HomeCar Culture‘Horsepower is Dumb,’ and yet we all use it

‘Horsepower is Dumb,’ and yet we all use it

Video shares the history of the term and why it really doesn’t make sense when applied to our vehicles


“Horsepower is Dumb” is the straightforward headline on a recent episode of Mac’s Motor City Garage, which we think is one of the best places to turn for a quick update on auto industry gossip, history, and much more.

Recently, Mac (aka Bill McGuire), posted a YouTube video in which Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained explains how horsepower is figured and why it shouldn’t be — but is — the way we rate vehicle performance.

We suggest you watch, learn, and enjoy:

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. Does Bill McGuire even know what a horse is? Does he know what horses were used for? How horses were the power behind all kinds of machinery. Just because the amount of work that one horse could do was put into a mathematical equation does not make it a “dumb” unit. It became a unit so that people could relate to what they could expect from an engine or motor. before the horseless carriage, the carriages were pulled by a horse or horses. How much the wagon or carriage weighed would determine how many horses or time it took. Many stage coaches used 4 & 6 horse teams. There was even a 20 Mule team that hauled borax out of Death Valley. The only thing dumb is that people don’t know what came before their i-pad.


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