Aston vs Ferrari

An interesting scene. Apart from performance, these two supercar legends are hardly comparable. 5.3-litres vs 32-valve plus twin-turbo ? Classic Weber cab vs modern electronic injection ? Leather vs carbon fiber ? Front-engined vs Mid-engined ? Tall vs low ? Angular vs curvy ? Well done Zagato, you made one of the most unique supercars. Well done Ferrari, you established the supercar standard for Aston to diversify.

Time Tunnel

The 1 millionth Porsche 
On the 15th July 1994, Porsche produced its 1,000,000th cars, a 993 Carrera for the Police. The late Ferry Porsche celerated that moment with his fellows. Among the production, some 419,000 cars were 911, followed by 924/944/968 series at 325,000 units, then the short-lived 914 at 118,000 cars and then the 356 at 77,000 units.

Moby Dick !

Recently, I read the fiction "Moby Dick". Surprisingly, the white whale didn’t appear until the last 25 pages, by then I’ve already went through 250 pages ! TVR Tuscan emerged in the same way. We was told that 1999 should be the Tuscan year, but after waiting so long, it was still undergoing the final phase of test. I really hope next spring will be the Tuscan’s Page 250. 

I believe the styling is also inspired by Moby Dick : smooth, slippery, muscular, strong and powerful. The 360hp Speed Six engine (4000c.c., 24 valves) should be able to knock down any whale hunter’s ships. The captain with a wooden leg will be amazed by its cleverness - it won’t be as raw as the Cerbera or simply any previous TVRs. Instead, it will provide generous of leg room, an elegant targa roof and a stylish LCD instrument panel. If not get angry, the straight six will be as silky smooth as how Moby Dick swam.  
Having bored by the German machines, the Tuscan appears to be unusually attractive. 

Reader's Letter
Hi Mark 
Very good site you have here, but I disagree with you on point of the mighty Vector Wx3. 

As you can see i the original brochure there was 3 different engines to the Wx3. The wildest one was a 7.0 L V8 DOCH engine with 4 valves pr. cylinder a pair of adjustable Garret H3 turbos ! This moster gave 850-1200 horsepower depending on turbo pressure. This engine with full turbo pressure has a torque of 1084 NM !! And the exeact 0-60 time is 3.3 sec not 2.6 or 3.1 sec. Topspeed is 250-260 mph according to the settings of all the spoilers. There is a lot of confusion about Vector on the web, but only a few persons knows that there were 3 engines to Wx3. This is why you see so different numbers on this beauty. 
Lars Engen

first, a quick comment... excellent site! Good layout and design. 

Now on to a bit of nit-pickyness. 

While much of your comments on the Vector are udoubtably well meaning, from your opinion. Some bits of commentary need addressing. You need some more info on what pushrod engines are capable of. 

Currently, normally aspirated V8 drag engines are running to 1600hp. Engine builders like John Kaase are doing that all the time for Pro Stock drag cars and fuel dragsters. there are many. many street cars with well over 1000hp from normally aspirated pushrod V8 engines. 700 hp streetable engines are  
fairly common in normally aspirated form, provided they are large displacement (but there are a lot of factory engines to choose from: the Ford 460 in the average early '70s Lincoln, LTD, station wagon, and pick up, put out over 500lb ft of torque stock. With very little money and work, a 700 hp street driveable engien is possible. Same goes for various GM and Chrysler engines of the day). These engines are cheap and plentiful here, so we have a lot of experience in making them more powerful AND more reliable. 

OTOH, smaller pushrod V8s are very easily capable of high rpm use. The '68-69 Chevy DZ 302 as found in the Z28s of those years, is capable of revving to 9000rpm on a regular basis. In fact, there have been 5 of those cars in my sports car club, and I've seen that capability firsthand. On top of that, those engines are easy to duplicate. The Ford 302 is also a capable revver. My street driven 5 liter version in my modified RX7 revved to 7500 on a regular basis, but with a simple intake and came change was capable of constant 9000rpm use, itself. 

