"The Ton"

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Captain Mark Phillips and lesser-known drivers have been in the news recently for exceeding 100 mph, the once-magic “ton”, and being fined and/or disqualified accordingly. To those old enough to remember when there were no speed-limits and it was legitimate to try to reach “the ton” in a suitable car on narrow country roads, the present fuss over this pace being slightly exceeded on wide, one-direction motorways may seem a trifle droll. Especially if they hold the view that whether such a pace is dangerous or not depends on many factors, such as the type of car, the density of traffic, the weather and the experience of the driver.

When the writer first had 100 mph demonstrated to him in a 36/220hp Mercedes-Benz along the Barnet Bypass before the war, no-one questioned whether this was dangerous or criminal.

In spite of enormous improvements in braking and road-holding and in roads themselves, and the sensible use one is allowed to make of motorways in Germany, droll is perhaps the word which best expresses the way in which “the ton” and even speeds well below it are regarded in the 1980s!