Hooniverse Asks: What’s the hardest you’ve pushed your car or truck?

This is a pretty broad question in terms of what I’d like to hear from you. Have you jumped a truck? Perhaps you’ve raced your vehicle on a track? With the sun setting over a serene dry lake bed, have you hunted for a certain figure on your speedometer? A long road trip answers this question, especially in older cars or trucks.

My brother and I pushed pretty hard when we ran that 1972 Datsun 240Z from California to Boston. This was quite a few years back now, but it’s a trip that’s managed to stay fairly fresh in my memory. Someday I want to sit down and put the entire trip into book form, because it involves a test of the metal and a hard push on our own mettle. The car made it. My brother and I arrived on the other end with a stronger relationship. And it helps cement the idea in my head that even seemingly sorted old cars are never perfect.

That wasn’t my own car though, so I’d like to hear about tales from behind the wheel of your own personal vehicles. What have you done where you considered the notion that you were “pushing it”? Maybe you went for a personal wheelie record, an insane drift, or wanted to see how fast you could drive down the road in reverse.

Tell us all about it in the comments below.

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28 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What’s the hardest you’ve pushed your car or truck?”

  1. Sjalabais Avatar

    I am a huge fan of what fools like me call “slow car fast”: Have a somewhat underpowered car that can be driven at full throttle with a #momentumisyourfriend-attitude. Fairly simple and hugely entertaining. So I haven’t really driven any of my cars carefully, and even rental cars might squirt a bit of oil once they recognize me. Overloading has also been a persistent theme, but I can’t really tell if it ever hurt any of my cars. In any case, cars fullfil a function and are a tool, mostly. If I ever buy a vehicle just for adoration…I might screw that up, too.


    1. Zentropy Avatar

      Amen! Driving slow cars fast is way more fun than driving fast cars slowly. I didn’t learn how to maximize momentum until I bought my 325e, which had way more handling capabilities than it did power.

    2. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      Slow car fast rules

    3. outback_ute Avatar

      I could have taken a photo like that, but without the snow. No photo because it was raining and I was quickly offered a pull out of the ditch.

      Also to the questions at the start of the post: yes (it also bounced!), yes and no.

    4. Troggy Avatar

      “In an underpowered car, It’s not about how fast you go, it’s about how little you slow down.”

    1. 0A5599 Avatar

      F=ma. You need something with more mass.

    2. Vairship Avatar

      Where does one push on a KV1 Mini without destroying the bodywork?

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        Precisely as shown in the photo and in no other manner.

        1. Vairship Avatar

          Ah, I figured it would come down to “Use the Force, Luke!” in order to accelerate all parts of the KV1 equally.

  2. 0A5599 Avatar

    The most I’ve abused a car was by giving my wife a set of keys.

    The hardest I pushed a car was driving about 70 mph in a hard rain. The car hydroplaned and spun 720 degrees, then re-caught traction in the original direction of travel. No contact with other objects. I continued my journey at about half my prior speed.

    1. Zentropy Avatar

      I had a similar situation climbing a mountain grade at 70mph in the rain, when the elevation became high enough to turn that rain into ice. The gust from a tractor trailer sent me into a spin that unfortunately stopped at about 600 degrees, when I went off the road backwards. I was able to drive off after digging the mud out of my calipers and wheel wells of my Contour.

    2. Sjalabais Avatar

      Whoa, I did a 360 like that in a ’77 Volvo 242 once. It was on ice in a no-salt-area, but the ice had track grooves which was in my favour. The whole pirouette came totally out of nowhere for me, in fact, took some time to realize what the shaking car and two flashes of white wall really meant that night.

  3. Victor Avatar

    There was an oval stock car track in Auburndale Fl. that closed down back in the seventies , took my 1964 Ford Galaxie with the 390 4spd. and started doing laps , a bit faster on each lap . Came out of a turn at about 65 and the oil light came on. Shoved in the clutch and coasted to a stop. No permanent damage but a lesson leaned.

