The Author: A Secret U.S. Performance-Car Enthusiast?

by Rod

Abstract: The author uses numeric subtlety in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone” to conceal the fact that she is an American performance-car enthusiast.

Is the lady who rules the most powerful nation on earth a U.S. performance-car enthusiast? The numbers make it appear so.

J.K. Rowling, reigning Queen of ImagiNation and author of the 7-volume set of the Harry Potter book series, shares her concealed enthusiasm for American performance cars of the 1950s-’70s discreetly, with subtle enthusiasm.

Consider the ending of the first book of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, known in the USA as Sorcerer’s Stone. At Harry’s first end-of-school-year banquet, while Professor Dumbledore was awarding the points to each of the four student houses at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, it occurred to me that the point values are the cubic-inch displacements of four historic U.S. automotive powerplants. From page 305 of the hardcover Sorcerer’s Stone, in “The Man With Two Faces,” the final chapter: “In fourth place, Gryffindor, with three hundred and twelve points; in third, Hufflepuff, with three hundred and fifty two; Ravenclaw has four hundred and twenty six and Slytherin, four hundred and seventy-two.” Notwithstanding that Gryffindor House was subsequently awarded an additional 170 “last-minute points” to allow it to surpass Slytherin House, the initial point tallies respectively cover two Ford Interceptors at 312 cubic inches and 352 cubic inches (engines originally developed for police vehicles), one Chrysler “Hemi” at 426 cubic inches and a Cadillac Eldorado front-wheel drive, the largest passenger-car engine ever produced at 472 cubic inches. Even the 170 “last-minute points” denote the displacement for an optional engine for the 1962 compact Ford Falcon! But…note how in the book, the displacements are spelled out rather than numbered so as to make recognition more difficult – clever!

On behalf of all performance-car enthusiasts here in the USA, even if you didn’t include our engine volumes in your other six literary volumes, thank you, Author Rowling.