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Old 01-10-2006, 02:09 PM   #1
Carrera26
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How much Horsepower is too much?

This is something I have been thinking of a lot lately. I frequent a few boards, and see lots of arguments about how this or that is better because, "That Supra may have 800BHP, but my Camaro has 1000bhp" or "This 500-bhp Civic is the fastest thing on the streets!" Unless you are a drag racer, and your car is truly set up to effectively use that power on the strip, are these sorts of power figures just an impressive number to throw around?

Maybe I am weird, but big BHP numbers simply do not impress me. Just because the Supra can make 700 horsepower with bolt-ons still doesn't make me like it any more than the RX-7, and I would still rather have my SVTF than a 300bhp SRT-4. Sometimes I feel like I am the last guy on earth who cares less about abstract horsepower than how the car actually performs in the real world. What good is 500bhp to me when I only get to use more than 70% of that in rare and brief situations?

On FWD platforms, all apologies and respect to guys who fit this, I simply cannot see the point of close to 300bhp or more for a street driven car in the real world. There is simply a limit to how much of that you can actually put to the pavement, and how effectively you can use all that power. Only a small fraction of the FWD cars I have seen with big power actually have the suspension, LSD, tires, geometry, setup, etc. to really access that sort of power cleanly and regularly. Even on the AutoX track, there are only brief moments where I could actually make use of gobs more power, while the rest of the time I already have more than enough power stock to get wheelspin. I could see it on the bigger tracks, but so few people actually take these cars out to the big track, and even then so infrequently, that I wonder what the attraction is.

Of course there is drag racing, but even then, trying to put all that power down without specialized equipment is an exercise in expensive futility. I have seen a lot more success from guys who can use every last bit of power their car has effeciently than the ones who win on the dyno. Plenty of cars out there with less horsepower, but more real speed.

In the real world, the only other place I know of where you can make use of big power is to get going on the highway from legal or semi-legal speeds to toss-your-butt-in-jail speeds. Even then, these kinds of pulls are done pretty infrequently by the owners, and it's dangerous to both your liscence and your fellow drivers.

I dunno, maybe I am wierd. Maybe I just don't get it.


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Old 01-10-2006, 02:20 PM   #2
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i second that completely! now, having said that, i love the feeling of being thrown into the back of my seat by lots of power! but like u said, u cant drive like that ALL THE TIME. most of the time u dont need that power. i feel much more satisfied by chasing a ricer through an on/off ramp and b4 the end b right up his ass, or vice versa being chased and by the time they get off the ramp ur long gone!

its all about the driver! whats the point in having a ferrari if i can beat u w my focus?
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Old 01-10-2006, 02:29 PM   #3
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The people who are into having 1,000 hp for their car are frequently the same people who feel the need to have a TV so huge it occupies an entire wall, a sound system so loud it breaks windows, a computer so fast it tears a hole in the space/time continuum, they just have to have things to excess. Why I have no idea, there's certainly a variety of theories on that matter, but it generally seems to come down to "it makes them feel like a bigger man than the guy next to them."
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Old 01-10-2006, 03:00 PM   #4
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I agree completely with everyone so far.

There is a limit to what you can really use, but like Azdamay said... there are those people out there who just have to be the biggest baddest newest grooviest ever.... until someone else comes along and beats it. I don't know why people grow their fingernails long enough to be put in Guinness either.

Want to really use 1000hp?? Get into mud bog racing

Of course there is drag racing, but even then, trying to put all that power down without specialized equipment is an exercise in expensive futility. I have seen a lot more success from guys who can use every last bit of power their car has effeciently than the ones who win on the dyno. Plenty of cars out there with less horsepower, but more real speed. Been there... there is a lot of chassis science that goes into building a drag car, and getting power to the wheels and making it stick is what the game is all about. Anyone can drive a dragster.... but there's a quick fine line (smoke'em and lose) that seperates the losers from winners. Back in the days when my friend Charlie Martin was racing... there was a lot more driver input. I have mostly lost my love affair with straight line racing, but I still think the "Drag What You Drive" and "Street (not pro street) Elminator" competitions are fun.

Only 1000hp???.... Donovan Hemis double that, and M1-Abrams have 1500 from a turbine... what a bunch of sissies... LOL

Oh to answer the question of the thread... I'd say around 350 for a street car.. possibly going up as far as 500 depending on the chassis, weight, and weight transfer characteristics- RWD/rear engine being able to handle the most. My Barracuda was impossible to drive in the rain, and I doubt it had more than 400hp.
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Old 01-10-2006, 08:51 PM   #5
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No, I get it. It took me a while after the first few years of driving to finally arrive to where I am today and how I feel on cars, but it's more in line with your thinking than the average person. Most people just do not know about driving dynamics and the fun in driving. Straight roads occupy the majority of the U.S., and so it's easy to fall in love with straight line racing in cars with high torque when it's the most accessible form of driving. Since most people do not prove their cars on the track, it's mostly for bragging rights or just the thrill of going fast. Then again, some people just love extracting as much power as possible from whatever engine they can work on. To them it's something they're passionate about - whether it be the car or just the engine output, but it's a way to manifest their skills.

