Import Cars vs. Domestic Cars

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Muscle cars have always been a big in the United States such as the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and Chevrolet Corvette. These cars have been some of the most popular cars for the past 35 or more years, but over the past 20 years, Japanese cars are becoming more and more popular. Many people who are into muscle cars despise these 'imports' and people who are into these imports have the same feelings toward muscle cars. These two types of car lovers have a strong dislike for each other and these cars. Many people see both muscle and import cars as just a car and don't perceive any difference between the two cars.

One of the major differences between the two is the type of engines they have. Most muscle cars have a V-8 or even a V-10 with a large displacement. These engines produce a large amount of horse power and create a lot of torque at the higher RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) range, but to fit these large engines, they need large cars to put them in. On the other hand, imports have a much smaller, inline 4 engine, and because it has a smaller engine, it can fit into a smaller car.

To make comparing easier, a 2004 Ford SVT (Special Vehicle Teams) Mustang Cobra and a 2000 Acura Integra Type R will be used as the comparison. The engine in the Mustang is a 4.601 liter, 280.8 cubic inch V-8 engine with 32 valves DOHC (Dual Over Head Cams), sequential electronic fuel injection, and an Eaton Generation IV roots-type supercharger, with a TTC T-56 6 speed Manual creating 390 break horse power at 6000 RPM and 389 foot pounds of torque at 3500 RPM. It has a 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds, a quarter mile time of 12.6 seconds at 112 mph, and has a limited top speed of 155 mph. The Integra has a B18C5, 1.797 liter, 110 cubic inch, 4 cylinders, 16 valves DOHC VTEC engine. It creates 195 horse power at 8000 RPM and 130 foot pounds of torque at 7000 RPM. It has a 0-60 mph time of 6.5 seconds, a quarter mile time of 14.7 seconds, and has a limited top speed of 135 mph.

Even though the Integra is slower than the Mustang, the Integra engine has something the Mustang engine does not have, and that is a VTEC.

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VTEC is short for VVTALEC which stands for Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control. The heart of the VTEC is the design of the camshaft, with three lobes for each pair of intake and exhaust valves, plus the corresponding rocker arms that actuate the valves. At low to midrange engine speeds, the valves are opened and closed by the rocker arms following the outboard lobes have been ground to provide relatively low lift and short duration. Once certain engine-speed threshold is crossed, the VTEC computer sends a signal to a valve that uses engine oil to pressurize small pistons in the rocker arms. This locks the two outboard rocker arms to the center arm, which aligned with a higher lift, longer duration cam lobe. The valves now open farther and stay open longer so that it is able to suck in more air and to release burnt gases out faster. Acura is not the only company to do this. Other companies such as the Mitsubishi Innovative Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (MIVEC), Nissan?s Continuous Variable Timing Control, and Toyota?s Variable Valve and Lift with Intelligence (VVT-i). So far only Japanese automotive companies incorporated this technology into there engines. Before Honda introduced the VTEC in the Acura NSX super car back in 1991, cars were only able to produce horse power in the lower to midrange rpm or in the higher rpm range. Most normal everyday driving cars have camshafts the produce horse power in the lower to mid rpm range to make the car have a smoother idle. Racing cars such as NASCAR have racing cams that produce more horse power in the higher rpm range and causes the car to shake when at idle or low rpms because of the different kind of cam.

Another difference between the Mustang and the Integra is that the Mustang is rear wheel drive and the Integra is front wheel drive, many people have said that front wheel drive is better because with the engine over the wheels that pull the car, it will give the car better traction no matter what kind of weather whether it be dry, wet, or snowy conditions. After hearing about this, Ben Stewart of Popular Mechanics wrote an article on this called, ?Push or Pull Which is Better: Front- or Rear-Wheel Drive?? They took three front wheel drive cars, a Ford Focus ZX4 ST, a Toyota Camry XLE V6, and a Pontiac Bonneville GXP V8, and compared it to three rear wheel drive cars, a Mercedes-Benz C230K Sport, an Infiniti G35 Leather, and a Chrysler 300C Hemi, and put them through a rigorous test. After the completion of the tests, the results were, ?Neither front-wheel drive nor rear-wheel drive is really better than the other. Today's sophisticated traction and stability control systems are so good they can mask or enhance the true driving dynamics of a vehicle,? (Stewart 5). The only exception to this rule is for snowy conditions. Because of the front-wheel drive, the Integra has much better control and is easier to drive through the snow and makes the Integra a more practical car because it can be drive year-round. The Mustang how ever is a nightmare to drive in snowy conditions. Because the tires are so wide and there is less weight over the rear tires, the car can easily spin out. It would take a very skilled driver to drive a Mustang Through the winter times. Also another advantage that front-wheel drive cars have over rear wheel drive cars is that it gets better gas mileage than compared to a rear-wheel drive car. Stewart also added that, ?With all of the drive train components under the hood, cars became smaller and lighter and still had adequate interior room,? (Stewart 1).

