Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Ol’ Billy Shakespeare (college hip-hop name: “DJ Shaky P”) wrote this when he was going through his rebellious teenage phase in Macbeth. But the quote is surprisingly accurate: this world, being the stage that it is, is far too short to drive a 1998 Honda Accord LX with enough miles to recreate the first two days of the Apollo 11 mission, especially when you really lust after a Zonda. What happens if you might not have the $350,000 to afford the fine Italian/Argentine stallion? You can either take an senior analyst position with a leading financial firm and run the company into the ground over the course of a decade for a lucrative severance package, or—for an option that won’t result in a Senate hearing—you can recreate it for 0.1% of that price with the Soundracer.
Seemingly targeted at the 1995-Civic-owning demographic that still thinks LED windshield wiper nozzles are a terrific investment, the Soundracer is a device that plays the sounds of a faster car through your own speakers, like some bizarre post-production redux of C’était un Rendezvous. From the driver’s seat, it’ll turn your 1.6-liter Zetec into “a throaty 5.0l V8,” as one Amazon reviewer proudly boasts. An engine swap in a box! Turn every trip to Hardee’s into a Grand Prix! Seldom has the motoring world witnessed such a instant life-changing transformation since Kid Bush fell off a Segway.
The Soundracer comes in a carbon-fiber-patterned cardboard box promising the catchy slogan, “CAR FM TRANSMITTER WITH SUPER SPORTS CAR SOUND!” Like a Volvo, it’s designed by the Swedes and made in China. It comes wrapped in—adorably enough—a checkered handkerchief. After plugging the Soundracer into the cigarette lighter, rev to 2500 RPM to sync it with the car’s alternator; a beep follows, telling you to drop it to 1000 RPM. Two beeps here then signal that the device is ready to fill the cabin with sweet, voluminous baby-making engine lovin’.
Those looking to impress the ladies (i.e. us) should be sitting up and paying attention right around now. And that’s why I got into my buddy Lev’s 1998 Honda Accord LX with 218,000 hard-fought miles, and went for a drive. Did we pick up chicks? Did we streetrace a couple of Chargers? Watch and find out:
[youtube width=”720″ height=”565″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBTVjw5eqsc&hd=1[/youtube]
This one is the V10 model—V8 and V12 models also exist, preferably sounding like the motor from a glorified Italian exotic and not, say, a Jaguar XJS with a faulty EGR valve. Sadly, though, unless you mount some speakers on the outside of your car, only the occupants inside will appreciate the newfound power that’s graced your car; bystanders will still hear the 1998 Accord with a hole in the exhaust the size of a Voit softball (just repaired!). Those looking to impress the ladies should get them into the car first.
As for the sound—nobody was playing Need for Speed V-Rally ’99 for Game Boy Color in the backseat; everything you were subjected to was the same thing we were subjected to. It’s a caricature of an engine’s sound, the auditory equivalent of running one of those street artist portraits through a copier and passing it off as a photograph of Angelina Jolie. In no way was it accurate. Despite the initial timing, revs would slip and stay put, and they wouldn’t kick in until a couple thousand RPMs had passed. If we wanted to truly self-flagellate ourselves we could have blown the engine past redline just to find out how high-pitched the Soundracer goes. I believe the CIA came under fire for doing the exact same to prisoners.
The key, supposedly, is to invest in a killer sound system, something that those ’95 Civic owners have probably done already. We only had a four-speaker stock stereo to play with. And no matter how much we fiddled with the bass and treble settings, changing the Soundracer’s range from VTEC to Austin Maxi, it still gave off an unearthly banshee howl that didn’t cease until the radio lost range, which flooded us with ear-bleeding static. Those looking to impress the ladies are advised to stay within a five-mile radius of radio towers and their parents’ houses. Mercifully, you can plug Beastie Boys into the bottom with the included AV cable, which makes the product somewhat bearable. As we demonstrated.
And then, on the way back to Hooniverse HQ, the Soundracer stopped working.
For $37.99, is the Soundracer a good buy? If it doesn’t break beforehand, then its novelty will wear off quick. But if you have as many speakers as, say, this guy, and if you find yourself laughing as you’re losing to some steroid-huffing, cap-wearing, neckless beefcake in a 31×10.5W-tired Fox Mustang at the lights, then you might be able to wrangle some fun out of it. Maybe. I dunno. Ask Willie Shakespeare.