Because if you can’t make your car go fast, you can at least make it sound crazy.
We don’t like to toot our own horn very often, but we think we’re justified in saying that in 2014, our Japanese-language reporter Go pulled off one of the greatest feats in bargain-hunting history when he bought a car for just 980 yen (US$8.70). For that price we wouldn’t have been surprised if it broke down on the drive home, but three years later, our 1997 Mitsubishi Minica Guppy is still running.
In that time it’s received multiple cosmetic upgrades, but while our Minica is always looking good, we can’t say we’re all that impressed with how it sounds. See, the Minica has a three-cylinder, 660-cc engine. That tiny power plant doesn’t exactly make a satisfying roar when we mash on the accelerator, and so we recently picked up a gadget called SoundRacer X, which plugs into your car’s electrical outlet and lets you enjoy the sound of a powerful, high performance engine.
The SoundRacer X works by playing back a sound file, with its pitch varying according to the engine’s RPMs, through the car’s audio system speakers. So while it comes preloaded with samples akin to a rumbling V8 muscle car or 12-cylinder Italian exotic sports car, with a little digital tinkering you can load in other sounds as well, and so we decided to replace the anemic wheezing of the Minica’s actual engine with a recording of Go moaning in ecstasy.
After a quick recording session, we transferred the file of Go’s voice into the SoundRacer X, hit the road, and found the driving experience completely transformed.
At idle or low RPMs, the Minica’s occupants are now treated to the aural pleasure of Go’s audible joy. As the tach swings to the higher part of the rev clock, though, that moan turns into a squeal, as the Minica’s 64 horsepower jumps to the task of puling the car ahead.
So while the SoundRacer X doesn’t make our company car accelerate any faster or turn any sharper, it does make driving it a lot more fun. Unfortunately, we’re now way to embarrassed to drive it with the windows down, for fear of other people hearing what’s going on inside, but at least until the weather gets warmer, we’ll be enjoying our fake engine noise all set.
[ Read in Japanese ]
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he really misses the Mazda he left behind in L.A.
[ Read in Japanese ]