Monday, December 19, 2005
When you push a car past 180mph, the world starts to get awfully fizzy and a little bit frightening. When you go past 200mph it actually becomes blurred. Almost like you’re trapped in an early Queen pop video. At this sort of speed the tyres and the suspension are reacting to events that happened some time ago, and they have not finished reacting before they’re being asked to do something else. The result is a terrifying vibration that rattles your optical nerves, causing double vision. This is not good when you’re covering 300ft a second.
Happily, stopping distances become irrelevant because you won’t see the obstacle in the first place. By the time you know it was there, you’ll have gone through the windscreen, through the Pearly Gates and be half way across God’s breakfast table.
It has always been thus. When Louis Rigolly broke the 100mph barrier in his Gobron in 1904, the vibration would have been terrifying. And I dare say that driving an E-type at 150mph in 1966 must have been a bit sporty as well.
But once you go past 200mph it isn’t just the suspension and the tyres you have to worry about. The biggest problem is the air. At 100mph it’s relaxed. At 150mph it’s a breeze. But at 200mph it has sufficient power to lift an 800,000lb jumbo jet off the ground. A 200mph gust of wind is strong enough to knock down an entire city. So getting a car to behave itself in conditions like these is tough.
Of course, at £810,000, it is also jolly expensive, but when you look at the history of its development you’ll discover it’s rather more than just a car...