Hooniverse Asks- Turbo or Super, What's Your Favorite Way to Get Blown?

Some people think turbos are just super, while others find superchargers turboriffic. Pumping up the volume isn’t just for club music and Jersey Girl hair, it’s also a good way to claim some additional horsepower out of an otherwise un-modded engine. Pressurizing the intake creates a more dense charge of fuel and air, giving each power cycle more to work with. Getting that dense doesn’t just involve watching a lot of Spike TV, but some sort of pump or fan instead to compress the intake air, and there’s more than one way to skin that cat.
Superchargers – or blowers – are mechnically-driven pumps typically driven off of the crank or through a ancillary drive belt. They offer almost instant power application due to being so directly dependent on the crankiness of the crank. The downside to this is the additional frictional losses which mitigate some of the power added, and tend to tank fuel economy. Turbos on the other hand use the engine’s own exhaust pressure to drive a turbine wheel connected to an impeller on the intake side, ostensibly giving free power. The limitation to this set up is the need of the engine to already be swingin’ like a Hep Cat before it can pump the turbo up to where it will provide any appreciable assistance. Modern turbos have limited that lag, but there’s still the on-off nature of many turbo setups.
Both of these methods have one thing in common – by compressing the intake charge, they also raise its temperature appreciably, encouraging pre-detination, or pinging. That’s taken care of with an intercooler, which are typically air to air or, less frequently, air to liquid. An added benefit of each is also the ability to have cool TURBO graphics on your car’s rockers, or some sort of S/C embossing on the bumper. Each of those is worth growing like 30 chest hairs – or if you’re a girl, not growing them.
So, each method of turning your engine into a pressure cooker has it’s advantages and its drawbacks, and each of those are probably of weighted importance to you. So, the question is, are you a turbo fan, or a super charger?
Image source: [imageshack.com]

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  1. dukeisduke Avatar

    Definitely a supercharger. We have a Toyota Previa LE S/C, and the S/C is unobtrusive, and starts making boost (6psi max) right off of idle.
    <img src="IMAGE%20URL" width="600">
    <img src="http://i98.photobucket.com/albums/l279/cmh1129/previa%20supercharger/previasuperchargerdiag.gif"&gt;
    The S/C on the Previa uses an electromagnetic clutch that's controlled by the ECU. There's also an air-to-air intercooler located behind the bumper, in front of the left front wheel.

    1. TX_Stig Avatar

      That could be fun, an electromag clutch to have a superchager switch, ala mad max.

  2. Alff Avatar

    As much as I enjoy getting into the turbo boost, I'd rather have a supercharger.

  3. grantlinderman Avatar

    Having never lived with a supercharged vehicle… I can't really make that great of a comment. However, having daily-driven both a B5S4 (twin-turbo V6), and an F-250 Super Duty (7.3L turbo diesel), I can say that turbos are pretty great. In the right application (or at least in both of those applications), the turbos added up to mountains of torque. And great fun was had by all.
    On the other hand… my dad's supercharged benz is just straight ridiculous. I think it just depends on the application.

  4. dukeisduke Avatar

    That Chevelle in the background – I'm wondering if it's the one that's powered by a 6.6l Duramax? That color, and those wheels, look familiar.

    1. LTDScott Avatar

      It is.

  5. SSurfer321 Avatar

    I love the whine of a blower; but with a turbo you can sneak install a duck call on your friend's BoV.
    Verdict: TIE

  6. Thrashy Avatar

    The instant-on nature of a supercharger appeals to me, but I think at the end of the day I still prefer the lighter weight, improved efficiency, and conceptual elegance of the turbocharger. Plus, once once fast-spooling VGT turbines start to become more commonplace, it'll be hard to think of a reason to pick a supercharger over a turbo.

  7. buzzboy7 Avatar

    Have you ever seen a supercharged NSX? I've seen a few only in videos and it was face meltingly awesome.

  8. CptSevere Avatar

    I love the idea of both of them. Turbo plus diesel equals awesome, and seeing a big old blower on a V8 is a beautiful thing. Last fall, when we hosted the T-Bucket club at the mine, about half of them had blowers, and it was something else when they all started up when it was time to leave. Music. <a href="http://.http://hooniverse.info/2010/11/16/t-buckets-at-the-goodenough-mine-tour/” target=”_blank”>.http://hooniverse.info/2010/11/16/t-buckets-at-the-goodenough-mine-tour/

    1. longrooffan Avatar

      CptSevere..edit that link to take the "." out before the http. I want to read that one again. LRF

      1. CptSevere Avatar

        Hey, Longroofian, just search the title in the little search window thingy up above. If you hadn't replied to my comment, I could have have edited it, now I can't. OK, here's the URL anyway: http://hooniverse.info/2010/11/16/t-buckets-at-the
        Enjoy, good buddy.

