It's one thing to say the engine is performing no work "on the car," whatever that means in regard to a "frame of reference" or within the bounds of a mechanical system, but it is inane to claim the engine isn't performing any work. It's performing a whole bunch of work on the torque converter. In my opinion, the torque converter is part of the car. So when you say the engine isn't performing any work "on the car," what do you mean exactly?
In the real world, when force is applied over time and/or distance, work of some form is generally the result. Systems purporting to represent zero work are more generally bullshit scenarios of the textbook variety. Do we honestly believe that a hovering helicopter is performing no work? Really?
I meant that the engine is not doing work in the sense that it is accelerating the car, causing it to climb hills, overcome rolling and air resistance etc.
Actually I think you probably are correct about work etc. The engine in the car being held on the brakes is performing work on the car - the 100HP or so is heating the car (and its surroundings) up via the torque converter, radiator, exhaust etc.
Much of your previous argument seems to involve muscle power holding various objects stationary on slopes etc. Certainly there is work being done by the muscle. Here the work doesn't involve force acting over a distance but chemical energy, glucose being converted by the cells into energy, presumably if it is not converted into mechanical work (moving the tricycle up the ramp) it is converted into heat. Nevertheless the production of heat over time can be expressed as power as correctly as if the energy went into raising something against gravity or accelerating it. But in the FOR of the tricycle itself no work is being done.
So generally speaking I think that you are correct in what you say; work and power are developed by a muscle producing a force against a non-moving object. And the power being produced (if only as heat) is just as real as the power an engine produces.
However you also state (in post 60) that mechanical work need not involve force acting over a distance - the definition of mechanical work is exactly that - force acting over a distance. Work (alone) may not need force acting over a distance - but mechanical work does by definition.
Maybe that is at the basis of this debate - mechanical work (and power) must involve force times distance; other types of work and power (chemical reactions etc.) don't involve work times distance.
Sorry about the excessive rambling but I am trying to get the whole idea straight in my head.