By on May 22, 2010

Now it can be told, more than twenty years after the fact. This recent kid-smashing-up-press-car incident has caused me to think about my own misspent youth and the potential parallels between it and that of Little Lord Cheney. My father was a decorated war hero rather than a demoted war reporter, and when I crunched the nose of my first car my dad responded by taking away my license for an entire year and forcing me to ride a bicycle to my job washing dishes from 8pm to 2am at the local pizza-delivery place. He also made me learn how to drive on his stick-shift BMW 733i, so I never had the chance to drive a car through a garage door.

Still, I can point to a few incidents of damn-the-torpedos bad judgment in my teen years, and perhaps my favorite one was the day I found myself behind the wheel of a brand-new BMW 750il and decided to take a shot at one hundred and fifty-five miles per hour.

In the summer of 1989, my one-year license suspension came to a end and I was permitted to go to work for David Hobbs BMW as a parts and service delivery driver. This was a reasonably miserable job, as it mostly consisted of driving replacement body panels to local collision shops. I drove a stakebed Plymouth Arrow truck — the little-known and even less-loved badge-engineered variant of the Dodge Ram 50, itself a badge-engineered Mitsubishi Mighty Max — which had a tape player but did not have power brakes. When my co-worker totaled the truck, I rejoiced… until the replacement arrived, a four-speed Ranger without power steering and a max speed of sixty miles per hour downhill.

I considered myself a bit of a wheelman in this, my eighteenth year, but in truth everything I knew about driving had been learned from one snowy winter powersliding a bias-ply-tired Mercury Marquis around. I’d also read a lot of Car and Driver, so I could regurgitate everything their staff knew, which wasn’t much. I did, however, know that the new BMW 750il could read the exalted, improbable speed of 155 miles per hour.

Don’t laugh. Here in 2010, when Camry Value Editions can clock fourteen-second quarter-miles and SUVs regularly knock on the door of 165 or 170, the idea of doing 155 doesn’t seem so impressive. Twenty-one years ago, it was almost unheard of. Unless you had a Ferrari, Lamborghini, or a recent Corvette, you weren’t gonna come close. And here’s BMW, with an outrageous twelve-cylinder luxury car that can take you to Mach 0.2 with the air-conditioning on! Not that the dealer would ever let the parts-delivery kid drive one.

Until, that is, the day when a typically snobbish Eighties Bimmer customer called and demanded that his car be returned to him across town. He had one of our loaners, and none of the service writers had time to make the trip, so I was called up to the sales desk. They told me to spend five quality minutes with a can of DL Hand Cleaner and to deliver the car without incident. I knew immediately that I was going to try for 155. I had the same dreamy, dazed certainty that comes over a teenaged boy the first time a girl slides her jeans off. This was going to happen.

My first impressions sitting down in the E32 750il was that it wasn’t much of a step over Dad’s previous-gen 733i. Most of the surfaces were flat, boring, and cheap-looking. Only the impressive tape player saved the visual day. The seats were wide, flat, not sporty. The five-liter V-12, already considered an “irredeemable piece of shit” by the shop mechanics, was utterly quiet and characterless. Still, it punched me forward like nothing I’d ever driven. The 533i which held pride of place in my personal Top Trumps was a sled compared to this. Time to go for a ride.

The downtown freeway, I-70, was bumper-to-bumper and it appeared I wasn’t going to have a chance to cheat death… but five miles from the client’s exit, open lanes began to appear so I pressed throttle to carpet and literally grabbed the wheel for dear life. I’d never beaten 90mph, but I was past 100 before I began to feel any kind of concern about the situation. Up and up the needle drifted as the traffic flashed by. Into the V-rated-tire zone, the big BMW wasn’t perfectly stable, following the road crown and the tractor-trailer-generated depressions in the road with a few alarming wobbles. Just as I cleared 140 a car ahead wandered into my lane. I jammed the brakes, passed it on the right, took a breath, and accelerated again.

Back up to 140 and I can see the exit ahead. One mile left. The “Seventy-Five Oil” didn’t exactly scream for the limiter. Slowly we approached 150… then past it… did I hit the limiter? A pair of trucks reeled back into the windshield. I mashed the brake with all the subtlety of a newspaper journo hackin’ it up at Mosport and swung across the solid white lines onto the exit ramp at the last minute.

I stepped out of the car two minutes later, sweat staining my dirty “BMW Service” T-shirt, and sat shaking in an office as our important client demonstrated his importance by making a desperately poor, tired, and frightened seventeen-year-old wait half an hour to exchange keys. The loaner car was a 325iX, BMW’s unlamented all-wheel-drive E30 sedan, and I knew it was considered pretty hot stuff, but I didn’t even bother to hit the speed limit on the way back. I’d done it. I’d reached a speed very few American drivers could honestly say they’d seen, and I’d been paid $3.45 an hour for the drive.

Naturally, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut about the escapade, and for this and many other entirely legitimate reasons (such as falling asleep in the parking lot during lunch and waking up hours later after the shop had closed) I was released from the employ of David Hobbs BMW a month later. It would take me a decade before I owned a BMW myself, and by then the dealership, of which I was far from being the most incompetent employee, had managed to wander out of business. I would like to tell you I’m wiser now, but if I’ve learned anything, it’s only that time flies and sometimes you need a wide-open throttle to catch up.

