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A Horsepower Calculator For Raising Your Car’s Top Speed
Horsepower calculators can help you figure out how much horsepower your car can get to a top speed number. However, before we get into calculating the amount of horsepower you need to reach a top speed goal, let’s first look at some of the factors that affect the top speed of your car or vehicle.
In general, top speed is a physically balanced point between all the forces acting on your car. When the total forces moving the car forward are exactly equal to the total forces holding it back, the car can no longer accelerate and reaches the maximum constant speed.
In this, we have divided the above speed equation into two main factors which are:
Power: Represented in horse power
Resistance: Represented in drag
Factors that affect how much power your car has behind it include:
- All the raw horsepower you have to work with
- Your vehicle’s final drive gear which includes your transmission gear ratio, differential rear drive ratio, and the size of your wheel and axle package.
And factors that affect how resistant your car is to it include:
- The aerodynamic profile of the car is summarized by a single number called drag coefficient which includes different parameters such as:
- Frontal area of the car (which determines how much the car can fit through the front windshield)
- The car’s height or ground clearance determines the portions of the airflow that are split and forced across both the car’s roofline and the underbelly of the vehicle.
- A car’s side profile which describes how the air is expelled after passing over, under and around the car and describes the characteristics of the low pressure area behind the rear window or rear bumper of the car. This area is always effectively ‘leaning’ the car backwards and needs to be reduced.
- In addition to aerodynamic resistance factors, there are also mechanical resistances from excessive internal rotation of the engine, transmission, wheel and tire package, heavy drive shaft and axle shafts (especially on a four-wheel drive, for example), etc.
However research has shown (and some racing classes such as Formula 1 have pragmatically confirmed this) that after the 100 mph point mechanical resistance factors become less important in influencing the vehicle’s top speed.
At those speeds, aerodynamic drag is the primary drag force in determining a car’s performance, so in sports like Formula 1, vehicles with the same power can vary greatly in performance based on which car has the appropriate aerodynamic configuration for it. the best comparison of the highest speed numbers. as well as assisted aerodynamic drag (downforce) during high speed shifting. In comparison, a lower speed racing class such as automatic transmission (which is limited by road design to about 80 mph for fast cars) you find that usually the best performing cars are the ones with the best mechanical traction. set up (coming from regular suspension settings and good wheel traction) without the real dynamic effects that come from aerodynamic design.
With that said, getting a top speed advantage by changing your car’s tow ratio can be an expensive process with diminishing returns. After completing the first set of basic changes such as…
- Lowering the car’s ride height to reduce turbulence under the vehicle
- Installing a rear bumper with a built-in air splitter or extending the factory bumper with an added air splitter to improve the air flow over the car.
- Using lower profile sides on the car such as lower profile mirrors or rear spoilers with a less aggressive angle (to provide a better balance between drag and downforce)
- Undercarriage paneling to provide a smooth lower belly-pan that helps accelerate air under the vehicle and reduces turbulence below. (You’ll find manufacturers like Mercedes do this even on their entry-level compact cars to improve high-speed stability and highway handling).
- Using a kit or custom made rear bumper with a built in rear diffuser to improve the transfer of both air flow from above and below the car that moves behind the rear bumper and prevents that low pressure area behind the bumper from causing the car to roll over. bite back.
- Tearing the top off the car and lowering the height of the roofline with respect to the hood and trunk (think of the roof height on a Corvette and on a Jeep to better understand why this works)
- Using strategic vents in the hood and front and rear fenders to promote airflow through certain high-pressure areas (for example under the hood or in the wheel wells) to reduce pressure in these areas and help improve airflow increase the air flow through the vehicle.
… once this list of changes is complete, you will find that your cash rate may actually have dropped by 30%. However, the top speed depends on the drag as follows:
Force to overcome air drag = fA x Cd x 0.00256 x cubic mph / 375
Note in this equation that the cube of the top speed depends on the Cd drag coefficient and so changing your drag coefficient from a normal 0.45 to a sportier 0.30 (a 30% reduction) is only causes a 12% increase in your level. Actual top speed (ie goes from a top speed of 100 to 112 mph)
Yes this is a significant gain, but to do something as important as doubling your top speed, you will eventually start to increase your overall power level. This is an insight that quickly dawned on Volkswagen designers working on the 1100 hp Bugatti Veryron and is precisely the reason they had to use so much power to reach their 400 kph top speed goal.
So going back to this equation above, we know that if a car is limited in power at its maximum speed (where we have more gear to use for acceleration or where (where we reach our top speed faster than the redline) then we know that increasing the engine horsepower to take advantage of the remaining rpm (or rev ratios) is a very practical way to increase the car’s top speed. .
In a practical sense, even if the drag balance on the car in question is unknown, it is possible to calculate how much power is needed to reach a target top speed by comparing your current power and top speed levels with your target ball. high speed level. By doing this, and using the following equation (derived from the general equation above) we get:
New horsepower = Old horsepower * (new top speed / old top speed)^cubed
A practical example that hits close to home for me is the 320 horsepower 3000GT VR4. This second turbocharged car comes with great aerodynamics and in stock form is capable of reaching a top speed of 160 mph in 5th gear at 6000 rpm with 1000 rpms to go in that gear and a 6th gear mesh. unused
At its top speed the car’s power is so clearly limited (instead of limited gear or pull limiter) at its top speed, some enthusiasts have begun to modify this car and break the 200 mph barrier.
Applying our formula above:
New horsepower = 320 hp * (200 mph / 160 mph) ^3
New horsepower = 625 horsepower
So what this says is that to reach a top speed of 200 mph in the 3000GT VR4, we know we’ll need at least 625 horsepower (assuming we have enough gear and rpm to increase your wheel rotation speed to 200/160 or 25. % while still operating below the car’s red rpm).
As a final note, it may seem crazy to try and double your car’s horsepower and reach a top speed that’s far beyond any speed limit you’ll ever run on a normal road:
1- There are some platforms like Chevy Corvette, Mitsubishi 3000GT, Toyota Supra…etc where doubling or tripling the power level on these iconic sports cars is not only common practice but also relatively cheap (7000 $ for 3000GT uses Dynamic Racing’s “Diablo Killer” upgrade package)
2- There are also approved racing classes that allow enthusiasts to race their cars in top speed tests as well as standing mile acceleration tests. These are very tough racing classes that attract only the most dedicated enthusiasts to extract every bit of aerodynamic design, horsepower, traction, handling, stability and durability from their vehicles and have become more of a racing cult or a hard-to-break addiction.
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