: Did anyone actually drive 55 MPH in the 1980's ?



orconn
09-23-10, 04:36 PM
Some discussinon in another thread of "snail paced" driving speeds in the 1980's. I lived in L.A. at the time and can only remember keeping my speeed down on the freeways when the traffic was so light the Chips were enforcing the 55 MPH speed limit, otherwise to keep up with traffic you had better be doing 65-70 mph or get runover. Ofcourse prior to the national 55MPH speed limit, everyone was doing 80-85 mph on the freeways.

This is for the edification of some of our younger members who think that just because Cadillacs came with the 4100 engines and were slow as molasses that other cars (Mercedes, BMW and Jaguar) were capable of higher speeds!

OffThaHorseCEO
09-23-10, 04:56 PM
so are you saying other cars were or werent faster?

Stingroo
09-23-10, 05:09 PM
Okay, question.

What was the speed limit before the national 55mph thing? Was it left up to the cities? Were there streets with no posted limits? How did that work?

hueterm
09-23-10, 05:36 PM
Similar to today, most places were 70 before the 55 insanity.

I'm sure back then, people still added their typical 5-15 just like they do today. If I drive 70 on I-44 going to STL, I get passed all the time. If I go 80, then I do the passing most of the time...

In STL if there's no traffic, people are driving 65-75 in a 60 all day long. In Atlanta, Dallas, or Chicago IF there's no traffic it's WAY faster than that...

ga_etc
09-23-10, 05:42 PM
In STL if there's no traffic, people are driving 65-75 in a 60 all day long. In Atlanta, Dallas, or Chicago IF there's no traffic it's WAY faster than that...

I-285(the bypass) should be renamed the Atlanta Motor Speedway. I have been running with traffic in the fast lane doing 85-90mph and got passed by GSP.

Submariner409
09-23-10, 05:45 PM
Okay, question. What was the speed limit before the national 55mph thing? Was it left up to the cities? Were there streets with no posted limits? How did that work?

All "city" speeds were 25, 30, 35.

Very few drove 55. Except in known speed trap areas, which have been around since Day 1.

During my late 50's driving days, speed limits were 45, 50, 55, maybe 60 - remember that there were no Interstates - everything was dual lane or 3-lane (yep, you passed going either way in the center lane) - some 4-lanes and a few split highways, but less cars, less speed, blah, blah. As Eisenhower's Interstate system began to get off the ground the roads became larger and the Interstates started to checkerboard America - speeds went to 55, 60, 65 in places. The national 55 was a misguided knee-jerk response to the Middle East oil slowdown. The Arabs quickly learned that their Rolls Royces and oriental rug covered driveways depended on Middle East oil, so they shut down the spigot and prices soared - heck, in the early 70's you could get Texaco 100 octane for $0.35 a gallon. I ran regular in my 67 Cougar and Johnson 115 outboard and it was $0.27 a gallon. After the middle 70's thing the prices only continued to escalate to the point that gasoline is several hundred percent overpriced. Gotta pay them 7 and 8 figure CEO's..........The ragheads taught them well.

Westerners laughed at the Congressional knee-jerk ( and still do). So, here we are in 2010 - speed limits on the East Coast Interstates are 60, 65, and 70. It is easy to cruise the VA-NC-SC-GA-FL Rt.95 with cruise set on 76 - 78 and nobody bothers you unless you're the one blazing the trail.

Remember that ships and locomotives, large diesel plants - their fuel use is measured in tons per hour. A medium range 2-hole jet burns a phenomenal amount of kerosene going from NYC to Miami. Automotive use is only the tip of the iceberg, but it's the most visible, so that's where the politicians hang their corrupt hats.:wisdom:

Jesda
09-23-10, 05:47 PM
Im so glad the regulation was lifted right before I started driving. Of course, I got plenty of tickets anyway.

orconn
09-23-10, 05:47 PM
The speed limits were left to the individaul states to set, cities set there own limits on city streets (like they do today) state and federal highways were set by the state jurisdictions. For example Nevada had no speed limit on its state and feral highways, many western states had speed limits of 80-85 MPH. California was 65 mph on freeways in urban areas and 70 (maybe more) on most state and federal highways in rural areas. Most East Coast states were 65 mph, I don't know about Southern states. The national 55 mph speed limit law was enacted to try and save gasoline and diesel during and after the fuel crisis of 1972-73 and wasn't lifted till the 1990's. when the Western states, whichhad always bitterly objected to the national speed limit got descretion to raise it back to the higher limits of the past.

If you think that the 55 MPH speed limit was uniformly enforced in the West, youd would be mistaken. Those companies that could even hope to affford a private jet got one so they could get around the wide open spaces quickly!

orconn
09-23-10, 05:58 PM
so are you saying other cars were or werent faster?

