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Face Off: Rice Vs Muscle Essay, Research Paper

It is a warm summer?s day; the heat rises from the pavement as the roar of engines and smell of gasoline surround you. With a throaty growl the first car pulls up to the line on the drag strip in front of you. Its large V-8 pounds as it pulls up to the starting mark. An annoying whine announces the challenger, a smaller car covered in decals and brand names. Its four cylinders hum as it stops, ready to go. The light flashes green and both cars jump into action. As the front wheels leap from the pavement, the eight cylinders power the 4000 pounds of Detroit muscle down the track. Beside it, the much lighter Japanese ?Rice-Rocket? squeals down the track with a whine of a turbocharger issuing from under the hood. But from the beginning the race was over, the American muscle car once again leaving the Rice-Rocket sucking its exhaust. This is the scene at drag strips all over North America. Domestic automobiles defeat the imported cars time and time again but they just don?t give up. It is not only at the drag strip where domestically built cars come out on top. In everyday life a domestic car is a much better choice for many reasons. I will spend the next little while convincing you of this point. Please stick around for the ride.

If you talk to an import driver and tell him that domestics are better, at some point he is going to come out with the same old argument of ?Power per litre?. What this means is the amount of horsepower an engine gets per litre of displacement. Because most imports have smaller engines they must get a good power per litre rating to move the car. Because domestics use larger engines they do not need this. But even some domestic cars using smaller engines get good power per litre marks. Here are just a couple domestic cars getting over 100 horsepower per litre and they have larger engines then most imports. A Pontiac Solice with a 2.2L engine gets about 240hp, which equals out to 120hp/L, a Dodge Spirit R/T also with a 2.2L motor gets around 224hp, which is 102hp/L. And if this is not enough, there is a very common engine used by enthusiasts all over North America that gets 169hp/L. That means if a 1.8L Honda engine were this efficient it would make over 300hp. Why is this engine not used in cars today? Well because it is a model airplane engine that is only 0.0065L. If you were to buy 195 of these engines and put them in your Acura then you can brag to me about your ?Power per litre? but not a moment sooner.

Not only do domestics beat imports in the area of power per litre but they beat them all the way to the bank as well. While imports may be cheaper to buy right away, in the end they will cost you more. I am talking about oil changes, brakes, and any other repairs that will need to be done during your car?s life. For the sake of comparison I have chosen two similar cars, one domestically made and one imported. I chose the Ford Focus ZX3 for the domestic. It is a compact two-door hatchback. I decided on the Honda Civic for the imported car. It is also a compact two-door hatchback. I then did some research on cost of retail parts. While for a couple parts the Honda was cheaper, for most, the Ford was the cheaper choice. Here are just a few of the parts I researched. For a left tie rod on the Focus it was a mere $47.33 while the Honda would hit you for $62.40. A taillight would cost you $166.96 if you bought a Civic but it is only $145.71 on the Ford. And for my last part I chose a big one. For a hood on the Ford Focus it is $472.50, which is quite a bit of money, but on the Honda Civic it was $522.43. These are just a couple of common parts that you may need during your car?s life and if you are driving a domestic car chances are you will be spending less than your friend down the street driving the Toyota.

If these are not reasons enough to ?put a Dodge in the garage? then I will continue. The main companies making domestic cars are the ?Big Three?, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. These three companies have been around for years. It is a pretty good bet that people living one hundred years ago (your grandfather perhaps) did not own an Acura NSX. Actually I can guarantee it, since Acura was not in existence back then. But Ford was. Henry Ford founded Ford Motor Company in 1903, which means that for 99 years Ford has been making cars. In all those years they must have built up quite a following but Honda has only been in existence for 53 years and only started thinking about making passenger cars in 1961(before that they were concentrating on motorcycles). If your father has owned a Chevy for 50 years and never had a serious problem with it and you want to buy a car are you going to buy a Toyota? I think that a person is more likely to stick with what they know works. This is one of the biggest advantages domestic cars have over imports. They have made good, reliable cars for years, survived through world wars and even provided vehicles for use during wars. So while Honda may have a following of 2 or 3 generations another family may have been driving Chevy for 5 or 6 generations. Longevity means more time for research and more time to get it right.

Most of my arguments thus far have been targeted at the everyday driver, who wants a car to get to work and drive the kids to school. Now we get into the fun stuff, the need for speed, and all the work and money that go into it. In this area, domestic once again comes out on top. I guess it is because they were just made for speed. Not only is it much easier to make adjustments to a domestic engine, it is also cheaper. Due to the fact that the kind of domestic that you would be working on has a large eight-cylinder engine, many of the parts in it can be left alone. Because of the small size of the engines in most imports, the engine would have to be rebuilt from the ground up. I found an article in Hot Rod (Hot Rod, April 1998) in which they built two engines up. They used a Buick 455 and a VTEC Honda engine. In the Buick they were able to use almost all stock parts and made 500hp with no difficulty. The Honda on the other hand took quite a bit of work. The block (bottom of the engine) could not handle the high horsepower so it had to be completely rebuilt. They also had to use expensive aftermarket pistons and rods. Even after all this money and work the engine still did not quite make the full 500hp so they had to use expensive high octane racing fuel. What was the cost at the end of it all? For the so called ?low tech? Buick engine it cost $3,926US, and the ?high tech? Honda engine came to a grand total of $10,500US. So for almost one third of the money they made a ?low tech? engine better then the turbocharged Honda. So if you have the money to burn, might as well put it into a domestic engine because you are going to get much better bang for your buck.

In conclusion, a domestic car is better than an imported car. The Honda drivers can rave about their ?high tech? engines and ?power per litre? but when it comes down to the track and to the bank, domestic drivers come out on top. So if you are down at the drag strip this summer with your 1984 blown Camaro and some bozo with a turbocharged Civic asks you to race, ask him how much he has put into his car and if it is less then triple what you have spent, take him to school and if not race him anyway because there is always the chance he will break something and then you can still show him you beat him in the long run.

Works CitedBlais, Yannick Imports vs Domestics Various posts on the message board Hot Rod Magazine April 1998 Issue

Meadowvale Ford: For part prices used as facts.


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