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Wednesday, April 4, 2007


Believe this guy, Stephan Winkelmann. He says, "The future is less about adding horsepower and more about improving the power-to-weight ratio. We need to get the weight down, use different materials, and improve performance and drivability."

Perhaps you trust The Good Car Guy enough to believe him automatically. But if you must have a second opinion, there it is. Mr. Winkelmann, President and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini. 'Nuff said.

If you, by any chance, become or are the Prez of a supercar maker - especially one as wild and aggressive as Lamborghini - then feel free to make the case for increasing horsepower. Otherwise, take what Mr. Winkelmann has said and run with it.

Here's the case: Almost every new car is heavier than the one it replaces. It is a rare treat to discover a new vehicle that weighs similarly to its predecessor, and a special delicacy when a vehicle weighs less than its forefather. For auto manufacturers to cover up their weight increases, they add power and torque. If they didn't, cars would be getting progressively slower with each successive generation.

Looking around at the cars of my family members, it's an easy thing to spot. My mother's car is a 170-horsepower Pontiac, since replaced by a vehicle with 200. My father's Subaru was replaced by a vehicle with 79 more horsepower available. My brother's car has 40 more horses than its progenitor.

The technology and research automakers possess in 2007 makes 10 or 20 or 30 more horses a somewhat easy thing to come by. Nevertheless, horsepower does cost money. And if the only investment into engine tech was to increase the internal combustion engine's efficiency, the lightweight materials divisions would receive an infusion of cash.

That's not just what I'm saying, the CEO of Lamborghini agrees. Take your car, however slow or fast, and strip 100kg away. Your car will be faster. Lamborghini has made good on their CEO's statement. The Gallardo Superleggera will save 22 pounds over the regular Gallardo in Europe. It will have better handling, more speed, and nicer steering. Can't complain.

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