Finding the "Wilhelm" of Car Starters

Illustration for article titled Finding the Wilhelm of Car Starters

Hey Oppo, I have a favor to ask of you, and it involves watching TV!

DrScientist’s recent post reminded me of a sound that I keep hearing from time to time. I heard it just the other night while watching The Pelican Brief, but I know that there are many more places where it’s used. It’s the sound of a particular starter motor attempting (and sometimes succeeding) to start a car. I figure it must be some stock sound effect file that keeps getting used over and over again.


Because the sound is so ubiquitous, I’m tempted to refer to it as the “Wilhelm Start”, even though the sound file probably has a name already, like “car_start_01.mp3” or something. Have you heard it? Sure you have:

Here it is in a Geico ad:

And again in a Bigbang music video:

Those dubs aren’t exactly identical, but they sure seem like they were created during the same recording session (or edited from the same larger file).


I don’t know if we can locate the source file, but we can at least begin compiling a list of movies, television shows, ads, and music videos that use it. Why not start now? Keep your ears peeled and let me know what you find!

(Example: The Pelican Brief - 1966 Ford Mustang @ 0:34:38, 1993 Ford Taurus @ 1:56:52)


Oh, and you get ALL THE INTERNET POINTS if you can figure out what engine was used for the original recording.

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