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64 Comments on “Capsule Review: 1989 BMW 750il At (Top) Speed...”


  • avatar
    educatordan

    Impressive shenanigans, Amigo. My personal best is somewhere north of 120 in a vanilla American family sedan. But that’s not an interesting story. Hopefully this one is.

    Shortly after getting my license I discovered that a 1982 Chevrolet Celebrity with an Iron Duke will only hit 85mph before the anemic-ness of the engine stops acceleration, it was not possible to bury the needle. A mid eighties Caprice Classic wagon with a 305V8 will however effortlessly maintain 85mph, this I discovered in my Dad’s company car on a solo run back to the sales floor to pick up something he had left behind. I left it running, ran inside, ran back out, got in the car and rocketed back the 10 miles of empty rural Ohio state highway with the needle tapping the stop after the 85 on the speedo. I got home in record time and sedately pulled in my parents driveway. My father was sitting on the front porch and as I turned the ignition to off the tired old beast (this was the early 90s and she had over 100,000 miles on her) betrayed me by dieseling in a way that would have made the Family Truckster proud. I remember hearing the words; “Couldn’t keep your foot out of it could you?” Then I received a few swift kicks to the behind from his size 9 Redwing work boot.

    It didn’t cure my need for speed but it did make me more careful about being able to hide it.

    That Caprice was amazingly stable at speed and if anything the ride got more serene.

  • avatar
    john.fritz

    Excellent story Jack. More, please.

    Back in 1985 I got to wondering if I could make the speedometer needle on my 1968 New Yorker climb up the right side of its scale and disappear into the dashboard. To do so would require me to make the pointer travel an extra two inches above the 120 mph mark. An inch was equal to approximately ten mph. So I hit 130? Maybe a bit more. And that damn car still had some wind in it when I finally let off.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    My first high school ride was a hand-me-down 5yo 5spd ’82 Subaru GL. I used to beat that thing to within an inch of it’s life. My folks could not understand how I was able to get through a set of front brake pads in less than 15K miles. Fun was trying to peg the poor thing’s 85mph speedo on rural Maine backroads – it took a lot of doing.

    • 0 avatar
      lukemanius

      I had a 92 Loyale I could hit 88 in if I had a couple of miles. I hated driving that car in traffic, but oh, how beautifully that thing drove through snow. :) Just had to click the four wheel drive button & it became a snowmobile!

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    Jack,

    Great story! I also managed to reach that speed in my cousins Porsche in the early 80’s over in Germany. Big difference doing it over here though versus the Autobahn. On our roads it takes much more skill as the roads in Germany are designed for that type of driving, and the drivers there are much more orderly, as I’m sure you are aware. What amazed me the most was that drivers entering the roadway at 55 look like they are backing up. I wish I still had the stones to drive like that, but alas, with age comes fear.

  • avatar
    twotone

    Great read — thanks!

    My personal best was 160 (speedometer indicated) in my 1995 Mitsubishi 3000 VR4 on I25 between Denver and Cheyenne. You need a really straight, flat and long stretch of road to get up past 120. It’s pretty hard to do these days with traffic, cops and bad road conditions. Love to take a Bentley Continental GT up to the limit.

    Twotone

  • avatar
    Stingray

    Awesome write.

    The faster I’ve done has been in one of my cars, 120 mph. And the wife told me to keep on it. Which I didn’t (it’s not a good idea to push to 140 a used car purchased the week before)

    The car was an Isuzu Impulse RS. The thing wanted to go further than 120…

    • 0 avatar
      Deaks2

      A High School friend of mine bought a red 1991 RS in 2000. The car was meticulously clean, a GM Canada employee had owned it and provided him with a complete service history and 2 bins of out of production spare parts.

      The best part about high speed runs in that little thing was pulling off the freeway to watch the turbo glow a soothing redish light.

      Unfortunately, the original 1.6l ate it when my friends laziness led to a Walmart oil change, several km later the oil drain fell out. A replacement 1.6l of dubious origin was installed by the local Isuzu-Saab-Saturn dealership, an engine which never quite ran right. Ultimately, he ripped out the AWD system and installed the 1.8l from an Asuna Sunfire/Geo Storm, the little red RS, we had named her Suzy, was dead.

  • avatar
    MBella

    David Hobbs BMW, owned by the former F1 driver and current Speed TV F1 commentator? I find that a bit ironic.

    • 0 avatar
      Uncle Mellow

      Hobbs was rarely an F1 driver , but was a very successful sportscar racer. In the early 60’s he raced a Lotus Elite fitted with an automatic gearbox built by his fathers’ transmission company.Won 15 races from 18 starts.

    • 0 avatar
      roadracer

      Mr Hobbs currently owns a Honda dealership in Milwaukee. If I remember correctly the BMW dealership was in Ohio, which makes this story that much more impressive.

      My personal best is 140 in a 1998 Golf with a VR6. Really pleasant at that speed, if rather loud.

