Horsepower Killed The FWD Car...

MTV - circa 1981 - "Video killed the radio star, video killed the radio star..."
Auto Industry - circa 2004 - Horsepower killed the front-wheel-drive
car, horsepower killed the front-wheel-drive car...
Kinda catchy, huh?
This month's issue of Car & Driver has a very good article comparing front-wheel and rear-wheel drive. It's in Csaba Csere's "Steering Column."
Here are a couple interesting quotes from his article:
"But today, Honda Accords and Nissan Altimas come with 240-HP V6s, and 300 HP luxury sedans are everywhere. At these power levels, front wheel drive has reached the limit of its competence."
"In the end, you can have either front drive or plenty of power. But you can't have both."
Check it out.. it's a good read.
Love live rear-wheel drive!
Patrick '93 Cobra '83 LTD
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<<...This month's issue of Car & Driver...>> ---------------
Which issue is that... which month? June or July? thanks
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Patrick) wrote in message

How did they do it with the 1969 Olds Toranado?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Patrick wrote:

Ok, but how does this account for the early Toronados and Eldorados? I had a 72 Olds with a 455HO and FWD. Talk about bucket loads of smoke....
--
Check out the gaming & computer forums at the [SS] clan site.
http://www.shamikaserver.com
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Caveat: Using the current crop of transaxles.

Yep, this sounds like RWD snobbery to me. Or else the GM TH-425 transaxle was pure magic :).
The issue is not power at all. The issue is weight and cost. It's cheaper and easier (less weight and less space) to make a RWD configured transmission take high power. However, cars like the Hairy Hurst Olds proved that a properly set up FWD could easily take what *two* 425 CID, supercharged motors could dish out: http://www.oldsclub.org/hairy_hurst_olds.htm .
There are other great reasons to shy away from FWD trannys. There's no need to make them up :)
Dan 2003 Cobra convertible With some stuff and things
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

The Hairy Olds had each engine driving separate transaxles.
CobraJet

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I don't think the old GM FWD setup was like those of today. The engine was mounted longitudinally and not transversely. This is a better configuration than today's cars have. RWD just has too many inherent performance advantages which FWD will never match.
Dan wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Your second comment is exactly correct: There are many compromises inherent in front wheel drive. The TH-425 and 325 just illustrated them in a heavier, more primitive, car.
The old Toronados had a chain drive coming right off the torque converter, which drove basically a turbo 400 mounted backwards under the engine on the driver's side. This, in turn, was stuck into a separate differential that had the stubby flanged axles sticking out of both sides. To GM's credit, they had a longer stub axle that extended over to a stationary bearing on the passenger's side, so that the half-shaft geometry was the same on both sides. No torque steer. There was also a harmonic dampener on the right stub axle (but why?)
Now, here's the important part: There was NOT anything about this layout that was inherently strong. That's just ridiculous. The cars were very heavy and (in the 60's) powerful, and they used heavy duty components. That's what made it strong. It WAS primitive and easy to understand. A kind of "front wheel drive for beginners". They built it that way because they couldn't think of anything else.
It wasn't without side effects. Not by a long shot. The Toronados had FWD compromises in the extreme. They'd wear out a 60,000 mile tire in about 10,000 miles on the front, and the front wheel bearings, ball joints, and some other parts, particularly the idler arm later, just weren't up to carrying the sprung weight. Unsprung weight on the front was heavy enough to perform lousy, yet still light enough to break down. They handled like a snowplow. The weight mal-distribution was incredible. Must have been 80/20 to the front.

transaxle
cheaper
proved
need
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I've never driven a FWD car that impressed me. The steering doesn't feel light like it can on a RWD car. The only advantages I can think of that FWD has over RWD is lower manufacturing costs, smaller packaging and somewhat better traction in the snow. None of these have anything to do with adding performance. Having driven todays FWD cars with all the technology thrown at them I can't imagine how much of a handling/steering dog the old GM cars must have been.
Joe wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

The power limitation is really in what gets to the road. Acceleration lifts the front wheels from the pavement and pushes the rear down towards it. In a FWD car this sets up a vicious circle. Increase the power, lose grip. Eventually there is a point where any increase in power can't get to the road.
Then there are the adverse effects on handling having all that weight up front with next to nothing in the rear, etc etc.
Mechanically a big car like those FWD oldsmobiles of yesteryear could handle the power, as can the lighter FWD high performance designs today. But trying to get that power to road is something different.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
"Brent P" wrote in message

That's why the pro guys driving the sport compacts have wheelie bars that actually push the rear of the car up putting pressure onto the front wheels.
--
Scott W.
'66 Mustang HCS
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In the May 2004 issue of AEI there is an article on chassis integration in which the author states "At the Chrysler group, the decision to make the new-generation 300 and Dodge Magnum rear-wheel-drive would probably have not been made without the availability of the latest chassis technology to deliver traction and stability..."
So, perhaps the song should go - ESP saved the rear-wheel-drive car.
Jim S. '82 Mutant

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.