Home » I Never Realized The Audio Care Taken In This Famous Simpsons Clip With A VW Beetle: Cold Start

I Never Realized The Audio Care Taken In This Famous Simpsons Clip With A VW Beetle: Cold Start

Cs Simpsons Vw Top
ADVERTISEMENT

The 1996 episode of The Simpsons, titled 22 Short Films About Springfield has managed to transcend the usual, expected fate of a nearly 30-year-old television episode by birthing a popular meme, the famous Steamed Hams meme. I happened to re-watch the episode recently, and realized a nice little automotive detail I never realized before, and, unusually, it’s an audio detail.

The detail appears in the most automotive-based segment of the episode, the one where Nelson Muntz, a bully who mocks people’s misfortune with his trademark Jack Chick-esque haw-haw laughhas the tables turned on him by a remarkably tall man driving an orange Volkswagen Beetle.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Here’s the scene in question; listen carefully to the sounds:

What I realized is that I believe the audio used for the sound effects of the Beetle’s engine is, in fact, an actual Beetle. I can’t think of another time in The Simpsons that a car’s audio was picked specifically to match the sounds of the actual car, but I think that’s what is going on here.

ADVERTISEMENT

The air-cooled flat-four engine of a Beetle has a very distinctive sound, something that I’ve explored in detail here before.

Pasted

As I said, I think this is unique in the world of The Simpsons; interestingly, the Beetle is not described by name, just noted as being a small car. Other cars are sometimes noted by specific name and model, like the AMC Gremlin, especially when it’s used in a joke or furthers the plot.

Since we’re talking this much about this Beetle as it is, let’s see if we can figure out what year it’s supposed to be, why not:

Cs Simpsons Vw @

ADVERTISEMENT

Looking at certain details – bumpers, headlights, wheels, taillights, engine lid – I think I can comfortably say this is either a ’68 or ’69 Beetle. Likely a ’68, because ’69 had the telltale lines of a rear window defogger/defroster, which I don’t see rendered here.

The “Europa” simple bumpers, upright headlights, ventless engine lid and no behind-the-rear-side-window internal air exhaust vent all point to a ’68 or ’69. The taillights don’t quite fit, but just about everything else does.

If you’re curious, the Beetle’s owner is named Ian, and he’s 8’2″, which is taller than 7’1″ Wilt Chamberlain, whom VW tried to cram into a Beetle back in 1966. Ian is based on Ian Maxtome-Graham, a producer and writer for the show who was 6’8″.

In The Simpsons universe, I think there is evidence that VW Beetles continued to be sold in America well into the 1990s, as opposed to our universe, where America got its last Beetles (only convertibles) in the 1979/1980 model year. I say this because I think this is an ad for a Beetle in a newspaper Homer was reading in a 1997 episode of the show:

Cs Simpsons Vw 1

ADVERTISEMENT

The black-and-white photo and spare, minimalistic style of the ad seems to reflect the famous Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) VW ads of the 1960s and 1970s.

I’m glad we had a chance to go over all of this.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
31 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Spyrius Robot
Spyrius Robot
21 days ago

“I’M MISSING THE CHILI COOK OFF!”

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
21 days ago

Yet another attempt in Torch’s ongoing mission to make me like Beetles.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
21 days ago

Ian Maxtone-Graham’s father was ocean liner historian/author John Maxtone-Graham, and I always sort of wondered if that was the reason the Simpsons often has pretty carefully drawn ships – like the early 20th century 4-funneled ocean liner that deports Willie in Much Apu About Nothing, the 1920s looking motorship that brings Grampa and his family to America in the same episode, or the cruiser sterned tramp steamer Honeybunch in Kidney Trouble. Or the one episode titled after David Foster Wallace’s Harper’s review of his cruise on Celebrity’s Zenith

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
21 days ago

That’s awesome! I wonder if the Mr. Plow truck and Canyonero have distinct sounds?
“Mr. Plow; that name again is Mr. Plow!”
“Canyonero! Canyonero!
Well, it goes real slow with the hammer down,
It’s the country-fried truck endorsed by a clown!”

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
21 days ago

Now can we do a deep dive on how many takes Chuck Jones’ crew needed to record meep meep?

Lori Hille
Lori Hille
21 days ago

in the movie Cars, there are little bugs or flies whose sound is made up of the sound of a VW Beetle, sped up.

Clark B
Clark B
21 days ago

I swear there was another animated show that got the sound of an air-cooled VW correctly. I think it was Bobs Burgers? I’ve seen Beetles and maybe a couple Buses on the show.

