Local News Segment Proclaims Modified Exhaust ‘Insane’ and Panic-Inducing

Everything about this age-old argument between the “youths” and the “olds” screams of having zero clue about car culture.

byJonathon Klein| UPDATED Jun 19, 2019 6:22 PM
Local News Segment Proclaims Modified Exhaust ‘Insane’ and Panic-Inducing

“Some say” is the harbinger of false equivalency and the lacking of evidence to support your argument’s claims. It’s the marker of lackluster data and the need to incite panic where there is none. Though we’re hesitant to say it’s a tool used by news stations around the country, whenever there’s supposedly a “new danger” sweeping through the youth population—i.e. the Tide Pod Challenge—a hefty dose of salt is always needed to combat the pearl-clutching. Take, for instance, NBC New York’s exposé on “straight piping.”

The conceit of the investigative report is centered around enthusiasts modifying their exhausts to “produce loud pops and flashes that fire like gunshots out fo the vehicle’s tailpipe.” According to the report, “Tinted windows and hydraulic lowriders so...1990s,” and the latest trend is called “straight piping” to produce the aforementioned pops. Basically, it appears that someone from the NBC investigative team was scrolling through Instagram one night and saw a tuned R32 Nissan GT-R, Mazda RX-7, or Toyota Supra revving up—indeed, they even say so in the article. Or they rewatched the O.G. Fast and the Furious

As for the trend of “straight piping,” the examples NBC uses reflects more of a specific crowd of enthusiasts with turbocharged cars, some equipped with anti-lag systems to keep their turbocharged engines spooled. However, it’s far from a mainstream trend and most enthusiast vehicles aren’t equipped in such a fashion as to cause mass panic. True exhaust straight piping refers to the removal of the car’s catalytic converters and muffler and it began in the 1960s with muscle cars. Most new automobiles have complicated oxygen sensors and other electronic sensors incorporated into them to ensure your car is operating correctly. The removal of those, as straight piping would require, would essentially leave you with an always malfunctioning automobile. 

Furthermore, many OEM manufactured vehicles have been tuned to produce the same sort of pops and bangs with the required catalytic converters and mufflers when you lift your foot off the throttle after accelerating. Jaguar’s V8-equipped cars are some of the most brazen going so far as to drop unburnt fuel into the exhaust manifold for the desired effect. But Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Chevrolet, and a handful of others going all the way to Mazda and its Miata, have all engineered their exhausts for more aural delight. As such, it isn’t just aftermarket enthusiasts.

“Straight piping,” as declared by NBC’s team, “goes way beyond style and some say it could cause a dangerous panic among pedestrians.” Going further, the reporters took audio recordings around New York City and played the exhaust clips to random pedestrians to elicit the reaction they had already prescribed in the article. Yet, though NBC isn’t presenting the full evidence or how limited this segment of the enthusiast population is, The Drive’s editors can see where NBC has a point and that’s in fooling the gunshot detection software many major cities employ. 

In an era so filled with gun violence, fooling an early detection machine could indeed cause resources to be miss-managed and The Drive hopes that enthusiasts won’t misuse their cars. However, just like the aforementioned Tide Pod Challenge, Shelling, Car Surfing, and every other viral not-a-real-thing-but-old-people-are-gullible challenge, straight piping isn’t the thing NBC purports it to be.