High Speed Encounter on the Autobahn

9 pm today, I’m on the A6 Autobahn, it’s dark, and I am driving my 1987 Saab 900. 8 valve, non turbo, 115 hp when new. I am going 195 km/h on the speedometer. 195 on the speedometer.

Yes, that is wildly optimistic for a 25 year old car with 262,000 km on the odometer, but if you factor a 10% error, that is 175 km/h, pretty respectable.

Anyway, so here I am, late at night, pedal to the metal on my old Saab, on the left lane, passing every car in front of me. Then I come up on something moving fast, but not as fast as me. Something new, with squinty tail lights, above two round exhaust pipes. As I approach it I notice the iconic lines on the car, with a huge wing spanning the area above the tail lights. A Porsche 911 Turbo. As new as they get, 991 model, and plenty fast in stock trim.

I don’t slow down, and come up on the Porsche’s bumper. As a good German driver he moves to the right, letting the faster car pass on the left. All he can see right now are two big old-school retangular headlights with yellow bulbs coming up behind him.

Driving maybe 5 km/h faster than him I edge forward, getting into the drivers view. He looks over and his jaw drops, not expecting to get overtaken by a 25 year old obsolete Swedish car made by a recently defunct manufacturer. My 185/65-15 tires and my thin exhaust pipe do little to make my car look sporty, but hey, I’m moving faster than him. The driver of one of Germany’s fastest cars is being passed by a dinosaur.

After I pass him I put on my right blinkers and move onto the right lane. He puts his left blinkers on, moving into the left lane, not to be shamed by a 115 hp car whose basic design is 1960s technology. He edges forward, maybe 5 km/h faster than me, and when he’s at my side he slows down.

We’re side by side at 195 km/h. I am on fifth gear, my right foot is buried deep into my floor mat, I am at the top speed of my car, and I can feel my heater pumping hotter air as my cooling system is straining. Only going downhill will make me go faster. He’s probably on fourth gear cruising. My two favorite cars, the Saab 900 and Porsche 911, side by side in high speed on the Autobahn. An empty onyx ribbon in front of us.

I look over at him, he looks over at me. I smile. He gives me the thumbs up, downshifts, then floors the accelerator on his Zuffenhausen rocketship, jumping into warp drive. All I rear is the howl if his engine and a woosh. And he’s gone. Squinty tail lights disappearing into darkness. I flash my headlights as a last second salute, a thank you, a head nod between car lovers with different budgets.

I get off the Autobahn at the next exit, and take the back roads home, obeying the 100 km/h speed limit. I had my fun for the night. Besides, my engine needs to cool off…

(the picture is a few months old and obviously taken during the day. Just to show an old non turbo Saab can indeed move. At 190 km/h on the speedo my GPS showed 175 km/h).

PS: It has been brought up to my attention that the 991 Turbo is still not being sold. There are two possibilities: One, the Porsche I met was not a Turbo model, but a regular 991 with an aftermarket wing. Two, this was a factory pre-production model. This being Germany it is not totally impossible that a factory 911 Turbo would be driving on the Autobahn two hours away from Stuttgart late at night. What I know for sure is that it was a 991, with twin exhaust pipes, and a large wing that spanned from above one tail light to another.
PPS: This story was published on Jalopnik Opposite Lock, and on Tumblr Just My Saabs on 25 November, 2012.

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