# Zero to Sixty?

Why is “zero to sixty” the standard measurement when talking about the acceleration of an automobile? Why not zero to fifty, or even one hundred? If bragging rights are desired, zero to fifty would be a shorter time, therefore appearing even better, while zero to one hundred would show that the car can achieve a great deal of speed in a short time. Sixty just seems so random.

Before my time, but I’ve heard that “goes like 60!” was a phrase that was used to describe something that was fast. This was back when many cars couldn’t achieve that speed, or maintain it over s sustained period. Sixty mph is also a “magic” number in that it is not only 60 mph, but also “a mile a minute”.

0-100 kph is a good round number…and it comes out to 0-62 mph.

60 mph was a good typical average highway speed limit prior to the 55mph fiasco that was born as a result of the 70’s gas crunch.

So, highway speed limits ‘in the old days’, the desire to have a round number, and the similarity to the 0-100 kph helped secure the 0-60 place in history.

For that matter, if they wanted the measurement to be more relevent to the actual use of the car, they might use something like “20 to 60 mph” acceleration, simulating freeway merging, rather than acceleration from a standing stop.

60 m.p.h. is a mile a minute, making it a nice round number for calculating travel times. At the time when “0 - 60” was coined, (as with “going like 60”), it was actually a bit faster than most speed limits in the U.S., adding a bit of spice to the phrases. (The phrase is older than the 1950s, when many dual lane and straight rural highways began to be posted at 65 m.ph. and much older than the 1960s, when the Interstate system began to use 70 m.p.h. as the norm.)

If the saying were 0 to 50 or 0 to 100, the odds are extremely high that you’d still be in here asking why this particular random number, why not, say, 0 to 60?

That’s just the way the mind works.

More than that. Parts of UK motorways have markers painted at one-mile intervals - used for two fuctions, firstly to calibrate police speed eqipment, and secondly to catch anybody who happens to be filmed doing more than 70 between the two marks. And ok course, the marks aren’t a legal indication, so they’re neither obivous nor well-known.

You dont need to go faster then 0-60 on any road, under normal circumstances.
Thus if a car has a satisfactory 0-60, chances are its 20-60 wouldnt be too bad either.