What Makes A Car Fast? (10 Speed Facts)

Car Speed

Hey there, speed enthusiasts and car lovers! Have you ever watched a sports car zoom past you and thought, “What exactly makes that car so fast?” From the roar of the engine to the sleek design that cuts through the air, there’s an intricate ballet of science and engineering that goes into making a car achieve breathtaking speeds.

A big engine with a lightweight car can go so fast. The faster you go, the more air friction will affect top speed. For this reason, the car with the fastest land speed record in the world is 763.035 mph (1227.985 km/h). It looks like a jet because jets are perfect for minimizing drag from the air. But, for every pound added, more power must be coaxed from the engine, or a bigger engine must be built.

The power-to-weight ratio is a delicate balance even for the muscliest of cars. It also takes a lot of effort to keep your car clean. Also, It bonds with and breaks apart carbon deposits more effectively than other additive technologies. Techron gets into the deepest parts of the engine, where the most harmful deposits build up and sweep them away. No matter how fast we can make cars go, speed limits will always hold us back.

We’re buckling up for an exciting ride into the world of automotive performance. We’ll shift gears through the mechanics, aerodynamics, and innovations that transform a regular vehicle into a speed demon. So, let’s put the pedal to the metal and discover what really puts the ‘fast’ in fast cars!

What makes a car fast speed?

First, cars can move fast because engines have become much more powerful in the last 130 years. The 1908 Ford Model T had only 22 horsepower and a top speed of 45 miles per hour (70 km/h). But a base Honda Accord can easily clear 100 mph (160kp/h) with almost 200 horsepower! Modern cars can pull more power from highly refined petroleum. Today’s more powerful cars can push more mass more easily.

But it’s not that car engines have gotten more efficient. Today, the Model T only got 3 miles per gallon less than the average car! Only 14 to 30 percent of the power from gasoline combustion is used to pull the car forward. Most of the energy is lost to heat and friction. Several factors contribute to making a car fast. Here are some key elements that affect a car’s speed and acceleration:

Engine Power: The power output of the car’s engine is a crucial factor in determining its speed. A more powerful engine can generate greater torque and horsepower, accelerating the car and reaching higher speeds.

Aerodynamics: A car’s aerodynamics play a significant role in reducing drag and improving speed. Cars with sleek, streamlined shapes and minimal air resistance can achieve higher top speeds than vehicles with less aerodynamic designs.

Weight-to-Power Ratio: The car’s weight relative to its power output influences its acceleration and speed. A lower weight-to-power ratio means the car has less mass to move for each unit of power generated by the engine, resulting in faster acceleration and higher top speeds.

Transmission and Gear Ratios: The gearing and transmission system affect how power is transferred from the engine to the wheels. Cars with well-tuned gear ratios can optimize power delivery and improve acceleration. High-performance cars often feature transmissions with multiple gears and close gear ratios for more efficient power transfer.

Traction and Grip: The ability of a car’s tires to maintain traction and grip on the road is crucial for acceleration and speed. Performance tires with excellent traction and grip characteristics can help the car transfer power efficiently to the road, allowing for quicker acceleration and higher speeds.

Suspension and Handling: A well-designed suspension system improves handling and stability at high speeds. Cars with responsive suspension systems and advanced handling technologies can maintain control and stability during fast cornering and high-speed maneuvers.

Braking System: A high-performance braking system is essential for safely decelerating and stopping a fast-moving car. Effective brakes, including larger discs, high-performance calipers, and advanced braking technologies, can provide the necessary stopping power for fast cars.

Fuel quality

Car acceleration and top speed are different terms, even if they depend on one another. One factor is fuel quality. For example, a gasoline engine runs on 91-95 octane or 98-100 octane.

Diesel engines stand in the delay of the diesel field to out-ignite. How fast does it ignite? A Premium diesel fuel can upgrade the rating. Does it help? It has a better throttle response, and acceleration will feel slightly better.

BMW M5, with more than 500 horsepower, will accelerate in around 4.4 seconds. It’s a lot faster, and it’s safer than front-wheel drive. The Bugatti Chiron wouldn’t be that fast if it didn’t have an all-wheel drive.

Tires & Wheel size

One of the most common ways to improve handling acceleration top speed is to change the wheels. 16-inch wheels improve acceleration but decrease top speed. On the other hand, 17- to 19-inch wheels will improve top speed but decrease acceleration, and fuel consumption will increase. Using wider tires than the standard ones will improve the acceleration times and speed to corners. So, cornering will be enhanced.


The fastest transmissions are the DCT, or dual-clutch transmissions, which are currently used even in the Bugatti Chiron, Lamborghini, Ferraris, BMW series, Audi RS, and so on. A dual-clutch transmission is made out of two manual transmissions. It’s automated. So, at the core of the fastest transmission is the manual transmission.

For fast, automatic transmission, DCT is the way to go. Comported automatics are comfortable but aren’t too fast, like slow shifts and acceleration shocks. CVTs aren’t that bad either, but the DCT is still faster. Each transmission from each manufacturer is different. So, different efficiency losses from transmission to transmission, and the lower, the better.

Gear ratio & Drive ratio

The gear ratio is a significant fact that identifies the car’s speed.

  • Lower gear ratio, higher top speed, slower acceleration.
  • Higher gear ratio, faster acceleration, lower top speed.

Each car generally has a different final drive ratio given by the differential.

  • The 3.3 drive ratio will increase top speed and reduce acceleration time.
  • The 3.6 final drive ratio increases acceleration time and decreases top speed.

People who upgrade to a limited differential usually want to drive their car. You need more power and torque on wheels to do with your car. For every 50 kilograms, the driver will have a different acceleration. So, the most important of all is power and torque. A bigger engine with higher power output and torque output will accelerate faster. Stage one, for example, will give you 30-50 horsepower and from 50 to 80 Newton meters of torque. So, more powerful, more torque.

