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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/14/20 8:34 a.m.

“It is the evil weevil, the rock-solid, steely-eyed grim reaper of sporting cars, the paragon of knife-edged incisiveness and buttoned-down insanity.”

Is this lofty praise for one of the new 700-horsepower Challengers? A twin-turbo Porsche? An Exocet powered by a half-dozen superbike engines and a deranged ferret?

D, none of the above. It’s Car and Driver’s lede for its original road test on the 1984 Porsche 911 Carrera. Total engine output? Thanks to the introduction of Bosch’s Motronic injection, along with a bump in displacement from 3.0 liters to 3.2, horsepower had finally reached an even 200. That’s way less than most any new minivan. Top speed? A blinding-for-the-day buck-50 or so. 

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adam525i (Forum Supporter)
adam525i (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
10/14/20 9:30 a.m.

I love my momentum car, it's right around that 200 hp mark with a bit more torque. When I go to a track it's for the corners and not the straights, carrying every bit of speed through them is my goal, when you get it right and use ALL of the track nothing feels better. I've had ride alongs in 500 hp Mustangs and 600 hp Camaro's and they were fun getting pushed back into the seat all the way down the straights but the laps in an 8th gen Civic Si on Hoosier R7's will always stick with me and make me lust for more grip and corner speed.

flatlander937
flatlander937 HalfDork
10/14/20 9:48 a.m.

Every car is a momentum car if you're driving it correctly.

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy MegaDork
10/14/20 10:06 a.m.
flatlander937 said:

Every car is a momentum car if you're driving it correctly.

Want to thumbs up this more than once.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/14/20 10:08 a.m.

Momentum is grip vs power. Its a ratio thing, not absolute. Put crap tires on a 1.6 Miata and it transforms from a momentum car to a point and shoot. 
 

There are F1 cars that are momentum cars by the reference of the rest of the field. 

Ben Jolly
Ben Jolly New Reader
10/14/20 11:02 a.m.

I am happy the very powerful vehicles exist. A couple weeks ago I watched Ford vs. Ferrari and then I was on Shelby's website looking at 500 hp+ cars. I've ridden in couple, they are astounding.

Even more astounding are the LS powered Miatas I have ridden including the one in the avatar of the poster above me. 

I'm still in the momentum car fan club though. I am thankful that I can do motorsports in my 30s, but I couldn't do it with a tire/brake/insurance eating monster, so a NC Miata is my choice instead. 

I think R&T's Kyle Kinard summed it up pretty well in this article from nearly 3 years ago:

Can You Teach Speed Without a Fast Car?

rezisehtnys
rezisehtnys New Reader
10/14/20 11:51 a.m.

I'm much happier with my 142hp Miata than I ever was with my 305hp Firebird, though I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the V8 at times.  More so the soundtrack and copious amounts of torque everywhere than anything else, I rarely ever fully utilized the horsepower aspect.  I think a 200-300hp V8 in a Miata would be the perfect car for me, maybe someday soon.

adam525i (Forum Supporter)
adam525i (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
10/14/20 12:57 p.m.
flatlander937 said:

Every car is a momentum car if you're driving it correctly.

I've thought about this a bit as I compare lines in my low power car to my cousin's LT1 1LE Camaro with the first corner at Toronto Motorsports Park in mind. There are two main straights at that track separated by corner 1. For me my goal is to carry as much as my speed as possible through that corner as that will give me the best speed down the following straight. That means I'm not unwinding the wheel as I track out to the exit curb but I am flat on the throttle (low power car) on the edge of grip. With his extra 400 hp in my mind it would make sense to sacrifice a bit of corner speed there which would allow him to get the car straighter sooner allowing him to use his power advantage longer down that second straight and possibly result in a lower lap time.

To me that would not be a momentum car if you were driving it that way and may be quicker overall. Am I right or wrong? The answer would lie in the data at the end of the day.

nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
10/14/20 12:58 p.m.

It's been my experience that 'fun to drive' is not directly linked to price or horsepower.  I agree with a lot of points in the column, and there are plenty of expensive, high powered cars that I'm not interested in.

That said, I disagree with David when he says that "Subaru could turbocharge it, but then... The BRZ would no longer be a BRZ."  Adding power enhances that car's personality like turning up a volume knob, and it's a more enjoyable ride because of it. 

Tom1200
Tom1200 Dork
10/14/20 1:15 p.m.

I've been on track with everything from 70 to 700hp. The higher horsepower cars are more of an adrenaline rush but they are not "more" fun.

The reason it's so easy to get it wrong in the higher horsepower really isn't because of the horsepower, it's more to do with the weight and arriving at places faster. It's much easier to miss your marks.

I obviously prefer momentum cars as I'm a drive a slow car fast guy. Also the tire bill has a lot to do with it.

My perfect track car is a 150-200hp single seater as that splits the two extremes nicely.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
10/14/20 1:24 p.m.
flatlander937 said:

Every car is a momentum car

This is my thought.  Is there a car where you wouldn't want to maximize momentum?

nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
10/14/20 1:24 p.m.
Tom1200 said:

I've been on track with everything from 70 to 700hp. The higher horsepower cars are more of an adrenaline rush but they are not "more" fun.

The reason it's so easy to get it wrong in the higher horsepower really isn't because of the horsepower, it's more to do with the weight and arriving at places faster. It's much easier to miss your marks.

Agreed, I've tracked a couple of 911 Turbos and they were a little terrifying because my mind had a hard time keeping up.  But I'm sure that the exact same rush could be had in a shifter kart that costs less than the OE wheel and tire package for those Porsches.

nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
10/14/20 1:52 p.m.