    1. 0A5599 Avatar

      There was a company that bought the land behind where I worked at the time. They put in a driveway designed to handle fully loaded trucks once every 20 seconds. It was straight as an arrow and concrete was more than a foot thick. A few months later the trucking company got bought by a competitor and the brand new facility shut down.

      Not long after, I came up on a Saturday with a Gtech pro. I figured the driveway would serve as my own private dragstrip. I forgot to calculate how much stopping distance was needed to slow things down from triple digit speeds (the Gtech calculated my trap speed at 104.something). I did get it stopped before running out of driveway, but maybe I should have built up to top speed over a series of progressively faster runs.

  4. Zentropy Avatar

    I once pushed my ’66 Comet Caliente to about 130 mph, at which point the terrible aerodynamics made it feel like there was only maybe 5 pounds on each tire. It was not a good sensation, so I kept it under 100 thereafter. A few years later I hit my Ford Contour’s 143 mph drag-limited top speed, just to see if it would really do it. It did, and felt remarkably composed compared to the old Merc.

  5. Batshitbox Avatar

    Driving my 15 year old ’73 Pontiac Grand Ville in a New England blizzard, including overnight, from Boston to Lewiston, Maine, over to Warren, Vermont and down to Harvard, Massachusetts before returning to Boston. It took 24 hours.

    They closed the Maine Turnpike (because blizzard) and I had to take US-1 and secondary roads that weren’t well plowed. I picked up a friend in Lewiston, so that made things easier, but there were a couple of white-outs including one approaching a steel truss bridge on a corner. I probably didn’t push the car as hard as I pushed myself, but I remember that as a tough slog.

    The most I demanded from my 25 year old C1500 was loading up two dirt bikes and a week’s worth of desert camping supplies for two, and driving from San Francisco to Mexicali, then next day out 35 miles of bad washboard road that ended in even worse canyon roads. Then back again at the end of the week, of course. The old GMC didn’t even break a sweat.


  6. GTXcellent Avatar

    Ah, to be young and dumb and lucky enough to survive.
    Getting to grow up in a very rural environment lent itself to so many tales of stupidity, pushing vehicles to the limits (and beyond) – racing 3 wide down a highway (with arguably some very, very slow vehicles – early ’80s Cavalier, ’83 Monte Carlo and my ’82 W150 Ram), finding out what the top end limit is of a ’63 Impala 4 door with a 283 and snow tires (right about 100) or trying our best Junior Johnson impersonations with my buddy’s early ’80s Gutless Supreme on logging roads out in the woods.
    I’d argue the very hardest I pushed a vehicle, and myself, was on a snowmobile – we had a little time trial we’d run from the Park Road to the Malung Town Hall and back – ditches and driveway crossings – 8 miles round trip. I’d do it in under 5 minutes. Looking back now as the grumpy old man that I am – what the hell was I thinking? That’s just idiotic.

  7. P161911 Avatar

    Blew out the transmission in my old K-5 Blazer towing a boat in the mountains and trying to keep up with the rest of the group of 20 somethings I was traveling with.

    When my now wife and I were dating I had a 1994 Corvette. We lived about 12 miles apart. I would leave her house late on many a weeknight with about 12 miles of empty, curvy, back roads in between. Just like Rod Millen at Pikes Peak, I was trying to get the time under 10 minutes.

  8. Jeff Glucker Avatar
    Jeff Glucker

    Driving from CA to Boston with a buddy one summer, I was at the wheel of his 97 Jeep.

    I went full throttle down a long straight stretch of highway outside of Vegas.
    At the bottom we were probably doing 105…
    Fucking terrifying.

  9. Batshitbox Avatar

    For high speed hijinx I’d have to say catching air in my Triumph ’74 TR7 on a residential street with cars parked on both sides.

