This has been on my mind since last week's Tuner Tuesday report on the 9.77/137mph Mitsu Evo. I asked myself what the old adage "No replacement for displacement" really means to people like me. It means more than speed; there's a whole philosophy behind it.

First let me say I respect and relate to anyone who takes the time to read, understand and work on cars, whether their passion is a ?32 Ford, ?69 Judge or a ?04 Evo. We are all a part of this culture and working on the same mission - to get better performance and looks out of our vehicles. But I feel that I need to better express the ?displacement? argument with the advancement of mega-horsepower from small engines.

As I said, this isn?t just about speed. With the right resources, I could get a bathtub to pull some pretty impressive times down the quarter-mile. There is more to it and the system seems to work via the senses.

Sound. I grew up around engines displacing 400, 305, 350, 327. Some of these engines were pre-catalytic converter. The sound that I personally equate positively with what I want my car to emulate was bred there. MB AMG?s turn my head when they go by; they have the classic V8 sound. While smaller displacement Italians have a sound all their own, something I call techno-muscle. The smaller cylinder engines, like the Evos and STIs, while I am in awe of the power they possess, leave me feeling empty when one takes off. And for the life of me I can?t figure out why anyone would want their car to sound like a motorcycle, but that will be answered in the last sense.


Sight. There?s nothing like a nice clean engine bay filled to the hilt with cubic inches, not plumbing. Chrome, maybe some carbon-fiber and eight spark plug wires. Also, the large coupes and sedans that usually house V-8 are more attractive to me than small cars, the Camaro, GTO, Mustang, 300c, etc.

Touch. Maybe this should be labeled more like ?feel?. While a 600 lbs/ft Evo is more an exception to the rule, smaller engines usually top torque numbers with the horsepower, while I prefer it the other way around. Torque plants you in the seat. There?s nothing like having a car that could pull a house off its foundation. Also in the ?feel? category is the rumble that shakes the car while at idle, not only should I hear the car, but I need to feel that it?s alive (the exact opposite of what most lux makes are looking for).

engineSmell. This one was a little harder to come up with. I can only equate to older classic cars; the smell of fuel in the jets of the carburetor, starter fluid to get her going and a low restriction exhaust. That?s a cacophony of garage smells that many modern cars can?t give you (maybe too many of these fumes have gone to my head).

Taste. Well, not literary, though I find a spatter of a good synthetic five-weight goes good with a side of road grime. It all comes down to a matter of taste. I can appreciate any type of automobile, but only certain types make it to my garage and it seems that I will always favor rear-wheel drive based V8s as my everyday driver and with the popularity of V-8 powered rear-wheel drive American cars again, it seems like a great time to be alive for guys like me. I don?t feel like I was born twenty years too early any more.

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