----- Original Message -----
From: "Kenyon Wills"
Subject: IML: Handling Run
Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2008 22:56:26 -0700 (PDT)
Just got back home with a big smile on my face.
I have a side job that I go to Thursday evenings.
Coming back, I go from South San Francisco down the
280 freeway and then west across the San Mateo Bridge.
280 is interesting because it was designed in the late
1960's, at the later portion of the big freeway
building boom. It's called "america's most beautiful
freeway" and goes along a pretty coastal range of
hills with a pretty reservoir alongside it.
The story that I heard was that the designers figured
that cars were just going to get faster and faster,
and so they deisgned the freeway for 90 miles per
hour, with wide, sweeping curves, 5 lanes, and very
few straight sections. This is possibly one of the
best driving freeways I've ever been on, and I've done
it at 3am in the mid 100's on a sportbike and it's
incredibly smooth and well designed for high speed
work when nobody else is around.
Anyway, I took the 72 GT tonight. It's seemed to
stabilize and not be cranky on the shorter errand
drives I've been on recently, so I felt confident
enough to take it out on a 100 mile journey this
Coming back at 9:30 yeilded a freeway that was
relatively devoid of cars, a willing engine, and my
newly installed tachometer showing that the 440 was
running smoothly and confidently.
Coming away from the SF Airport, I took the 90 degree
banked turn from 380 to 280 south on a flying overpass
at a good clip, and as I entered the turn, I passed
the pickup truck in the slow lane and popped on my
The car is outfitted with H4 bulbs that are 100w on
high beam. 55w is the legal limit, so these
headlights are BRIGHT and incredibly well focused with
a flat, low pattern and a cool whiteness that is a
huge difference from stock 1970's lighting technology.
Hitting the highs instantly illuminated the dark,
unilluminated overpass and made the pavement almost
I proceeded out of the curve having left the truck I'd
passed at least 20 car lengths behind and dropped down
onto the gently sloping uphill section pointed
straight at Crystal Springs Reservoir a mile ahead.
Traffic was light and I firmly accelerated as I
confidently moved the car over into the fast lane
after dropping the lights back to low beams so as not
to annoy or be rude.
As I crested the hill and turned left heading south,
the freeway straightened out and I picked up another
20 miles per hour or so and the car really started to
hum, the tachometer indicating a solid 3500 RPM with
all gauges reading nominal, happy readings.
After being delayed in a clump of traffic where 5 cars
decided to drive abreast and at almost the same speed
on an otherwise empty freeway, I was able to wiggle
through. This was by the golf course and as I crested
the hill for the 4 mile downhill run to the Crystal
Springs Bridge, I was presented with an empty freeway.
Hit the high beams and instantly get to see every lane
reflector for 2 miles ahead and the far-off overhead
signs as they jump into sharp relief.
Rolled the car on to 4000 RPM and felt it settle in to
a steady thrum as the wheels ate up the distance in a
way that was almost eager.
Bottom of the hill and there is a left hand sweeper.
Car is probably at 120 or so, but the speedo has the
wrong pinion gear in the trans, so it gets buried when
the car hits 80 or so... No police around to inform
me what I'm doing, but it feels good, so I keep going.
I come up on light traffic and drop the headlights
again, lining myself up for the transition to
westbound 92, again a sweeping 90 degree banked,
elevated flyway. Ease off the gas and hit it at about
85, with the car leaning a bit but the wide, soft
tires I've chosen grip the pavement without complaint
and the car pulls nicely all the way around the curve.
Drop into the merge where three different flows of
traffic join into two lanes, sidestep the idiot that's
not watching his mirrors and relying on blinkers and
not his mirrors, and a quick glance to the rear-view
mirror reveals the presence of a like-minded
individual in a 5-series BMW that has decided to step
up and join in.
The car rises on a climb and it's into a long,
sweeping mile-long curve first left and then right, a
mile long flat straight by College of San Mateo, and
then a swooping, curving cambered drop 3 miles down to
El Camino Real, all the while with the BMW close but
not insistent in the rear view mirror at 90 or so.
The bottom presents the only real challenge of the
evening. Brake or float through the whoopdie-doo
where the cement overpass goes flat followed by an
immediate drop during a right hand jink.
BMW isn't interested in slowing down, and neither am
I. He's not in the passing mood, and that's good.
Glance to make certain he's not going to try to take
me and then jink the car into the slow lane.
Car goes onto the tip-toes of its suspension as the
bottom drops out of the road, followed by an annoying
lump back upwards that compresses the car's
suspension. We're OK so far, but payback for the
compression of that suspension is a bitch.
This is the one place where the car shows it's 1970's
luxury roots, rebounding like a marshmallow and
popping the car laterally to the left as the car hops
back up and the weight leaves the tires for a moment.
The car Pops back into the fast lane from the slow
lane. Good call on the BMW's part not to pass, and
who thankfully isn't there and is probably glad to
have lifted his right foot at the same time that I
did. The car was pretty unsettled for a moment, but
it is now composed again and I wonder what my road
companion thought about the large car squirming around
in two lanes. I'll probably not hit that one so fast
He winks his high beams and flips off onto 101 south
as I proceed across the elevated skyway headed for
home across the San Mateo Bridge, another haven from
speed enforcement and thus a place to stretch one's
legs when there's space. It's a 9 mile blast over an
elevated ramp that climbs 300 feet and then drops to a
few feet, straight and flat above the bay for an 8
mile, three lane shot into landfall at Hayward.
The car eats up space and traffic all the way across.
Confident in it's size and solidity.
Easy does it around the cloverleaf onto 880 north and
a quick ride in heavier traffic at the speed limit to
my offramp and home.
The Imperial GT has arrived, and the rest is all
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