What is the sound of one piston slapping?
What is the sound of one piston slapping?

Now compiled all together in one video!

This uniquely mysterious sound effect continues to elude me. Where did it come from? Where else have we heard it?


The audio clip has been used in various forms of media- from films, to TV shows, to music videos, and even in advertisements. It has been used to represent a variety of vehicles, too. So far, here’s what we’ve got:

  • 1966 Ford Mustang in The Pelican Brief (1993)
  • 1993 Ford Taurus in The Pelican Brief (1993)
  • 1984 Toyota Tercel wagon in Strike One (The King of Queens episode, 2000)
  • First-gen Audi R8 in With U (BigBang music video, 2008)
  • “Space Cruiser” in Mortynight Run (Rick and Morty episode, 2015)
  • 2008/09 Ford Taurus in Dead Car Battery: Easier Done Than Said (Geico ad, 2017)

(Side note: the YouTube link for the Geico ad is now dead, rendering the embed in a previous post useless. Man, I hate it when they do that... Feel free to use this link instead to watch the whole thing.)


As it stands right now, the sound appears to have been used mostly for Fords. But I’m not convinced that that even means anything. For what it’s worth, whatever car it was recorded from, was probably intended to sound old at the time of its recording. So there’s a good chance that the starter & engine you’re hearing is well more than 25 years old by now.

Somebody must recognize it!


Share This Story

Get our newsletter