Following on from sideways' writeup about technology triumphing over sheer engine size, there are a couple of other factors to consider. First of all (and this is a pretty obvious one), the age of the engine must be taken into account, although this is essentially another facet of technology moving with the times. My 1975 Toyota Corona has a two-litre engine, but it's not even going to come close to some new plastic shitbox hatchback with a 1.6 or perhaps even a 1.3 litre motor.

Secondly, it is important to consider just what the measuring stick is for judging cars. Top speed? A car's performance can be gathered by measuring it's braking horsepower, which is how much energy is needed to stop the car (or kilowatts (kW), or Newton metres (Nm)). Often though, the best test is acceleration - measured by the time the car takes to reach the speed of sixty miles per hour from a standing start (refered to as 0-60mph (around 100km/h)), or the time it takes to complete a quarter of a mile (the 1/4 mile) from a standing start. Engine displacement is obviously not the only factor that influences the time. Curb weight, aerodynamics, tyres and track conditions all contribute.

So what does it all mean? In other words, unless you're going to put you foot to the floor, (and even then) sheer engine size isn't the only factor that decides performance. As sideways pointed out earlier, there are many replacements for displacement, some of them more effective than the extra cubic inches. In the early 70's in Australia Chrysler Australia released the Charger, a sports car version of the Chrysler Valiant. At it's best model (the E49), the car featured a 265ci Hemi straight six (4.35 litre) which was able to score a 1/4mile in 14.1 seconds, stock: Way better than any 350/351 litre Holden or Ford at the time, and even up to (and possibly after) 1997, was still the fastest Australian production car, even compared to the brand new 5.7 litre V8 Holden GTS-R. New tyres brought down the time to 13.8s. This is comaparable to American big-block V8's, and a tricked up Charger was and is definitely a force to be reckoned with. Not bad for a six cylinder!

To sideways; there is still nothing like the feeling of being behind a big V8, even if it's not the greatest performing car on the road.