Blog

Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

460 horsepower for $35K is insane

Is anybody else alarmed by this? For about the average transaction price of a new car, a person can buy a Ford Mustang with 460 horsepower. God bless America and all but that much power in a rear-wheel drive platform, in the hands of America's desperately under-trained drivers, doesn't sound like a solid recipe to me. I guess it explains the Mustang's not so sterling reputation at your local Cars and Coffee event.

Dangers of oversteer and colliding with humans aside, it's a wonderful time to be alive for car enthusiasts if all you want is pure horsepower, and kudos to the American brands for taking the flag. For mid 30 to low 40 thousand dollars, one can buy a Chevy Camaro, Ford Mustang, or Dodge Challenger with horsepower in the 400s. Pony up to the 60 thousands and a Corvette Stingray with nearly 500 horsepower or a Challenger Hellcat with over 700 becomes available

A decade ago those levels of thrust cost well into the six figures. 

Japan sadly have not kept pace in the performance-per-dollar arms race (a Nissan GTR is much too expensive). The Subaru WRX STI have had the same 300 or so horsepower engine for over a decade. while the Nissan Z have languished for nearly as long a period. Toyota abstinently refuses to give its 86 coupe more power; it'll be embarrassing indeed if the forthcoming return of the Supra doesn't have at least 400 horsepower in the car. 

So why don't I simply buy an American sports car? Well, because I care about more than just horsepower (it's really nice, don't get me wrong). The trio of sports coupes from the United States are each critically flawed: the 'Alpha' chassis underpinning the Camaro is universally acclaimed but outward visibility from the cabin remains atrocious; the Challenger shares a platform with old European Mercedes Benz taxis so it's not a proper sports car; and the Mustang GT's MT-82 manual gearbox is an Achilles' heel. 

The only way I'd own one of those cars is if I win one from those car sweepstakes they have at the mall.

A Corvette or a Shelby GT350 is a different story; these two cars tick every box on my list of wants: high-revving naturally-aspirated motor, manual gearbox (proper Tremec units), a track-ready real-wheel drive chassis, and a limited-slip differential. For around 60 grand it's a heck of a bargain, but there's one glaring flaw with both cars:

It's not a 911. 

 "Summer" in San Francisco is as advertised. 

"Summer" in San Francisco is as advertised.