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Pulling power: 15 car titans of torque

Motor Trend Logo Motor Trend | Slide 1 of 16: 15 Titans of Tire Trauma

15 Titans of Torque

It's an infantile obsession, but who doesn't love dropping the hammer and seeing the rearview mirror fill with tyre smoke? Well, I suppose the honest answer is most of the world that never clicks on our website. But here you are, so let's take a look at 15 vehicles capable of routing an almost surreal amount of force to their hapless contact patches.

This exercise started with a simple sorting of our test database by manufacturer-rated peak torque. The top of the list was culled to leave one representative of each vehicle line still in production, plus one out-of-production honoree: the mighty Bugatti Veyron 16.4. Then, after feeding tire sizes, axle ratios, and transmission gear ratios into our UNIVAC computer, out popped the following list of vehicles capable of sending between a half ton and almost 3.5 tons of force to the contact patch of each driven wheel.

Understand that the more driven wheels there are, the lower the individual force at each tire contact patch there is. In the interest of simplicity, vehicles with all wheels driven assume a 50/50 front/rear torque split with each tire getting an equal share of the abuse. One final exception to this rule: The twin contact patches at the rear of a dualie pickup count as one contact patch. All numbers presented represent an estimate of the force generated at the torque peak in first gear.

This yields a straightforward calculation of torque through the gear ratios in vehicles with manual transmissions, twin-clutch automatics, and multi-plate clutch launch devices instead of a torque converter (like the Mercedes AMGs). Torque converters introduce an additional multiplier from stall (standing still with both feet on the gas and brake) and until the converter locks at some speed above zero. Typical stall torque multiplication ratios can range up to 2.5:1. Higher numbers can give weaker engines a bit more off-the-line oomph, but this greatly reduces the efficiency of the transmission. Determining exactly what this multiplier should be is nigh impossible, so we made a few assumptions:

◦The Hellcat's peak torque arrives at a heady 4,000 rpm, and the Corvette Z06/Z07 eight-speed automatic peaks at 3,600 rpm. At these revs we can probably assume these cars are already rolling and close to if not already locked up, so they get no multiplier.

◦All the big diesel pickups and the luxo-cruisers from Bentley, Maybach, and Rolls-Royce make their peak torque below 2,000 rpm, so they can be assumed to be stalled at their torque peak; they get a very conservative multiplier of 1.5. If you're in the torque converter biz and want to suggest better factors, hit us up in the comments section.

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