Ask the Best and Brightest: How Fast is Fast Enough?

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
ask the best and brightest how fast is fast enough

George Carlin famously opined, “Everyone who drives slower than you do is an idiot; everyone who drives faster than you do is a maniac.” I took a fair amount of stick from the B&B the other day for admitting I’ve exceeded the speed limit in the past. The squeaky wheels here at TTAC seem to consider 123 mph not acceptable; which makes me wonder what some of those people would have said if they’d ridden up I-75 with me a few years ago when I decided to “max out” my 911.

Some of you feel that any speeding is unacceptable, but I’d suspect you are in the minority, even at TTAC. The average driver does speed. [ED: gasp!] So, B&B, the question becomes: where do you draw the line? At ten over? Fifteen? Double the limit? 300 kph? Sure, conditions vary, so let’s stipulate a set of familiar conditions: a Florida freeway, five lanes, wide, good weather, visibility to the horizon, clumps of traffic with long gaps between. What’s safe? What’s acceptable for the “average driver”? What are you willing to do in that situation?

I’ll open with my personal opinion: in a car I own, by myself or with consenting passengers, with the V1, Lidatek and various other devices in play, I’m willing to floor it until we reach the limit stamped on the sidewalls. You?

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4 of 113 comments
  • E36m3 E36m3 on Feb 26, 2009

    I had my M3 pegged at 142 on an open stretch of highway in Arizona. The car is designed to go that speed and it was great to experience it. I've driven on the Autobahn, and I don't buy the 'speed kills' stuff. Germany's 'unrestricted' sections of Autobahn have a lower fatality rate per capita than our heavily policed interstates. It is simply not true that speed kills. I'd rather be on the road with high performance cars doing what they are designed to do, with attentive and focused drivers enjoying them, than on a five lane LA freeway going 60 with distracted, disconnected, bored drivers, clogging lanes and daydreaming.

  • Oregon Sage Oregon Sage on Feb 26, 2009

    Didya know that you can hit triple digits in third gear on a BMW K1100? Aint even any effort. It is also quite possible to sustain those speeds in 6th gear for several miles while traveling across southeastern Oregon. No danger to anyone but myself and the occasional coyote. New tires, life insurance paid up. Life is too short to avoid all risk. Not something that I do regularly, but I wouldnt suggest that I wont do it again; although I have given up the 2 wheeled stuff. I wonder what the top end is on my F150 SuperCrew ....... Turns out that the cheeseburger and Dr. Pepper diet was a bigger problem according to my cardiologist's pronouncement as I came too from the unscheduled angioplasty.

  • MidLifeCelica MidLifeCelica on Mar 01, 2009

    I'll admit it. I speed when conditions permit. Like most of the posters here, I'll go 10% over on a regular basis. Sometimes more, but not for long - cops here in Nova Scotia are numerous and good at hiding. I've pushed my Celica GTS hard a few times just to see what it's like, but it's not a race car. Every 100 yards there's some fresh road kill too, which induces caution if you're driving a small, low car like I am - I'm surprised no one has brought up the issue of animals on the road. The risk/reward ratio just isn't good enough. Anyway, I strongly believe that it's speed differentials that kill, not speed itself. There is no magic number, but you can't be out on either end of the velocity bell curve for long without getting in serious trouble. Many years ago I had the displeasure of having to drive at night through Quebec in a blizzard. After 10 cars and 4 semis blew by me at 140kph+ while I was doing 90, I sighed and pushed the gas pedal down hard to avoid being crushed. In that situation, I was the dangerous element.

  • 357Sig 357Sig on Mar 09, 2009

    Driving a Phaeton is very much like walking a very enthusiastic dog. I drive one every day. All it really wants to do is go very fast and play loud music through its eye-watering stereo. Mine is a 2005 V8 model. I took the same 6 CDs out of the trunk mounted changer in my MB S500, and put them in the Phaeton's glove box mounted one when I bought the car. I heard things on them I never heard before. New highs, new lows and bass that will literally beat on your chest. Louder than you can listen, with no distortion whatsoever. Because of its weight, it does not corner like sorts car, but it sure does go and stop like one. Once you grasp exactly what that means, the Phaeton is extremely drivable in an urban Interstate take-no-prisoners scenario. The beauty of this situation is that the Phaeton LOVES to speed. And is quite possibly just the right car to do it in, on the highway. Or, for that matter, anything that loosely resembles a straight line. Consider: 1) The Phaeton V8 can effortlessly do 130 with its USA spec speed limiter active or about 170 without it; 2) To the police, the Phaeton looks just like a Buick Lucerne. 3) If something were to go awry, the Phaeton weighs as much as a Chevrolet Suburban, is stiffer than a Mack Truck and has state of the art safety equipment that most auto manufacturers have never even heard of. The stealth factor really works for it. The 6 speed transmission (in sport mode) is very adept at choosing the right gear to step right into any opening in traffic. After all, the weasel that would try to run a squeeze play on you if you were driving a BMW, or a Mercedes SL and close the opening you're angling for, never expects (what he thinks is) grandpa's Buick to suddenly dart in front of him. I do it every day. They never see me coming. Cops ignore me, the car is nearly silent inside and the view from my seat is nicer that any of the Mercedes Benz's I've owned. The Never had mine over 125...Yet.