Horsepower and Talking the Torque
I was in the pub the other day with my mate Dan and his son Ben. Dan and I were picking out our dream cars and Ben was chipping in.
Ok, not exactly top news but as Dan and I were talking about the Bugatti Veyron when I mentioned its incredible torque. (max torque of 1250 Nm cos I know you’re interested.) Anyway, Ben suddenly asks what torque is. Dan looked a bit blank, so I explained. Then it got me thinking. In supercar land we talk about torque all the time. The bigger the numbers are the more impressed we get. When Dan looked a bit blank, it made me wonder how many other supercar petrol heads get a bit confused about horsepower verse “torque???. So, for the first time ever, I’m going to sound like a teacher!
We all know what horsepower is, right? How much power an engine has. Some old guy called Watt, hundreds of years ago worked out how much effort (power) it took for a single horse used to plough a field in a day. He came up with a number (don’t ask me how, I’m not a real teacher) Anyway, he worked out that the average horse could lift a 550 pound weight one foot in one second, or 33,000 foot pounds per minute, for an eight hour shift, more or less. He then published those numbers and stated that 33,000 foot pounds per minute of work was equivalent to the power of one horse, or, one horsepower. All the scientists of the day agreed, and that’s how we came up with Horsepower. Just to confuse you, some companies have now they translated horsepower into Kilo Watts. I think the Europeans had something to do with that! Just for people who get excited about numbers 4Hp = about 3Kw give or take a few small decimals.
So we now have an engine with loads of power, and can work out what that power is great. So what is torque?
Well torque is the turning power that engine can achieve. At it’s most basic level, it is the twisting force applied to something. Imagine you have a wrench and you’re trying to undo a rusty bolt, but you can’t. So, you stick a bit of old pipe onto the end of the wrench, you push down at the same rate as before? You haven’t suddenly got stronger, you’ve just increased the torque. Got it? It’s measured in Nm which stands for Newton Meters (at which point I’m a bit stuck). Anyhow, torque is simply the turning power delivered to the wheels from the engine.
So when I say that the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta has a hefty 545 KW engine (big powerful engine and man does she purr) which delivers a max torque of 690 Nm it means that the engine can turn those wheels really fast and your bum will get welded to the back of your seat when you put your foot down.
Having re-read this I’m feeling a bit proud of myself! I think even the Misses might get this. Right, time for me to check out the horsepower and torque of a few more beauties, like a gorgeous Lamborghini or the Aston Martin Vantage V12. Oh I can feel my mouse twitching with excitement – HR Owen web site, here I come – they have the best stats to find out both horsepower and torque!