Hooniverse Asks: What’s a good example of race car-tech in a road car?

Automakers that compete in motorsport love to tout technology gleaned from racing. That is, when on-track knowledge translates to a better road car.

Lotus loved its lightness. Porsche has the best automatic gearbox on the market. Mazda makes vehicles with great steering tuning. And Mercedes-Benz is fine tuning its turbochargers thanks to the efforts of its Formula 1 team.

What’s your favorite example of technology that started out on the race track but filtered into production car applications?


    1. My 71 Alfa Spider has SPICA mechanical fuel injection which Alfa developed from their racing cars. How it worked was a closely held company secret to keep competitors from copying it. So closely held, in fact, that the units were almost impossible to have serviced in the U.S. Classic Italian thinking. The car also has four wheel disc brakes and real magnesium wheels (12.5 pounds each) both of which were the results of race car development.

    2. Wasn’t the early F1 Ford’s fuel injection the first creation that became EEC-IV fuel injection and ecu systems for Ford cars?

  1. It’s perhaps already answered by the picture of the Uberbird. Wind tunnel testing, even though I suppose the Uberbird has never actually been in a wind tunnel.

  2. I’m a fan of the dual-clutch transmission. Porsche used it in the 956 and the 962 back in the ’80s, and now it’s in my Honda motorcycle. I’m also a fan of Porsche’s unmarketable name for it, the “doppelkupplungsgetriebe”.

    1. The DSG transmission in our 2014 Jetta TDI is…different. Almost reminds me of a chainsaw clutch. You have to rev it more than expected before it goes and when it goes, it really goes. That combined with turbo lag makes for a different driving experience. The first time my wife pulled away from the carpool line she squealed the tires.

      1. Mine’s fairly predictable off the line, but I’ve learned to rev it against the front brake for a second first thing in the morning. A couple times it wanted to rev up then dump the clutch like yours, but this was just as I was making the turn out of my driveway; not the best time.

        There was an early car version that used a torque converter to make the low speed performance better, but not having a torque converter was one of the features of the DCT, so it was a step backwards.

          1. Ha! The worn-out automatic in my mom’s AMC Eagle station wagon behaved like this when I borrowed it as a teen.

      2. I’m not a fan of automatics, so I don’t often read up on them. For my own education, PDK and DSG are both DCTs, but the former is Porsche’s and the latter Borg Warner’s, right? I was thinking I’d heard the PDK was the more “manual-like” of the two, with more engine braking and quicker shifts, but I’ve never driven either.
        Seems reasonable to think that the PDK– which might see some track time– would be the heftier, more race-calibrated unit, and the VW DSG would be designed more for a commuter car (early upshifts, reluctant downshifts). Maybe the Jetta TDI was attempting to lazily take off in a higher gear, and was slow to respond to your wife’s more immediate desire for acceleration, hence the delayed downshift?

    1. Up until at least the mid 1990s NASCAR aerodynamics were a consideration for GM street car design. The still used a stock trunk lid and the nose had to match the profile of the street car.

    1. They’re more widespread then ever because they’re no longer made of lead, so you need more of them. 😉

    1. Actually,

      “Alfa Romeo was the first manufacturer to use a variable valve timing system in production cars (US Patent 4,231,330); the 1980 Alfa Romeo Spider 2.0 L had a mechanical VVT system in SPICA fuel injected cars sold in the US. Later this was also used in the 1983 Alfetta 2.0 Quadrifoglio Oro models as well as other cars. The technique derives from work carried in the 1970s by Alfa Romeo engineer Giampaolo Garcea….”

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