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.