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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Lightweight Cars

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Lightweight Cars

Posted by Glenn Rowswell on 23rd April 2012

lightweight cars

1. Light weight isn’t just about performance, it helps economy too. The 1.4ltr diesel Citroën AX is no speed machine, but their impressive 640kg weight means a world 100mpg has been achieved.

lightweight cars2. The mid ʼ70s and ʼ80s saw some amazingly powerful lightweight racers. The Porsche 917/30 race car from 1975 had 1,967bhp/ton thanks to weighing just over 800kg and producing almost 1,600bhp. But the kings of the track have to be the turbo F1 cars from the ʼ80s – these weighed around half a ton and had up to 1,500bhp, giving power to weight ratios of nearly 3,000bhp/ton!

lightweight cars

3. Despite being some of the fastest cars on earth, most supercars rely on huge power to have a good power to weight ratio. That’s because they’re so heavy: Ferraris, Porsches and Lamborghinis generally weigh around 1.5 tons, and the Veyron weighs 2 tons – more than a long-wheelbase high-roof Transit!

lightweight cars

4. On big budget race cars, great care is taken to make all parts as light as possible. A modern F1 clutch is just 4in in diameter and weighs only 1kg, despite being able to handle over 900bhp.

lightweight cars

5. Three-wheelers like Reliant Rialtos and Bond Bugs have always been the butt of jokes, but itʼs not that hard to transplant motorbike engines into them. With a kerb weight of around 400kg, a good bike engine would give you a car with around 400bhp/ton, which is enough to out-accelerate a supercar! And thatʼs before you turbo it..

lightweight cars

6. Weight differences between the road-going and race versions of cars can be huge. For example, the Audi RS4 road car weighs 1,650kg, but the DTM race version weighs just 1,050kg.

lightweight cars

7. Without doubt the wildest manufacturer-built tin top road car is, and maybe always will be, the TVR Speed 12. Weighing just under a ton and reputedly giving around 1,000bhp, then-TVR owner Peter Wheeler drove a prototype home one day and said it was so dangerously fast that he immediately refunded all deposits and cancelled production of the car.

lightweight cars

8. The lightest four-seat production car is the Bohanna Stables Nymph, a car intended to be sold by Chrysler in the late ’70s. Weighing just 420kg, this car may be ugly as sin, but it was surprisingly quick. Chrysler pulled the plug on it, however, and less than 50 were made.

lightweight cars

9. Top Fuel dragsters run the 1/4 mile in the 4sec bracket at over 300mph, despite weighing a similar amount to a Renault Clio 182. How do they do it? Simple, 8,500bhp! This gives a power to weight ratio of over 8,000bhp/ton, just don’t try and turn a corner…

lightweight cars

10. The Caterham Levante has an amazing power to weight ratio of 1,074bhp/ton, double what the Bugatti Veyron has. To get the equivalent power to weight ratio from a full weight Skyline R34 GT-R would take nearly 1,600bhp. The Levante sensibly comes with a two day driver training course to help you handle it.