The numbers position on speedometers changed about the same time
drivers increased highway speeds. Just a coincedence?
I dusted off the old car (25 years old) to get it running again and
noticed something about the speedometer.
Older cars had speedometers where, when the needle pointed straight
up, it's pointing to 80 km per hour or 50 miles per hour.
My newer car has a speedometer where when the needle points straight
up, it's pointing to 120 km per hour or 75 miles per hour.
Could higher vehicle speeds on highways be a simple straight up on the
Are we just accustomed to seeing the needle in that position when
highway driving and straight up needle position on the speedometer
seems normal driving speed?
Actually, as stupid as it seems, this is true in many cases. Auto makers
did (and still do) make speedometers so that the typical highway
cruising speed is straight up, or about half scale. Mid-scale is always
the more accurate point, and driver's do expect to see that.
Study cars made when there was a national 55 speed limit--and you'll see
that most were designed so that 55 was right in the middle. In fact that
stuck around a few years after (to avoid redesign/retooling costs.)
Around that time the speedo would only read 85 as the top speed. I think
that was a mandate at the time. Mine goes considerably higher as the top
seed rating is 134. My new car (that I take delivery of tomorrow) reads to
160 and I'm not sure of the real capability with the turbo.
Cruising at 70 to 75, the needle is in the 11 o'clock position. I'll
probably never find the top speeds unless I go out west. Most I ever did
here was 123 according to the reading on the gps.
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