  • avatar
    paul_y

    My personal best (so far) is cracking 90mph in the rickety GMC Sonoma I had in college on I90 near Syracuse, NY (IIRC it was limited to 92). It was terrifying at that speed, what with it being a base-model truck made at a low-point for GM.

    Once in a while, illicit hoonage is justified. Going fast, and not killing anyone can be rationalized; I personally draw the line at street racing. Of course, as a disclaimer, I avoid performance-oriented cars as a way of keeping myself from doing anything really stupid as a rule.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    My tale isn’t even in the same league as others here.

    Around 1985 or 1986 a GM dealer loaned me a Chevrolet Sprint 3-door hatchback while my Buick was being serviced. It was a re-badged JDM Suzuki Cultus. It was really a 3-cylinder, 4-wheeled motorcycle! Though it probably couldn’t exceed 80-mph it sure was a hoot getting there. It revved to about 8,000 rpm and cornered like water in a pipe.

    I had a ton of fun but was very happy to give it back at the end of the day. Another day may have proven fatal!

  • avatar
    cdotson

    Not sure how fast I’ve driven. I know a 1995 Ford Contour V6 (alas, auto) has an artificially-limited 112 mph top end (2-lane back road not wide enough for a painted line, but flat/straight/clear to the sides). It floated horribly at that speed.

    I rode shotgun in a buddy’s late-90s Pontiac GrandPrix GTP. It’s heads-up said 127 as it crested the speed limiter on a long/straight/flat 2-lane through fields. It was utterly uneventful at that speed.

    My 1988 Dodge Ramcharger would keep going at an almost undetectable acceleration. The 85 mph mark was approximately at 4-5 o’clock and I had it wrapped past 7 o’clock multiple times. The only thing scarier than the brakes in that truck is the (lack of) handling.

    My 2002 Dodge Ram I only got really fast in once passing a looooong backup of cars on a hilly interstate. The left lane was doing 58-ish in a 65 zone but the right lane from hilltop to hilltop was wide open. I floored it in 4th and had to shift to 5th, WOT until I passed the whole line. I know I passed 115, but was too busy looking out for lane-change intenders to really watch the speedo, plus cresting a hilltop in the right lane at that speed with slow traffic in the left lane made me nervous. My wife must have been scared senseless because she was neither yelling at nor hitting me at the time. It handled well, felt stable and connected to the road, but I could have sworn the front doors were going to blow off the truck as it sounded like a tornado blowing through the door seals.

  • avatar
    rehposolihp

    I’ve taken a Honda CRV to an indicated 128. I later read it was limited to something like 112. In any case, I was really impressed with how that little 4 banger sang at the redline. Also, this was on a road with a 40mph speed limit. Thankfully I’ve moved on from raw speed… I recognize how stupid that was.

    Also have taken a 335i up to 150, but that was a lot less impressive than the CRV. Again, not an action I really plan on duplicating. In my current car (GTI) I’ve not been north of 110 and don’t really care to hang out anywhere above 85 for long.

  • avatar
    SacredPimento

    My best is only 105 or so in a rented Lincoln Towncar.

    I’ve never owned a fast car. My ranger is limited to 92 and my previous truck, ford F150 with a triton V8 was down-right scary past 80. Truck before that, GMC Sierra with that confounded 4.3 V6 – the speedo only went up to 85. I’ve pinned the needle a couple of times, but I highly doubt I went above 100. Then my first car: a ’63 VW bug; ’nuff said.

    I’ve been in a Dodge Stealth R/T that went up to 120, but I was just the passenger. Scared shitless.

  • avatar
    newcarscostalot

    I got up to about 112 in a KIA, on the original dealer tires. Scary!

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    First high speed time: I had my first car (Plymouth Fury) up to 110. A bit scary, but considering the crudeness of the car, it was better than it had any right to be. I backed off pretty quickly. I have had my Probe GT up to 130 for 10 miles. Felt pretty secure, but I was scared about being arrested for traveling at twice the speed limit. Its really strange seeing the white lines zip by so quickly…

  • avatar
    threeer

    250 km/h (indicated) in an Opel Vectra GT-S on the A-8 between Karlsruhe and Stuttgart near Pforzheim. Somewhere very close to 150 MPH, and at that speed, I was truly afraid that the hood would decide to lift off and part ways with the rest of the vehicle. It was fun for the minute or two I held the car at that speed before sanity kicked in and I backed down to a more reasonable 180 kph…

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    Great story Jack. It reminds me of my similar run in an 89 735i with a Dinan turbo kit.

    I worked in a car stereo shop during my early college years, and every year, the boss would have one of us house-sit for him and take care of his dogs while he went on vacation. He had a Volvo turbo wagon, and the BMW. Driving them was one of the perks of house-sitting.

    One day, on our way to the beach, we brushed 150 while “accompanying” a 911 turbo. I’ll never forget the look on the 911 driver’s face as he saw a big, heavy, 7 series, staying right with him the whole way down the highway.

    The car was slightly lowered, and had camber plates installed. Other than that, it was a great sleeper.

