Magic Numbers: Symbiosis at 77

There is no place on earth more relaxing than in a 1997 Rover 825 Si at 77 mph.
At that speed, all the little resonances, rattles and shimmies unify and seem to cancel each other out. Wind noise vanishes to just the slightest murmur around the mirrors. The normally mediocre stereo somehow acquires extra weight, drive and authority, delivering music to your ears as if the car was always supposed to be a mobile concert-hall. The ride settles so the car feels as if it’s levitating, heped no doubt by the razor-edge (by current standards) 195 section tyres.
77 is a magic number. If there were no other cars on the road to compare speed with, I could be travelling at any velocity. 77mph feels like flight. Could be 777mph. All this smoothness acts like MSG, enhancing the flavour of speed and acting as a multiplier. At 77 I could keep on flying until I run out of planet.
I love it when everything comes together like this.

My first car, my Triumph Acclaim, had a kind of rumble which arrived at 72 as if announcing that you were entering “the unknown”, beyond which things would settle down a bit but could still feel a bit frenzied until the car was defeated by physics at about 95.
In the Rover there’s a good sixty or so in reserve once 77 is reached, but loping along at that speed, still just about within the realms of highway legality, is such a wonderful experience it seems a shame to go faster. 78, 79, 80, yes, you’ll get there more quickly. But suddenly the stereo doesn’t sound quite so good. There are a few little hums and drones starting to develop. The featherbed smoothness has gone. The engine, once silent, has become audible again.
At any other speed I’m travelling in a mere car. One which has to interact with traffic and get caught up in the unpleasant milieu that is day-to-day commuting. At 77mph I’m beyond all that. I’m piloting something other-worldly. This is so far beyond driving as to be unreal. I’m the master of the road and nothing can stop me. Life is good at 77.
Does your car have a Magic Speed?
(Images taken by my co-pilot, copyright Hooniverse 2015)

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  1. PotbellyJoe★★★★★ Avatar

    My Scion tC was oddly smooth at 82-84 mph. I think it was when 5th gear was in a sweet spot for the RPMs.
    I remember my Gen 1 Lightning was brutally stiff until around there as well, then it came into its own.
    Haven’t really tried with the Pontiac, but I also have never commuted on interstates where it’d be safe to find it during my tenure of daily driving the Vibe.

  2. theskig Avatar

    Every speed is the Magic Speed with the highest gear and cruise control on 🙂
    BTW the morning wood speed of my car is exactly 100 Km/h

  3. Tanshanomi Avatar

    I once took a 900-mile trip on a brand new Yamaha FZX700 Fazer. That bike virtually INSISTED on doing precisely 91 MPH, plus or minus 1 MPH. It was superlative at that speed….and frankly, kind of annoying at any other.

    1. Alff Avatar

      I came very close to buying one of those last Spring. In hindsight, it’s probably best I didn’t as 91 may be its ideal speed but it isn’t mine.

      1. spotarama Avatar

        nonsense, what you want is its grown up brother, the Vmax, 91mph is quite a comfy speed to proceed at….then you change into 3rd and it just gets silly after that
        and hopefully the above (below?) image is a pic of my bike

      2. Tanshanomi Avatar

        91 MPH was 5800 RPM in sixth gear. Below about 5500, the throttle response was positively hyperkinetic: incredibly tough to modulate smoothly. Also, there was a lot of driveline lash that was worse in any of the other gears, and at lower speeds the rear shocks felt oversprung and underdamped.

  4. mdharrell Avatar

    “…my Triumph Acclaim….”
    Let the record show that I still hope eventually to be able to say these words of myself.

  5. Alff Avatar

    Doesn’t your little island cap speed somewhere south of there? I’m only half joking but full disclosure … my favorite car is happiest somewhere south of 45 mph.

  6. JayP Avatar

    “Yes officer, I realize I was traveling at 82 miles per hour. But my little truck likes it at 82. The unbalanced wheels begin to harmonize, the wind flies over the cab and the engine plays a sweet tune.”
    I have practiced this line in case I need to use it.

  7. englishcarguy Avatar

    Something’s wrong, Rover didn’t make an 825 in 1997. Maybe we’re talking about 1987.

    1. spotarama Avatar

      i think whats happened here is it took approx 10 years for the poor little Rover to achieve the claimed speed of 77mph

    2. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      “Although the 800 had fallen behind the opposition considerably (few
      mechanical changes were made, apart from the introduction of the Rover KV6 Engine which replaced the Honda 2.7 V6 in 1996, making the then 827 into an 825), it was a steady seller until 1999, when it was replaced by the Rover 75.”

    3. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Er, yes they did.

  8. LEROOOY Avatar

    I had a Saturn SC2 which paid homage to Renaults by having 1″ different-sized wheelbases on each side of the vehicle (it has never been clear if I did this by understeering into a curb in the rain, or if I just did a shoddy job of inspecting the underside of the car at purchase).
    But these wheelbase shenanigans resulted in VIOLENT shaking between only 62-72 MPH.
    So in Texas, you had to speed a little to not feel like you were going to die.
    Also, traveling from 45-65 MPH meant that the electric radiator fan (which forced itself on when the air conditioner was on), would actually fight the airflow through the radiator and cause the temperature to rise…
    but traveling from 0-45 MPH meant you HAD to turn the air conditioner on (to turn the fans on, you see), or the fans just wouldn’t trip at all and cause the car to overheat…
    “So you see, officer, I HAVE to be going 73 right now because I’ll be either sweaty, out of control, or boiling over.”
    These were not good cars, at least not when paired with a high-school-aged idiot.

  9. Batshitbox Avatar

    My old Pontiac Grand Ville, when you hit 50 mph, seemed to settle down a few inches, stop wallowing about and just sail at any speed above that.
    Mighty Steve the ’91 GMC defies reason in that if I try to save fuel by going 60 – 65 it absolutely hates it, whereas if I push up to 70 – 80 it feels like it has more oomph and stops dithering between overdrive and top gear. Nothing will sway that truck from getting 16 mpg. In town, on the freeway, tailwind, loaded, unloaded, whatever. 16 mpg. So I keep it above 70 when I can (not in town, obv.)

  10. Sjalabais Avatar

    Is this too low hanging fruit for anyone to post? I’m not the least bit ashamed to do it.
    Anyway, my minivan has a very short fifth gear. The legal 80kph is already showing some 2500rpm. Yet, most cars I’ve owned like themselves best at 100kph, which is a very common limit in Europe – and, as such, it makes sense that transmissions and engines are fine-tuned to utter harmony at this speed. The only car that made it very clear that three-digits is one too many was my Scandinavian-spec 1971 Volvo 145: Only four gears and the short rear axle combined to make this a driver-with-a-hat-car at best. Still loved it.

  11. mzszsm Avatar

    The Volvo Amazon develops a very scary shake at 92MPH, it instead has an ideal outside temperature range rather than speed, low 60s F.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      That is pretty quick for an Amazon!

      1. mzszsm Avatar

        There was help from a miles long mountain downhill, the mountain and my bravery ended, and so that was top speed.

  12. Andrew Avatar

    My car’s favorite speed is typically about twice the yellow-sign-recommended speed for any given corner.
    In a straight line, it prefers to proceed at a gentle 80 km/h or so – the gearing is not conducive of peaceful highway cruising, even without an exhaust leak.

  13. salguod Avatar

    The magic speed in my wife’s Prius seems to be just a little slower than you’re going right now.