A sound that’s described as "ear-deafening" is loud and unpleasant to hear. It causes people to clasp palms around their ears and block out all sound in an attempt to prevent injury. Certain engines in automobiles are capable of causing this familiar reaction.
Many car enthusiasts who value performance, the speed of cars above all else, actually like the sound of loud engines. They too, are just as susceptible to hurting their ears if they listen to a screaming motor long enough. Yet their appreciation for an engine’s mechanics and what it’s capable of doing are behind the love of engine roars.
Even though an engine roar is going to get a polarized reception, one thing is for certain, these machines can damage the ears. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also known as the CDC, any noise that goes above 85 decibels for an extended amount of time could threaten one's hearing.
The CDC cites the usual sound level of a running motorcycle, which come in at 95 decibels. That means there’re plenty of cars out there packed with powerful engines with a sound output that will exceed what the CDC deems safe over a period of time.
That never stopped automakers from making powerful cars that come with loud engines that turn heads and are legal to drive outside of race tracks. These are some of the loudest road legal cars to come off the production line that will have even the most diehard car enthusiasts clasping their ears.
20 Audi TT RS 3
Some of the nosiest cars on this list—including the Audi RS 3—give little indication on the outside to how gruff they really are. Take one for a spin though, and it soon becomes apparent they’re mean machines that’ll wake up the whole neighborhood.
According to Independent, the RS 3 is capable of putting out 98 dB with no remorse. That’s enough to hurt someone’s ears after a period of time.
For many enthusiasts, it’s the blending of two perfect worlds—the luxury and class of an Audi with the noise and raw power out of an engine in a performance car.
19 Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera
Leave it to a Lamborghini to produce ear-deafening sounds. The Gallardo Superleggera comes with a 5.0-liter V10 engine that’ll knock the socks off anyone nearby one going at full throttle.
As Autocar in their review notes, the sound is the first thing people notice about this car, which is largely due to a reworked exhaust system. One contributing factor in the exhaust system is its lighter weight, freeing it up to roar that much louder. On top of power, owners get the iconic Lamborghini exterior that’s even recognizable outside of car enthusiast circles. This is a car that manages to hit all the right notes.
18 Koenigsegg Agera R
Supercars are natural fits when it comes to the loudest production automobiles out there. While there’s technically only 25 of these made, as Petrolhead Arabia notes, they still make the cut as some of the loudest cars in existence. They can even back up the sound with astounding speed.
The same source reports that they have 1140 hp, which will look like a typo to the uninformed.
It’s no wonder these engines erupt so loudly considering the power they're able to output. Not only is the Koenigsegg Agera R the real deal, but they have some of the loudest engines around.
17 Lotus Elise S2
When it comes to overlooked vehicles in the U.S., consumers continue to under-appreciate Lotus’ lineup. Perhaps a louder engine will speak to US sensibilities, calling back to the muscle car era.
The Lotus Elise S2 excels not only in power but garners a reputation for its precise handling too. In its review of the Elise S2, The Truth About Cars didn’t give the engine the highest of praise, though it’s sure to make a loud noise at full throttle. This is a car that many will consider finding some way of deadening the sound, concerned about their hearing over time.
16 Ford GT
Ford GTs are loud, powerful machines, even right out of the factory. While they’re a favorite go-to among tuners, the stock versions alone have a reputation for their loud motors.
Forbes even warns that GT drivers should be cautious about driving long-distances, considering the sound that's generated within the cabin.
Driving at highway speeds over long periods of time is a situation where the engine’s sound is going to take a toll on frail ears after a while. The last thing car enthusiasts want is for this to change, considering any decibel dampening could affect the car's weight, which in turn impacts performance.
15 Ferrari F12
Ferrari not only makes cars fit for the race track, but ones owners can take for a spin on roads without concern of law enforcement. While they still have to adhere to speed limits, these end up being one loud car to drive at full throttle.
