Two for the Road is a hangout for mystery writers Tammy Kaehler and Simon Wood to chat, reminisce, gossip, speculate and argue about all things motorsport.

Friday, July 8, 2011

And Don't Spare the Horses...

SIMON: Maybe it’s because I’m from gentile Europe, but personally, I’m not all about the power when it comes to cars. BHP for BHP’s sake doesn’t turn me on. Don’t get me wrong. I likes the power, but it’s got to be more in combination with the car’s weight.

I’m with Colin Chapman when it comes to a car's power to weight ratio. Keep the weight down and maintain the power and all is right with the world. Muscle cars are nice, but they have to lug around all that weight too. That negates the point of the power. There's some classic footage from the 60’s of Minis beating Ford Falcons in the British Touring Car Championship. They didn't have the straight line speed, but they could carry it through the corners. Now that’s what I’m all about. Power with agility. That’s why I have no interest in a Bugatti Veyron. It has an awesome amount of power, but there are so many bells and whistles hanging off it to make it work that the car isn't that quick on a track. Me, I’d rather have a Caterham Seven. It weighs as much as most carry-on luggage and has the power to weight ratio to turn your hair white. It’s simple, effective and fun, fun, fun…

So where do you stand on the power equation?

TAMMY: As I'm not a drag racing fan, straightline power alone isn't interesting to me. I like cars to turn well. That said, I'm not interested in a motor strapped to a skateboard--I like a little more meat on a car. I'm really a fan of the grand touring car, aka, race cars that look like street cars. Those are going to carry more weight than Simon wants. Basically, I'm willing to compromise some performance and agility for some more "carness," so long as there's a good balance between acceleration (the technical sense of "performance") and braking and handling. I guess it should surprise no one that I feel this way, given that I chose to write about a Corvette....

SIMON: I blame the single seater experience. If it doesn't help the car performance, then it's not needed. :-)

Oddly, my current car is the first car to have air conditioning. In the past, I've turned the option down as it drains the power and adds weight. I suppose there is a little compromise in me after all. :-/

TAMMY: I live in Los Angeles, so air conditioning isn't an option! But really, Simon, giving up AC for more power in your street car ... are you racing people down the highway?! If there's one thing I've taken away from my experiences with racetracks and racecars, it's that a streetcar isn't ever going to be a racecar, and there's just no place on the street to really let a high-powered car loose. Unless you have a location I don't know about. :-)

SIMON: I take pleasure in the little things and sometimes I'll discover a sweet curve somewhere and that little bit of extra power is worth every penny. And with a Caterham, it's air-conditioning all time. :-D

It's down to you lot now. What do you think, race and car fans, about the power/weight equation? Would you choose a Veyron over a Caterham Seven? A Corvette over an open-wheel single-seater?


  1. Personally I'd go with a Dodge Viper (RIP). I once saw one do as close to a 90-degree turn on a city street as I've ever seen.

    But like Tammy, I love Vette's though that is in part because one of earliest car experiences was riding down the road in a T-Top sitting on my Mom's lap while a family friend drove. I'm sure if anyone knew how fast we were going, probably would violate some federal child safety law.

    And then there was a time where we took a friend's late 70s Monte Carlo down a road and, well, let's just say we could probably qualify at Bristol with the speed we were going.

    That's also the day I quit speeding. I decided if I couldn't really go that fast - no fun in going over the speed limit. Plus in Texas, it's 70 so speeding is - well, hard to do.

    I love the blog.


  2. Glad you enjoy the conversation, Mark! Hope you'll keep coming back.