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"cheap parts" and horsepower

The sporadic sniping about Porsche's use of "cheap parts" amused me.

The price of parts is determined by several things, among which are:

	How much engineering time went into it?

	How difficult is it to manufacture?

	How many of them are you making?

The engineering time is a "front end" cost, and is mostly spent by the time
the item goes into production. How tough it is to make is determined by the
balance between skill and conceit of the engineers who designed it
(impossible to make or work on, vs easy to make, easy to work on). The key
in getting the cost per unit down is to make LOTS of them, whatever "them"

Some years ago, there was an article in Scientific American magazine about
economies of scale that can be realized through mass production. They were
specifically talking about an automotive engine known to all of us -
powerful, utterly bulletproof, easy to work on, not touchy or finicky in
any way.

They estimated that to make the block for this engine, one at a time (like
Rolls Royce and Ferrari seem to do) would cost about $100,000 in casting
and finishing time. That's for ONE unit. The actual cost to the
manufacturer on this engine block, in serious production quantities, was a
whopping $64.

Now, if you were designing a car and you needed a powerful, utterly
bulletproof, easy to work on, not touchy or finicky in any way engine, and
had a choice between making your own at $100,000 a copy or raiding someone
else's parts bin for exactly what you needed at a cost of $64, what would
you do?

The various Audi and VW parts (and other parts - Bosch, ATE, Girling,
Blaupunkt, Bose, Lemforder et al) appearing in Porsches are inexpensive
because so many of them are made, NOT because they are "cheap", inferior or
substandard to "genuine" P-car parts.

No one objects if there is an Alpine radio in their Porsche. If Porsche
made their own radios, what would THEY cost? And would they insist on
making their own transistors and ICs to put into that radio, too? Point is
EVERYBODY buys stuff from other people. You have to!

The engine referred to above, incidentally, was the 383 Chrysler - pity,
but it is too heavy and large to fit my 5KS - Just think - 400+ hp, torque
measured in mile-tons, oil change intervals can be stretched to decades,
seeming without hurting the engine, and a complete rebuild kit from JC
Whitney for $199, if I ever needed it. Sigh.

NOW - on to horsepower. With identical technology, a big engine will beat a
little engine EVERY TIME. Sure, a chipped TQ of 2.3 liters will blow off a
stock (whatever) of twice the displacement, but if BOTH engines have chips,
turbos, headers, etc., the deciding factor is ALWAYS size. You cannot beat
cubic inches. Period. The laws of physics are not amenable to wishful
thinking or advertising campaigns.

Like the big lizard in the movie said, size matters.

Best Regards,

Mike Arman