According to Carscoops, the F12 is one of the loudest Ferraris to exist, which is saying a lot considering the high-performance vehicles are never quiet. That’s all thanks to the engine that can do an impressive 781 hp, making this also a quick car on the road. It’s a car that will disgruntle police on so many levels.
14 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe
The 2014 Jaguar F-Type V8 S has an engine that the whole neighborhood will hear. According to Classic Car Club Manhattan, while testing the F-Type’s engine and putting a mobile decibel meter app on, the reading steadily rested at 91 dB. With the phone sitting underneath the car behind the exhaust, it hit a maximum 101 dB. That makes this one mean, ear-ringing machine.
This may not be the safest car around, considering how loud the engine can get, but it’s technically legal. Even more, it’s going to make the car enthusiasts grin from ear to ear—they just might not be able to hear.
13 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
The Corvette Z06 offers beauty, performance and a loud engine. Right off the production line, this car makes a lot of noise, and it’s all street legal. According to Edmunds, the Z06 reaches 72.1 dB when it’s going at fast as 70 mph. If that isn’t loud enough though, only causing one’s ears a minor irritation, then taking a Z06 full throttle will reach as high as 94.8 dB.
That makes this one of the loudest cars on the list. Like all cars that reach decibels this high, it’s not the safest car to have, but it’s guaranteed to thrill.
12 Porsche Cayman GTS
Porsche fans have further reason to celebrate. Not only do these cars offers luxury and style, but a rip-roaring engine too. The team at Car and Driver took the Cayman GTS out for a spin on a racetrack and found that the 340 hp was able to sound a lot meaner than it initially led on.
According to that source, they speculated that with the sport-exhaust button on, the Cayman GTS could exceed 92 decibels, which is the loudest the racetrack allows. A road legal car that can push an engine to racetrack restrictions when it comes to noise is one in high esteem.
11 7-Liter Ford Galaxie
Not only does the Ford Galaxie have a classic design on the outside, but it’s a contender as one of the loudest cars ever. The 7-liter models even came with commemorative badges throughout the car, as Jalopnik reports. The engine didn’t just make noise either but could really tear down a street.
According to Automobile Catalog, they could go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds. While it isn’t anything to phone home about exactly, the classic look on the outside will allay any misgivings. As long as owners aren’t expecting some great fuel economy, the 7-liter Ford Galaxie will please.
10 Lamborghini Aventador LP 730-4 SV
One expects a lot of speed and noise to come out of a Lamborghini—though most probably wouldn’t expect ear-deafening. The Lamborghini Aventador LP740-4 SV comes with a powerful V12 engine, which according to Petrolhead Arabia, delivers exactly what the name promises: 740 hp.
These V12 engines—aside from making Aventadors racing forces to contend with—also make noise that will make heads spin.
Ears will also hurt as a result of one of these going full throttle, which will be unpleasant for most except for a car enthusiast sitting behind the wheel. These are some of the loudest and fastest cars you won’t see coming.
9 Mercedes-Benz SSK
This classic car isn’t just noteworthy for looks—it’s also got a rip-roaring engine that’ll make ears ring. According to Jalopnik, a 7-liter supercharged engine lies underneath the hood, which is responsible for all the noise that follows a Mercedes-Benz SSK wherever it goes.
These cars may be old, yet no one should underestimate their performance for it. Those who look closely will recognize its familiar styling that resembles a piece in the popular Monopoly board game. They traditionally come with a spare tire or two on the back also, should a blowout ever occur while the engine screams along.
8 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is more than a mouthful of a name for a car—it’s a car that achieves beauty in both looks and performance. There’s little concern about the Giulia Quadrifoglio pleasing drivers from the expectation its exterior sets.
Thanks to a turbocharged V6 engine, it’s able to crank out at least 80 decibels, according to Car and Driver.
