Faster than you’re allowed to imagine

You may remember the Joan Claybrook Memorial Speedometer, an artifact of the Malaise Era that topped out at 85 mph (insult one) and highlighted the 55-mph national speed limit (insults two through infinity). It died an unlamented death in the late 1980s, and in a Junkyard Find piece for TTAC, Murilee Martin finds the rare example that adheres to the letter of the law while hurling all over its putative spirit:

Speedometer from Merkur XR4ti

Said Martin by way of explanation:

The Merkur XR4Ti also had an 85 mph speedometer, but it was presented with a certain amount of winking and nudging.

Nudge, nudge, say no more.


  1. Pat Schroeder »

    7 July 2015 · 3:56 pm

    The 1984 thru 1986 Mustang SVO had speedometer markings that were the same as the XRT4ti, along with sharing the same 2.3 turbo engine.

    I always though of those speedo markings as a subtle FU to the auto safety establishment…

  2. CGHill »

    7 July 2015 · 5:19 pm

    Which would have been totally deserved.

    I never drove any SVOs. Close as I came to a high-powered Ford was an early Taurus SHO, and I get basically the same power numbers from my Infiniti, though admittedly it’s a dozen years newer.

  3. jsallison »

    7 July 2015 · 9:11 pm

    Bought an ’85 Camaro Berlinetta straight off the line, loaded. Had a digital speedo as part of it’s ‘starship’ cockpit that blinked ’85’ whilst still accelerating to unknown speeds. First and last vehicle I ever bought new.

  4. CGHill »

    7 July 2015 · 9:40 pm

    I’ve had only one car with a similarly uninformative speedo: a 1984 Mercury Cougar with the boat-anchor 232 Essex V6. Getting it up to 85 was usually more trouble than it was worth.

  5. backwoods conservative »

    7 July 2015 · 10:24 pm

    My one big disappointment where speedometers are concerned was a 1975 Camaro with a speedometer that registered 130. Its top speed was 115. I wanted to hit that 130 mph mark so bad.

  6. CGHill »

    7 July 2015 · 10:50 pm

    Then there was this little incident from my distant past.

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