Now, the Vector itself probably didn't put out those numbers. As you said, the company was always more show than go (even after it was aquired by MegaTech along with Lamborghini). Of course, it didn't help that the Vector wasn't terribly attractive. 

But, saying that only an American Patriot who doesn't know anything about cars would believe those hp claims is not entirely accurate. Nore likely, the only people who would believe those claims are teh tens of thousands of Americans who drive cars that powerful, build those engines, and have grown up with them, and the few people from around the world who actually look outside their insular little local market and see what is, in fact, possible. Street cars running 0-60mph in under 2 seconds. 0-150mph in around  
5 seconds. Bonneville cars running 300+mph on pushrod engines. Street driven cars with over 1000hp. And none of them costing much over half of what a stock Lotus Elise does. 

Chris V.

I noticed on your webpage that you were wondering if it was possible for the Vector to have produced 700 hp from a 7 liter pushrod V8.  Being a fan of American muscle cars, I thought perhaps I could shed some light on this subject.  Although it's seldom tried due to the expense compared with supercharging or just making the engine bigger, making 100 hp per liter is not impossible for a pushrod V8.  The question is not whether this was possible for the Vector, but whether it could be driven on the street with 
anything resembling reliability. 

One recently published example is in the November 1999 issue of Car Craft. I'm not sure if you get that magazine where you live, but it's a fairly popular magazine about muscle cars in the United States.  One article, entitled "Pros & Cons of a 10-Second Street Car," went into the details of a '70 Dodge Coronet Super Bee built to run the standing quarter mile in slightly over 10 seconds.  The car weighed in at an immense 3,860 lbs, and the engine put out 751 horsepower from about 7.9 liters, naturally aspirated.  That isn't quite 100 horsepower per liter, but the engine could be pushed further.  In addition to push rods, it also uses a single carburetor with four barrels.  The engine puts out so much power that it often runs the risk of damaging the transmission (which, like the Vector's, is a three speed automatic). 

Another article in the same magazine describes a naturally aspirated 5.0 Mustang engine, which is also capable of being street driven, and also runs the standing quarter mile in approximately 10 seconds.  The power output of the engine is not given, but a Mustang is likely to require at least 500 hp, and probably more, to run the quarter mile that fast. 

Of course, this does not answer the question as to whether the engine in the Vector actually produced 700 hp, or if it could have lasted for long on the street with such a high power output.  It appears that this was possible in theory, but in practice would have required going to extremes that would cause problems on a street car.  I hope this answers some of your questions about the Vector's engine! 

Matt Crame 

In one of the "strange-car" sections, the one where you are talking about the Vector WX3, you state "The V8 grew to 7 litres, in normally aspirated form it was claimed to be delivering 700 hp ( who believe a pushrod V8 could do that ?)".  Now, I will be the first to agree that most of the US-sourced fair is rather poor, I have to call you on this one.  Those pushrod V8s can put out quite a bit of power.  NASCAR (you know, that contest to see who can turn left the best?) restricts their 
engines to one very simple formula: A 4 barreled carb'd pushrod V8 with no more than 2 valves per cly and a maximum of 5.7 liters (351 cubic inches.)  Now, most of these engines are based on technology much older than I am (Ford uses a modified Cleveland 350, 40 years old). 

Now, these engines can put out in excess of 800 HP in their full glory. Granted, they are running high compression ratios and race fuel, but they still get there.  Now reliable they are not, and a super car that needs a rebuild every 500 or so miles would not fly of the shelves.  But you at least have to give them some credit.  Pushrod V8s can put out some seriously high numbers.  Chrysler had a few 7L pushrod V8s that would put out in excess of 440 HP in the early 70s, off the factory floor.  And I've seen a few of these "Hemis" pushing 800+ horspower with little more than some new carbs and some higher performance pistons. 

I just have to give them credit.  

