I have a pusher. He pushes a drug called speed.
Guys that own hot rods, however, do not call this drug “speed” but “candy.” I guess that way it sweetens the blow that hits your wallet, the small side of your back, and the ever-present possibility of your forehead projecting through plate glass.
Guys that own hot rods rarely talk about how “fast” a “ride” travels. They are more interested in how you’ve “candied up” your car to cover short distances at G-force inducing velocities. They really want to know how much you’ve “paid to play.” Or in other words, how many automotive updgrades you’ve added to your stock car to make it perform at a respectable level for the average gearhead.
What’s more, what really makes them happy (and my pusher, in particular) is to see you candy up your car only to see it implode at the dragstrip or careen out of control on the street. The Germans call this schadenfreude or the “malicious enjoyment of other’s misfortunes.” I can assume most car candy pushers feel the same way.
I am not quite sure how to stave off this addiction. Its nihilistic. Its so German. And yet, my current addiction is being fed by a American 2003 Mustang Cobra. This car delivers the most bang for hot-rod buck in history. While there are some that many argue that point, let me leave you with a recent anecdote.
Yesterday my pusher called me to say that my car was ready (I had to replace the clutch after frying it doing upteenth burn-outs). The bill was in the low 4 figures.
My pusher informed me that he had just received a shipment of Whipple Superchargers and that while my car was in the shop he could easily put one on.
“How much?,” was my first question.
“About 640,” he replied.
“At the wheels?,” was my second question.
“Duh,” he replied idignantly.
The conversation continued for a few minutes before we ever got around to discussing price. For you see my pusher was telling me that by simply switching out the supercharger my car could go from 470 horsepower at the rear wheels to over 600.
It may be clear to all of you but just in case that is horspower at the rear wheels–not the flywheel–which is how all manufacturers report their horsepower figures. All cars lose approximately 16% of their horsepower from the flywheel (where the clutch engages at the transmission) to the rear wheels (where the rubber hits the road so to speak.).
That means, for example that my Cobra currently produces something like 560 horsepower. Hardly enough for my pusher.
In case you’re wondering, this upgrade would cost me about $4,500.00. Its quite the deal for over 150 more HP. Classically you paid about $1000.00 for every 10 HP but that was before the age of modular engines and computer-controlled engine management.
The Germans make you pay far more for every ounce of power.
To make their schadenfreude more delicious, perhaps?
Alas, car candy is equally lethal in any flavor.
I am telling my pusher “nein.”