Thursday, December 8, 2016

How Much Horsepower is Too Much Horsepower?



Anyone who has ever had an infatuation with power created by combustion engines will tell you, “you can never make enough horsepower”. But in a day-and-age where technology takes us to astronomical power levels, it seems like that thought process may not be so true anymore. With big cubic-inch LS motors that already can take in mass amounts of air before slapping on twin-turbo or supercharged systems, the amount of power that is popping up on all kinds of average daily cruisers, begs the questions, is there really a need for all that horsepower?

500 Horsepower Before 1990
Sure, 500-hp has been possible since guys started taking apart engines and putting them back together with the whole intent to go faster. But before the 90's, 500-hp in a daily cruiser – in a 1985 Corvette, Camaro, Mustang – please. Not to say that it has never happened, but for the most part, that kind of horsepower was reserved for track use, short drives to the car show, or for trailer queens – not for vehicles that could go back-and-forth to work every day and then hop on the expressway and drive across country at will.

In Today's Time – 500 Horsepower – Just A Drop In The Bucket
Not to mention that finding a sports car right off the showroom floor with over 500-hp is as easy as going to your local dealership, but purchasing one under 500-hp and having a performance shop do some add-ons correctly with a correct tune to get 500-hp is just another day at the shop.

Some of the Corvettes and Camaros, Hellcats from the Plymouth/Mopar divisions and of course the many forms of Mustang that we see today can easily make 500-hp. Even Cadillac and many other unexpected auto divisions have poured more horsepower into their vehicles than one could have ever imaged in the mid-80's – early 90's. If you would have told me back then that there would be a four-cylinder twin-turbo Camaro that would keep up with a 90's LT-1 Camaro, and a six-cylinder Camaro that would leave a LT-1 in its dust, I would have laughed.

Well maybe not. My Dad was a Buick guy and I attended many Buick events in the early 90's where V-6 turbo Buicks were pulling the wheels off the ground and turning in 10-sec time-slips. But try explaining that to a Fox-Body Mustang lover back in those days. A 5.0 Ford Mustang was the fastest vehicle to every grace the pavement – back then – according to them.

How Much Horsepower Is Too Much
Realistically, when you are trying to find out how much an engine or a certain engine setup can put out, then there is never too much. But when you are making a decision of what kind of money you have to spend, what kind of power you are realistically going to need or use, and how complicated you want it to be to tune, drive comfortably and for that matter of fact, understand it, there may be a level of too much.

Sure, it's great to sit at the car show or the drag strip and say “yep, my baby puts out 1,200 ponies”, but when a brand new sports car pulls up next to you at the light – quiet and stock looking – and he takes off like a rocketship, and your loud, monster setup is gasping for mass amounts of air while standing still trying to find just a little bit of traction – that's just embarrassing.

How Much Horsepower Is Just Enough
Just like most things in life – to each is own. The perfect amount of horsepower to me would be being able to use and have fun with every bit of horsepower that I paid for. Sure, have there been times where I have wanted more horsepower for some of my vehicles? Absolutely, but I also like to eat as well. Having an extra boatload of horsepower under my foot that I'll never use while telling my girlfriend that we can't go and grab something to eat because my bank account is empty, doesn't' sound so cool.

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