In reply to watkins089 :

Surreal canoe speak is surreal.

dps214
dps214 HalfDork
10/14/20 1:58 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Momentum is grip vs power. Its a ratio thing, not absolute. Put crap tires on a 1.6 Miata and it transforms from a momentum car to a point and shoot. 
 

There are F1 cars that are momentum cars by the reference of the rest of the field. 

My favorite part of autocrossing my friend's GT3 is that, compared to its class competition, it's a momentum car. A 435hp momentum car. Best of both worlds!

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/14/20 2:01 p.m.
adam525i (Forum Supporter) said:
flatlander937 said:

Every car is a momentum car if you're driving it correctly.

I've thought about this a bit as I compare lines in my low power car to my cousin's LT1 1LE Camaro with the first corner at Toronto Motorsports Park in mind. There are two main straights at that track separated by corner 1. For me my goal is to carry as much as my speed as possible through that corner as that will give me the best speed down the following straight. That means I'm not unwinding the wheel as I track out to the exit curb but I am flat on the throttle (low power car) on the edge of grip. With his extra 400 hp in my mind it would make sense to sacrifice a bit of corner speed there which would allow him to get the car straighter sooner allowing him to use his power advantage longer down that second straight and possibly result in a lower lap time.

To me that would not be a momentum car if you were driving it that way and may be quicker overall. Am I right or wrong? The answer would lie in the data at the end of the day.

That's my point. The reason you're taking different lines is not because one car has more horsepower than another - it means one car has more grip than horsepower. Up the grip on a high power car and you're back to those lines that emphasize corner exit speed instead of corner exit traction. You can have a 400+ hp momentum car, but you're going to have to build the chassis for it.

My 500 hp Miata has been a momentum car or a point and shoot car depending on what I'm running against. 

adam525i (Forum Supporter)
adam525i (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
10/14/20 2:24 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

Fair enough and that is a really good point. So it's not that every car is a momentum car but every car can be a momentum car. I like that.

350z247
350z247 New Reader
10/14/20 2:25 p.m.

If a RWD car has less than 300hp and can't hit 60 in less than 6 seconds, I'm gonna get bored real quick. Of course, there are a lot of variables: suspension set up, weight, wheelbase, intended use, ect, but that really seems to be my lower limit. Miatas are great fun in a parking lot, but on anything larger, I just need more power to have  as much fun as possible. Barely cracking 100mph on a straight is incredibly frustrating. I'm assuming I would feel the same way in a BRZ except worse based on how the stock dyno graph looks.

That being said, I also don't want to be driving a S197 GT500 on track either...

Tom1200
Tom1200 Dork
10/14/20 3:37 p.m.

I get the perspective on horsepower; I envision John Force driving a Veyron, getting out of the car and saying "needs more power" . 

Coming from motorcycles to it's very difficult for me to find something that "feels" fast up the striaghts.

I'm willing to live with the compromise of something like a Miata or BRZ in exchange for lower running costs.

The other factor (for me) is getting the most out of it. A couple of years ago I drove someone's 911 GT-3RS, while I was 4 seconds a lap faster than the owner I'm also keenly aware that one of the factory guys would be 4 seconds (or more) faster than me. I'm not in a place where I'm OK with only getting 80-90% out of a car. 

Eventually I'll likely be OK with driving 80-90% as I do that with with my 500cc dirt bike but I'm still a 125 rider at heart.

 

buzzboy
buzzboy Dork
10/14/20 3:54 p.m.

I'm not a great driver. I know that. I get 5-10hrs of track time yearly and it's all green flag w2w. Without getting to practice beyond the traction limit I don't want to learn it during a race. I'm happy to have a car that is not traction limited. We're at 174bhp 243ft*lbs in a ~3000lbs car with plenty of tire.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
10/14/20 3:54 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Put crap tires on a 1.6 Miata and it transforms from a momentum car to a point and shoot. 
 

And these are my favorite cars on earth. 

 

Driven5
Driven5 UltraDork
10/14/20 4:16 p.m.

Forget the "every car is a momentum car" nonsense...Keith hit the nail on the head!  While momentum is important to all cars, how that momentum is best applied is what differentiates a 'momentum car'.

Over the years, I've found that I vastly prefer the perception of performance over absolute performance.

Tom1200
Tom1200 Dork
10/14/20 4:42 p.m.

Ding ding ding Driven5 summed it up perfectly.

 

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
10/14/20 7:29 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

That's my point. The reason you're taking different lines is not because one car has more horsepower than another - it means one car has more grip than horsepower. Up the grip on a high power car and you're back to those lines that emphasize corner exit speed instead of corner exit traction. You can have a 400+ hp momentum car, but you're going to have to build the chassis for it.

My 500 hp Miata has been a momentum car or a point and shoot car depending on what I'm running against. 

I'm having trouble following this.

Your 500hp miata - for your fastest lap time there is only one optimized line, right?  (assuming no traffic here)  If you subtracted 250 hp, you would drive a different line to maximize your laptime?

I've always thought of the perfect line as staying relatively constant, just the speed at which you can trace it goes up as you add grip and horsepower.  All cars want to maximize the speed carried through the corner, right?

Tom1200
Tom1200 Dork
10/14/20 7:56 p.m.

ProDarwin when driving my 80whp Datsun 1200 in certain corners I take the shortest distance because it saves time. I will double apex certain decreasing radius corners vs the traditional late apex. I also may drive the bottom lane of big sweepers. 

By contrast my Formula 500 doesn't require any of these antics.

As you move along between 80 and 800hp you'll find yourself adjusting your lines incrementally.

MotorsportsGordon
MotorsportsGordon HalfDork
10/14/20 8:55 p.m.

The Chaparral 2J proved you can have horsepower and be a momentum car. To quote Jim hall at laguna seca everyone thought vic elford had lost his breaks,truth was he hardly had to use them at all.

 

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