German Autobahn speed limits

Firstly a moment of thought for those in Japan and the Pacific rim.

The question.

I’m delivering a rather fast car to my brother’s place in Munster, North Germany from London, next week. The joy is the car itself a Bristol Fighter T, in theory capable of obscene speed, (250mph+).
I’ve driven v. fast cars before on closed circuits but I’m unsure of the etiquete of Autobahns. I don’t intend to ‘hammer’ it, but as the company has recently folded it would be nice to put the car through it’s paces before the possibility vanishes.
Being an Engishman I would’nt be adverse to speeding past the occasional Porsche or BMW but it’s Jim’s car not mine… yet.

Don’t pass (overtake) on the right. Don’t ride the passing lane if the right lane is open. A lead time less than 2 seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you is considered tailgating. Also flashing at drivers in the passing lane may be considered coercion. Other than that, knock yourself out.

Here’s a general guide.

If you haven’t driven at high speed (100 MPH +) it might not be a good idea to jump on the Autobahn and learn how. If you keep it to right around 100 MPH you should get the adrenalin rush of speed and be relatively safe doing it. After that speed, things happen really, really fast.

Even in America, it’s legal, at a certain time and place, to drive as fast as you possibly can. See the Silver State Classicfor a link. However, you need to work your way up through progressively faster classes, and your car must pass strict safety inspections, including removing anything that isn’t fastened down, tire inspections, helmets, etc.

I’ve read your post a couple times and I can’t seem to find your question.

A few things to keep in mind when talking about driving as fast as insanely possible on the Autobahn.

First: There are speed limits on the Autobahn. Not all of it is free of speed limits. Sometimes the limits are time or weather dependant. Or possibly there is construction going on. In other places, the limits are permanent. Usually, when there is a limit, it is 120kph. So if you decide to drive as fast as you can, be prepared to decelerate from 400kph to 120kph in a relatively short distance. Can your brakes handle that without warping?

Second: Where speed limits do not exist, there can still be natural inhibitors to your speed. For instance, winding roads. Hardly anywhere on the Autoban is straight and flat. If you have little experience taking curves in that car, don’t assume the way ahead is easy driving. GPS navigation can help with this because it continuously shows you how tight the turns are coming up.

Third: Other cars will slow you down. Germany is probably the best place I have driven when it comes to other drivers obeying the rules and respecting the fast lane. But even still, if you’re driving above 350kph, you will come up on another car pretty quickly–even in the fast lane. That other car may be doing 220kph to pass a car doing 180kph, but that still isn’t fast enough to get out of your way before you’re right up on him. Again, can your brakes handle this? IMO, the Autobahn works your brakes much worse than it works your engine.

I remember a relatively recent (last 2 or 3 series) episode of top gear where they had four door saloon cars, and were to be awarded points for how quickly they could get the car to go on the autobahn, and much was made of the fact that while these cars (Sapphire Cosworth, Cosworth Mercedes and BMW M3 iirc) were capable of 140+mph, by the time you got close to maxing it you would have caught something up and have to slow down in a big hurry. A cursory search turned up nothing but I’ll do some digging…

Never saw the episode, but it matches my experience on those highways. It didn’t take long at all to melt and warp the rotors on my 300. Now I have drilled and cross-slotted rotors which should be able to handle the heat.
After reading the OP again, I think he is asking if it is against proper etiquete to drive another person’s car at high speed on the Autobahn. If that’s the question, then I would say that as long as you are not causing damage to the vehicle, you’re in the clear. As I have mentioned before, you are not going to hurt that car by going fast, though. You’re going to hurt it by having to brake hard from 400kph. So keep your speed manageable and only open up on the clear, flat straightaways and you’ll be fine. Nobody would fault you for that. In fact, it would be pretty much expected for you to open that thing up a couple times at least.

There is a good deal of traffic on most parts of the Autobahn, but it’s certainly not that difficult to get a car to merely 140, depending on what stretch you’re on and when you’re on it.

Here we are.
Knew it’d be on there somewhere. Of course it does show that eventually they were able to reach pretty high speeds, but nothing like what this Bristol is capable of (your friend has excellent taste, btw) and I’d imagine you’d want bloody good brakes and a very keen eye to get slowed down in time to avoid piling into the back of a lorry that pulled out on you at short notice.
Have fun and be careful!

I’ll admit I’ve never been to Germany, so couldn’t say from personal experience, but I could well believe that there are parts of their road network with good visibility, smooth surface and light traffic sufficient to permit very high speeds, but if you’re catching up to somebody at a rate of 100mph, you will be a dot in their mirror when they pull out, shortly before giving your brakes a real good workout to lose that extra speed, was the point (I think) I was trying to make.

I’m certainly not saying it’s not, um, exciting to be driving at those speeds on the Autobahn (or any other roadway), but it’s most likely that the OP will find a stretch to test his car. But do check for speed limits–a good chunk of the autobahn is regulated. When I was there to photograph a story for Car & Driver (we hung out with the Autobahn Polizei for three days–the autobahn is not nearly as exciting the popular notion of it is. We did hit some exciting speeds while we were there. Story here for those interested), they even had one section outside of Stuttgart that had hard limits in one direction, but not the other (as part of a traffic study.)

Interesting article pulykamell. Are you the one who got the stitches?

Yep. After photographing the accident scene, we were returning to the police car and had to cross a typical highway barrier that looks like this. I normally have a good sense of balance, but with a camera around my neck, a gear bag on my left shoulder, and a camera with an 80-200mm lens on my right shoulder, this proved a little more difficult than usual. The camera with the 80-200 swung out in front of me as I tried to balance myself on top of the barrier, and threw my footing off. I went crashing straight down, and my face landed on the metal lens hood of the camera that was around my neck. It nicked me just above the eyebrow, but (as I soon discovered), even relatively minor head wounds produce dramatic amounts of squirting blood.

I had a good sense of humor about it, and my immediate instinct was to hand one camera to the reporter, and the other to one of the cops, to take pictures. Here’s me, getting taped up at the scene. Here’s me getting prepped for the ambulance ride. There’s a third one which I don’t have online that ran in the issue of C&D, that the cop with the camera took.