  9. P161911 Avatar

    My first car was a Turbo, specifically a 1981 Buick Regal Sport Coupe Turbo. It featured a monstrous turbo lag. Stomp gas, wait, then go. Right after college I got a 1992 Thunderbird S/C 5-speed. That was a fun car. It performed better than any car that big had a right to. For everyday driving, give me supercharger. For an all out track toy a turbo would probably be a better choice.

  10. spinner_deluxe Avatar

    twin turbo wins
    does not steal HP to make HP

  11. OA5599 Avatar

    Turbos are easier to tweak to the point where you make awesome performance gains up until the lean miture results in a bunch of useless metal.

  12. Maxichamp Avatar

    Tobius, you blowhard!

  13. Armand4 Avatar

    I can't decide which one I like best– from a performance standpoint, I like the way a supercharger adds power at low revs; from an engineering standpoint, I like the way a turbo "recycles" some of the energy that would otherwise go out the exhaust. Superchargers look cooler– I have a friend with a hot rod that sports an Ardun-converted (Ford former-flathead) V8 and a polished ScoT blower, and it looks unbelievably awesome– but turbos are more likely to shoot jets of flame out of the exhaust, and the sound of a wastegate popping has been music to my ears since the days when my dad had a Peugeot 505 Turbo.
    I guess at the end of the day, I'm just lucky I don't have the money or engineering talent to apply either method of forced induction to my cars– I'd be dealing with a lot of melted pistons.

    1. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
      mr. mzs zsm msz esq

      I'm the same way, I'm glad I don't know enough to break anything. I've looked at that crank driven fuel pump in my car and thought, "I bet if I got an electric pump I could run a super charger off of that." Then I cracked open my fourth beer.

  14. Thrashy Avatar

    Give in to the pressure!

  15. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

    Obligatory: <img src=http://i287.photobucket.com/albums/ll149/rgonzalez1211/huge_turbo.jpg>
    So my vote for turbos…

  16. Matt Avatar

    Although I currently own 2 factory supercharged vehicles I still can't help to feel that turbos are better. Sure the superchargers give that low end punch that small engines need (1.8L and a 3.2L) but I don't have a lot of rubber to hook up. Sometimes turbo "lag" is a good thing to get you going first before getting into the real power band. Funds permitting I will swap out the factory supercharger on the 3.2 for a turbo and hopefully never look back.

  17. joshuman Avatar

    There is a certain aural enjoyment in a supercharger that a turbo cannot match but in all other aspects, I prefer the turbo. I've owned three different factory turbo cars but have never owned or driven a supercharged car.

  18. LTDScott Avatar

    I've only owned one turbo car (Omni GLH), and have only ever driven one supercharged vehicle (Lightning), and that was only putting around town, so I don't really have an informed opinion.
    My gut instinct is that I'd prefer the blower, because I much prefer the instant punch of torque that my V8 engine gives me over the gradual surge of power that I had with the Dodge.

  19. Syrax Avatar

    My turbo experiences were little (in the 1.8T A4 and the S60R) and although they were nice they can't beat the S/Cs (RR and E55). I've been in a Cayenne Turbo also and, although it was faster than the RR, I didn't like it. SC FTW!
    <img src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5009/5375323054_21db3b7625.jpg"/&gt;

  20. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    I'm more of an NA man myself, but I'd vote turbo just because they're easier to adapt to Weird Science franken-builds.

  21. dragon951 Avatar

    Nothing beats the pure impracticality and utter awesomeness of an '80s Porsche turbo suddenly punching you in the back at 3800RPMs.

  22. Hopman Avatar

    Turbo, especially when paired with a big diesel.
    I've driven large trucks for a few years now, and there's nothing that compares with the sound of a Detroit Diesel Series 60 screaming up a hill under load!

  23. lilwillie Avatar

    [youtube ATigVqeECoQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATigVqeECoQ youtube]
    Super, all the way

  24. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    My two favourite engine configurations:-
    V8, large capacity, N/A, for total pureness of throttle response, linear delivery and unattenuated soundtrack.
    I4, small capacity, turbocharged, for straight up excitement.
    I don't know why, but I've never fallen in love with a supercharger ('93 Aston Martin Vantage apart, but that doesn't count). My father is seriously considering an S/C kit for his 540iS, but I think that's only because his 4.4 V8 isn't big enough. My old Audi, though not especially quick in outright terms, is given just enough of a kick above 3200rpm from that KO3 to make things interesting.
    Turbos give engines split personalities, which can be fun. You're never alone with schizophrenia.

