Buy a big ol’ truck or muscle car and it’s not unusual for enthusiasts to stand around marveling over the number of “horses” under the hood. No, they’re not hiding palominos in there, but discussing instead the vehicle’s impressive horsepower. You see, horsepower is the rate at which work is done. Some vehicles are more stacked than others in this regard, thus boasting much higher horsepower rates.
The term was coined far before cars were invented by a steam engine engineer named James Watt (1736-1819). At the time, he longed for an easy term to describe the power of ponies working in the coal mine. His research found that a standard mine pony could log an impressive 22,000 foot-pounds of work in a single minute. He adjusted that number to correct for a larger animal — a horse — and calculated horsepower as being 33,000 foot-pounds of work per minute. Since his steam engines were making horses irrelevant, he surmised that one horsepower is the same as an actual horse hefting 33,000 pounds per minute.
Of course, there’s plenty of variation on horsepower relates to different types of machines and vehicles, but the bottom line is that it’s how much it can do and how fast it can get it done in. So now for a little bit of good, clean fun — put two things side by side, and decide which one has more horsepower — that's what this quiz is all about. It's like drag racing in quiz form!