A third difference between the two cars is the size of the cars. Since the Mustang has a large engine and is rear-wheel drive, it means that the car must be bigger to be able to hold the engine, and with the transmission underneath the car, there is less room inside of the car making it uncomfortable for passengers in the back. Since the Integra has a much smaller engine, more than half the size of the Mustang, the car can be much smaller and with the transmission in the front portion of the car, it gives the car more interior space and more room for comfort in the passenger and rear seats.

What can be done to a car and what is accepted by others is also a big difference between the two types of car enthusiasts. Most Muscle cars don?t really go for the look as much as the import cars do. Muscle car owners are, most of the time, more interested in how fast they can make there car so most of the modification on a muscle car goes into the engine. Not only do they want a fast car, they want it loud, so the install a custom exhaust such as Flow masters which makes the car sound real loud and makes the car sound ?mean.? One thing that you won?t see to often on a muscle car that you would see on an import is a body kit. Not too many muscle car enthusiasts are hyped about this because they think that it is too showy, which is almost the complete opposite thought that an import tuner has. An import tuner is more into showy things than a muscle car owner. Tuners customize there cars with anything from TVs, to neons, to air ride suspension. Instead of having the loud exhausts like on the muscle cars, they have loud stereo systems. Tuners will often spend upwards of $10,000 just on there car audio equipment ranging from the in-dash DVD player with the touch screen, subwoofers, tweeters, interior speakers, and the amplifiers. There are only a hand full of muscle car owners that do this with there cars and are often not accepted by many of the other muscle car enthusiasts. But customizing the interior and exterior of a car is normal for a tuner. Not only do they customize the looks for their cars, they also customize their engines with colored wires and painted valve covers.

Parts for both these types of cars are very easy to come by; it?s just the prices that are different. Since most muscle cars are built here in the United States, parts don?t have to be shipped far and are much cheaper than the import parts. Since imports come over seas, parts also have to be shipped from over seas which makes them more expensive and also may have to weight for a part to be shipped. After market parts for both the Mustang and the Integra are also pretty easy to come by because many of them are built in the United States. After market parts for imports, however, tend to be more expensive because it is going on a foreign application and much more customizing is needed for it to fit properly. The types of engine modifications that are done to a car also differ greatly such as the type of forced induction they use. By cramming more oxygen into the combustion chamber, more power is created when ignited because oxygen is very flammable. There two different types of forced induction, a supercharger, and a turbo. Superchargers are more often used muscle car owners because it gives instant power. Tuners tend to use turbos more often because it creates more power than a supercharger, but on the down side, has a lag for the turbo to spool up. Even the muscle car owners tend to use superchargers and tuners to use turbos, it is very common to see a muscle car with a turbo and an import with a supercharger.

Another reason why muscle car enthusiasts and import tuners dislike each other so much is because of the influence that they had. My brother is a big muscle car enthusiast and was influenced by my uncle and many of his friends. My cousin, on the other hand, is more into import cars and he also was influenced by his friends. Many people that I have talked to were influenced in one way or another by a family member or a friend.
One last reason why a person chooses muscle cars or import cars often depends on their heritage. My brother was born in the United States and one reason why he prefers muscle cars over imports is because of American pride. He believes that we should only drive American made cars because he would like to keep the money that was spent on buying the car to stay here in the united states where as if you bought a Honda or a Toyota, a percentage of that money is shipped back to Japan because that?s where the president of the company is. My cousin, however, is full blooded Asian and he feels that Japanese cars are superior cars over the American made cars because of the high technology that was put into the engine which was built to last. He thinks that over all, import cars are a much better car than any of the American made automobiles.

Work Cited

Andrew, Tim. ?It?s All About The Engine.? Mustangs and Fast Fords Magazine. Oct. 2001: 42-45.

Consumer Guide. Muscle Car Chronicle. New York: Publications International, 2003.

Daniels, Jeff. Driving Force the Past, Present and Future Development of the Car Engine. New York: Motorbooks International, 2003

Diaz, Fred. Personal interview. 21 Feb. 2005

Hardin, Drew. ?Variable Valve Timing What Is It? Who Needs It?? Super Street Magazine Feb. 2005: 20-25.

Leh, Joey. ?Can You Kick It? Yes You Cam!? Import Tuner Magazine. April 2005: 24-28.

McAuliffe, Pat. Personal interview. 19 Feb. 2005.

Pettitt, Joe. Sport Compact Performance Guide: Import Cars. Minnesota: Voyageur Press, 2000.


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