Famous Last Words

Yesterday in my ode to obtuse Toyota performance engines facts, our good man, Rivrdog, stopped by and said the following

Cubic inches beats revving horsepower every day of the week, and twice on Sunday.

It is basically the “There’s no replacement for displacement” mantra, repeated by lovers of big V8’s everywhere.

And it is also utterly and completely false.

I classify them as ‘Famous Last Words’ because, in my previous life, which I have tried to keep seperate from blogging for the longest time, I’d race my cars for cold hard cash. I have been getting that itch more and more frequently these last couple weeks, but alas, have no outlet for it apart from maybe borrowing a vehicle from one of the few remaining members of the old group and joining them on a ‘road trip’ and writing about it here. A ‘road trip’ would not only get me in trouble with the Analog Wife, but also with the ‘detector inspectors’, so you’ll forgive my dalliances of late on this subject.

Yes, we’d race on the public highways and byways, and yes, we’d do things so strange that you’d wonder why we’d waste the gas and time to do them, but it entertained us and generally kept us from larger banks of trouble, though not from harm. In the not too distant past, I’ve turned wrenches on just about everything from the retarded but sturdy 1.6L Land Rover 88 mills to the intelligent but fussy 5.7L Lamborghini Diablo powerhouse. I have tired of getting my hands dirty in recent years, even going so far as to work oil changes into the sale price of my F150 when I bought it so that I wouldn’t have to be bothered with them any longer. That is also changing as of late.

“There’s no replacement for displacement” was the last thing usually said before some poor sap lost the green papery contents of his wallet, because my follow up line to it was “Would you like to put some money down on that?”

It got to the point to where it was a running joke with my friends. Someone would say it, my friends would chuckle while counting to five, at which time I would face up to the speaker and ask if they’d like to test that theory. I got my fair share of “umm, well, yannow” weenies, but on a good night I could get at least a couple takers to pay for the next round of improvements for my cars. My last roller had a 3-Liter I-6 engine and I would have to give guys with HiPo 350’s a lesser distance to travel just to make it fair. Of course, I was using technology to measure, multiply and cool my fuel/air mixture while my opponents were just hoping for the best.

The replacement for displacement is technology.

In the 120 or so years we humans have been making use of the internal combustion engine, we have learned to make it work more efficiently, so that we can do less with more. We have learned which bore and stroke combinations work best for what application.

If the saying was true, then why would Ford drop their cornbinder 7.3 liter diesel engines for 6.0 liter pushers? Because they used technology to make the six cylinder work more efficiently and create more power. Ford also dropped their famous 302 (5.0L) engines for a 281ci (4.6L) mill and the 351 (5.8L) for a 330ci (5.4L) because they figured out how they could do the same with less.

Now, if you combine displacement with technology, then you have some interesting things happening. Get the largest air pump of an engine you can find, force air into it while tuning it with a specialized computer program and hold on tight. This can be seen in what I like to call “I’m going to floor it for a 1/4 mile, dude” (aka IHRA).

Yes, I know that I just pissed upon at least half of the sacrament of everything that is automotive manhood in America, but give me break. Yes, there is skill involved in drag racing but how about we run for a full mile so I can watch your car overheat and blow up. Now that’s entertainment (and worth the cost of my fuel)!

Better yet, let’s make a turn or two, and not just in the lefthand direction (Oops, now I just pissed on NASCAR! How will I survive?)

Which brings me to my other point: vehicle application. If you look at IndyCar and NASCAR, they both run on the same tracks with the same skillset, but IndyCars are running faster even though their mills are almost half the size of NASCAR’s.

Or to put it into non-superhuman terms: you can have an LS5 454 in your 1970 Corvette and you can run it pretty fast in a straight line, but try to take a country road corner at speed and you may have to clean your pants out shortly thereafter. However, try the same trick with the same car, except that this one has an LT1 350, and depending on your heel-toe skill level, you’re almost guaranteed a good time.

