Automotive

Why do old cars with low hp feel faster than new cars with higher hp and torque?

  • Last Updated:
  • Apr 22nd, 2017 12:51 pm
[OP]
Member
Jun 22, 2009
269 posts
175 upvotes
Toronto

Why do old cars with low hp feel faster than new cars with higher hp and torque?

My uncle drove a 1985 Camaro Z28 which has a 5.0L which put out approx 150hp and 245lb of torque. According to him, that car was much faster than the following cars (cars he has driven that we have within the family) :

Infiniti Q50
BMW 535I
AUDI A5

He claims the camaro accelerated much faster and overall felt much more powerful. On paper it seems like the camaro would not stand a chance against any of the cars mentioned before. Is my uncle just crazy or am I missing something?
25 replies
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2011
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Ottawa
He felt they were faster?
Any 1/4 mile time slips?
Deal Expert
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Jul 30, 2007
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It could be the rust has eaten thru the sheet metal of the camaro, thus car is much lighter than the newer cars
Sr. Member
Jan 23, 2017
993 posts
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Calgary
He's likely quite biased. I don't know many people who are into American Muscle that would admit a Japanese or German vehicle is superior.

Also, butt dyno measurements may (will) differ every single time.

Only advantage is older vehicles used to be much lighter for the most part, had less sound deadening, no power steering or perhaps hydraulic..You "felt" more connected in those cars. With so much of today's cars being electric/power assisted or full of assists, the driver is very disconnected.
Deal Guru
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Feb 11, 2007
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Oakville
It's not faster. It only manages to feel fast because it was only 3100lbs, with no sound deadening/comfort/suspension.
1985 Z28 0-60 is 6.9sec, 1/4 mi in 15 sec
2011 535i 0-60 is 5.5sec, 1/4 mi in 13.9 sec

His Z28 feels faster because it's louder, has worse suspension so you feel more at the same speed, it has less sound deadening, etc.
My old 1994 car felt like it was falling apart at warp speed when it was on the highway.
Sr. Member
May 21, 2015
736 posts
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Sarnia, ON
Just misty water colored memories really, Not sure how old your uncle is but some old guys (of which I'm one) don't want to accept that a "puny" 4 or 6 cyl car today will outperform yesterdays V8s.
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Oct 5, 2008
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Desii wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 2:44 pm
My uncle drove a 1985 Camaro Z28 which has a 5.0L which put out approx 150hp and 245lb of torque. According to him, that car was much faster than the following cars (cars he has driven that we have within the family) :

Infiniti Q50
BMW 535I
AUDI A5

He claims the camaro accelerated much faster and overall felt much more powerful. On paper it seems like the camaro would not stand a chance against any of the cars mentioned before. Is my uncle just crazy or am I missing something?
Quite simply, your uncle is wrong.
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Oct 6, 2010
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Thanks to the Smokey & the Bandit I grew up believing the greatest performance car possible was the Pontiac Trans-Am.

Then, one day, I got to strap one on. 6.6 liters of thundering American fury, delivering literally tens of horsepower to a chassis set up to outmatch the finest riding lawnmowers Albania could produce.

I could feel it rusting around me as I stomped the throttle, the three-speed tranny lurching me forward until the glacier I was racing caught me and ruined my traction.
DYI difficulty scale:
0-joke
10-no joke

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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Oct 5, 2008
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koffey wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 3:30 pm
Thanks to the Smokey & the Bandit I grew up believing the greatest performance car possible was the Pontiac Trans-Am.

Then, one day, I got to strap one on. 6.6 liters of thundering American fury, delivering literally tens of horsepower to a chassis set up to outmatch the finest riding lawnmowers Albania could produce.

I could feel it rusting around me as I stomped the throttle, the three-speed tranny lurching me forward until the glacier I was racing caught me and ruined my traction.
lol!

My ex had a 1965 Mustang with a 302 V8 and a 3 speed auto-tragic.

I could outrun that thing in my Mazda
Deal Addict
Aug 24, 2007
2109 posts
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Ottawa
Older cars does not do well insulating you from the outside world. you get a sensation of them being quicker because you hear and feel a lot more. In a new car, they are build more solidly to isolate you from the outside world. The smoother and quieter ride numbs you from any sensation of speed.
Deal Guru
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Mar 31, 2008
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the emission controlled cars starting from around 1974 were slow as heck. Some took like 20 seconds to hit 100 km/hr. But it's definitely the more 'raw' feel, the instant reaction, the tire screeching, shaking, the type of drivers back then that makes it feel faster. Growing up as a teen in the 90s, drivers were alot more reckless and crazier. Guys would do donuts everywhere (no stunt driving law). Also, yea, as mentioned, bc everything was mechanical (cable for acceleration instead of a smart box), there was more instant reaction. I still like that about my older cars.

Also, RWD, bc in you're pushed instead of pulled, it probably felt your head snap back more.
Sr. Member
Dec 20, 2006
572 posts
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Ottawa
booblehead wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 3:12 pm
It could be the rust has eaten thru the sheet metal of the camaro, thus car is much lighter than the newer cars
...not to mention the exhaust being vented into the cabin due to the rust holes makes you feel faster.
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Jun 10, 2011
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koffey wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 3:30 pm
Thanks to the Smokey & the Bandit I grew up believing the greatest performance car possible was the Pontiac Trans-Am.

Then, one day, I got to strap one on. 6.6 liters of thundering American fury, delivering literally tens of horsepower to a chassis set up to outmatch the finest riding lawnmowers Albania could produce.

I could feel it rusting around me as I stomped the throttle, the three-speed tranny lurching me forward until the glacier I was racing caught me and ruined my traction.
As an Albanian I feel offended. We'd rather let the grass burn then make mowers.
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May 4, 2014
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It "feels" fast because the car is shaking and rattling by the time it hits 120km/h and he is just holding on for dear life. Real fast cars don't "feel" fast when you are going fast, that's what gets you in trouble.
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Aug 10, 2015
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Desii wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 2:44 pm
My uncle drove a 1985 Camaro Z28 which has a 5.0L which put out approx 150hp and 245lb of torque. According to him, that car was much faster than the following cars (cars he has driven that we have within the family) :

Infiniti Q50
BMW 535I
AUDI A5

He claims the camaro accelerated much faster and overall felt much more powerful. On paper it seems like the camaro would not stand a chance against any of the cars mentioned before. Is my uncle just crazy or am I missing something?
My dad just bought a 1999 Pontiac Trans AM WS6. The car does the quarter mile in the mid 13s with 320 HP and 345 ft.lb.

I drove it right after he brought it home. While On paper, that HP number does not look all that impressive, compared to many modern cars, it certainly does feel fast. Driving around responsibly, it just felt like an average car from 1999, with a loud exhaust. But, when you put the skinny pedal down, it feels like you are awakening a big angry beast.

On some modern cars, especially those with auto transmissions, it can sometimes feel like the computer takes your input, thinks about it, and then delivers the amount of down shifts and power it thinks you need, while trying to keep you safe. Older vehicles tend to have a more direct feel. There is no "torque management," traction control, and stability control trying to limit you from driving at the edge of control.

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