It's not uncommon to see a car on the streets decked out with a custom body kit, full audio system and a set of Volk rims, to name the least. As the list goes on and expands so does the overall weight of the vehicle. So what does that mean to the average import enthusiast looking to improve the performance of their prized possession vehicle? Probably jack crap, but what many automotive enthusiasts fail to realize is lightening the vehicle and altering the vehicles curb weight does have its advantages. With every ounce or pound of weight removed from a vehicle, the car will possess a better horsepower/weight ratio enabling the vehicle to accelerate faster, improve handling characteristics, reduce braking time, while also reducing fuel consumption and emissions (due to the engine having to work less to move the vehicle). A general rule of thumb is for every 10 percent reduction in weight has a comparable 10 percent reduction in the force required to accelerate or decelerate an object. The same applies for an automobile.
To break it down in quarter-mile drag racing, every 100 lb removed from a vehicle equals [approx.] 1/10th of a second improvement. That might sound unimpressive when written on paper but those tenths of a second can mean the difference between winning a race by a mere bumper's length and staring at your competitors taillights in defeat.
For road racing vehicles and even drift cars the goal is to obtain an idealistic 50/50 weight balance from front to rear and improve in the vehicles overall handling characteristics. To be able to enter and exit an apex without loosing the vehicles momentum initiate a more stable turn, and induce accelerated pickup speeds can lower the lap times at the track.
Having to do the dirty work is never easy but 2NR took the job of getting down to the nitty-gritty for our readers just so you don't have to sit there in the blazing sun with your mom's weight scale, disassembling and weighing every item in your vehicle. For this article we have enlisted the help of the Skunk2 and documented the weight on various components on their custom carbon-fiber road race Civic, scaling every component from the seatbelts all the way down to the ECU brackets. We've done it all! Also in the mix are some lightweight aftermarket components that have replaced the OEM Honda parts. Keep in mind although we dissected and documented many of the parts from the Skunk2 Civic, there are still many more components that can be replaced or removed from the car-the sky's the limit. This isn't the final word in weight removal but rather a comprehensive article on how much weight can be removed.
Calculating power to weight ratioIn order to approximate the horsepower to weight ratio theory and determine how much power you can expect, we used this simple formula to calculate how much horsepower and torque is increased with every pound removed from the vehicle. Used within the formula is a stock Civic Si. Note: Curb weight is the total weight of the vehicle without a driver. Gross weight is the total of the car with the driver included.