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Does Weight Reduction Matter in Standard Consumer Sports Cars?

When it comes to perfecting your sports car, it seems like weight reduction can be a major step in the right direction. While bonafide race cars might get away with ditching the comforts and luxuries that add weight to your vehicle, you might want to think twice about removing them for more reasons than one.

Consumer-focused sports cars are far from what we experience on the track. No matter what circuit or style of racing, race cars are designed to be performance-focused, only taking into account what matters for driver safety rather than comfort. But automotive enthusiasts and race fanatics might be interested in making some weight reduction on their own vehicles, but there is more than one reason you should think twice before trying to convert your sports car into a street-legal race car.

You may be wondering what the benefit is to weight reduction in a more standard sports car. While weight is a crucial element of high-performance vehicles like bonafide race cars, it isn’t as important for street-focused sports cars. When it’s down to the wire, a vehicle’s power-to-weight ratio is an important aspect that performance engineers keep in mind, which is why race cars tend to reduce the number of luxuries to a minimum in order to create a better power-to-weight ratio.

Weight reduction means minimizing luxuries

Corvette Racing team
Corvette Racing team | Scott Varley, MediaNews Group, Torrance Daily Breeze, Getty Images

Weight reduction means removing a lot of unnecessary luxuries that make the car enjoyable to drive. While it can be easy to remove accessories like sun visors, most of the removable weight in your car is made up of the luxuries that make our car enjoyable to drive. This can include everything from interior panels, seats, air conditioning, and radios or touchscreen infotainment systems. While these systems aren’t necessary for your car, it can make it less enjoyable to drive your car on a daily basis

Never sacrifice your safety

Nissan 370Z
Nissan 370Z | Alan Look, Icon Sport Media, Getty Images

Removing certain elements of your car can make it unsafe even if you don’t realize it. Modern cars feature airbags that are designed to deploy from more locations than just the dashboard. This can protect the driver and passenger in case of a side or rear collision and help optimize the safety of everyone in the vehicle. These airbags are designed to deploy in a certain way, so removing any covers or panels that sit over these airbags can reduce their performance.

You should also never remove any of your vehicle’s safety features in an attempt to reduce your vehicle’s overall weight. Along with that, you should not heavily modify a vehicle in a way that makes it unsafe to drive in general, including driving on racing tires in less-than-ideal weather.

Your car’s power to weight ratio probably isn’t that fragile, and reducing the weight by removing a few pounds really isn’t going to make your car that much faster. In fact, weight reduction is only part of the formula for making fast and efficient race cars, no matter the segment. Weight, body shape, aerodynamics, and tuning are all major focus points of creating a genuinely fast race car.

There is more to performance than the power-to-weight ratio

Toyota Corolla hydrogen-powered race car in the pits
Toyota Corolla hydrogen-powered race car | Toyota

You can only go so fast on surface roads anyways. The highest speed limit here in America is 85 mph, so unless you plan on tacking on extra insurance for your vehicle to hit up the track, chances are you won’t really see the benefit of weight reduction anyways. Along with that, standard sports cars may be focused on providing drivers with an enjoyable driving experience, but unless you own some of the worlds most expensive supercars and hypercars, chances are your vehicle was designed to balance luxuries and comforts with performance, so unless you were to heavily modify the drivetrain and aerodynamics of the vehicle, improving your vehicle’s power-to-weight is only a fraction of the solution.