1992 - Hormazd Sorabjee, Porsche 928 GTS
The year was 1992. A time when the Maruti 800 was ruling Indian roads, Fiats and Ambys still thrived, and the pinnacle of automotive technology was the Maruti 1000. In that age and context, the Porsche 928 GTS I was driving on German autobahns felt more like a Saturn V rocket than the brilliant grand tourer that it was. The 350hp output from its massive 5.4-litre V8 isn’t earthshaking by today’s standard but 28 years ago, this was the fastest car I had ever driven.
It took a few hours to get used to 200kph-plus speeds on destricted sections of the autobahn, and by afternoon, speeds of 220 clicks felt like a walk in the park. The front-engine 928 with its clever ‘Weissach’ rear axle felt super stable, which stirred the 27-yearold heart in me to blast past every other car. I was the fastest on the autobahn until a black BMW M5 snuck up on me and filled my mirrors with a kidney grille. I dutifully peeled off into the slower lane to let my opponent go past but mashed my foot down into the carpet to jump right back on his tail. The speedo needle rose quickly rose: 220, 230, 240; the 928 was pulling like a locomotive. At the 250 mark, the M5 maxxed out but the Porsche effortlessly whooshed past to hit 260kph – a personal speed record for me – before I backed off. International media drives in those days were very rare, so it would take many years to find the car and the road to go even faster.
2003 - Shapur Kotwal, Mercedes SL500
No trucks, no cars, no white private taxis, nobody. We finally had the Lonavala-Kamshet stretch to ourselves. The recently completed, and partly operational section of the expressway was truly deserted; this was way back in 2003. A bunch of vehicles passed by every minute or so, all travelling at around the same speed. But, otherwise, it was as barren as the Kalahari. We had the right tyre pressure, I had checked it myself earlier in the day, and since there was no luggage in the back, weight distribution wasn’t an issue either. The R230 Mercedes-Benz SL500, however, had a folding hard-top, and this caused me some stress. So I stopped, flipped it open and locked it down again.
Then, before someone came by, I put my foot down and took off. What helped massively was that SL felt as stable as a rock, even as it flew past 180 and then 200kph. And then, since the expressway was still empty, I kept my foot down. As we edged past 230, the blur we were driving through started closing in around the edges of the windscreen, and the roar of the air outside started getting louder and louder. Past 245, the SL began to move around a bit, but this felt okay, so I kept my foot in. Then, before I knew it, I sailed past 250, 255, and then on to what felt like a soft limiter. Magic.
2018 - Sergius Barretto, Porsche GT2 RS
A Porsche and Germany, what better recipe for speed than this? And this was no ordinary Porsche (if such a thing exists). I had the 911 GT2 RS. German autobahns are known for their lack of speed limits, but that’s only applicable to certain stretches. Unfortunately, my stint in the GT2 wasn’t on an unrestricted stretch. But luck was on my side, as we had a private estate with smooth roads for some tracking – but were they long enough? I thought so. There was a stretch that seemed enough; I’d have to come rolling in from another road though, and then bank on the GT2 being able to get up to speed real fast. So that’s exactly what I did. I had the car in manual, and just went for it; but the RS builds up pace phenomenally – bang away at a gear and no sooner you’ve let go, you have to click again. Having to pay rapt attention to the road length, narrow width and gearshifts was a handful, so I moved to Auto, rounded the corner real fast and then nailed it. And oh boy! That was one white-knuckled ride. With my eyes fixed up ahead, I didn’t know what I topped, but I caught a glimpse of 260kph, and, in seconds, I had to rein it in. I did get past 250kph again that day – in a GT3 Touring on the autobahn, but those few seconds on that narrow road were more thrilling and terrifying than the wide, flat, open stretch.
2012 - Cyrus Dhabhar, Mercedes A250 Sport
First time I drove over 250kph was in Germany, on a section of the unrestricted autobahn. For speed hunters, the autobahn is Mecca, and this particular section, a part of the A5, is one of the longest autobahns in Germany. The car in question was the then newly-launched Mercedes A250 Sport – the keys to which I was handed in Stuttgart, at the Mercedes-Benz design centre.
While there was a shorter way to get from Stuttgart to Frankfurt, our overnight halt at the famous Bareiss ski resort in Baiersbronn meant that a huge part of the first day was spent corner-carving in the absolute fantastic mountain roads of the Black Forest. On day two, though, a good, old fashioned pedal to the metal autobahn blast awaited me, and that was one of the few times I remember genuinely being ‘butterflies in the stomach’ excited. And as we hit the A5, with my foot planted deep into the carpet, the A250 briskly reached the 250kph mark and sat there like it was no big deal.
That said, it is on the autobahn’s fast left lane that you realise no matter how fast your car is, there will always be someone faster than you. This was demonstrated first by a 997.2 Porsche 911 Turbo that blew past us at over 300kph, and then by a host of unassuming sleeper BMWs, Audis and Mercs. All in all, doing 250kph for the good part of an hour was certainly an unforgettable experience.