  25. mdharrell Avatar

    <img src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5088/5731724122_d1f23555a3_b.jpg&quot; width="500">
    In this installment of Ways in Which the KV Mini 1 Just Ain't Right, we learn about the fuel system. Although the carburetor is naturally aspirated, the fuel itself is delivered via supercharger. The crank-driven fan (G) forces air simultaneously into the fuel tank (D) and the top of the sight glass (H), although in this case the 'glass' is merely a length of translucent flexible tubing. This drives the fuel towards the side-draft carburetor (F) via the fuel line (C), further assisted by gravity. A special fuel filler cap (E) forms a tight seal to minimize loss and, if necessary, acts as a blowoff valve.
    Figure taken from page seven of the KV Mini 1 owner's handbook.

    1. Thrashy Avatar

      You see something that "just ain't right," but I see a clever and low-cost demand-driven, returnless fuel system.

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        I get it. Milk goes in at (E) and fresh Ice Cream comes out at (G). Simple. Nice system.

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          I'll never be able to consult that diagram again without thinking of ice cream. Not that I mind.

      2. mdharrell Avatar

        I admit I'm torn. On the one hand, by agreeing with you I am continuing to defend the KV against criticism. On the other hand, I honestly do wonder whether the 0.43 psig generated by this system [the "30 gr." specified for (D)] is really all that much of a help over and above the gravity-feed already built into the design. I've never tried operating the car with the supercharger hose disconnected, but fuel does seem to flow to the carburetor just fine even when the engine isn't running. That much became obvious when the seal on the float bowl failed while parked.

        1. Thrashy Avatar

          Perhaps the gravity feed wasn't enough at higher engine speeds, and a little extra pressure in the fuel tank kept the mix from leaning out?

    2. RWB Avatar

      Whatever is on the next page looks significantly more complicated.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        Yeah, pages eight and nine are the wiring diagram. Mr. Spalek had to go all the way up to (Z) for that one. Even at that, the internal details of the Dynastar (combination starter/alternator/timing sensor/flywheel) spill over onto page ten.

        1. CptSevere Avatar

          I'm not even going to look. My head hurts already. Hey, there used to be French Dynastar skis, back when I used to engage in that insane activity, any relation?

          1. mdharrell Avatar

            No relation that I've found. The similarity is, however, yet another impediment to tracking down any information about a company called "KV" or "KVS" that made a car called "Mini." The company used to be known as "New Map" which also is of precious little use when searching.

  26. theTokenGreek Avatar

    the lead picture implies that my answer is permissible – not one or the other, but simply "yes."
    <img src="http://www.1aautocarshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/lancia-delta-s4.jpg"&gt;

    1. JayP Avatar

      Toyota teased us in the 80's with a SC/turbo Mk1 MR-2.
      Reading that in C/D gave all the lads a little tingle.

  27. ptschett Avatar

    It depends on the application.
    For a diesel, a turbo just belongs there. There's so much heat energy that otherwise would just go out the exhaust, so it makes perfect sense to reuse the energy and compress the intake air to make the engine more powerful and efficient.
    For a hoontastic kind of gasoline engine, my preference is displacement, but I liked the Eaton M90 applications like the 3.8L GM's and the T-bird SC where they were able to make a V6 perform about like a naturally-aspirated V8 of the day. It seems these days you get a turbo if you're getting a blower, and I'm OK with that in a performance car; the turbos have come a long way from the silly carbureted setups and such that we had to deal with in the '80's.
    What I'm most skeptical of is turbo gasoline setups on cars more toward the appliance end of the scale. I'm sure the turbos are better and the engine oil chemistry also has improved, but I'm still skeptical that your typical Cruze/etc. customer will allow adequate runtime before shutdown for proper turbocharger cooldown after hard running or in high ambient temperatures.
    Edit: also a random comment WRT "Each of those is worth growing like 30 chest hairs – or if you’re a girl, not growing them": when my sister and I didn't want to eat part of supper, my Dad would say something like "eat it, it'll put hair on your chest". My sister would object, so he would amend it to "it'll put chest on your chest" for her.

  28. Van Sarockin Avatar
    Van Sarockin

    When you don't have time to wait around: Turbonique.

  29. Clashtastic Avatar

    Favorite way? Freshman Girls.
    … Superchargers. I'm impatient.