Horsepower Ain’t Cheap! (Ask Ferrari)

Ferrari has announced that its new Formula One engine is 1.6 liters, spins at 15,000 rpm and produces 600 HP.

To those unfamiliar with this improvement, let me note a personal marker: Back in 1959, I bought an SCCA racing car from Morris Garage, which you know as MG. it looked like a standard MGA, but through Dual-overhead Cams it reached a then unusual, and much sought-after level of efficiency, one horsepower per cubic inch — in the case of my  car, 96 cubic inches and 96 HP.

My Lexus IS 350 c, 3.5 liter (213.4 Cubic Inches), produces 306 HP or 1.43 HP per cubic inch.

The Ferrari engine happens to also be 96 cubic inches, like my old MGA Twin Cam, but it now produces 600 HP! That is 6.25 HP per cubic inch. It uses both turbocharging and electric motors on the wheels powered by a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS). To be precise, 160 HP of the total comes from the KERS and is not attributable to the V-6 engine.

(A KERS unit — soon to be available in street cars — has been in F1 for several years, and is already available in racing cars of lower technology like the R- 18 Audi that will appear in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona at the end of this month. Someday in your Buick!)

KERS captures energy from braking that is usually dissipated as heat, converts the heat to electricity and stores the electricity in either a flywheel or a battery. That extra energy can then be applied to motors connected to the wheels for a brief burst of power, and then regenerated at the next braking.

The new goal for normally aspirated (no Turbo or Supercharger) street engines in normal cars is one hundred horsepower per liter.  That is currently achievable through tuning magic — electronic chips, intake and exhaust modifications, but…

In my case with 3.5 liters and 306 HP, I would need to get to 350 HP.  Let’s see, a K&N Air filter, for about $400, that would be an extra 11 HP, then, Borla Exhaust for $1,200, then…

(Horsepower ain’t cheap…ask Ferrari!)

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