The LS5 will get to the first corner faster, but the LT1 will be able to hold more of it’s speed through the turn and therefore not have to work as hard to get back up to speed afterwards. Give the LT1 a few of those turns to make and the LS5 will be seeing four round tail lights in short order because the LT1 engine is at least 100lbs lighter than the LS5 mill (probably closer to 150lbs) and not having to stop, start and steer that extra weight on the nose of the car around gives the LT1 car an advantage over the LS5 car (which is why I’ve never owned a car with air conditioning as the hardware for that weights 50-70lbs and sits right up front).

You want to have your car set up for a certain application. Unfortunately, a car you want to run quarter miles with is going to piss you off on the interstate and vice versa, a car you want to go fast on the interstate will have horrible ET’s. Also, a car that does great on the interstate will probably not do well in tight twistys, and so on and so on. My Supra was good for the highway and long distance touring, my MR2 was for carving two-lane mountain roads and their wonderful switchbacks and the Series 1 Celica, with it’s solid rear axle and 1400lb body was best for the solid 11.61 quarter mile.

I could go on and on about this and ask why a Chevy hasn’t gotten near 200mph with their 5.7L mill (the 350) even though Lamborghini was able to build cars all day long that would go as far as a driver was willing to take, even up to 201mph, with their 5.7L. Or I could talk about why Cadillac’s V-16 didn’t sell or Volkswagon’s W8 isn’t selling, but I think I’ve gone on for quite long enough. Sorry if I got a little bit ‘inside baseball’, maybe next time I’ll post a glossary?

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9 Responses to Famous Last Words

  1. David says:

    Utterly awesome post. Keep the inside baseball coming.

    BTW, your litany of cars for specific purposes sounds suspiciously like the enthusiast’s reasoning for why he owns twenty rifles. One for varminting, one for long-range shooting, one for short-range brush hunting, one for plinking, etc.

  2. texasred says:

    I agrre with most of your post. Just one small calrification. While Ford did find they could get more from less using more modern tech, the main reason they went with the current crop of gasoline engines is they they are “modular” wich basicly means they are easier and cheaper (when taken as whole) to manufactor using the same or only slightly differnet tooling which cuts down cost. This along with emmisions requirements were the main reason.

    I still prefer the big V8 for a hot rod

  3. Jim says:

    Well, first, the Ford 6.0l Power Stroke is still a V-8. Not a six. Otherwise, you’re correct. Not only more efficeint, but also hundreds of pounds lighter.

    Second, the Diablo has a distinct aerodynamic advantage over the Chevy products.

    As does an F-1 car over a NASCAR terd.

    I’m in full agreement with you, just pickin’ nits on the details. *grin*

    Sloop New Dawn
    Galveston, TX

  4. Analog Kid says:

    You are correct about the specific rifles/specific cars line David. Everything has it’s purpose.

    While ‘modular’ is one of the reasons Ford used, it was also that using gas to push/pull is a thing of the past. As can be witnessed by the fact that the largest V8 you can find anymore is Chevy’s 6.0L (366ci) motor. Otherwise, if you want a work truck, you gotta go diesel.

    My mistake, Cap’n Jim. I was going run a comparo on Dodge’s I-6 to the Ford IH 7.3L V8 but decided to stick with Ford’s and forgot to make the change.

    As for the wind cutting differences Diablo v Chevy, they had every chance with the Corvette and utterly failed. As for NASCAR v Indy, that is why Indy cars go faster. And if we’re picking nits, Indy cars and F1 cars are two different beasts for two entirely different types of racing.

    Specificity, once again.

  5. Rivrdog says:

    No, I am not going to run a 70’s Dodge Pickup with a re-worked 318, RV cam, against your stroker R-20 Toy-auto on SR 167 late one night for the pinks.

    And you, sir, are not going to bring the rice-grinder into the hills and take me on the logging roads, or OFF the logging roads.

    How many crummies have you been in? I’ll wager none of them was powered by a small-displacement Four screaming at 8,000 rpm. The men riding them into the woods all snoozed to the low rumble of their V-8’s.

    Somewhere, we got off the track. You are talking about building a daily driver into a sleeper street comp machine. I am talking about putting together a vehicle that will get me and my gear into the mountains when it really, really counts.

    Apples and oranges, my friend.

