Driving on the Autobahn is something I had been dreaming about since childhood. “Wait, you mean no speed limits?”
Before you jump to the comments section, I knew that the entire Autobahn is not unrestricted, in fact many Germans I’ve since spoken to say that more and more of the highway is becoming restricted due to safety concerns and large construction projects.
Through BMW’s On Demand service available at BMW headquarters in Munich, I booked a 135is for 35 euros an hour. The 320 horsepower coupe, capable of reaching 60 mph in 4.6 seconds was plenty of car for an Autobahn rookie. It’s sport exhaust, turbo charged inline six cylinder engine, and M-sport suspension setup had me drooling in anticipation of the fun I knew I would have while piloting the white coupe to the Porsche museum in Stuttgart.
I climbed in, and gave the engine some revs in BMW’s underground parking garage. My surroundings were quickly enveloped in inline six glory. In a few minutes I found myself driving up an on-ramp with the rear wheels screeching as I piled on the power before I merged onto the Autobahn.
With only 150 miles until I reached my destination, I planned on pushing myself and the Beemer; when would I get an opportunity like this again?
The road manners of German drivers paired with the terrifically maintained road surface made the Autobahn an ideal place to push the 135is to it’s electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. Once I happened upon a stretch of straight road, I planted my foot in the floor, and the Beemer took off. To my surprise, the needle on the speedometer reached 250 kph (155 mph) and kept climbing. Drawing more and more of my concentration, I gripped the steering wheel ever harder. Sweat was trickling out of my palms, requiring me to wipe my hands on my jeans at increasingly frequent intervals. At around 160 mph, I noticed my vision beginning to narrow, and my thoughts once preoccupied could now focus only on what was going on a few hundred feet ahead of me.
As a result of the car’s short wheelbase, and highly sprung sports suspension, it was difficult to keep it tracking straight. So as I accelerated to nearly 170 mph, the fastest I ended up going, I experienced bucking as I drove over expansion joints, and buffeting due to the wind. However, the Beemer’s chunky sports steering wheel, and communicative hydraulic assisted power steering ultimately gave me the confidence I needed to work past whatever trepidation that was caused by the bumps and the wind.
Once in Stuttgart, with the 1 series’ sport exhaust growling as I stood at a stop light, I noticed my forearms were shaking. The excitement of bringing the car to speeds I could only have dreamed of just weeks before, dumped loads of adrenalin in my system.
I tooled around Stuttgart for a bit, windows down, throwing the engine revs now and then just to hear the wonderful exhaust note, until I finally parked the now bug bespattered Beemer in front of the Porsche museum. The story of what I found inside Porsche’s steel and glass mecca to everything rear-engined is for another post.