Your post and thoughts remind me of this article I read:
http://www.caranddriver.com/article....ticle_id=10244

Basically, they were testing the MX-5 and Solstice the same time they were testing the Viper SRT-10 and the Corvette Z06. Here's a short excerpt from the article to make the point.

"In the diminutive roadsters, it was easy to establish a gratifying rhythm. Their shifters were quick, their clutches light, their steering racks communicative, their brakes easy to modulate, their throttle tip-in so smooth as to go unnoticed. But in the Corvette and Viper, the rhythm was more of the NHRA Top Fuel variety. Floor the throttle out of a turn and the big dogs exploded ballistically for 100 or so yards, until the next turn loomed ominously and 40 mph had to be scrubbed in about as many feet, followed by a 1.00-g turn at a speed so huge that if an unseen patch of sand or an inattentive canine were unfortunately to occupy your path, the outcome would be remembered not for months but years.

Whenever we parked all four cars at the pumps, onlookers directed 90 percent of their lust and slavering at the Vette and Viper. But in multiple decades of hustling cars through Ohio's Hocking Hills, nothing has been more fun than the MX-5 and Solstice, with the exception of the cars in a comparo we conducted in July 2004 ("Extreme Sports"). In that test: a faux Cobra, a Caterham Seven, a Honda S2000, a Lotus Elise, and—what's this?—the Mazdaspeed Miata. There's a lesson there."

Take this as you will (no offense to anyone), but I feel from what I read that the majority of Foci owners on this board never experience what the Focus is really all about. When someone says they went from their Focus SVT to a Mustang GT... I just don't get it. Why'd you buy the SVT to begin with?
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Old 01-10-2006, 09:05 PM   #6
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i get what your saying Carrera26, 1000hp is kinda obsured, for street use anyway...if your car can handle it on the track thats fine. But like if your car has so much horsepower that your doing runs to 60 in less then 4 seconds...whats the point, sure it might be a blast but do you really need to go that fast on the street. Id be very happy with 5 seconds to 60 and even that is pretty fast for street use. And 300hp on a fwd car is pushing it too b/c like you said its hard to put that power down through the front wheels....and im going to assume that you are disapointed with the new mistu eclipse b/c that car is pushing it too with ist 260hp being driven to the front wheels.
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Old 01-10-2006, 09:20 PM   #7
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Maybe I'm the weird one... I love the SHIT out of my 330whp and its completly AWSOME on a big track

Carrera26, maybe you'll get a chance to try it out at Mid Ohio if you go... if your nice to me lol
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Old 01-10-2006, 10:54 PM   #8
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^^Oh, I'd find a way to charm my way into your car. Purely for scientific purposes, of course...

Talk to us a bit on this subject though. I know that you have fairly progressive power with your setup, and that helps a lot in addition to the Quaife, but how much of that power can/do you access? How do you manage all that torque in a front-driver and control the wheelspin? Does it take a track like Mid-Ohio to really take advantage?

I am pretty dissapointed with the new Eclipse. I think it's a stylish looking ride. But throw a powerful and heavy engine way up front in a FWD coupe and your ticket to Understeer World has just been confirmed. Not to mention, how the hell can you even call a 3500lb+ car a sport compact? How in the world did they make it so heavy? Just try lugging that pig around the AutoX track...

I mean c'mon, just look how much engine is forward of the strut towers!! Almost the entire engine and transaxle!! I haven't seen a FWD engine bay this unbalanced since the early V8 Caddillacs!
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Old 01-10-2006, 11:00 PM   #9
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In my opinion, if you can do it why not? If i could pull 500 bhp out of my focus right now. i would. i am coming into some cash and am thinking about the twin turbo 4.6 liter for my focus. i like having a lil cheap car that suprises people. if i could afford a 60 plus inch tv and had the room i would do it. Fast computer? why the hell not. If you can make things better and faster then do it. If not, be happy with it.
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Old 01-10-2006, 11:13 PM   #10
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Ah, but that's part of the very question. If you can't put that power down, is it really any faster? What happens when a 200bhp car that gets all that power down right away beats you?

If you have a computer with 3 Gigs of RAM, but you never do anything that takes up more than 10% of that (and you won't unless you do heavy multimedia or are a programmer) then what is the friggin point?
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