    Or hanging the tail out in my ’80 SAAB 900 on a backroad, and explaining to my passenger that that was technically a high speed driving maneuver but that I didn’t think you were supposed to do that in a front wheel drive car.

  10. Tiller188 Avatar

    My WRX has seen track duty on a few occasions (twice at Laguna Seca, once at Thunderhill, with another outing at Thunderhill coming up). On one of the occasions at Laguna I ended up pointing the wrong way after turn 6 (thankfully did not end up in the gravel, though), and at Thunderhill I drove right over the top of the Cyclone and wound up in the dirt on the right-hand side. I did also get the rear a little loose coming out of turn 11 at Laguna a couple times, which was a much more fun exploration of limits than the prior two examples…either way, though, I’d have to say that’s as hard as the car’s been pushed.

    For all that, though, I think it’s still not saying all that much, considering I’m sure the car’s got a lot more to give than I can wring out of it. If I remember right, I only hit about 100-105 at Thunderhill, and never broke 100 on the way down to turn 2 at Laguna, because I’m too chicken to keep my foot in it over that start-finish hill. The brakes did get tired enough to give me pause, though.; not sure whether that’s me finding a limit of the car or just another indication of me not being brave enough!

  11. E34less Avatar

    Drove my 98 Legacy GT wagon from Athens to Columbus in 45 minutes because of a family emergency. Turns out a 20 year old car with 200k on it really doesn’t like cruising at triple digits for almost an hour. By the time I got to my parent’s house, the transmission had spit out most of its fluid and at least one front axle seal.

  12. peugeotdude505 Avatar

    I took my leased Honda Fit to an autocross. 🙂

  13. Fuhrman16 Avatar

    When I was in high school, I would frequently take my car into (barely) triple digit speeds. Probably not the smartest thing to do in a 30 year old Ford Maverick that was half rust, had four wheel drums (with leaky cylinders no less), a totally out of wack alignment, and a straight six that usually ran on five. I especially recall one time I couldn’t get it to go higher than 80 or so. Discovered after several miles that I had the transmission in second gear instead of drive. Oops.

  14. remerus Avatar

    3 Instances spring to mind:

    – Transporting about 1800lbs of pink Indian slate in the boot and interior of The Duchess (a 1980 W123 280E) I had a few years ago that overloaded the suspension to such a degree that both front and back had approximately a gnat’s whisker of travel before hitting bump-stops (it was free and about to be thrown out). The rear suspension took a week to recover to full height…

    – “Delivering” my sister’s 1990 Opel Record (2.0, fuel-injected, live-axle dinosaur South African specific model) when I was a student, doing 650 miles in 7 hours with 2 stops for fuel on the way without getting pulled over or getting myself killed (I still get the chills thinking how extraordinarily lucky I am to still be here)

    – Fetching my grandparents for their 60th wedding anniversary party with a hard deadline of having to be at a graduation ceremony to take photos for a friend and doing 190 miles in 1.5h. In rural South Africa. Through an area where kudu (a kind of deer) are know to randomly cross the road (game farms either side of the road). Kudu weigh between 450lb and 500lb average and can seriously ruin you day in a car.

    I’ve since realized that I’m all out of guardian angels (all dead from heart-attacks I suspect) and should probably calm the f..k down (also, spousal unit came along and prefers high-speed to happen in a controlled environment, not on public roads – god I love that woman.)

  15. anonymic Avatar

    I buried the needle in a 74 Valiant 225 and left it there for 25-30 minutes. I’d had a bad day and needed to vent. For a brick, it gets eerily quiet and smooth above 110.

  16. salguod Avatar

    Took my glass transmission 99 Odyssey (it was on its 3rd transmission at the time) over the WV mountains on US 33 with the family of 5, our Beagle, 4 bikes on the roof, a 12′ box pop up in tow and a week’s worth of gear. I’m confident that I was close to the max CVWR on those winding, 2 lane, curvy roads. It did it without much complaining.