Redusernab Asks- What's More Important to You, Less Weight or More Horsepower?

There’s an old maxim that states less is more, and in the world of automotive hoonage, that’s often true. Colin Chapman realized this early on and his Lotus cars were always able to dice it up with bigger engined competitors because their small motors had to carry so much less baggage. However, on the other side of the coin, to use another hackneyed adage, sometimes weight is mandated a constant, and so the only path to performance is judicious applications of the variable of horsepower. The question is, of these two extremes, which is your preference for driving on the street?
Lightness not only engenders spritelier performance with lower output, but it also makes for better handling. Heavier cars tend to be more ponderous and more difficult to aim. Some manufacturers, BMW being a notable example, have tried to overcome this, and I’m sure you’ve heard of their big machines described as “driving like a much smaller car.”
Despite that engineering feat, there’s no substitute for a car clocks in under the bantam weight class.  As noted above, Lotus, especially with the Seven, removed every extraneous element from their cars, and the competition 23, with its 1,600-cc motor, was and is able to clean up the track with cars two and three times its displacement.
Of course, if you’re going to have horsepower, you need a structure that will take the punishment all those ponies dish out. There’s also something to be said about having a little metal around you when you go fast, and all those roofs and doors add weight. The added poundage can be addressed though, as there’s almost always a few horses that can still be rounded up, whether through added turbos or NOS.
And with enough horsepower, even the heaviest car can become entertaining to drive. Top Gear proved this having James May chauffeured around the test track by the Stig in a Mercedes S-class with a massive AMG-massaged  V12 under the hood. Needless to say, most of the circuit was done sideways and a lot of the rear tires were left on the track that day. Fun!
It seems obvious to answer today’s question with the return query why can’t I have both? There’s lots of instances were that is the case, but as noted, going uber light along with lots of ponies can limit your fun due the fear factor, and as most of us have innate survival mechanisms drilled into our DNA, maybe that’s not the best answer.
So which approach would you rather attack that gnarly freeway onramp or twisty suburban street with, something light of weight, or something heavy of horsepower?
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By |2010-05-26T08:30:03+00:00May 26th, 2010|Redusernab Asks|0 Comments

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