Driving without limits

Just found this piece of history in a box. It’s The Highway Code printed in1961. No idea how I ended up with it cos I passed my test ten years later !

Amazing to think we drove without limits except for 40mph for cars with trailers.

A reference to drink and drug usage


You didn’t need speed limits when driving anything Cowley or Dagenham produced above 60mph felt like it was about to fall apart under you.

At one car for every nine Britons, it’s not like the road were busy either. One car per every two Britons now.


Everyone piled into the back regardless of how many could comfortably sit, seat belts non-existant and all our luggage piled high on the roof rack. That was the early 70’s for my family of 6 and I remember it was only a little Austin 1300 too. Now they would be deathtraps on the road.

Manchester University 1974

7 in an mark 1 escort ---- what could go wrong

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There are still no limits on the motorway in Germany. People drive at over 200 kmh. It’s crazy.

At least half the autobahn network has speed limits, it’s not all derestricted.

Yes, I remember tootling along in 2016 at 130 when a Porsche that had only been a speck in my wing mirror went by me at what seemed like the speed of sound. Very disconcerting. If I lived in Germany I think I’d avoid the limit free streches. Though, since I was there :crazy_face: I got up to a GPS verified 198 (speedo +/- 210). Changed that car for one that could comfortably exceed 200 in 2017 and hoped to get back to Germany to break the 200 but never got around to it and sold that car this week. Its electric replacement won’t hit those speeds. Another bucket list failure :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

No danger for me with my first car then John. A Willow green mini van with 868cc waiting to be unleashed. My top speed was on a slightly downhill stretch in Suffolk when she managed 55mph (wind assisted)

Sounds very familiar Andy but I had a mustard yellow Mk2. Girls felt safer inside the car than out due to the sickly colour of the dream machine.

A friend of mine had a Mini van too, a grey one. Loads of fun.

A friend who had only a motorcycle licence bought a Reliant van. We all piled in the back, about six of us and it stood on end with the front inthe air. That was safety, it couldn’t go anywhere!


Hang on a minute. My dad had an MG Magnette shipped to S’pore when he was posted there in ‘53. Once it had had the g/box replaced [several months’ loan car, a Morris Isis] because it broke down on the way from the docks - they had forgotten to fill the g/b with oil - my mum, who was the demon driver, used to get to 80, no trouble.

Don’t forget, the same car, badged Wolsley, was a standard-issue police car, as often seen on Dixon of Dock Green and other cop shows of the time, hurrying to apprehend the viallains.

When we lived in DE in the late 50’s the trip from a few miles from the Dutch border, south into Austria, always featured dreadful RTAs at frequent intervals.

The a/bahns were very narrow, only two lanes but the mindset of the drivers of big Mercs - remembering their days as young tank commanders under Guderian.

Even as late :roll_eyes: as 1976 when I passed my test, they were still testing hand signals. It was one of my two fails on my first go, 2 weeks after my 17th b/d.

“Did we turn left, Mr. Nation?”
“Err … no.”
“What should we have done to signal we were pulling in to the side of the road?”
" :yawning_face: Wound down the window and waved my arm slowly up and down … "

The other was “Oh! A bit of a rally driver are we?” I’d crossed arms going round a 90 deg corner. I took two lessons on ‘how to pass the test’ and two weeks later, passed.

I passed first time CE and I think that’s thanks to me taking a couple of lessons to learn not to drive, but to pass a test.

They can be quite hot on enforcing minimum distance from the vehicle in front though.

And I’ve not been driving in Germany for a few years but the condition of some bits of Autobahn was so bad in parts, high speeds were very risky.

Plus I remember extremely poor signposting of lane closures and roadworks on a few occasions - like nothing till 50 metres before. Which given the speeds some nutters drive, BMW drivers I’m calling you out - was wholly nuts.

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I was still riding bicycles at the time, but I think the UK max speed limit was a result of someone taking a Shelby Cobra up the then new M1 rather quickly and then penning a magazine article about it. But I could be wrong… However, I’m sure there are many SFers who are far more knowledgeable on this subject.

Nevertheless some may be unaware that on most rural S African single carriageway roads (despite deep pot-holes, stray cattle, drunken farm workers, quite large tortoises etc…) the maximum speed limit is usually 120kph. The local road death toll for a couple of weeks in December, when those who can head for the south coast for Christmas usually exceeds the UK’s annual road death total. They actually set up field hospitals along the route, at points where poeple who’ve been driving (and drinking) for hours tend to fall asleep at the wheel or just pass out.

That highway code is from the year of my birth.

Talking of ‘no limits’, we went over to my brothers place last night, and on the way found the road partially blocked by a tractor and trailer. Slowed to a crawl and crept around it, to find on the other side a Ferrari had been binned into the hedge at the side of the road - lots of plastic bodywork broken, damage to doors and a cracked screen. Everyone seemed to be standing around looking OK and discussing the matter, plus there were plenty of people there, so we carried on.


This one was black/dark grey, and looked like it sustained more bodywork damage than the one in the video.

It is true that a Cobra bound for Le Mans was tested on the M1 up to 190mph. I remember reading about it in my mothly Motor Sport mag

Just before the 70mph limit was imposed - was pending - a bunch of racers and petrol heads cruised the M1 at >100mph, showing that the speed itself was safe. As we know, they did not succeed.

Hedges tend to be at the side of the road! :rofl:

A survey of insurance claims found that claims from TVR drivers featured a lower % of other vehicles involved than ‘the average’.

Thus the comment by Lotus engineer that the Elise had such pinpoint handling ‘so it could dodge the oncoming TVR on the wrong side of the road’.

Around here there are also dry stone walls, trees, pleached beech fencing and conventional fences. :slight_smile: However I suspect the driver may have felt that the hedge jumped out into the middle of the road.