Eric Mayne's Blog

Automotive earworm

Shelby GT

Ever get a song stuck in your head? How about an exhaust note?

It's been some six weeks since we wrapped up testing for Ward's 10 Best Engines and the intoxicating tune of the Ford Shelby GT500 still resonates.

Makes me wonder if the Blue Oval company has struck some primal chord the way researchers did in 1944.

In "Responses of Captive Alligators to Auditory Stimulation" – I hope no taxpayer money went into that study – the Museum of Natural History in New York discovered alligators spontaneously broke into song when they heard B-flat played on a tuba.

Song, perhaps, is too generous. They bellowed. Consistently.

As if born with an affinity for anything oom-pah, big bull gators stopped whatever sinister deeds they were up to and bawled like Swing-era bobby-soxers swooning after Sinatra.

So what note is played when a Mustang unleashes its guttural growl?

Ford SVT’s NVH guru Hether Fedullo tells me the car’s husky V-8 harmonizes several notes, but if she had to pick one it would be 4th order G3, which occurs at 3,000 rpm. “It is the most dominant by volume,” she says.

All I know is my ears instinctively perk up when I hear that car. As if I’ve heard it before.

Perhaps it’s the lingering memory of a nose-flute melody performed by our Neanderthal ancestors.

Regardless, it brings the beast out in me.

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