AssMatt
AssMatt
21 days ago
Reply to  Clark B

There’s also a Wrangler in almost every street scene for some reason.

Snikle
Snikle
21 days ago
Reply to  AssMatt

So just like America in real life

A. Barth
A. Barth
21 days ago
Reply to  AssMatt

They’re easy to draw.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
21 days ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Then you would expect to see more Volvos.

LTDScott
LTDScott
21 days ago
Reply to  Clark B

The level of detail they put into the interior of Bob’s old Dodge station wagon was impressive.

A. Barth
A. Barth
21 days ago
Reply to  LTDScott

The Archer crossover episode had equally impressive detail on his Challenger.

Flippo
Flippo
21 days ago

Not sure if you’ve ever brought it up, but another Beetle reference I always loved is the when Bruce McCulloch, from Kids in the Hall, directed Superstar he put lime green VWs as the background vehicles in most if not all shots.

Bryan McIntosh
Bryan McIntosh
21 days ago

This is the sort of thing I love The Autopian for, especially since the final image immediately had me thinking “Some say he carved it himself… from a BIGGER SPOON.”

DadBod
DadBod
21 days ago

Dude this article cheered me right up. Yay Torch!

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
21 days ago

Many years ago there was a report in my hometown newspaper about a retired circus giant who had just died at a notably advanced age in either California or Florida and they mentioned that he used to drive a VW Beetle with the driver’s seat removed so he could sit in the rear seat and since the Beetle was a convertible he kept the top down as the climate of his state of residence was conducive to year-round top-down driving. Always wondered if he was one of the inspirations for the character of Ian.
Over the years I’ve tried to verify whether my memory was in fact correct but online searches always turned up few if any results (nowadays it’d be more difficult given how broken search engines currently are, gah) and I do not have access to the likes of Nexis and paywalled newspaper morgues.
The closest match I’ve found is a 7 foot 8 inch Icelander named Jóhann Pétrusson who had at least spent time in Florida and died in Iceland at the age of 71 in 1984: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%B3hann_K._P%C3%A9tursson
A few online articles about Pétrusson mention him as having an outgoing and friendly personality which would seem to be in line with him driving a top-down Beetle convertible while sitting in the rear seat.

Last edited 21 days ago by Collegiate Autodidact
Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
21 days ago

Shaquille O’Neal had a Zimmer Golden Spirit (modified Mustang) with the back seat removed and front seat tracks extended, so that all sounds plausible

Cool Dave
Cool Dave
21 days ago

“THE AURORA BOREALIS? At this time of year, in this part of the country, localized entirely in your kitchen..”

Drew
Drew
21 days ago
Reply to  Cool Dave

“May I see it?”

“No.”

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
21 days ago

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KNkn5fVBmE

In case anyone feels like going insane this morning

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
21 days ago

That episode is one of the best, and it’s been a long time since any have been good.
It had Cletus the slack-jawed yokel, Apu’s 5-minute party (he even gets laid), and of course the aforementioned Steamed Hams.

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
21 days ago

“Hey, ya know what? I could call my maw while I’m up here.
‘HEY MAW! GET OFF THE DANG ROOF!'”

Elons Backdoor Musk
Elons Backdoor Musk
21 days ago

Now another question….is that a Beetle horn?

A. Barth
A. Barth
21 days ago

To go a bit further, I believe it’s a Beetle with a non-factory exhaust. From the sound I speculate it has a single quiet pack (QP) muffler: the QPs were extremely popular and they did not have the higher-pitched sound of the OEM chrome peashooters.

Gubbin
Gubbin
21 days ago
Reply to  A. Barth

I always thought, “sounds like it has about 60 birdpower” when I’d hear one.

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
21 days ago

Ian did at least get the last laugh out of his automotive misfortune. If I remember correctly, Moleman wrecked his Gremlin and then got eaten by wolves offscreen.

MiserableFordFan
MiserableFordFan
21 days ago

Oh no, I just made my last payment!

Jonathan Green
Jonathan Green
21 days ago

When I was a kid, we had a 914. I could hear it coming down the block. It was my sign to stop whatever I was doing that was going to get me in trouble, and act like I was doing something productive and wholesome…

Tinibone
Tinibone
21 days ago

This is the very important journalism I come to the autopian for, thank you once again Mr Torch

AlterId
AlterId
21 days ago

I’m glad too.

31
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x