    But, if you could only have ONE gun, it would not be a 1/8 MOA, $3,000, tack-driving sniper rifle, it would probably be a 30-30 levergun, or maybe a pump shotgun.

    And if you could only have ONE truck, it wouldn’t be a Toyota with a spendy screamer stroker engine, it would be Detroit Iron, 20-30 years old, with a 300-inch or better V-8 in it.

    Now, shall we discuss closed body (Van) or open body (pickup)?

    I distinctly remember this thread getting started months ago as a S.H.T.F. vehicle idea symposium.

    Now we have all the street racer vs. redneck pickup bulltwaddle goin’ on.

    What a waste of space and time.

    Check out Dad’s Garage blog. Aaron made sense of this little dust-up there.

  6. AnalogKid says:

    Once again, RD, we’re into the vehicle application question. I’m looking for a commuter truck with some zoom and you’re looking for SHTF stuff. Yes, it is apples and oranges, and yes, it could be seen as a burn on time, but being serious all the time gives me a headache.

    On the off-road note, putting a factory stock 2.8L or 3.8L GM V-6 drivetrain (or even a 5.2L or 5.7L GM V8) into a compact truck will get you the HP you’re looking for, but is more expensive than buying one of the $5K direct replacement engines I featured the other day. Another thing you’ll want to keep in mind is that if you hit mud ruts you’re gonna need to hope you have some momentum and clearance because that 300lb V6 (or 400lb V8) is going to sink like a stone, whereas the 175lb I-4 will give you some time to move. That is why the original Willys and the kraut Kubelwagen were small and light.

    In 4WD applications, you want low speed torque, not horsepower because too much HP will break your drivetrain down in mere moments. The 4cyl I showed has as much torque at 2000 as a 3.8L V6 and will stretch your fuel supply farther.

    I will never have “one truck”. This is America, I can have as many of whatever I want that I can afford. BTW, watch this space in the near future. I may surprise you.

    We can talk about SHTF vehicles anytime, but for now, I wanted to have some fun.

    And to answer your question in the previous post, no, I won’t be leaving the sporty Toy truck behind if I bug out. Since I won’t be lowering it, it’ll make for a handy, low fuel consumption scout vehicle.

  7. AnalogKid says:

    And because blogger hates me, here is the comment I was going to leave at Aaron’s


    Aaron has a pretty good grip on the topic, for sure, but I just want to clarify that I was already talking about a speedy commuter truck when RD came in with the SHTF truck stuff. He brought the apples to my orange party.

    I don’t want a SHTF vehicle for my commuter as the mileage it’ll get will kill my wallet. I am willing to own multiple vehicles for multiple purposes, just like I am willing to own multiple firearms for their specialized purposes. I have my ‘nice’ vehicle (my current truck), I will also have a commuter vehicle, a grunt or ‘SHFT’ vehicle and a haul ass vehicle. If I wander into a wad of cash and can’t find anything else to spend it on, I’ll multiply my haul ass vehicles into their specialties as well.

    The ‘One Gun’ or ‘One Truck’ idea is fun for blog memes, but in all reality, if I’m going to be held to owning ‘One’ of anything, there is going to be some fur flying shortly thereafter with whomever is holding me back, whether it is the wife or the government, so it’s a facetious idea and is more of a waste of time than talking about wigged out four-bangers.

  8. emdfl says:

    I think the point has been made of apples and oranges BUT, that said and just to dump a little gasoline, I suspect that applying the same technology, a good BIG engine will put out more HP then a good small engine. The bigger question is how do yoou plan to use the engine? An aquaintance of mine has run on the show “Pinks” and won using his Camero. Of course it was completely tricked out with nitrous, a blower, and all the rest of the necessary internals to keep it together, but was absolutely stock appearing on the outside except for some nicely understated trim pieces… BUt I own a ‘suzu Rodeo and a Ford Merkur(saving my money for an intercooler) so I’m obviously a schicso…

    One last. There was a reason why for years all the big dragsters were using the big old Chrysler blocks as starting points for 1000-1500hp builds.

  9. texasred says:

    FoMoCo may be agreeing with the “no replacement for displacement” idea. They are canning the 6.0 diesel for a 6.4

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