Here's What 550 Horsepower Should Sound Like

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We are awash in production cars with 500 horsepower or more. So many we recently got three of them to test at the same time almost entirely by chance. What we found was that the power alone doesn’t necessarily make the car exciting; it’s easy for it to be smothered in sound deadening and weight. As a contrast, please enjoy this 1970 Ferrari 512 S, with a 5.0-liter V12 that absolutely roars.


The Ferrari 512 is probably best remembered as the car that lost to the Porsche 917, which is probably fine from a historical perspective. What that leaves out is that these cars sounded absolutely incredible. Here’s one of the Scuderia Filipinetti cars (it crashed out of the 1970s Le Mans, if you’re curious) ripping at Imola recently, to show you what I mean:

These cars were a bit of a rush to get together as even Ferrari admits, and were not the most competitive even with their new V12s good for 550 horsepower at a lofty 8,500 rpm, per Ferrari. Many a modern car can hit those power figures (pretty much any V8-powered Mercedes-AMG or BMW M, for instance), but very few will sound so good. Just listen to the raspiness, the growliness, the wonderfulness.


Try to hear that in a modern Honda Fit, you cannot!!!!!! Even though we stan the Honda Fit.

These were not slow cars by any means; the improved versions of the things clocked 222 miles per hour on the Mulsanne straight in the 1971 Le Mans. Watch the video to get the noise, but keep an eye on how spare, small, and frail these cars were. Unreal.