Corey Leighton


The Ghost of Vector

Suddenly many readers talk about Vector. More precisely, talk about my Vector page in the Strange Car section. For any people other than American, believing a push-rod 7-litre V8 outputting 700hp is simply unbelievable. But our Uncle Sam always says nothing is impossible in America. He argue that pushrod engine had been proved as capable of running to 800hp in NASCAR, or 1600hp in dragsters. He pointed out that there are many modified cars in America capable of reaching 100hp/litre while costing just a few hundred dollars for modifications. Is America really a dreamland ? 

If so, Ford Mustang SVT wouldn’t have been accused for producing just 280hp rather than the claimed 320hp, Callaway C12 wouldn’t have had just 465hp out of 6.3 litres (or in Uncle Sam’s words, 382 cubic inches) and the 8-litre Dodge Viper would have doubled its horsepower. Dream is dream, reality is reality. 

We, non-American, do not necessarily hate push-rod engines. However, in terms of top end power efficiency, it is just the basic theory (that every mechanical engineers know) tells us that the push-rod type valve gear is not the most optimised design. Not just because the long and heavy push-rods limit the revvability of the engine, but also because we assume all push-rod engines have just 2 valves per cylinder, without variable valve timing. Both limit the efficiency of breathing. If you believe the Vector’s push-rod V8 had 700hp on tap, then the contemporary McLaren F1 would have had 1000hp. No, the 48-valves, variable valve timing BMW V12 just produced 103hp per litre, versus Vector’s 100hp per litre. And who dare to say the Vector made better engine than BMW’s Motorsport department ?

If it is AMG or Callaway, I have no problem of believing it’s claimed power. But this is VECTOR, the most notorious supercar maker in the world. All the stunning claimed performance data were not testified by car magazines. The same for car modifiers. Tuners may claim big figures, saying they had reached that on the test bed. But the cars provided for car magazines were always said as "detuned" version because the development was still undergoing. Who knows how they tested the engine on the test bed ? For how long ? By re-programming the engine management system alone, you may get 100 more horsepower, but the engine would neither last the first 1,000 miles nor pass the emission test. That’s why they always lend the "detuned" version for journalists testing. 

So what’s the point of saying some racing cars have push-rod engines delivering 100hp/litre ? Racing car is racing car. They run on high Octane petrol (e.g., Formula One is 102 RON, versus the best 98 RON you can get in your gas station.) so to enable a compression ratio of probably 14:1. Our best road cars are just around 11.0:1. Direct injection might improve that a little bit. As a result, racing engine squeeze more horsepower out of the same capacity. 

Racing engines are designed to complete the race distance and no more. As long as it is enough to do so, all the extra weight are going to be cut in order to increase rev and power. For instance, the light weight valves, connecting rod, piston etc. might not be reliable enough for road use.

Then comes the emission regulations, which further limit the horsepower of our road cars. Adding all these, it is impossible to prove the feasibility of 100hp/litre road-used push-rod engine based on the "evidence" from motor racing. 

What about the muscle cars in the 60’s and 70’s ? Didn’t they prove that push-rod engine could be highly efficient ? No. Their headline-topping horsepower figures always worth doubting. Firstly, the race for horsepower in the muscle car era might push the Big Three to claim bigger numbers than the real ones. Secondly, in those years power were measured as Net rather than today’s Gross. An example would give you a clearer view - the Jaguar XKE V12 claimed 272hp (Gross) or 317hp (Net), the latter is 16.5% up from the Gross power !  

Uncle Sam also told us his experience of riding on a 70’s muscle car. He insisted he felt the POWER of the push-rod engine and recorded a fabulous quarter-mile time. Unluckily, it is the TORQUE and gearing that dictate the acceleration, not the top end power. You cannot testify the power without running to maximum speed. Well, for a 450-horsepower muscle car, the top speed is likely to be 180mph I think …. did Uncle Sam ever reached that ? 

That’s enough. Those enjoy watching NASCAR and drag racing might think different from the rest of the world. And the rest of the world would never understand how "great" the push-rod engines are, excluding about their size. 

- Mark Wan

Copyright© 1999 by Mark Wan @ AutoZine