What is a Performance Package?

Lori Kilchermann

A performance package is an option offered on a vehicle which increases the its performance. Typical features of a performance package are free-flowing exhaust, increased gear ratios in the differential as well as a positive locking differential. Tire, wheel, brake and suspension upgrades are all components of a performance package. In a pickup truck, increased ground clearance and heavy springs accompanied by special shock absorbers are additional options.

Pickup trucks often come with performance packages.
Pickup trucks often come with performance packages.

Special paint options and decals are tell-tale signs of a vehicle equipped with a performance package. Often the performance package will include special engine timing and fuel management that increases horsepower output. Enhanced shifting points are included with automatic transmission-equipped vehicles ordered with a special performance package. Most performance packages are limited-edition options meant to drive sales of a particular model and are typically linked to a special event or personality, such as the Hurst Oldsmobile equipped with Hurst shifters or the Shelby editions of vehicles designed by Carroll Shelby.

Special vehicle packages often include plush interiors and upgraded stereo equipment.
Special vehicle packages often include plush interiors and upgraded stereo equipment.

Due in part to the limited availability of many performance vehicle packages, the vehicles are sought after by collectors and are often viewed as investments. Some packages are geared to creature comforts instead of horsepower. These packages often include items such as navigation electronics, upgraded stereo equipment and plush interiors. These vehicles are also sought after by collectors due to the occasional limited production numbers associated with these special packages.

For performance vehicle enthusiasts, the benefits of increased anti-roll bar diameters and special spring and shock packages make the vehicles fun to drive. Suspension enhancements make the vehicles react more like exotic sports cars than the production vehicles that they are. Often over-sized tires grip the road much better than the original equipment tires that come on the base model. The optional exhaust is typically a little louder and sportier-sounding than the original units, making it more acoustically enticing to drive the vehicle more aggressively.

Some vehicles, such as the Ford Mustang, are available from the factory with racing packages. These factory race cars often come complete with warranty and factory backing. This makes it possible for a buyer to purchase a race car and go racing with a proven performance package. Many racing sanctioning bodies offer special classes for these factory-built racers to compete against each other. The benefits in purchasing a factory performance vehicle come in reaping the trial-and-error that the factory spent finding the best performance items and creating the perfect package to showcase them.

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