I know that in days past, I expressed my love for the new Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, which delivers over 500hp from a 2.9-liter V6. This list, however (via Insty) seems to take the whole thing over the top. Cases in point:

— Does anyone think that Dodge can make a car which can handle well enough to push out over 700hp without killing the driver and everyone else within a quarter-mile of its crash?
— Will anyone who wants to tow a boat even look at the BMW X5 (567hp, $100k+) as the horse?
— A 640hp Cadillac? What are these guys smoking?
— I make no comment about the Shelby Mustang, Camaro or Corvette because their owners, like those of the Dodge Hellcat, are probably not long for this world anyway.

I know, I know: we’re a nation founded on power and excess and all that good stuff. But at some point, someone at a car manufacturer has to ask the question: “Why?” (And listen to Jeremy Clarkson — the world’s foremost “POWAAAAHHHH!!!” speed freak; even he has admitted on occasion that a car can be too powerful.)

Most people can barely handle 150hp in their cars, let alone more than 500hp — use your favorite search engine to look up “Bugatti Veyron crash” for a simple flavor, and this in a million-dollar-plus car which has far less than 500hp and handles like a dream — which makes me think that these powerhouses should probably come with a mandatory driving course entitled: “When your IQ is less than a sixth of your car’s horsepower.”

I once watched a guy trying to reverse his McLaren F1 out of a parking space at Eatzi’s in Plano. It took him several minutes, multiple tries and half a dozen near-collisions with other parked cars because he had no idea how to handle the F1’s power for what is, after all, the most mundane of tasks we ask of a car.

My only consolation from all this is that the consumer market for the above will be refreshingly small, kept that way by cost, commonsense and, sadly, attrition.

I still want the Quadrifoglio, of course, because a.) it’s beautiful and b.) it’s an Alfa Romeo, but I’d still want it even if it had half the stated horsepower. How many of the other cars on that list would remain as desirable under that criterion, I wonder.


  1. “….sadly, attrition.”

    Attrition of idiots is a bad thing??? One of the better lines from one of my favorite science fiction authors “…think of it as evolution in action….”

  2. I love driving my ’17 baby caddy ATS-V coupe with the six-speed manual. 464 hp is more than enough for me and it will never see its 189 mph top speed with me behind the wheel nor will there be the smokey burnouts my hot rod friends encourage me to show them. The owner of the Cadillac dealership I got it from told me he can tune it for an additional 100 hp whenever I’m ready. I’ll never be ready.

    I belong to a forum of old school hot rodders (my other vehicles) and once, a new kid asked a Ann Landers question “What’s best, the girl next door or a trophy wife?” The best answer came from a geezer hot rodder “Sometimes, it’s better to give up some top end for driveability.”

  3. My first car was a 1985 Ford Escort bought a year old from a car rental company. I’ve owned blenders with more horsepower. Pulling from a side street to a busy main drag was a matter of floor-it-and-pray-no-one-comes-around-the-curve. Seriously, if the car got up to 85 MPH I’d know I’d fallen off a cliff. In 1989 I upgraded to a Mustang 5.0 (which I drove until a couple years ago when I wrecked it). 225 HP in a 2,600 pound car (about the same as the Escort). First time I did the pull-out onto a main drag I forgot which car I was in, floored it, and left about 20 feet of rubber on the ground.

    Driving in snow was a real experience though, you had to be VERY gentle with the gas or it would go tail-happy on you (I’d did 270’s a couple times in snow).

  4. I did a couple of hot rods, back in the day. Small block Chevy into a 1961 Austin Healey, some 350 hp worth. Later, reworked a ’67 Camaro with a 427 Chevy. Both were 150 mph critters. Later, I did the SCCA thing on track, working up to 200 mph in a Formula A car.

    The key is “worked up to”. I didn’t jump all over the loud pedal until I was pretty-well married up to how the toys handled. Plus, I was judicious about where and when I played. I’ve always figured that dancing through curves and corners is more fun than raw top speed. There’s driving and then there’s steering. 🙂

    For me, though, the aesthetic appeal of sports and GT cars of the 1950s and 1960s is greater than those of today. But that’s just me. Nostalgia and all that.

  5. The Dodge Hellbound has a top end of over 200 mph. Where are you going to drive it? Even if you modify it with a decent roll cage, 5 point harness, brakes and tires, it would behoove you to take racing lessons for six months before you try handling anything at over 120, let alone 200.

    While safety features like brakes, for instance, have drastically improved since the era of the muscle car, the average driver has not. In fact, I would venture to say that the average driver (U.S., not Europe) is doing good not to smack into anything more than once a month. And driving in the snow and ice? Forget it. When you’re on a Midwestern street in bad weather, what you really want is to be inside. Failing that, a Jeep with snow chains is a good bet – not a Mustang GT with 650 bhp and about eight zillion foot pounds of torque – all you’ll do is spin the rear tires until someone smacks you in the rear or AAA arrives with a tow truck.

    Nice list, though.

    1. On Top Gear, Simon Cowell once likened driving a Lambo in London to going on a date with a supermodel, getting to the hotel, and her telling you she’s a lesbian (at which point Jezza mentioned he’d be more than okay with that).

  6. Same for motorcycles, only more so.

    Even so, I’m gonna buy a BMW S1000RR, see what 200hp can do and dump my crummy Honda 1000 with its measly 95hp.

    Vroom, vroom.

    Oh wait, I’m 65 and wifey already threatened divorce over the Honda. Never mind.

