Uncooked Truth: What’s The Point In All That Horsepower?

 

After a bit of a hiatus due to health issues, Josh is back with this week’s Uncooked Truth, and he questions the sanity and potential brain capacity of someone wanting more and more hundreds of horsepower in their sports cars…

Let’s begin with a question. How much horsepower is enough? The Corvette ZR1: 638 horsepower; Camaro ZL1: 580 horsepower; Mustang GT500: 650 horsepower.

Those three cars I’ve listed are vehicles that can be driven every day. They have traction control, certain luxurious amenities (save for any Camaro with lack of navigation), comfortable seats, etc. The ZL1 and GT500 can even be driven in most types of weather. Any Corvette I’d struggle with the thought of driving in the rain, as they don’t really offer a lot of confidence on the streets.

Now I must really ask, what in thee hell are you going to do with that? I mean, it’s already getting insane that a Cadillac CTS-V, created as a mid-size luxury sedan, has 556-hp. Now the BMW M5 has 560-hp, too. Granted, the M5 drives like a normal car in almost every situation when putting around town. The CTS-V is a little more boastful, but still rather normal.

Maybe my real question is, why so much power with so little attention paid to a good chassis to handle it? The chassis in the GT500 has never really been able to hold up to its power. The Camaro is a bit different. I’ve yet to drive the ZL1, but the SS is actually not too bad on its feet. The Corvette, however, is bad on its feet. A standard Corvette and Z06 do well with their respective undercarriages. My dad recently had a 2010 ZR1, and it was rather bleh, to me. It drove alright, and I’m sure much better on a race track, but on the street it just felt like a Corvette that couldn’t turn very well, had an OK gearbox, and lousy steering. It wasn’t too bad in the comfort department, seeing as how much of a super car it was meant to be.

Matt Farah of The Smoking Tire once, somewhat famously, said that the BMW M3 had a chassis that out-drove its engine.

Unfortunately, that seems to be the problem with the American sports car. They’ve always been quick, but never had the confidence in the suspension and chassis. Corvette, Camaro and Mustang drivers have always made fun of the German and Japanese sports cars for never being that quick… in a straight line. Then when they get to a race track, whoa, there goes an E36 BMW M3 with 240 hp battling it out with a 350 hp C5 Chevrolet Corvette. Catch my drift?

Now I’m not trying to dog on anyone with a love of American sports cars. I mean, I had a 2008 Bullitt Mustang, and I miss her every day. I take my dad’s 1973 Corvette out as often as I can, because it’s fun to drive. It’s not easy to drive, that’s for sure. But it makes you work for it, no doubt. All I’m saying is, back off on the horsepower, up the abilities of your steering wheels and suspension. The Mustang GT can almost handle as well as a new BMW M3, which makes it amazing. Unfortunately, where the M3 is almost sensationally balanced nearly 100% of the time, the Mustang can get a little out of shape on some rougher roads and tracks, more because of its solid-rear axle.

All I’m trying to say is, why don’t we work on our driving skills before we keep increasing the power of our motors? It’s not just automakers doing it, so many aftermarket performance shops and companies are doing way too much by adding power that the driver will hardly, if ever, need or use. What the hell is the point in having a 1,200 horsepower Lamborghini Gallardo? I mean, really, people…? When I was a kid I thought the more horsepower the better. I’ve gotten older, my testicles dropped, and I realized that I wanted to go around that corner faster than anyone else. Sure, it’s still cool to do a burnout, to drag race someone, or to just see how fast you can get to 60 mph. But when you’re staring at a row of traffic lights, that’s as far as you can go. I wish we lived in a world where at least one day a year I could go out where there was zero traffic and drive like a bat out of hell on public roads. But I can’t. Neither can you.

So be safe; enjoy the power you have. Learn to drive with that power than anyone else around.

I’d like to apologize to Ford and General Motors for seemingly making this a kick in the balls for both of them and their performance aspirations. Buy what you want… just don’t blame anyone else for your lack of driving skills, the overpowered chassis and suspension, and that road sign… never mind.

[BMW M3 image borrowed from Road & Track]

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I'm a car, music, and Howard Stern aficionado. I also love planes, trains, anything to do with science and engineering, as well as politics. I'm working on my screenplays, TV shows, and a book or two. Stay tuned to when I'm really famous and even more awesome.

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