It’s really quite incredible, only the other day MotorMartin was pondering upon that immortal question, and you can’t tell me that I’m on my own with this one. You all know the question, but for one reason or another, there’s never been a truly definitive answer. Why is that? Surely it can’t just be MotorMartin who is kept awake by this?

And then, when all hope was apparently lost, when the search for answers was all but given up, it happened. The news machine up on the top floor of MotorMartin Towers was flashing as if it’s vacuum tube, or thermionic valve, depending on your personal preference, depended upon it. Lights were illuminated, bells were ringing and ticker tape was being expelled at quite a rate. Finally we have an answer. 

It gives MotorMartin great pleasure to be able to finally present you with the answer to that eternal question. What’s the fastest that a Volkswagen Beetle can go? The answer, very!

All of which brings me to this, rather incredibly, a specially-tuned Volkswagen Beetle has set a new speed record at the World of Speed event that has long been a tradition at Lake Bonneville in Utah (USA). The Beetle LSR (Land Speed Record) with a turbocharged 2.0-litre direct-injection engine (TSI) drove the fastest speed ever documented for a Beetle, reaching 328.195 km/h (205.122 mph) over a distance of one mile.

In order to reach top speeds of well over 300 km/h many aspects of the Beetle LSR were reworked, and the car was modified to conform to regulations for record drives on salt flats. The output of the 2.0-litre TSI was boosted to a peak power of 550 PS (by changes that included a new turbocharger, different pistons, camshafts, connecting rods and cylinder head modifications). The record-setting vehicle also stands out with an impressive torque peak of 571 Newton metres.

MotorMartin has been informed that to perform well under extreme conditions, the Beetle was equipped with special wheels and tyres for driving on salt, and the body was lowered significantly. A limited-slip differential was also used to improve traction, while a safety package provided for the necessary protection; it consisted of a rollover protection cage, a race seat with five-point harness and a fire extinguishing system. In addition, the record-setting car had two brake parachutes that were used to slow down the Beetle.

Fortunately, the performance was officially recorded at the driving record event sponsored by the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association (USFRA), which is held every year in mid-summer and what a performance it was. Mightily impressive.

Where will you go?

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