It appears we are entering a new era of horsepower wars in the American automotive industry. I welcome it. It is bringing back a competitive nature to the industry reminiscent to the glory days of the horsepower wars of the sixties.
Many of the elements of today’s industry are just the revival and rejuvenation of the things of old. Chrysler has bought back the Hemi. V-8s that were recently reserved for trucks and SUVs are returning to their homes in family sedans and midsized cars. Chevy has plans to return to rear wheel drive on the many of their cars. The Camaro is fighting its way back into existence.
Good things are to come and you can see it in the competitive air within the industry. They say competition is the mother of invention and it has been proven time and time again as surges in technology and knowledge accompany all our major wars.
A competitive spirit leads to experimentation and discovery, and in the fifties and sixties it gave us a generation of mad scientists each working to squeeze out more horses, more torque and more speed then the next. And in the time before insurance difficulties, legalities, government restrictions, the oil crisis and environmentalism horsepower and speed thrived. (The Hairy Olds pictured here is an excellent example of some of the mad experimentation taking place. It was all wheel drive with two blown 425’s, one powering the front the other the back.)
It was a time when the family sedan could also be used to pull trees. It was a time when buyers got more then what they paid for (rather then less). The automakers were notorious for selling you a car that had an advertised “300hp” but in reality had much more.
I recently heard that a cable automotive show decided to build exact replicas of a few of the greatest engines of the sixties and dyno test them to find their true horsepower numbers. These engines from the sixties were sold with horsepower ratings in the 400s and 500s. When put on the dyno they proved to have horsepower ranging from the 500hp to approaching 800hp. Proving the long time suspicion that American car buyers of the sixties were getting more than what they paid for.
Today the industry seems to be returning to its competitive ways. They still have the restrictions of fuel economy, insurance costs and smog laws and so that is where the experimentations are being made by today’s scientists. They may not be the mad scientists of yesteryear but are instead geniuses of perfection and invention. They have worked to make the great massive Hemi more efficient than ever before. At Chevy they are using Displacement on Demand and they have supercharged the Corvette giving the “everyman’s sports car” the “700hp” it needs to feed on the expensive European super machines, at a fraction of the price. It’s only going to get better!