I spent some time on one of those pedal-operated paddleboats this past weekend, because that’s the sort of exciting, anything-goes, wild-libertine lifestyle I lead, and noticed the little manufacturer’s sticker on the boat. It listed the expected seating and weight capacities, as expected, and then something unexpected: the HP rating.

Specifically, it said


... a statement which, the more I think about it, the more remarkable it is. It didn’t say the paddleboat was human-operated, or that it had no motor; rather it clearly specified a motor, specifically one that produces 0 HP.

I couldn’t see the motor exactly, perhaps because it had a displacement of 0 cc, meaning that the cylinders have a bore of 0 cm and has pistons that have a 0 cm stroke, which, of course, when you multiply those you get the 0 cc displacement, and such a cylinder would enclose exactly 0 cc of volume, making it pretty much invisible.

Even without being able to see it, I’m almost positive that with a cold air intake and swapping out a more open exhaust, I bet I can at least double the HP output of this paddleboat motor. EASY. Add some stripes and maybe we could triple it.


It may not sound like much, but with the motor weighing 0 lbs, that gives is a lb/HP rating of 0:0, which is even better than the Koenigsegg One:1, which, in pounds, has a lb/HP ratio of 2.2:1. I mean, that’s the whole car factored in, too, but still.

For a moment I considered stealing that 0 HP motor and using it as an extra motor on my Beetle because even if it produces 0 HP, it weighs nothing, so what could it hurt? The fuel consumption seems good too, at ∞ MPG. With gas mileage like that, I’d be a fool not to try it out!

These stickers should be on more things. How many things are sporting these 0 HP motors and we have no idea? Pencils? Bits of bark? Ham slices? A credenza? We could be surrounded by them!


It’s amazing how much paddleboats can teach us. Next time I show up, I’m bringing a turbocharger.

Contact the author at jason@jalopnik.com.

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