Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Sedgwick, Kansas
Woodchuck's dead on. It's far more important WHERE the power's made in the powerband instead of just 'what is peak?'.
A great comparison here is a Boss 351 vs. Boss 302. The 351 only makes about 10 more horsepower, believe it or not, but it'll wafflestomp a Boss 302 in almost any race you care to name. Why? Because the 351 produces much greater torque at a much lower RPM, and sustains it throughout the powerband. The 302 has to rev to much higher RPMs to hit its power peak.
There are a lot of engines that produce 'modest' horsepower numbers, but will absolutely put you back in the seat. Having a broad range of torque production is far more important for a street car, as it will deliver good performance any time you hit the gas pedal, instead of needing you to wind it up and get into the 'sweet spot'.
That's not to say that you can't build a really hot 302 though, with broad-shouldered torque too! Just worry about how the combo works together, and focus on a high, flat torque curve as much or more than peak horsepower at high RPMs. A normally aspirated 302 making 350 lb-ft or more is not easy to do, but with good heads and well matched parts, it's possible.
The venerable "5.0" Fox Mustangs of the 80s were legendary for being fun, fast, and making tons of tire smoke, but they only had 225 horsepower or so. Not too many Hondas making an honest 600 horsepower can catch them.
Last edited by Grimbrand; 03-26-2019 at 08:23 AM.