July 6th, 2010

How much horsepower is too much?

Horsepower is a funny thing. It was originally defined to compare the output of steam engines with the power of draft horses. Now it is used as a magical measurement to prove superiority in the supercar world and a fight between companies to try and bottle as much of the world’s horsepower as possible into one car.

The Bugatti Veyron has been the halo car in the horsepower fight after successfully breaking the 1000hp mark by one. But this wasn’t good enough. Last week Bugatti decided to wave farewell to the Veyron by making it go even faster and have more power. The Bugatti Veyron Super Sports has sprinted past the 1000hp barrier with 1,200 horsepower, and a ridiculous 1,106 pound-feet of torque. With a revised aerodynamic kit the Super Sports managed to achieve new world record for fastest production car with  runs of 265.9 and 269.8 mph for an average terminal velocity of 267.81 mph. This all seems a bit silly as the Veyron is just a ‘dog’ in  business terms, as it doesn’t provide any profit no matter how many times VW decide to pump money into the project.

But it is not just Bugatti who is fighting for the horsepower heavyweight of the world belt. In the red, white and blue corner is the Dagger GT and it wants a full-on cage match to the death to get its hands on the reigns of the most horsepower in the world. The Dagger GT is America’s answer to the Bugatti Veyron and being American it wants to be twice as powerful. Crafted by TransStar Racing, who is made up of the best of the best Le Mans and NASA technicians the Dagger GT has some pretty big claims. TransStar “will not quit” until it tunes the engine to produce 2000bhp and 2000lb ft of torque (double the Veyron) and wants the car to claim the lap records at both the Nurburgring and the Virginia International Raceway whilst also being able to manage 0-60mph in 1.5 seconds and crack 300mph. This all sounds a bit childish to me because it is a pretty big ask, I want to be Buzz Lightyear but also have the healing powers of Jesus and the right foot of Senna but the left foot of Hamilton – it is not going to happen.

Do I think the Dagger GT will succeed? No. But I am sure it will keep TransStar busy for a long time. As for the horsepower hunt, it has to come to an end soon, doesn’t it?