By and large American cars were slugs, with a few exceptions Japanese cars were slow economy cars even before the double nickel came in. However, European luxury makes, which were slower than American cars in the '60s and early '70's, by and large, became realtively much faster as the American cars became progressively slower durimg the 1980's. For their engine displacement European makes had always got more performance from their smaller engines than American makes. In most cases smaller displacement American cars were inexpensive, economy cars. The performance cars in this country were V-8 powered cars.

gdwriter
09-23-10, 06:08 PM
Hell no, I didn't drive 55. I did speech competition in college, and I won a couple of trophies with a speech on eliminating the despised double-nickel. It's still 55 on the two-lane state highway I drive to work every day, but I set the cruise at 64 MPH. On the Interstates, it's still 65 in Oregon (the former governor was an emergency room doctor and vetoed every bill to raise it), but I set the cruise at 70.

Stingroo
09-23-10, 06:36 PM
Here in FL, along I-95 (where I do most of my traveling anyway) you get either 65 or 70. Normally I have cruise at 85, and I'm still getting passed. People here are insane. They don't know what turn signals are, common courtesy is a myth, and the middle finger is second to none for communication.

Florida has a horrible driving culture. I'm sure Sal will agree with most of this (except maybe the speed on the highway thing). When traveling South from where I live in Martin County, 90+ is common, if not EXPECTED, but as soon as you cross into Palm Beach county, everybody slows because they have more cops, but it's still well above the posted 65mph limit.

billc83
09-23-10, 06:44 PM
Songs were written of individual ability to do the legal limit in the 80s...


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvV3nn_de2k&ob=av3e

Bro-Ham
09-23-10, 06:49 PM
Sting, the Gulf Coast of FL is much different, more civilized.

The 55 speed limit was enforced by all states otherwise their federal highway funding was restricted. During the carter admin, the feds would do speed samplings in individual states to determine if the law was being observed and enforced. Enforcement became quite oppressive in some states. The lifting of 55 mph restrictions made travel faster and easier, and commerce, tourism, and our national spirits all raised at the same time.

:)

Stingroo
09-23-10, 06:58 PM
The closest I've ever lived to the gulf coast was Brooksville, but I was only four years old so it hardly counts. lol

ThumperPup
09-23-10, 07:00 PM
i asked my old man if he ever did the 55 MPH speed limit he said hell no he didnt own a 71 Cuda and a 70 Super Bird
and a 69 GTO to be doing 55mph LOL
he said only time he ever drove under 65 was if he was trying to sweet talk a girl standing on the side of the road LOL

77CDV
09-23-10, 08:42 PM
Speed limits were ignored then just like now. But, since everyone goes 5-15 over the limit, no matter the limit, the underpowered full-sized American cars could still marginally keep up when the limit was 55 and everyone was doing 65-70. Now, people routinely do 75-80 (limit is 65 here in CA). The old boats like the 4100 RWD Cads would have a hard time holding that pace. It wasn't that the European cars of the day were any more powerful than their American counterparts, they were just a whole lot smaller and lighter. The downsized FWD GM C-cars from 85 on were well able to keep up in terms of speed and gas mileage. It was the sucky build quality and indifferent styling that really turned people off.

Aron9000
09-24-10, 01:34 AM
I never drive 55 on the in town interstates. Some people do, I just pass them at 70mph in the left lane, then bump it up to 80-85 when the limit gets up to 70. Of course I never do any of that weaving shit, I love to block people in that do that. If its pretty heavy traffic, I usually just stay in the left lane and do about 5mph more than everybody else.

My theory is if you pass everybody, you don't have to worry about their shitty driving, and nobody tailgates you when you're driving faster than the flow of traffic.

Playdrv4me
09-24-10, 01:48 AM
I-285(the bypass) should be renamed the Atlanta Motor Speedway. I have been running with traffic in the fast lane doing 85-90mph and got passed by GSP.

This has happened to me more times than I can count, and at least a few times I have been passed by a car doing at least 100-115mph when I'm doing 85. And trust me, when you approach Atlanta at any time when it ISN'T a parking lot, you better be at the other extreme doing 85 minimum... or die.

STL has a ton of speed traps on I-64, and I-70 near the airport (where it actually still is 55) so its easy to get caught if you aren't careful. This is generally not a place where I feel at ease speeding around unless I'm toward the outer areas of town.

JimHare
09-25-10, 02:43 PM
The federal 55 mph limit came in just around the time I got my E-type in 1974... :) I have to admit that there were some times when I edged over the limit just a bit here and there.

In the summer of 1975, I moved to Sacramento with my new wife to finish college. We had a U-Haul truck pretty well filled with all our crap, and we rarely got it over 55 anyway - what with the weight and the governor, it seemed to take forever to get across Nebraska. :)

The one thing I vividly remember, and I have a snapshot of it around here somewhere, was a speed limit sign along I-80 on the Great Salt Lake west of SLC - nothing for miles and miles and miles in any direction, but a lone "Speed Limit: 55 MPH" sign", with a big ass set of skid marks right next to it..