    -ted

  • avatar
    MarcKyle64

    I had a brand new 2005 Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V with the manual transmission. After a careful break-in, the wife & I took a trip through west Texas and we had a few opportunities to see how fast it would go. I remember going (with the wife urging me on) balls-to-the-wall for 10 minutes on a marvelously straight, flat and well-maintained stretch of highway until I backed off because of upcoming terrain. It seemed the top end under the best circumstances was 132 mph(indicated) on the wildly optimistic 160 mph speedometer. After that, 100 mph felt so damned slow.

  • avatar

    My personal top speed was in a Chevy Astra Wagon, or rather, an Opel Asta Wagon. My dad bought one of these back in the early 90s. Taking a trip, with my brother sleeping peacefully beside me, I hit 190km/h (about 120mph). Funny thing was I didn’t even see I was going that fast! When I looked at the speedodometer and saw how fast I was going I immediately backed off. Settled into a more comfortable 160km/h (100mph).

    But the really cool top speed moments came in two different Fiat Unos. Once, way back, when, in a Fiat Uno 1,5L, good for 76 hp that ran on ethanol, we achieved top speed. The car was carrying me and 3 friends, plus many, many cases of beer. And on a long straightaway the needle stuck on 157km/h (98mph). Sure it could’ve gone faster, but the car was loaded! Anyway, after going that speed for a while, with the needle stuck at that speed, there came a downhill. So I put it in neutral and we all watch as the needle goes to 160, 165, a little over 170km/h (106mph), but then saw a slow truck up ahead. Engaged 5th again, speed falls, brake, go flying past truck. In a two lane road. Good for a laugh.

    The other time was the scaries. Coming back from a trip to Rio I’d heard you could bury the needle at the end of the speedometer. Now, this was a 1.0L car good for 55 ponies on ethanol. The maximum the odometer marked was 180 km/h. Taking the chance, as the road ahead was empty and consisted mainly of downhills and a few very gentle curves, I floored it. Lo and behold the needle passed the 180kn/m mark (113mph). Kept at it for a while, but didn’t put it into neutral. The car was already floating all over the place, forcing me to correct the wheel all the time. No idea how fast we were really going, but it was the time I “felt” like I was going the fastest. In the Opel and the 1.5 Uno the car had felt serene. This one was jumping all over the place. Crazy ride.

  • avatar
    red60r

    Somewhere north of Santa Fe on I-25. Woman in blue Datsun pickup (not a V-anything, I don’t think) passed me and slowed down. I passed her. Etc., etc. After a couple of cycles, near the posted 80 mph limit but creeping toward 90, she seemed to be heading for playing bumper tag with this old man in a red Volvo. Moments later, she was red-shifted into shrinking invisibility as the mighty Swede Steeds took us beyond 135 without protest. My wife didn’t complain, either, as she was tired of wondering when that idiot in the blue truck was going to not miss us. Still wonder about the lady’s motivation to engage in such an obvious losing battle.
    My only real absolute teen-aged top speed experience was in a 1956 Ford Consul. With the windows up, the radio whip pushed down, and the outside mirror turned parallel to the airflow, it managed a whopping 76 mph. My father later pretty much burned up the engine on that car by slipstreaming semi-trucks at 70+ on the highway between Chicago and Springfield. What was left of the car was traded in on a 1959 Jaguar 3.4 saloon. Talk about a step up! (I did get that one to 110, but ran out of road and had to slow down).

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    I hit an indicated 111 in my ’05 Saab 9-5 while passing three cars at once. It didn’t take that long to get there from 50 – felt like 6 or 7 seconds, but I wasn’t really going, “one-one-thousand…”

    After 100 the wind noise got a little louder, but aside from that there really wasn’t much indication of the speed. That car isn’t the fastest in the world between 45 and 55, but once you get past 60 it goes like a raped ape.

  • avatar
    1169hp

    149 mph (RADAR verified) in my not-stock 1996 Mustang GT. It would have hit 150 mph, but I was coming up on slower moving vehicles so I shut it down.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    In central Ohio? You are crazy. Incidentally, the south western quadrant of 270 is a better spot to wind it out.

  • avatar
    djn

    great story. My personal fastest, flat out 145 in a rented Alfa 156 on the German Autobahn headed to the dutch border. Fastest in USA, 105 in my 67 Etype coupe on an indian reservation on the Washington Coast.

  • avatar
    jmo

    155mph in an Audi A8 on the way from Munich to Stuttgart.

    Best sign in the whole world…

    http://leanbean.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/no-speed-limit-sign.jpg

  • avatar
    BlisterInTheSun

    135 mph in my 1995 BMW 525i on HR-rated Michelin all-season rubber.

    I-78 headed west from West Virginia into Maryland – immediately past the state border is a long, 2-mile stretch with a very slight downhill gradient and a clear view of anything and everything. I saw my chance and floored it.

    The only thing on my side of the road was a step van bread truck in the far right lane about 1 mile away; when I blew past him I imagined the sides of his van flexing like a discarded pop can.

    Good times….

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    Things are kinda interesting on a bike starting at 150.

    150 exciting in a car? Really?
    Maybe if it’s a MG Midget with a force-inducted 5.0, no roll bar, and the top off…

    If you’re in traffic, running from the cherries, I’m withya it’s an adrenaline rush. BTDT. But, on an open road in the desert, 150 is where you start separating the can-dos from the wannabes.

