Oct
02
1978 Ford Granada (left) and 2017 Ford Fusion

1978 Ford Granada (left) and 2017 Ford Fusion

It will come as no surprise to you that cars have gotten heavier as of late. There’s good reason for that. Things like side-impact protection, rollover protection, crush zones, and designed-in protections against partial-offset collisions (and other specific impacts studied by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) all add considerable bulk to a given vehicle.

The Ford Mustang, for example, has gained about 1000 pounds over the last 40 years, despite the current model’s extensive use of aluminum, high-strength steel, and, where appropriate, plastic.

Countering this weight gain is a generally commensurate reduction in engine displacement. To meet fuel-economy and emissions-related standards, the engines in mainstream vehicles have shrunk considerably.

The net result of all this weight gain and engine shrinking should be a net decline in performance. However, that is not the case.

The X factor in this equation is technology. Though the largest mainstream engine available in a Ford Fusion displaces only 2.0 liters, it cranks out nearly twice the horsepower of the 5.0-liter V8 available in the Ford Granada back in 1978.

To fully demonstrate the impact of fuel injection, turbocharging, and high-tech engine-management systems, we’re looking at the power-to-weight ratios of Ford vehicles from three different segments across a four-decade divide. In each case, we’re comparing the highest-output regular-production engines available, except for the Fusion—more on that below.

Power-to-weight ratios are reported as pounds per horsepower. Additional specs are provided below the pics.

Is this a fair comparison? You be the judge. Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

5 Largest Passenger-Car Engines of 1979

 

Small Car

1978 Ford Pinto: 30.3-to-1

1978 Ford Pinto

1978 Ford Pinto

Body Style: 2-door hatchback

Length: 169.3 inches

Wheelbase: 94.5 inches

Curb Weight: 2500 pounds

Engine: 89-horsepower 2.8-liter V6

 

2017 Ford Focus: 18.8-to-1

2017 Ford Focus

2017 Ford Focus

Body Style: 4-door hatchback

Length: 159.7 inches

Wheelbase: 104.3 inches

Curb Weight: 3000 pounds

Engine: 160-horsepower 2.0-liter four

 

Midsize Sedan

1978 Ford Granada: 23.7-to-1

1978 Ford Granada

1978 Ford Granada

Body Style: 4-door sedan

Length: 197.7 inches

Wheelbase: 109.9 inches

Curb Weight: 3200 pounds

Engine: 135-horsepower 5.0-liter V8

 

2017 Ford Fusion 14.3-to-1

2017 Ford Fusion

2017 Ford Fusion

Body Style: 4-door sedan

Length: 192.0 inches

Wheelbase: 112.2 inches

Curb Weight: 3500 pounds

Engine: 245-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four

Note: Also available for 2017 is the high-performance Fusion Sport, for which there is no comparable Granada model. The Fusion Sport comes with a 325-horsepower turbocharged 2.7-liter V6. At about 3600 pounds, the Fusion Sport has a power-to-weight ratio of 11.1-to-1.

The Small V8s of 1977

 

Sporty Car

1978 Ford Mustang II: 20.7-to-1

1978 Ford Mustang II

1978 Ford Mustang II

Body Style: 2-door hatchback

Length: 175.0 inches

Wheelbase: 96.2 inches

Curb Weight: 2800 pounds

Engine: 135-horsepower 5.0-liter V8

 

2017 Ford Mustang GT: 8.5-to-1

2017 Ford Mustang GT

2017 Ford Mustang GT

Body Style: 2-door coupe

Length: 188.3 inches

Wheelbase: 107.1 inches

Curb Weight: 3700 pounds

Engine: 435-horsepower 5.0-liter V8

The Big “V” Engine of Desperate Times: Remembering the Buick 4.1-liter V6

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