    1. For what it’s worth, 200hp in a sport bike is quite a lot of fun, so long as you have the eleventy billion electronic gadgets needed to make it ridable. About ten years ago we saw the last of the widowmakers– bikes pushing 150hp with no computerized wizardry at all (other than EFI anyway). Since then, it’s been about more power and efficiency (which sells bikes) married to ever faster and better computers to manage engine power, wheelies, brakes, etc. (which keeps repeat customers alive). A Ducati Panigale, for example, is much less likely to turn you into a two mile red streak than, say, an Aprilia RSVR.

      As for the wife, how do you think self storage companies stay in business?

      1. I know they’re fun, I got to test ride one last summer.

        Unfortunately wifey is right. 65 year old guys just don’t have the reflexes any more, at least this one doesn’t.

        Anyway, I mostly ride around town at 60 or less, with 2 or 3 200 mile one way trips to our cabin. That’s the real fun as I ride a road up here in Alberta Canada called the cowboy trail. It has a posted speed limit of 100km (62mph) but the cops ignore anything under 160km (100mph), even when there are cops. The road is mostly empty when I ride.

        The Honda has been, I understand, at 220km (125mph) on that road, scaring the devil out of the driver.

  7. Power is relative. For what it’s worth, the Alfa is just about right for a sports sedan (I’ve driven it)– it is not overpowered at all, but then, it’s also not very heavy. Conversely, the 4C, like the Lotus Elise it takes notes from, is underpowered by ~100 hp for what that car wants to be (and should be).

    The hellcats are heavy, and while they are ‘overpowered’ by any rational definition, my dead grandmother could drive one. Even with the nannies off, yes, they’ll blow the tires off at any chance, but unlike muscle cars of old, the thing stops and can go around a corner properly. And if you do put it into the weeds, the 87 airbags will likely save you for that entirely hilarious call to the insurance agent.

    Likewise, the CTS-V is also a superb car. Much like the hellcat, it’s heavy. Also like the hellcat, my dead grandmother could drive it and live to tell the tail.

    As to the Shelby– well, I have one, and it hasn’t managed to kill me yet.

        1. Nice my Father in law loves Shelby and has three of them…He has a 07 Super Snake GT 500, 67 GT 500, and a 427 Cobra…

  8. Most modern overpowered machinery fills me with meh- too much Top Gear, perhaps.
    Mainly, one sees the results of too much power- the engine overwhelms the grip of the tires, and you go spinning off into a telephone pole. And putting modern machinery on it to keep it tamed means that your car is actively working to keep you from using this power, which means it is effectively wasted.

    And as several have pointed out, where are you going to use this power?
    Your Maserati may do 185, but what good is it if you’ve lost your license?

  9. My older brother is kind of a curmudgeon semi-asshole but a nice guy and 7 years ago he called me and tole me that he bought his last Corvette, he has owned a bunch of them since the 1960’s when he got his first divorce. Anyway he called me a month ago and told me that he lied and he had just traded his last Corvette which was a fast one with all of 24,000 miles on it in for a new one and he turns 83 this year and this will be his last one.

    They just had a Texas Corvette show in our town three weeks ago with 300 Vettes of all ages here, beautiful cars lined up all over main street which was shut down for the show. I was talking to one of the policemen standing by our plaza and asked him if anyone under 60 was allowed to own a Corvette and he said he might have seen a couple of folks in their 50’s including the lady with the Mary Kay pink Vette.

  10. Had a student a couple of weekends ago at the NCM (National Corvette Museum) track with a new (~2k mile) Shelby GT350R. Beast. Very capable track weapon. Just because they have HP, doesn’t mean they can’t turn and brake.

  11. Um, the Bugatti Veyron has considerably *more* than 500 hp. The first model had an engine rated at 1001 hp. The later Super Sport and Grand Vitesse models had 1200.

    I haven’t looked up Veyron crashes (yet), but I do know of one where the guy deliberately drove his car into the water in an attempt at insurance fraud. It didn’t work out the way he planned.

  12. I’ve had three Alfa Romeo sports cars. (1900 C Super Sprint Superleggera, 1300 Giulietta Spyder Veloce & a 1600 Giulia Spyder.
    All of them were wonderful sports cars with great handling. They just seem to feel right and natural. Italians build cars for drivers. I’ve had other sports cars, MGs & a Jaguar, but the Alfas were all better drivers cars.
    With a Motorcycle, the rider is far more important than the power of the bike. I have humiliated folks on high horsepower superbikes on tight twisty roads using my 90 horsepower Ducati. They do come screaming by a bit after the road gets straight enough for them to unwind the beast.

  13. Tesla Model S. Not fast, but quick. 0-60 can be under 3 seconds. Low center of gravity makes it handle better than expected, but it is a heavy car of around 5000 lbs.

  14. For my oldest so s birthday a couple weeks ago he wanted to go to Graceland. So whats a doti g father to do than 1) rent a Dodge Challenger RT, 2) drive from Chattanooga to Memphis with the radio blasting in said Challenger and 3) visit Graceland.

    Graceland is great. And the Challenger is great. Its super fast and a great car for the straight road and the interstate highway (ha! I even talked my way out of a speeding ticket by using the “its my sons 15th birthday and we rented this car. What would you do officer?” )

    But my comment goes to the Challengers handling. When we got back at trips end, i got off the highway and had a sweet 15 mile journey up and over a mountain on wonderful curvey mountain roads. Exactly the kind that make driving so fun. And i had high hopes. Till …. the Challengers absolutely awful handling and aircraft carrier sized front hood almost caused us to go flying off the top of the mountaining. A Grand Prix all star this drag racing monster was not.

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