    175-ish is the pack speed for the hardcore in the desert SW. The real anonymous drivers are out there, week after week, running for more money than most of us will see in a year. Just because they’re rich and they can.

    Sorta like professional poker – on one race they will wager twice what the median US household will make in a year. Then meet at the Peppermill in Reno for breakfast. And hold no grudges.

    150-ish in a 750i? Less than we got out of a slightly tuned (by today’s standards) grey-market 745i in the mid 80s.

    Snore.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      175 in the desert? Really? That’s all it takes?

      Maybe I need to talk to these guys. The Switzer GT2 P800 (disclaimer: I am a PR/instructor guy for Switzer now) hits 170 in 14.6 seconds from a 5mph roll.

      Hell, our GT-R kit just hit a Video VBox-recorded 188mph on the back stretch at Monticello last week.

      I think I need to come take some of this baller-status money you’re talking about :)

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      Uhh, yeah,

      175 is the ‘pack speed’. That is, a term that refers to the average speed obtained, by a bunch of runners, over a rather long distance.

      One that is filled with sections that an F1 car wouldn’t do over 70 MPH.

      Switzer stuff? Feel free to enter in in the (legit) world of ORR. It’ll blow long before the finish.

      The hardcore is so far beyond that kind of mass-market tripe, I’m almost amazed you have the temerity to suggest otherwise. But, hey, it’s a paycheck…

    • 0 avatar
      rehposolihp

      Pics or it didn’t happen.

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      rehposohlip,

      If your are in that world, then nothing ever happens.

      Nothing.

      (There’s honestly really life outside of FB/MS, you might find it interesting…)

      The videos of police brutality, illegal searches, and general debauchery are readily available if you want to spend 30 seconds looking, I guess you haven’t seen those either?

      Reality is that guys/gals who really break ‘the law’ aren’t always stupid enough to vid it and put it on youtube. Hate to disappoint, and all that…

  • avatar
    Art

    Mom & Dad never owned a BMW. I had to make my teenage high speed runs in an early 90’s ford Aerostar.

    The speedo stopped at 85, but if you kept hitting reset on the trip computer’s average speed indicator, it would show you had indeed hit tripple digits.

    Second most fun I’ve ever had in a minivan.

  • avatar
    JimC

    The 1985 Plymouth Reliant with the standard carburreted 2.2L and 3-speed automatic topped out around 95mph. It had a round speedometer marked only to 85 but no plastic pegs so the needle could keep going- in either direction! 35-40mph (est) in reverse had some scary handling.

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    Thanks to everyone for sharing your stories. There’s something about reaching a “top speed” that is baked into the dreams of car guys everywhere. Whether it’s a three-cylinder Swift reaching for 80 or a 9ff reaching for 255..

  • avatar
    chuckR

    While I have gone faster, for consistent speed by a protesting steed, I recall going from Boulder to western NY in 24hrs, swapping driving with a college roommate. A little less than 1700 miles, but it was done in a ’66 Dodge Polara, an aircraft carrier sized sedan with a 318 V8.

  • avatar
    texan01

    I’ve hit 130mph in my slightly warmed up 305V8 equipped 76 Chevelle, and my ’77 is a tick slower with its stock 140hp 305 at a GPS verified 125. girlfriend was not amused though she didn’t realize how fast we were travelling in the ’77 till I passed a truck like it was standing still, then she looked over to the speedo to see the needle slowly re-appearing on the speedo, then she gave me the death glare.

    I’ve hit 120 in my ’95 Explorer, and that’s like the story Beemer, at speeds over 80, it gets white knuckled as the formerly stiff suspension starts floating like a barge with bad shocks. Its got great brakes, but suspension is not up to snuff and the 4.0 v6 just doesn’t have much oomph towards the rev limiter.

    107 in the ’00 Contour. Nothing exciting there.

    92mph in dad’s 87 Dodge Dakota 4×4. gets 16mpg no matter how fast you drive it. It also lost races to a slant-six equipped ’74 Dart.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    I think I hit 130 on a GSXR on US 281 south of Copperas Cove, TX.

    I almost hit an armadillo crossing the road. I slowed down. My pants were not soiled.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Scariest one…

    Coming back from the beach in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. We were doing 90+ miles an hour on the shoulder in an early 80’s Audi GT. This was when all the traffic in the other lanes was at an absolute standstill. Talk about a death wish. All it would have taken was for one vehicle to peak out from the right lane and we would have been done.

    We then took the new exit and nearly skidded into a telephone bill. Just an inch worth of grip is probably what saved all of us from becoming a statistic in a government chart. The driver was the resident psycho who lived a few houses down from me. After crashing that Audi about 9 or 10 times, his family gave him a VW Beetle in the hope that either Darwinism or common sense would finally take hold.

    Last time I saw him, he was still living at home while all of us had left the crazy world of New Jersey far, far behind. Four years of college, career, wife and a kid at that point in my life. He was a homeward bum. Thinking of him every now and then makes me realize the damage you can do by ‘enabling’ your kid.

