My understanding is that CCs are cubic centimeters, a unit equal to the milliliter used to measure volume. Horsepower is a measurement of power, which is the equivalent of work (force times distance) divided by time. Power is also measured in watts, joules, and calories.
“The horsepower was originally defined to compare the output of steam engines with the power of draft horses.”
Cars originally replaced horse based transit, so I guess its just out of tradition from when horse power actually was relevant.
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