Car weight

Weight is super essential for handling acceleration and top speed. Basically, in the automotive industry, a lighter car is expensive. For example, an Audi q7 has 245 horsepower and 550 meters of torque and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.2 seconds. That’s because it has 2,500 kilograms or 2.5 tons. Every TT has a 2-liter turbocharged gasoline engine with 200 fourth power and 280 Newton meters of torque.

  • So, two times less torque and two times less weight.

It accelerates in six-point six seconds. It’s much faster but lighter, even with low power and torque outputs. So, to give cars more horsepower, engineers have added more engines, reduced weight, or both. It all comes down to the power-weight ratio. That super-fast Bugatti Chiron has 1,500 horsepower but needs TWO V8 engines to get that. That’s a lot of weight.

So, to make the car go fast, they needed to make it lighter. The power-to-weight ratio is a simple formula to divide Weight by Power. While the new car has more power than a heavier vehicle, it is balanced. Engineers with a low weight-to-power ratio will have a faster car. But making a car with a heavy engine have less weight isn’t easy.

Ford mixed the steel on Model Ts with the element vanadium to try to make it lighter. Engineers still do stuff like that today. The Prius uses aluminum, plastics, and special high-tensile, high-strength steel. The Chiron, however, was built with ultra-lightweight materials like titanium and carbon fiber, keeping the weight down even further and making for an even lower ratio! Of course, the Chiron is 100 times more expensive than a Prius, partly due to that lightweight material, so there’s that.

Aerodynamics design

Aerodynamics is essential in the design process of passenger automobiles traveling on roads. The race cars are speeding down the racetrack, cruising down the street at low speeds. The surrounding air interacts with the car. However, you will understand how air resistance and the car’s design are closely connected to performance at higher speeds.

The wind, noise, and mileage also affect how potential buyers perceive the car. A more aerodynamic vehicle engine doesn’t have to work as hard to push the car through the air wall as the engine of a vehicle with poor aerodynamics. Aerodynamics can be separated into two separate forces: drag and lift.

Designers limit air resistance, also known as drag, in various ways. They might limit the air resistance with enclosed underbodies and flush headlights with rounded shapes on the exterior. That channels the airflow around the car or uses a spoiler to decrease lift and keep the air from lifting the car’s wheels. Automotive engineers and designers quantify aerodynamics through a number known as the drag coefficient.

  • The lower the drag coefficient, the better a car’s aerodynamic performance.

The drag coefficient is derived by measuring the effective air density airspeed drag. The surface area exposed to these forces is the frontal area. The higher the drag coefficient, the less aerodynamic the object.

Today, the average modern automobile achieves a drag coefficient of between 0.25 and 0.35. By using this design, automakers often break from the raindrop shape trend. It will be interesting to see how car designers innovate and push automotive shapes forward to create unique designs.

Top 10 ways to make cars go faster

Here are the top 10 tips to speed up your car.

1. Reduce vehicle weight. The lighter the vehicle, the faster the vehicle starts. Remove unnecessary weight such as spare tire, rack seat, panels, glove box, center console, etc.

2. Use quality gasoline. Don’t be one of those guys using cheap gasoline.

3. Cold air intake is the easiest way to increase horsepower. It is the easiest and an expensive way to increase horsepower.

4. Brand new spark plugs will ignite fuel faster and more efficiently.

5. Use an aftermarket high-performance exhaust. It will improve performance. The engine will exhale better.

6. Install nitrous oxide to increase major horsepower. However, this is only a temporary solution, and expect to blow up the engine and piston ring if you overdo it.

7. A turbocharger is the best way to increase power. The exhaust drives the turbocharger, and all that exhaust is being wasted. Why not use its exhaust and drive the turbocharger to increase power?

8. Use performance tires, preferably Z-rated, better tires with better traction, gripping the road better.

9. Lightweight rims will make a huge difference. So get rid of stock tires and use better lightweight rims: the lighter, the better, and the less weight to haul around.

10. Replace the strut in springs with performance parts. Stiffer suspension components and the car will also lower the center of gravity, improving handling.

If you want more power and more torque without changing the car or making too many changes to the engine, you should add stage one. These are the main factors that make a car fast. It’s almost impossible to have all of them. Sports cars have most of these characteristics. I prefer a light car with 200 horsepower driving a manual transmission.

From the power-packed under the hood to the aerodynamic designs that grace the exteriors, it’s clear that speed is the result of meticulous engineering and relentless innovation. We hope this ride has fueled your appreciation for the marvels of automotive technology and perhaps even sparked dreams of your own fast and furious adventures.

Whether you’re behind the wheel of a sports car or just dreaming of one, the spirit of speed is all about pushing boundaries and embracing the thrill of the drive. Thanks for joining us on this turbocharged exploration, and until next time, keep your engines revving and your spirits high!

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What Makes Light Travel So Fast?


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“FIA World Land Speed Records”. Federation Internationale de l’Automobile.
Danielson, “eMercedesBenz Feature: The World’s First Production Car, The Benz Patent Motor Car Velocipede Of 1894”.
Stoy, Andy. “Worth the Wait.” Autoweek. 62 (21): 40–41. ISSN 0192-9674.
Hodges, David; Burgess-Wise. The Guinness Book of Car Facts and Feats (4 ed.). London: Guinness Publishing.

Julia Rose

My name is Julia Rose. I'm a registered clinical therapist, researcher, and coach. I'm the author of this blog. There are also two authors: Dr. Monica Ciagne, a registered psychologist and motivational coach, and Douglas Jones, a university lecturer & science researcher.I would love to hear your opinion, question, suggestions, please let me know. We will try to help you.

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