    But that ride from the beach? The absolute scariest thing I’ve ever been a part of.

  • avatar

    190+ mph in a W12 Phaeton with the 250 km/h limiter removed and and some other work done, Autobahn Nuremberg-Munich. Thank you, Volkswagen …

  • avatar
    postjosh

    in ’79 i briefly pushed a ’65 or ’66 chevy belair station wagon w/ 3 on the tree to over 100 mph on route 280 in northern new jersey. the entire steering column was shaking like a gatling gun!

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    @threeer

    I know the area well. My Oma and Opa used to live in Enzberg. I miss going out there. Still have a few buddies out there, but they tell me the freewheeling, anything goes days are almost over.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    What’s being a teenager without trying to cheat death a handful of times? I never came close to burying the (100mph) needle in my first car, a 92 Wrangler YJ with the seriously weak AMC 150. The brick-like aerodynamics worked so hard against me that 90mph seemed pretty heroic.

    A friend of mine’s dad did have an E38 740i though, and I remember one or two nights when we took it down to an island which was a public park, and did a few high-speed runs. With five 17-year-olds in tow, the car easily hit the limiter. The tricky part, though, was the unbanked loop at the end of the two mile straightaway. We definitely lost control and ended up in some tall grass more than once.
    Thinking back on it though, those exploits were probably safer than taking fast curves in a wrangler.

  • avatar

    I will admit to have spent many hours loafing along at 90-110 MPH on empty western highways, both in my daily driver and my vintage car.

    My actual top-speed will never be known, as I was literally driving for my life at the time. This was on a small, rural two-lane highway right here in western Washington a few years back. I was coming home from a Jaguar club tour up to Mt. Rainier with my son, and we came upon a long rolling backup behind an RV. The E-type is a wonderful passing machine with plenty of punch on-tap to hop past cars when rolling at highway speeds. I hop-scotched my way to position #2 behind the RV in a few miles. Then a straight opened with a mile+ long passing zone. The car behind the RV pulled out to pass. So did I, and so did the guy in position #3. We all rocketed ahead of the RV and car#1 pulls back in. I proceed to pass him, as does car #3. Did I mention that both of these cars are “sport compacts”? Car #1 decides to make this a race. I am already foot-in, and committed to pass, and Car #3 is RIGHT ON MY ASS. So I just floor it and keep going. The last time I looked that the speedo it was at 120 and climbing. I never had another chance to look because the passing zone was coming to an end and sure enough, oncoming traffic appeared. I was already 4/5ths of the way past the dick in Car#1 and kept my foot in until I cleared him. The dick in Car#3 was forced top brake and pull in behind Car#1. Not wanting to be anywhere near these dangerous dickheads I didn’t let off until I was far ahead.

    My gut tells me I surpassed 130, but I was too busy concentrating on saving our asses by getting away from these dicks than looking at my speed.

    The car felt fine – smooth and steady. I’ve heard that E-types start getting very light in the nose at 140, so I doubt I came anywhere close to that.

  • avatar
    andyinsdca

    125mph in my 1995 Audi 90 Sport, on the I-5 north of LA headed to San Francisco. I was getting passed like my tires were stapled to the asphalt, too. During my run at 125, the wife woke up and commented that we seemed to be going fast and I told her “not really, only going 85” and she went back to sleep.

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    “Twenty-one years ago, it was almost unheard of. Unless you had a Ferrari, Lamborghini, or a recent Corvette, you weren’t gonna come close.”

    or a Lotus Esprit Turbo intercooled, or a Lotus Carlton.

    Not that I actually hit 155 in them back then, the back roads of Norfolk and some vague sense of self preservation kept my speed to a bit less than that. But only a bit.

  • avatar

    I hot just shy of 130MPH on my first bike, a ’91 CB750. They’re not exactly fast bikes, although they do have relatively large DOHC 4s, and it was maxed out at that speed (maybe 128?) Glad I slowed down, because I got a ticket just a mile later, for about ten over or so ;)

    More recently, I just bought a big, heavy Hyosung 250cc V-2 cruiser. Fabulous bike. I was driving in the middle of Korea, racing through red lights and around traffic to get to the ferry terminal with my wife on the back to make it to work the next day…curious to see what it could do, I got it to 140 (km/hr, that is! – roughly 90) down a hill. At the bottom, my engine blew up, punched a hole the size of a quarter through one piston.

    I was low on oil, I found out later :(

    Through some miracles and a lot of patience (riding 10km/hr), I made the ferry just in time, just as the bike ultimately died – i pushed it on the boat by hand and had a buddy with a truck meet me at the ferry terminal on jeju island in the morning :)

  • avatar
    sfdennis1

    I’ve never done more than 110 or so, first time was in the late eighties in my mother’s Audi 5000…I can vividly remember the red instrument lighting, and the tach pegged at about 5500rpm or so…The Audi was underpowered but aerodynamic, and once up to speed, felt rock solid. That was fun, felt like I was on the autobahn, though it was suburban Chicago.

