Horsepower is no longer a helpful term in this day and age

Car companies always brag about the amount of horsepower their cars have, but describing the performance of a car in terms of the energy harnessed by a certain number of horses helps no one.

Maybe people who know a lot about the animal could imagine the force of hundreds of horses, but even jockeys don't deal with very many horses at one time.

I assume using the term horsepower was helpful when cars were just invented.

"Hello ladies and gentlemen," an early 20th century car salesman might say to a group of spectators. "This may be difficult to believe, but driving the automobile I now display before your very eyes is equivalent to having six horses strapped to the front of your carriage. It's a little something we call horsepower."

I haven't looked up the statistic because I don't want to be proven wrong, but I would guess that a vast majority of Americans have never even ridden a horse outside of a zoo or day camp.

I also would guess that only a small minority of Americans have seen a horse run as fast as it could outside of a racetrack. To tell people, then, that a car performs in the same way 500 horses running simultaneously perform does nothing but allow car companies to film horses for commercials to make their cars look impressive.

This, of course, is false advertising, because I would be much more impressed by someone who arrived at an event in a carriage drawn by 500 horses than someone who arrived at an event in a sports car.

Maybe the problem is that I don't like or trust horses, but that is not my fault. I was raised in a medium-sized city in the Midwest where only daughters of rich men, particularly silly police officers and people who liked to confine animals to small areas for show, actually owned horses.

With cars, bikes, boats, planes, motorcycles and off-road vehicles, who besides a historical reenactor needs a horse?

Maybe I'm upset because I just learned that people will never be able to ride zebras because those animals have weak backs. People will always have to use horses, then, if they want to ride an animal or do other things that are no longer practical.

I don't know, maybe I have nothing against horses themselves. I think I might just be intimidated by all the power they have.


• TNT Auctions, out of Salt Lake City, has purchased nine acres in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center from Lance Gilman of L. Lance Gilman Commercial Real Estate Services, the exclusive broker for TRI.

• Trammell Crow purchased 104 acres in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center on behalf of Multi-Employer Property Trust (MEPT), a $7.2 billion open-end commingled real estate equity fund. The sale was conducted by Lance Gilman of L. Lance Gilman Commercial Real Estate Services, the exclusive broker for TRI. The sale price was $10,227,343.

• City National Bank announced that it is now actively pursuing personal trust business in Nevada through its Wealth Management Services group with the hiring of Marc Goldstein as vice president and trust officer for Personal Trust Services. Goldstein will be responsible for the administration of personal trust, investment management and custody accounts for Wealth Management clients in Nevada.

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at or 881-1212.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment