Mayday! What’s the scariest car you’ve driven? Here’s mine

Geo Metro LSi convertible was a sub-compact that didn't instill confidence in its driver | GM file photo
Geo Metro LSi convertible was a sub-compact that didn’t instill confidence in its driver | GM file photos

The question was posted recently on Petrolicious’ Facebook page: “What is the Scariest Car You’ve Ever Driven?”

As you might expect, people responding listed cars including the Porsche Turbo, Dodge Viper GTS, Ferrari F430, Shelby 427 Cobra, Chevrolet Corvette Z06, and the list kept going with such high-performance memories.

From those I read, probably my favorite was the one about looking at the speedometer and realizing that the Renault Twingo the commenter was driving was going 190 kph (nearly 120 mph) in a downhill section of the German autobahn.

“You’re running on 175 tyres and 13” rims with even smaller brakes,” the comment continued. “And then the wife wakes up and sees the speedo!”

Frightening indeed! And on at least two counts.

Personally, the list of cars I’ve driven in the 30 years I’ve been writing about automobiles is many hundreds long and includes several exotics driven at relatively high speeds, one big spin on a test track that ended with the car coming to rest a mere inch or two from the retaining wall — whew! — and a black-ice 180 pirouette that had me staring directly at the driver behind me on a Midwestern freeway, at least until I could get the sports car I was driving pointed back in the proper direction, a maneuver for which I was extremely proud — and relieved.

But the scariest car I’ve ever driven wasn’t capable of high speeds, unless, perhaps, you drove it off a very high cliff and were airborne long enough for the 32.2 feet-per-second formula to accelerate you to triple digits before the inevitably sudden and fatal stop.

No, the scariest car I’ve ever driven was something called a Geo Metro convertible

In the early 1990s, General Motors Chevrolet division sold a version of the Suzuki Sprint, a sub-compact car propelled — if barely (it needed nearly 14 seconds to accelerate to 60 mph) — by a 55 horsepower, three-cylinder engine. The roof removed, the convertible model felt as if it offered about the same structural integrity as a cardboard box.

Engine provided 55 horsepower
Engine provided 55 horsepower

And, late one afternoon, I had to drive this thing from the AutoWeek offices in downtown Detroit to my home some 86 miles to the west, and most of it on an Interstate with lots of semi-truck traffic. And then I had to drive it back to the office the following morning, with half-asleep commuters.

To be blunt, I was terrified that I might be struck by someone on a motorcycle, because I knew I’d come out worse than the rider. I didn’t dare consider the outcome of a collision with anything larger or heavier. Which was most things.

It was frightening! A true white-knuckle round trip. I felt a huge sense of relief when I was able to separate myself from the car’s key fob that following morning.

(What’s the scariest car you’ve ever driven? Feel free to use the Comments section below to share your experiences.)

3 thoughts on “Mayday! What’s the scariest car you’ve driven? Here’s mine”

  1. The scariest time I ever had with a car, I wasn’t even driving it. My teenaged daughter came home with a speeding ticket, 75mph in her mom’s Chevette. I wouldn’t drive the thing 55. The tiny little left front wheel was about three inches from my left foot.

  2. My 1989 Geo Metro 4 door was quite stable, capable of 90 mph and sturdy. It had 280,000 miles on it when I sold it. My present 1994 2 door Geo Metro does 80 mph (high economy engine), gets 53 mpg on alcohol laced gasoline, is quite stable and very good in the snow. I haven’t even burned out a light bulb or done any repairs whatsoever for some 10 to 12 years now. Acceleration up to 65 mph in 3rd gear is quite adequate. It weighs 1565 lbs. It cost me $250!

  3. A 1979 Chevy Chevette. Besides being an ugly beige, It was a low power tin can with small tires that if a truck passed the car with any speed it was be blown off the road. I was always afraid that I would be crushed.

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