    Next was in the V6 Lebaron convertible she had in the early nineties, that was nowhere near as stable as the Audi over 100mph, but the digital dash looked cool lit up at night as it clocked 100+, and the V6 had suprising grunt (for the times) getting up to speed was pretty easy.

    I had teenage used total crapboxes at the time, but managed to push my ’83 Chevette (don’t ask) and later ’84 Escort well past their 85mph speedometers…not sure what speed I got up to, but only an idiot teenage brain would consider those beaters safe at those velocities.

    My current Miata has only seen 100 or so, though I know it’s got way more on tap…something about the fear of getting my ass thrown in jail has taken hold of me over 30. Getting older sucks sometimes.

  • avatar
    Acc azda atch

    Man…

    WOW. Jack Baruth.. thank you so much for the fantastic story! 3.45hr.. It was all worth it.

    When I got my first car.. it was a 92 Accord with about 159k. I had just gotten done a bad date with this nasty girl who I dropped off at a Red Lobster. She was an ugly bucktoothed chic.. in a Cavalier.. and she made fun of my car. and my mileage. Needless to say I left the bucktoothed B_ _ _ _ behind.

    It was a bad night.. with a bad movie.. and bad food.

    I was up on the Phila / Bucks Co line.. at about midnight-1-2a.. and I was really p’oed. I think I had the car about 4 months.. mileage was about 165k. I hadnt taken her up to 65.. yet.

    That night.. I was pissed.. and I really didnt care.. about much else. I put my asshole hat on, my main lights.. my brights, AND my FLASHERS. I think.. I jumped.. every hill for the next hour all the way down to N.E Phila. I know I did at least 100.. and I couldn’t believe how SMooooooooooth the landing was when I touched land again.. only to leap right off.

    I touched earth back down again somewhere south of Bustelton Pike n County Line rd.. no cops. No dumbass suv / cuv wussy drivers…

    Dont remember the music on the unit.. At that point.. I just wanted to FLY.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Don’t remember the exact number because it’s been about 15 years, but I got an automatic/4 cylinder ’94 Accord up to about 160 km/h. Ran out of road so I had to stop accelerating.

    I’ve had my 2003 Jetta TDI up to about 90 MPH on the turnpike. And that was long before installing larger injectors. I don’t dare to try it now since Maine needs revenue badly and I’d likely be caught.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Well, there’s speed, there’s “perceived speed” and then there’s danger.

    Danger was when I was 16 and rat-racing my dad’s Chevy with 3 on the tree on the Spout Run Parkway (speed limit now: 35; then 40). Second gear was good for over 70, and I pulled away from the other fool just as I was entering the final curve to the right . . . on the lovely bias-ply tires with the little zig-zag siping that was the norm those days (1965). They say God watches out for teenage boys (most of the time, anyway) and He was certainly watching out for me that day. Fortunately, — still fixated on beating the other guy — I kept my foot in the carburetor, instead of wimping out and hitting the brakes. I was — needless to say — not watching the speedo.

    Some years later (1974) while working the night police beat for the Houston Chronicle, I drove my colleague from the competing paper (we all collaborated on breaking stories at 3:00 a.m.) somewhere north of Houston at a high rate of speed. The owner of an MGB, he was duly impressed with the smoothness of my Mazda RX-2 at 100. We didn’t think about the fact that the Michelin-X radials on it were really not good for speeds over 75 . . .

    Certainly the perceived speed was the highest in my 1987 Mustang GT 5.0, which positively throbbed with exhaust resonance at speeds over 100 mph (the speedo only went to 85, so I’m doing the math based on the tach). A truly scary car at speed — if you thought about the pathetic brakes that FoMoCo gave the car. In those days, the Dulles Airport access road (which had no exits and only one entrance) was not patrolled and very lightly traveled, especially at night.

    When it opened in about 1990, I-68 from Hancock to Cumberland, Md. was deserted and unpatrolled. So, if your car was capable, triple digit speeds were reasonably safe and unlikely to provoke the highway patrol. The Taurus SHO was quite comfortable at 120 mph on that route, although one had to be mindful of the barely adequate brakes on that car as well.

  • avatar

    Just out of high school, I managed to get my ’92 Geo Storm (3-speed automatic) up to 100 indicated on Paseo del Volcan… that was a scary ride.

    By comparison, a 130-mph jaunt through Tijeras Canyon in a ’97 Vette was positively sedate, though the same probably couldn’t be said for the riced-out Eclipse turbo who thought they wanted to take us on.

    Both incidents were in my younger, far stupider days. I’ve had my Mazda 6 past 100 exactly once in close to four years of ownership.

  • avatar
    Power6

    When I graduated High School, in 1994, my Aunt finally let me drive her ’90 Corvette. Good thing my parents had only 5-speeds forcing me to learn “stick” (as if I didn’t want to anyways) because when she ordered the car, she checked all the right boxes: 6-speed, sport seats, and the wicked Z51 package(this was for the Firehwak series racers I think)

    It was only 5 miles to the exit for the after-graduation dinner and my Aunt rode with me. As soon as I merged in my Aunt screams “Go as fast as you want, I’ll pay the ticket!!!”

    I blasted up to about 140, then settled down, I felt like I had plenty of days ahead of me. I think my restraint proved worthwhile as I got to drive that ‘Vette a whole lot more in the coming years.

