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BEEP! What sound do you hear?

August 13, 2015
Photo collage of car horns from the early 1900s

Next time someone honks at you as you’re driving around Libertyville, don’t get mad; get musically appreciative. That’s right. Car horns emit a specific pitch—most likely an F—that can be written down as a musical note.However, if that frustrated driver is steering an older-model vehicle, he might be trying to get your attention with a C-sharp note. That’s because car horns have evolved through the years. During the early 1960s and 1970s, car horns emitted a C-sharp, but carmakers raised this to a higher pitch to ensure motorists could hear horns through closed windows.“Ah-ooo-gah” probably is the most famous car horn of all time. Model T drivers made that noise when squeezing their vintage bulb horns. Want to hear 18 vintage vehicle horns? An industrious historian has made them available to us.

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