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.
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.)