The Saab Rocket spins into the guardrail at 100mph.
1993. It was an '89 Saab SPG (Special Performance Group). It was loved the way only a red-blooded American boy can love a car. It would happily go forever at 120mph+ and you could put the back seats down and it would sleep 4 (a friendly 4).
The SPG's were Saab Turbo's that had their turbo waste-gates tweaked up for higher boost and a special tightened and lowered suspension. It was the Saab Rocket that gave me an appreciation that at speeds well over a 100mph, horsepower is nice, but handling is where it's really at. The Saab Rocket weaved thru traffic on the autobahn at 140mph and handled as if it was on rails. Late 60's muscle cars have their charms, but the difference between being scared chitless, vs. being in control....is handling.
And there is nothing fun about being scared chitless.
But, of course, it was still nice, after a Porsche, an 8 cylinder BMW/Mercedes or some Italian exotic screamed by on the autobahn's fast lane, to be able to stomp on it, watch the boost gauge peg and race in pursuit.
Tom Rylander, my roommate for most of the Germany years, and I were returning from one more weekend of extreme-fun skiing in Austria.
My philosophy of driving in Germany (not necessarily Tom's philosophy, but who listens to passengers) had been, "only pussies drive under 100".
Suddenly we hit a rain squall North of Munich that came out of nowhere. I backed off of the accelerator a bit. Then we hit a lake. The Autobahn had turned into a great sea. Curious. The Autobahns, being designed for higher speeds then American freeways, aren't cambered to allow water to run off of the center. They are perfectly flat. So if they get a lot of rain in a hurry, bad luck can create a couple inches worth of lake for hundreds of meters.
We were in the left-most lane passing thru 100mph. Traffic was sparse. I just held the wheel straight so that it wouldn't get funny ideas while swimming. Then the Saab Rocket took a slight but decided new orientation a little left...towards the grass median and guardrail.
We were heading straight forward in a car that was pointed, well not so straight forward.
I made a slight adjustment of the steering wheel. Just a little right to suggest to the car that it would be best to point in the same direction as we were traveling.
It had no effect at all.
Holding the steering wheel, yet not being in charge created an unfamiliar and unpleasant feeling of helplessness.
I then exclaimed those immortal words that were burned forever into Tom's then dozing mind. "DUDE!" <insert inflection of alarm>
The car's left front caught traction on the edge of the grass median, and we were whipped around in an eye-blink. The rear end exploded into the guardrail and ski gear burst out like shrapnel. We continued spinning down the autobahn, incredibly not hitting anything else or getting hammered by any follow-on 2 ton Mercedes'.
The spinning eventually ended. Facing on-coming traffic.
Simultaneously: Chiiiiiit. <insert inflection of stunned disbelief>.
I now drive like an old woman. Have learned my lesson. I may think that I'm driving, but it's really Inertia that's in charge. I'm only driving as long as Inertia feels like letting me. Watch out for Inertia. She don't play.
The Porsche Speedster
The Saab Rocket
The Beemer #2