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For Porsche, the sounds of revving engines are a crucial design element

Updated 25th November 2015
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For Porsche, the sounds of revving engines are a crucial design element
Written by Zahra Jamshed, CNN
From the waking groans of a key in the ignition, to the grunt of exhaust as the metal beast pushes its limits, the sounds of an automobile in motion are like music to petrolheads' ears. German car manufacturer Porsche, adds to the symphony, with its new book, "Porsche Sounds."
Curated by Porsche AG's director of historical archives, Dieter Landenberger, the book features archival photographs of classic Porsche models and is paired with a CD of corresponding engine sounds. Here, he explains the inclusion of the brand's distinct rumbles in the new book.
What's the inspiration behind this book and why was including audio a crucial element?
Dieter Landenberger: The sound of a Porsche sportscar is as iconic as its design or performance. Many car aficionados can make out a Porsche from a far distance, just by its engine sound. The idea behind the book was to combine the unique history of the Porsche brand with the emotional aspect of sound.
A detail shot of a 1956 Porsche 356 Carrera Coupe Grand Sport.
A detail shot of a 1956 Porsche 356 Carrera Coupe Grand Sport. Credit: LEON NEAL/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
The sound of a Porsche engine is unique in the automobile world. Especially if it is a boxer engine, which is still used in all 911 models. This heritage started in 1948 with the very first Porsche sportscar, the 356.
Reading a story in a book is always a one-dimensional thing. With the addition of engine sounds, the cars become alive, which is a very emotional experience.
Can you describe what a Porsche sounds like?
Dieter Landenberger: The typical soundtrack of a Porsche is a unique mix between the thrilling melody of the boxer engine, the crescendo of the valve trains, and the tempered trumpeting of the exhaust system. And it´s the real thing, (because) artificially generating sounds and adding them to the drive spectrum through speakers is absolutely out of the question.
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What are the main factors that contribute to the sound a car makes?
Dieter Landenberger: The noise of a combustion engine is composed by the different sounds of the engine surface, the induction and exhaust system as well as the engine units like oil pumps. And all of this is influenced by the engine's design, the number of cylinders, and the firing sequence. The noises play together like a big orchestra.
How has the sound of the Porsche engine changed since its early days?
Dieter Landenberger: The early Porsche 356 from the 1950s and 60s are characterized by the very typical sound of the four cylinder boxer engine. The race version, the legendary Carrera engine with four camshafts, has one of the most exciting engine noises ever. From 1963 to 1998 the aircooled six cylinder boxer was used in all 911 models. These engines sound superb, whether naturally aspirated or turbo charged. Since 1997, Porsche has used watercooled flat six engines.
Porsche recently revealed an electric car at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Will this EV be significantly quieter than Porsche's other models? If so, how will this quieter car, change the user's experience?
Dieter Landenberger: As a historian I cannot look into the future. It goes without saying that an electric motor has a different sound than a combustion engine. But I am sure that the Porsche engineers will find an appropriate solution. I am already convinced that an electric Porsche will be a very emotional automobile as well.
The Porsche 911 SC at The Jarama Vintage Festival.
The Porsche 911 SC at The Jarama Vintage Festival. Credit: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
Is there one particular model of Porsche that you think stands out as a milestone in the company's history?
Dieter Landenberger: For me the most iconic Porsche is the 911. No other automobile in the world can look back on such a long tradition or similar continuity as the 911. It is widely held to be the "mother" of all sports cars. The outcome of its 50-year evolution is a vehicle that comes very close to perfection.
Images from "Porsche Sounds" is featured in the gallery above.