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JamesHigdon

Distinctive 80's stock car sound?

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So I'm on a YouTube binge here over the last few months and instead of watching TV after everyone else goes to sleep I end up watching older races. Tonight I've got the '85 Slinger Nationals on and I've got the same question I always end up with; what gave stock cars from the late 70's through the mid 80's the distinctive higher pitched (almost 4 cylinder like) sound? Late Models, Cup Cars and even some dirt cars had a very distinct sound in that era that sounds almost like a modern 4 cylinder at speed. I would say it's due to 180* headers but modern late models have them and the sound is completely different. Any ideas?

 

Here's an example https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_j8794XvcN4

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A lot of those motors back then were 331 small blocks i would say ...I remember when I first heard terry labonte old 283 in the 57 with those headers ..sounded like a buz saw he was not easy to lose on the track just listen and you would know . and those years were the times when v6 was big and could either v8 or v6 in the same race with a weight break that was one reason slick liked to run a v6 100 pound weight break .sounds like both are running in that race .

Edited by HiTech

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I think they were called 180 degree headers.They came up and over to behind the block and out one side.They made a very distinct high pitch sound. Two that stand out to me were Carl Wentrick at SAS and Monty Nichols Miller car at CCS.

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I think it was the combination of the 180 degree headers and the 331 CI in my limited late model that gave it that high pitch whine. When I blew the 331 up I replaced it with a 362 CI and it didn't have the high pitch.

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The design of the 180 degree header allows two cylinders 180 degrees apart in the firing order to be paired together in the collector.

Two cylinders 180 degree apart intersect at the collector. In the case of the small block chevy engine, the cylinders are paired up as follows: 1 & 6, 8 & 5, 7 & 4, 3 &2.

As one of the paired cylinders is on the compression stroke, the other is on the exhaust stroke. This means a continuous flow of the gases, which smooths out the exhaust flow and maximizes scavenging of the exhaust gases.

These headers could be a real pain in backside due to the length of the tubes, and the fact that coming from both sides of the engine you had fit issues due to angle cut heads and the like.

But back in the day, when we all ran the little short stroke

motors (305 to 311 or so CID), these headers had a sound of their own in an engine pushing 8900 or higher rpm. Add a boiler plate crash wall, and it was a sound that would make the hair stand on the back of the most grizzled veteran.

As for the V-6 engines, they came along a little alter than the early 80's.

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The design of the 180 degree header allows two cylinders 180 degrees apart in the firing order to be paired together in the collector.
Two cylinders 180 degree apart intersect at the collector. In the case of the small block chevy engine, the cylinders are paired up as follows: 1 & 6, 8 & 5, 7 & 4, 3 &2.
As one of the paired cylinders is on the compression stroke, the other is on the exhaust stroke. This means a continuous flow of the gases, which smooths out the exhaust flow and maximizes scavenging of the exhaust gases.
These headers could be a real pain in backside due to the length of the tubes, and the fact that coming from both sides of the engine you had fit issues due to angle cut heads and the like.
But back in the day, when we all ran the little short stroke
motors (305 to 311 or so CID), these headers had a sound of their own in an engine pushing 8900 or higher rpm. Add a boiler plate crash wall, and it was a sound that would make the hair stand on the back of the most grizzled veteran.
As for the V-6 engines, they came along a little alter than the early 80's.

 

I knew the 180* headers where part of it but I hadn't thought about the short-stroke engines contributing to it.

 

I guess a 331 would be a .030 over 4" block with a 3.25 crank but when you say 305 are you talking about a 4.030 x 3 motor or a 3.736 x 3.48 motor? Where those motors running 4-7 swap (which is supposed to help in ultra-high RPM motors) or running a standard firing order?

 

I'm asking all these questions because I'm in the middle of planning motors for a couple of builds and wanted to aim for that sounds in one.

 

Thank you everyone for your time!

Edited by FSAERacer

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I think it was the combination of the 180 degree headers and the 331 CI in my limited late model that gave it that high pitch whine. When I blew the 331 up I replaced it with a 362 CI and it didn't have the high pitch.

That is the kind of info I was looking for, thank you! It hadn't occured to me that any of the NASCAr touring cars where running anything besides 358s and V6s in the 80s but it makes a lot of sense.

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Somewhere back in that time, ASA late model racing was a pretty well known touring series, mostly up in the Midwest. I think at one time they ran exclusively V-6's

I never could get used to the sound of those buzz bombs, as opposed to the throaty V-8's.

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I liked that sound ..made the motors sound like they were working their a@@ off .and they were ...what was in the mustang that slick raced .I never got to look under the hood but you knew when that car fired up who it was .

Edited by HiTech

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