Every vehicle manufacturer is proud of their horsepower and torque ratings. Often their horsepower figures are an effective marketing tool and a popular topic in bar discussions. But, can you believe the official ratings or do the manufacturers make those numbers better or worse for some reason? Of course, they do, and car manufacturers lie about horsepower ratings all the time.
To be honest, normal economy cars are most likely to have ratings that are true, but in the sports car and muscle car segment, almost all cars have power ratings slightly off. But why the manufacturers do such things and what is the purpose of lying?
Here are a few things car makers can accomplish by declaring false power numbers:
- They can present their models as more powerful than they really are.
- By declaring lower power numbers, they can make their models look more capable since the cars can produce a similar performance as the competitors with less horsepower.
- They can fool the insurance companies that calculate insurance fees by engine power.
Whatever the reason, playing with the horsepower ratings is as old as the industry itself. Here are 10 cars with horsepower ratings that are way off. Some of those cars are brand new models and some are classics, but they have one thing in common: they all make more power than the factory stated.
Chevrolet Corvette L88
Back in the late ’60s, Chevrolet had the crown of the most powerful American car maker with the advertised power of a 427 V8 engine at 435 hp. All other car brands at the moment had engines with official ratings less than that. But, in reality, horsepower wars were raging all over Detroit. When Chevrolet introduced an almost secret L88 option for the Chevrolet Corvette C3 and rated it at same 435 hp, everybody knew that Chevy was lying.
The L88 was basically a racing engine for the street and Chevrolet didn’t want it in hands of inexperienced drivers, so this option was never advertised through the magazine’s ads and brochures. Only the professionals and people close to Chevrolet knew about it and that is why they made few L88 Corvettes.
The heart of this package was a steel block and aluminum-head V8 with special internals and intake systems. The output was far more than Chevrolet declared and close to 550 hp straight from the dealer. In racing tune, the L88 engine could produce up to 700 hp, but it needed special parts and race fuel.
One of the reasons why Chevrolet lied about hp ratings was to keep it from amateur racers, since the power was the same as the regular 427 ‘Vette, but the price was much higher.