Although it doesn’t quite reach the CDC’s 85 decibel warning limit, it does manage to get loud enough to raise alarm. When the engine gets going, it sounds loud and can take a toll on one’s hearing too.
7 BMW E92 M3
When certain cars get modified, the exhaust system’s sound goes beyond comprehension. According to BMW Car Tuning, a BMW E92 M3 is capable of going as high as 120 dB with an upgraded exhaust system. Off the production line though, this car is already a competent noise-maker.
For many drivers, the sound is just an afterthought. Many tuners and enthusiasts, on the other hand, value sound as much as speed, if not more so. Few cars offer as much ear blasting sound as the BMW E92 M3 right out of the gate, surprising many who find it hard to accept it’s road legal.
6 Porsche Carrera GT
Car buyers are long familiar with Porsches for their excellence in performance and luxury. It’s no wonder the Carrera GT manages to fulfill both these criteria. Even more, it has an attention-seeking engine.
Jalopnik once speculated on whether it was the loudest road car in existence, putting this in the exact opposite category of something like an Audi A8 or Tesla Model S. Those cars are so quiet, they're worthy for spies. The Carrera GT is a different story entirely, with an exhaust right out of the factory many will find hard to believe is completely legal. One thing’s for sure - it’s going to attract attention.
5 Lexus LC 500
The Lexus LC 500 is a sportier car that packs a wallop in its V8 engine. Car and Driver reports that not only does it have a powerful engine and nice handling, but it makes a ruckus when driven at full throttle. They confirm that it can hit up to 88 dB through its V8 engine, which exceeds the CDC’s limit they warn of if exposed to that sound for a long period.
The styling also has something to offer, looking more like a supercar than it does a sedan. This is a noisy car that’s covered with a state-of-the-art exterior.
4 Porsche 911 Carrera S
The Porsche 911 Carrera S is a masterclass sports car that not only shines in looks, but in pure generated noise from its engine. Equipped with what Edmunds confirms is an engine that can do 394 hp, this car has a lot to offer in speed. Even more, the performance gets backed up by a roaring sound that the same source notes that it goes as high as 94.2 dB.
That frequency is possible with the sport exhaust feature activated, which is the equivalent of letting an opera singer belt a solo unrestricted. This is not only a car enthusiast’s dream, but a powerhouse motor that can yell.
3 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R
Mustang cars are a household name. They have a history of indulging consumers who want performance and style in their cars. Taking the muscle car tradition to an entirely new level is the Mustang Shelby GT350R.
According to Men’s Health, these can reach as high as 92 decibels, which is going to sound unpleasant on anyone’s ear and potentially harm their hearing if exposed to it for long. Long trips in a GT350R on the freeway is not recommended. It’s no wonder they make so much noise considering the 5.2-liter V8 engine that’s able to do up and beyond 500 hp.
2 Dodger Challenger Hellcat
The Dodge Challenger Hellcat is no pushover. These cars may look fashionable and catch the eyes of passersby, but it only has one thing in mind: performance. Behind its 6.4-liter V8 engine, as Ars Technica reports, is the Challenger Hellcat’s ability to output 707 hp.
With an engine that can perform in the upper tiers of speed, it’s no wonder it gets so loud. The same source notes that it can get as loud as 105 decibels when pushed to the limit. Not only is this muscle car able to zip but its engine will back up the speed with a competent roar.
1 Volkswagen Golf VR6
The Volkswagen Golf R32 has a reputation for its special engine that’s unlike any other. CarBuzz reports that the VR6 engine only has one cylinder head, breaking away from conventional designs at the time. Not only does it give the VR6 engine a unique sound, but a loud one too.
The styling may not offer a lot, but its power is enough to turn heads no matter where it goes.
For a car to come out of the factory with an engine that can blare like the VR6 further proves that automakers are willing to go to great lengths to appease even hardened car enthusiasts.
Sources: Forbes, CarBuzz, Jalopnik & Car and Driver