glasspacks and it sounds more like my V-8 Mustang than a Ferrari now. Ironically, it's pretty loud at idle and around town, but on the highway the exhaust noise almost goes away (at least as heard from the cockpit). There's some acoustic theory at play, but it's beyond me to explain it.


Jedi Warrior
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A Healey sounds the way it does because of the style of muffler it has. In addition to being a real Healey vintage racer, I am also a Nasty Boy - I have a Healey 3000 with a Datsun 280Z motor in it. I use a stock Healey muffler and no one can tell the difference in the exhaust note between an Austin six and the Datsun six. The Datsun motor is a 2.8 liter in-line six for those who do not know.
On a different note (pun intended), I use a single chamber Flowmaster on my racecar ('59 3000) and a lot of people think I have a V-8 in it.


Luke Skywalker
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Re: why does a Healey exhaust sound the way it doe

Hey Richard -

Don't be so modest.....I thought most would enjoy seeing your exploits, as well
that great engine note of yours. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHe7hyc9-54


Jedi Trainee
Hah! '63-'67 in college, New Orleans, on way to twice a week dreaded 8am class sometimes without going back to dorm after night in French Quarter, there was a guy in a Healey that would drive through campus, remember as if yesterday. Mine has a Stebro side exhaust, own charm, but not the same true throaty purr
65 3000


Great Pumpkin
Country flag
twas_brillig said:
I did a couple of searches on this site plus on the web, but the best I could find was in a for sale ad: "Nothing beats the purr of an Austin Healey exhaust sound and there is a mechanical explanation for the unique harmonic sound of Healeys and Jags of these years."
Okay - what is that explanation,

OH!! It was just an accident that is all-- :laugh:

and can the sound be reproduced using other six cylinders engines ----Sure--- :laugh:
(eg BMW)?
----Keoke :smile:
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