Big powerful engines are great. Big powerful engines in small light cars are much, much better. Why fight inertia when you don't have it in the first place? These are Jalopnik readers' picks for the most motor in the least car.
Extra tip for math heads, science geeks and XKCD junkies: For additional academic fun we've included a calculation of power to weight, expressed as pounds-per-horsepower, using best estimates except when not reasonable. As a reference, a Corvette ZR1 has a power-to-weight ratio of around 5.3 lbs. per horsepower (3365 pounds/638 horses).
Welcome back to Answers of the Day — our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!
Photo Credit: rednut
10.) AC/Shelby 427 Cobra
Suggested By: Demon-Xanth
Power-to-Weight: 3.9 to 1 stock, dropping rapidly with forced induction and other good stuff.
Why it's all go and not much more: The big daddy king of monster power in a smallish body, the Cobra remains the standing illustration of the old definition of a sports car: a machine with nothing on it that doesn't help it go faster. Monster Miatas still genuflect before their tribal elder. Kit Cobras offer endless freedom for ridiculous power if you're so inclined.
Photo Credit: Nathan Bittinger
9.) Tramontona R
Suggested By: Jackie
Power-to-Weight: 3.88 to 1
Why it's all go and not much more: The tandem-seat Spanish speedster has received more attention for its ungainly looks than anything, but it does not lack in the engine bay. The twin-turbo V-12 gives it almost enough power to outrun the ugly. Get past the looks (or, better, have a seat in there where it won't bother you) and this thing threatens to flatly embarrass most of Italy's well-known speed machines.
Photo Credit: Tramontana
8.) Radical SR8
Suggested By: BtheD19, Coyote Power
Power-to-Weight: 3.25 to 1
Why it's all go and not much more: Really the closest to a street-legal racing car (check your local regulations) as you'll get, any Radical is utterly impractical and harsh and thrilling. Go for the V-8 powered SR8 and get a serious taste of what it feels like in a full-on modern endurance racer.
Photo Credit: Radical Sportcars Ltd
7.) Hennessey Venom
Suggested By: Litrecola
Power-to-Weight: 2 to 1
Why it's all go and not much more: Section one Lotus Exige. Install one twin-turbo Chevrolet LS small-block good for around 1200hp in the top-shelf package. Watch Bugatti Veyron owners remember that they have something important to do. Really the same basic idea as the Cobra, but with fifty years of progress in both platform and powerplant.
Photo Credit: Hennessey
6.) Caparo T1
Suggested By: Cheeseslap
Power-to-Weight: 1.75 to 1
Why it's all go and not much more: The ethereal T1 is really more about handling than straight-line speed, but that doesn't mean it can't move with supreme authority. Power-to-weight is much more than just fitting the biggest engine into the smallest car; the T1 is the complete solution.
Photo Credit: Darren
5.) T-Bucket Roadster
Suggested By: Demon-Xanth
Power-to-Weight: Varies by individual example and owner's checkbook.
Why it's all go and not much more: The Tin Lizzie defined basic transportation: engine, wheels, seats, some metal to keep the outside mostly out, that's about it. All of this makes it the perfect platform for a big engine. So long as you add enough reinforcements to keep the frame from pretzling, the sky's the limit; superchargers are just the most common and obvious power signifiers.
Photo Credit: Nathan Bittinger
4.) Caterham Levante
Suggested By: SennaMP4
Power-to-Weight: 2.08 to 1
Why it's all go and not much more: Any Lotus/Caterham Seven is already an exercise in studied minimalism. The eight cars constructed with the assistance of RS Performance take it all to a whole new level, dropping a supercharged 2.4L V8 in the place where Ford inline-4s usually live. Intensive high-performance driving lessons and an insurance-policy review are both strongly recommended.
Photo Credit: Caterham
3.) Benetton B186
Suggested By: reverberocket
Power-to-Weight: Nearly 1 to 1 in qualifying trim
Why it's all go and not much more: Given the tendency for the FIA to fiddle with the rules it's likely we will never see peak power outputs in Formula 1 match those of the late-generation turbo cars, where four-figure outputs were available with the twist of a wastegate controller. Legend says that the BMW four-cylinder in Benetton's racer spiked at 1400 horsepower at qualifying boost - from a liter and a half of displacement.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia/Don France Photography
2.) Top Fuel Dragster
Suggested By: Chairman Kaga
Power-to-Weight: Best estimates say around a quarter-pound per horsepower.
Why it's all go and not much more: A modern nitromethane-burning rail is one of the most extraordinary competition vehicles ever created. It is nothing more than some chromoly tubing wrapped in carbon-fiber panels and a driver's seat, a tiny cockpit in front of the most insane engine in racing — a monster block of carefully carved aluminum that is packed full of air and fuel and puts out something like 8000-10,000 horsepower.
Photo Credit: Associated Press
1.) V8-Powered Barstool Racer
Suggested By: SilverBulletBoxer
Power-to-Weight: Depends entirely on what engine you choose to install/sit on.
Why it's all go and not much more: One of the truly great examples of the all-American notions of competition, mechanical ingenuity, and complete weirdness, barstool racing is the ultimate in low-cost motorsports. Combining the motorized seat with a V-8 engine is just the next natural step. Yes, it works; yes, it even looks vaguely controllable. Yes, this idea was probably fomented (fermented?) at a bar in the first place, which would explain a lot. Sheer insane wonderfulness.