    I only know about the 750iL from the magazine reviews. It seemed amazing for the times, 300hp huge sedan with the V12. I believe they used 2 completely seperate engine management systems, each “inline-6” could run on it’s own. I recall reading that you could still go up to 120mph with just one “side” of the engine operating…

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    You Did 155 on I-70 in Ohio? Funny, that’s where I got my first speeding ticket. I got tired of leapfrogging a semi and decided to put some distance between us. Just after I passed him, he took an exit and I ran into the roadblock his radio buddies warned him about. I hadn’t done more than 85 (the aircraft had me at 88) and if I’d known it was going to cost me $78 in 1972 dollars, I’d have gotten my money’s worth and gone as fast as a ’65 Impala/283/hydromatic could go – probably another 5-6 mph.
    BTW, 78 bucks and change was also what the cost of gas was on that trip, San Diego to Providence RI, at 12 mpg (254 gallons) so that was actually the “good old days”.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Personal best: 120 mph in a Mazda RX7 around midnight on a divided highway. I was 28 and old enough to know better. A couple of years ago, I decided to see what my Mazda6s felt like at super speed limit speeds. At 110 mph in the notingness that is southeastern Oregon it still felt fine, but I decided I wasn’t fine with the idea of being hauled off to jail for going twice the speed limit. Now I only push it slightly north of 90 for very short bursts of passing on I5.

  • avatar

    Not that I would know, but apparently hitting the speed limiter on an E60 M5 feels like hitting a brick wall. And it indicates 167 when the limiter cuts in. Same speedo error for the E39 M5… or so I’ve heard.

  • avatar
    Steve65

    I’ve done the math, and rev limiter in top gear for my Triumph T509 is 137.5mph (not accounting for tire slip). I’ve bumped the rev limiter in top gear at least twice.

    Once you’ve experience “speed” on a modern big-bore motorcycle, “speed” in a car seems kinda tame. And “speed” on a motorcycle with no sort of windscreen whatsoever is a whole different thing.

    Fastest I remember going in a car is about 120, in a 93 Passat GLX. It was solid as a rock at that speed.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Like everyone else here, I’m going to recount a tale of excessive speed.
    140mph along the A46 between Newark and Lincoln (at 2am in the morning) in the UK in my 1986 Ford Sierra XR4. It was probably much less than that considering the accuracy of old Ford speedo’s… but it was seriously scary barreling along at that speed with worn suspension bushes meaning the car wandered from lane to lane.
    I finally started to slow down after I got the urge to sneeze…

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    2004 Audi A6 S-Line, two lane highway, passing a convoy of slow (20km/h UNDER the limit) bikers and transport trucks. It was a loooong convoy too. No room to move back in (despite the law saying cars in the right lane have to yeild to passing cars on the left and let them in), so I gunned it. Made it in front of them in time to safely avoid an oncoming mustang. A little hairy but nothing major. After the trip I went to reset my GPS trip stats and noticed I hit 185km/h (115mph). Sure did not feel like it at the time. The A6 is solid as a rock at high speeds. Feels more stable than going 50km/h :)

  • avatar
    chas404

    First car high speed carburetted 1983 buick Century T type 3 spd auto. i was 16. if i hit 100 maybe that was impressive in that dog sled.

    4th gear in 5th gear manual in a 4.0liter 180hp jeep wrangler new in 1992 with a 22 yr old Scottish girlfriend at my side hitting maybe 100mph in SOFT TOP on the SALT FLATS in idaho. how fun! That jeep was quick off the line.

    later a leased 2003 bmw z4 225hp straight six 3.0 sport. what a fun little car. hit 125mph on I95. that sucker just hunkered down and kept pulling. amazing only 225hp but that car would fly with 6 spd manual.

    now older 40s no reason to drive fast on hwy. dangerous and stupid. reason i drive F150 and sometimes mustang gt convertible to tool around in.

  • avatar

    My personal best (mind you this is with the in-dash speedo) was 130mph in my slightly breathed on 1986 Pontiac 6000-STE with the 3 speed automatic and fuel injected 2.8 V6. At 130 the engine was 500rpm past redline. Only did it once. I read somewhere that the fuel cutoff was at 255mph and figured that the car was not built for much more than 140, it was not spooky at that speed, nor was it comfortable.

    I hit 120 in my 1976 Chevelle (305 with later model heads, higher compression and big valves with HP somewhere further north than the stock 145hp, TH350, 3.08 rear axle) and it much like this BMW, just got down to business without much drama. Had more in it it felt, but prudence said to back down as the S-rated tires I don’t think would have liked life. took a bit for the speedo needle to reappear in the window on the 100mph speedo.

    I tested the speed limiter in the 00 Contour, at 107mph. The speed limiter on the ’95 Explorer is 5200 rpm, so that’s anywhere from 100-125mph. It is NO FUN to drive that fast in that thing. or over 80.

    The current ’77 Chevelle I have (stock everything 305/TH350 2.56) I’ve hit a GPS verified 105mph. It loves to cruise at 80-85 and is miserable to keep at 55-60.

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