“Finding the right sound and the right note is actually important, because there’s a certain synergy with the sound of the motor and how you drive. So we’re actually able to create a better connection with the vehicle and the driver, and they feel it’s a competitive advantage.”
– David Borla
You know that feeling when you’ve found the perfect muffler? You might not have found it yet, so you don’t. But if you do, you’ll know how hard it is to describe. It’s like your favorite garage band just found their sound. It’s like the grand finale of a July 4th fireworks show. It’s like steel-on-steel in a sword fight. It just makes sense.
Here’s why the right muffler isn’t just the loudest muffler, and what Borla did about it.
It was just the junior dragster, but the front-engine beast we saw at the Art of the Car Concours looked more homicidal than any car I’d ever seen in person. The diff was positioned at the driver’s crotch, the transmission offered just inches on either side into which the driver could jam his or her feet, and the exhaust was measurable in inches. Mike, who had brought it, started it a few times throughout the course of the day, and the thunder dominated the field.
In the old days, mufflers were crude, heavy, stifling contraptions designed to make the sound of thousands of explosions per minute more agreeable to the often wealthy owners of cars. But they impeded performance, not just sound. So, like our incredible dragster, early race cars, hot rods, salt cars, and drag cars often ran without them, their owners having sawn them off for weight savings and power boosts.
This obviously made the cars louder, and noise became synonymous with performance.
But these days, most cars, on the road or the track, are required to have mufflers of some kind. The sound is still sought after, so there’s a wealth of cheap muffler companies out there whose sole aim is to make the car sound like it’s without mufflers at all.
Very few manufacturers understand what this does to the driver. There’s always the opportunity to create drone, which, in this case, is not a flying robot that Washington has authorized to kill you. It’s a loud, annoying sound that gathers in the cabin of the car when its exhaust note is the wrong pitch and volume. And it’s extremely distracting.
Racing drivers, especially those running longer races, will understand this. A constant barrage of mis-tuned sound waves tend to fatigue and preoccupy the driver, which means he or she can’t concentrate on the race. And the same thing goes on the street, where it’s key that you’re not distracted so your nose doesn’t turn into Peterbilt’s new official hood ornament.
Borla decided to fix all that. Their ATAK mufflers are unique in the industry. They eliminate drone, create an aggressive sound, and even improve performance.
The engineering behind the ATAK is modular. If you’ve never cut a muffler in half, take a break and go do it. It’s fun. We’ll wait. Okay, you’re back. If you didn’t obey, most mufflers are made of an inner core, which is a metal mesh tube; wrapped in fiberglass insulation and encased in more metal. Borla uses what they call MultiCore technology to employ more than one core in each muffler.
This gives Borla’s engineers more variables to work with while tuning mufflers. They can change core length, diameter, perforation pattern, even the number of cores. Why would they want to? Because Borla tunes and tests each muffler to fit its exact application. Everything from cab size to car length to engine specs can create drone in a modified exhaust.
With Borla, instead of drone, you’re offered a pleasing, harmonious exhaust note that creates a kind of mental massage. It’s theraputic. It’s exhilarating, rather than exhausting, and from the outside, it sound like Thor tearing up a 10-piece.
But what about that efficiency I was jawing about earlier? Borla may put in a crapton of engineering, but don’t they still hamper an engine’s output? Nope. In fact, the ATAK has been proven to outflow straight pipes. I don’t understand how that works, because I’m not a Ph.D. or a Druidic wizard, both of whom Borla likely employs, but it does. Some racers even choose to run Borlas when mufflers aren’t required, simply because they offer more power.
If you don’t believe me, at least believe David Borla.
Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.