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A Gallery of Tailpipe Placement

March 27, 2013 by Matt

Rear Mercedes Benz W210 E55 AMG Silver

Left-mounted. A common arrangement, the only practical disadvantage has to do with the fact that the fuel filler door is almost always located on the opposite side of the car from the tailpipe. The configuration makes pulling up to a gas pump a bit trickier for those of us in LHD countries. Many Toyotas, Nissans, BMWs and Mercedes locate their cars’ tailpipes on the left side.

Rear Mazda RX-7 FD White

Right-mounted. My favorite arrangement, for the simple reason that when observing a LHD car from the rear, looking through the rear window, the silhouette of the driver’s head is located on the left side of the car. This visual asymmetry is neatly balanced by locating the tailpipe on the right side, under the rear bumper. Mazda particularly seems to favor this setup.

Rear Honda Accord Gray

Dual. Once confined to exotics and high-end sports cars, the dual tailpipe arrangement has trickled down into every car category, from luxury SUVs to hot hatches. Its ubiquity has diluted much of its visual impact, and now dual tailpipes seem rather cliche and unoriginal, especially when added to cars with transverse or inline engines, where there isn’t a direct correspondence between a longitudinal, V- or flat-engine’s cylinder bank and one tailpipe side.

Rear Porsche Boxster Yellow

Center-low-mounted. The Porsche Boxster (shown above) and Cayman, along with Mini’s performance line, among others, feature the center-low-mounted tailpipe setup. Advantages include perfect visual symmetry (so long as the driver isn’t in the car); a downside is the tendency for the arrangment to make the rear of the car look taller and narrower than it is—and most performance cars would prefer to project a lower, wider image.

Rear McLaren MP4-12C Orange Red

Center-high-mounted. So far, this layout has only appeared on high-end exotics like the McLaren MP4-12C (above) and Pagani Zonda. A full-width, perfectly-optimized rear diffuser can be developed for these cars without having to work around tailpipes. The weight of the muffler(s) and tailpipes does have to be mounted higher in the chassis, though, raising the CG somewhat, and any risks to passers-by from a thigh- vs ankle-level exhaust outlet have yet to be assessed.

Rear BMW M635CSi Gray Grey

Whatever. Vintage BMWs (among others) make me smile. Featured most prominently on cars such as the classic 2002 and E24 6-series, in that golden era BMW obviously had higher priorities than tucking their cars’ tailpipes neatly into one particular corner of the bumper. The slightly off-center layout says “I don’t really care where the exhaust comes out; I’ve got bigger fish to fry development-wise, like perfecting the suspension design and harmonizing all the controls.” I love it.

Filed under: Aesthetics, Miscellaneous


  1. Peter says:

    What about the dual-duals?

  2. I always thought I preferred that generation RX-7 without the decklid spoiler, but that photo is making me reconsider..

  3. I have a 6 series! Gotta love the off center, “f*** them all” approach. Great to see that picture there, made me happy!

    • Matt says:

      I used to own an E24 as well, and it was one of my favorite things about that car. Come to think of it, I haven’t done a post on my ownership experience yet. Hmm….

  4. Durty says:

    I’m sure that I don’t understand blown diffusers, but if they’re so cool for F1 why haven’t cars like the McLaren MP4-12C and other exotics with diffusers just run the exhaust into the diffuser for more downforce? (or whatever a blown diffuser does)

    • Matt says:

      F1 cars are such a complex equation of high- and low-pressure areas, tiptoeing around strict regulations, that they need to make every last element work toward the speed of the car. Could be that road cars, with additional considerations like not melting bodywork, pedestrian safety, etc, consider it not worth it to make a blown diffuser work. Or, since they don’t have to contend with F1 regulations, their undertray aerodynamics can actually be more optimized than an F1 car’s, making a blown diffuser unnecessary. Just some speculation.

  5. John D says:

    I agree, Matt. Wherever they placed the tailpipe on the RX-7 must certainly be the best…because it’s an RX-7…and it’s awesome. You didn’t state the real rational for your opinion, so I thought I would clear things up for the benefit of your readers… :)

    • Matt says:

      Thank you, John, that lovely exercise in circular reasoning. :) It’s the best because it is, naturally!

      • John D says:

        It wouldn’t be a proper automotive blog without circular reasoning laced through, now would it?? I’m lending you an air of credibility here. No need to thank me.

  6. Indianajoel says:

    What about side exhausts? Like on those of the Dodge Viper, AC Cobra, and some older Corvettes.

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