23 December 2009

Brake Vs. SAE Horsepower

I promised myself when/if I successfully finished Officer Candidate School, one of the first things I was gonna do was buy myself a new car. I graduated OCS in October of 1967, and two days later ordered a car similar to the one pictured above, a 1968 Olds 442...
Oldsmobile's answer to the Pontiac GTO.

When I went to take delivery on the car the salesman felt it necessary to come and warn me:
"Be careful with this car... you ARE aware how powerful it is, aren't you?"
(Yes, you schmuck! That's the reason I want it!)

And it WAS powerful. It had a 400 cubic inch (6.6 liter) V-8 engine that produced 350 "Brake horsepower". My understanding is that brake horsepower was measured at the crankshaft with the engine removed from the car.
The car went faster than any 20 year old newly-commissioned Second Lieutenant needed to go. I loved the thing. I drove it 96,000 miles in six years and the ONLY thing I replaced on it in that time was the water pump. In 1973 I sold it when I bought a new Corvette. I've regretted selling that car ever since...

the Corvette was crap.
(And the kid that bought the Olds immediately took it Drag Racing at Indianapolis Raceway Park and won his class with it.)

New cars sing a siren song, don't they? I'm looking at the economy and realize it may fall completely apart, but hope that it doesn't 'cause I WOULD ABSOLUTELY LOVE TO BUY ONE OF THESE! (The graphics on that page took a LONG time to load on my machine.)

It comes in two versions... Fast, and RIDICULOUS.
Fast... is a 300 horsepower V6 that would make a nice daily driver and would get decent fuel mileage.
Ridiculous... is a 426 horsepower V-8 powered monster (that would eat the Olds 442 the salesman cautioned me about for breakfast and still have an appetite for more, while still going 9 miles farther on a gallon of gas than the old Olds).

Please consider...
The 300 and 426 horsepower figures I mention above? They're SAE horsepower ratings... which I believe is horsepower measured at the rear wheels where it is applied to the ground.
The '68 442 had 350 "Brake" H.P., and by the time that power got to the rear wheels, might have measured 300... maybe even less.
So that wimpy V-6 equipped Camaro? I suspect even it would probably blow the doors off my old 442.
... And we called those cars "Muscle Cars"!


cary said...

When technology and horsepower meet, there is only one outcome - SPEED!

Cissy Apple said...

Leroy had a "hot" LeMans when I met him. Kind of an avocado green metallic, big engine, noisy dual something-or-other mufflers. He thought his car was what attracted me to him. I never was a car nut myself. Didn't even know it was a hot car.

When we got pregnant with Brian we got rid of the hot car in favor of a more family-friendly car--a Plymouth Duster.

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Oh YEAH, a 442. No kidding you'd like to have that car back! Heck YEAH. Back in the day when you could look into the engine compartment, see a massive block, and actually see grass or pavement below.