The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

7 March 2008

Count the ponies

Jonny Lieberman poses a question: "How much horsepower is too much?"

Unless you routinely drag race (and I'm talking, you know, all the friggin' time) what on earth do you need 700 hp for? I'm not in any way suggesting we cap output, I just want to know who's buying these beasts? And why?

You'd want to know, of course, how Mr Lieberman's ride tests out, and he tells you up front:

My car has 224 hp. I'm suddenly mature enough to not bother racing people at stop lights (especially since that CTS-V humbled me). I only use all my car's strength when I'm getting on the freeway or when I'm at a red light in the left hand lane and need to quickly get over to the right. And you know what? It's more than enough.

Given those same criteria, the vehicle I've driven which exhibited the highest degree of indifference to how hard it was being called upon to work was a 2007 G35, so I figure that 306 hp is about as much as I'd ever need.

On the other hand, Gwendolyn, with an earlier, smaller version of the same engine, is no slouch, so I am not inclined to complain about her more modest 227-hp output, especially since I can remember no instance when I've been called upon to use all of it.

Then again, 227 hp might be marginal, or worse, if you have two tons or more to haul around, and if you have a minivan or a pickup truck, you probably do.

Posted at 1:15 PM to Driver's Seat

For several years I drove a 4200-lb. minivan with a 160 Hp V6 engine. The thrust was more than adequate. I never felt I needed more -- and here on the fabled Isle of Long, there are a lot of folks guiding cruise missiles disguised as SUVs down our regional arteries.

Skill counts for quite a lot, even in this age of the Brobdingnagian vehicle.

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at 3:42 PM on 7 March 2008

I have no idea what the horsepower is of the 5.8L V8 in my Bronco, but I drive it fully confident it will haul bumper when I ask it to. Of course, that's about as big a V8 as you could get in a non-diesel F-series in '96, and the Bronco isn't anywhere near as heavy as an F-250. I do have the towing package but haven't used it.

Even my wife's '98 Civic has been meeting with my approval, which -- considering how disappointed I've been with her previous Honda sedans ('84 Accord, '88 Civic), is saying something.

Posted by: McGehee at 3:43 PM on 7 March 2008

My old 1979 L82 Corvette with 4.11 rears needed more power. Just because.

Posted by: Jeffro at 6:37 PM on 7 March 2008

I have to agree with Jeffro. No one needs that much power, but hey, sometimes you want to live a little.

Posted by: Charles Pergiel at 3:15 AM on 8 March 2008

Any time somebody asks a question centering around "who needs..." x y or z, my first reaction is to want to punch him in the nose and shout gunnery-sergeant loud in his ear, "MIND YOUR OWN F***ING BUSINESS!!"

But that's just me.


Posted by: Mark Alger at 12:16 PM on 8 March 2008