BOTB's History of the Horsepower Race... {{favouriteCount}} Quantity of Likes

31 May 2017

We like horsepower here at BOTB. The general consensus is that more horsepower is better and we are incredibly lucky that we live in this era of serious power. There is a very real chance that legislation and emissions regulations may make the high-horsepower car a thing of the past soon so we should all enjoy them while we can – including the many different examples we have in our Dream Car Competition. So how have we got to this stage in the car’s life?

1908 – Ford Model T

For this look back, we start with the first mass production car – the Model T. featuring a 2.9 litre four cylinder engine, it produced just 20hp. So it wasn’t exactly a powerhouse to us, but back then it caused outrage at the speeds that were now available to the common man.

1930 – Cadillac Sixteen

Manufacturers were starting to really experiment with engine design in the 30’s and Cadillac was the first to go big – they revealed the V-16 model (known as the Sixteen) to critical acclaim in 1930 with a 7.4 litre V16 engine. And the power? A stunning 165hp. Doesn’t sound much, but this was a rocket ship back then.

1966 – Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake

Still sticking with the USA, the 50’s and 60’s was where they really got into their stride, producing some engines with huge power compared to what was being made in Europe. The Cobra 427 SS was one of the prime examples of this, with a 7.0 litre V8 producing a mammoth 500hp. It’s worth noting that this was the quoted power, which was universally known to be very conservative. Period publications claimed they were closer to 600hp.

1987 – Ferrari F40

In the 1970s and early 80’s the global oil crisis made the horsepower race die for a while – as an example the 1979 Mustang made only 140hp from the 5.0 V8 – but in Europe the supercar manufacturers were just getting going. 1987 saw the zenith of the Supercar with what is still regarded as one of the best of all time –the F40. The engine was small a 2.9 litre V8, but there were two turbochargers which meant 472hp. Still down on the earlier muscle cars, but the F40 was much, much lighter.

1992 – McLaren F1

This is where it all starts to get a bit serious – one of the most iconic supercars of all time – the McLaren F1. McLaren sought help from BMW to create their stunning engine – a 6.1 litre V12 producing 618hp. This enabled the 1100kg machine to take all the performance records of the time, with 0-62mph taking 3.2 seconds, 0-100mph in 6.3 seconds, 0-200mph in 28 seconds and a top speed of 240mph. Most modern supercars still struggle to top those stats.

2005 – Bugatti Veyron

8.0 litres, four turbochargers, 16 cylinders, 64 valves, 10 radiators, 4WD, 7spd gearbox. By 2005 Bugatti had released the Veyron with the intention of making it the fastest, most luxurious and usable supercar of all time and they certainly managed it all. The Veyron produced a staggering 1001hp which meant all standing performance records were smashed. 0-62mph took 2.46 seconds, 0-186mph in 16.7 seconds and a top speed of 253mph. Of course this wasn’t enough and later the SuperSport was released with 1185hp and chopped those stats down to 2.2s and 14.6s, while the top speed rose to 268mph.

2017 – Koenigsegg Regera

Earlier this year, Koenigsegg released the Regera – their take on how the modern supercar should be. Of course these days any supercar at the top of the game must be a hybrid and the Regera doesn’t disappoint here. There’s a twin turbocharged 5.0 litre V8 producing 1100hp, which is supplemented by three electric motors producing 697hp. The power peaks of the engine and motors are spread out though, so Koenigsegg claim that the peak power of the Regera is (a still incredible) 1500hp. It may top out slightly lower than the Veyron SS at 255mph, but the Regera  counters this with a staggering 0-186mph time of just 12.3 seconds. Koenigsegg also claim that the acceleration from 93-155mph takes just 3.2 seconds.


Of course supercars are always going to see the biggest headline figures, but what amazes me most is how power has risen in everyday cars. We have recently added the latest Audi RS3 to the competition, which is a medium sized family hatchback which also just happens to have a staggering 394hp. And we have a family SUV going on sale in the US (the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk) with 707hp – that’s nearly 100hp more than the McLaren F1 had in a practical family car!

So celebrate horsepower with us and delve into what we offer in the Dream Car Competition – my personal choice would be the new Ford Mustang V8 – 419hp and a £38,000 price tag has great power-per-pound so that’s a winner for me.


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