What’s the fastest you’ve ever driven in reverse?

Colin
By Colin Wood
Aug 31, 2022 | Discussion, Reverse

Photograph Courtesy VW

You hit your car’s triple-digit top speed during your last track day? That’s cool and all, but how fast have you ever gone while in reverse?

Without incriminating yourself, what’s the fastest you’ve ever driven while backing up–either on purpose or on accident?

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GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/30/22 1:09 p.m.

I've tried whipping some reverse-180s on a closed course at 40~60kph, I wasn't looking at the speedo but that's my guess based on gearing and revs.

One time in an offroad rally I got caught in the middle of a rather scary reverse sandwich where me and the trucks ahead of and behind me all realized we'd made a navigational mistake and needed to back up. It was very hard for me to maintain spacing to both trucks, 1 star, would not do again! Probably going 30~40kph.

Even scarier, one time I got caught reversing away from someone on the 2nd floor of a parking garage who was just reversing away with abandon without looking where they were going at all. It started out innocently enough, me reversing to give this person space to reverse. Then we were just going faster and faster for longer and longer. Eventually my passenger hit the horn and woke up the oblivious reverser before I ran out of parking garage. Probably doing 20~30kph.

16vCorey
16vCorey PowerDork
8/30/22 1:16 p.m.

I finally finished off my 300k mile demolition derby '87 VW Fox (BA/BE Rally veteran) by entering a reverse race around a dirt oval before it's (planned, but didn't happen) 3rd demolition derby.  I threw a rod through the block on the third or fourth lap.  I held it to the floor and never let up, so whatever rev limit in reverse of an '87 Fox with an Audi 4k 5spd swap is, that's probably it. 

I may have gone faster in reverse, depending on how my other cars have been geared, but I've definitely never gone that fast for that long in reverse before.

16vCorey
16vCorey PowerDork
8/30/22 2:33 p.m.
GameboyRMH said:

Even scarier, one time I got caught reversing away from someone on the 2nd floor of a parking garage who was just reversing away with abandon without looking where they were going at all. It started out innocently enough, me reversing to give this person space to reverse. Then we were just going faster and faster for longer and longer. Eventually my passenger hit the horn and woke up the oblivious reverser before I ran out of parking garage. Probably doing 20~30kph.

Oh man, this just reminded me of the time I went to the movies with a group of friends, and as we were leaving on friend was pretending like she was going to crash into the front of my car, so I pulled out of my parking spot in reverse as fast as I could.  I guess that was her invitation to try to chase me, so she proceeded to chase me around a packed theater parking lot with our front bumpers maybe a foot or two apart.  I still can't believe I didn't crash into something.  She was laughing hysterically, but I was freaking out.  That was in my '94 Passat GLX VR6 5spd, so I'm guessing that was probably faster than my Fox was.

barefootcyborg5000
barefootcyborg5000 PowerDork
8/30/22 2:46 p.m.

Aren't P71s (or any panther, I guess) capable of 60mph backwards? I don't know, never tried to test mine. 
Used to do rockfords in my super beetle in high school whenever it rained. Convention center has a nice big lot we used to hoon around in. Maybe 25mph? Idk. 
 

I have gone 120 (I was told, and the noise seemed to support this) while in the trunk of an rx8. The center armrest in the back seat opens into the trunk. 18yo me thought "yep, I bet I could fit through there." So I did, when I was almost all the way through, my idiot friend decided to try to help by flooring it and not letting off. So that was fun. 

Captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
Captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/30/22 3:05 p.m.

Fun fact, 80s Subaru Justys with the CVT had the same speed in reverse as they did in drive. 

buzzboy
buzzboy SuperDork
8/30/22 4:36 p.m.

Some MBs, like the W210, have two speeds in reverse.

Personally though, I doubt I've passed 10 in reverse.

jfryjfry
jfryjfry SuperDork
8/30/22 4:42 p.m.

 When we have done some high speed reverse driving, we have asked for a lot of work to be done (but rarely does it all happen). 
 

The steering becomes rear-steer (forklift style) which makes that end of the car (in reverse) very twitchy. 
 

the alignment also makes everything more unstable as your caster and toe are now flipped. 
 

in the movie Tenet, we did a large amount of reverse driving.  I asked for the shock towers to be relocated to give us negative caster while going forwards  but positive in reverse but they didn't do it. Too much work I suppose but they also weren't receptive to some dumb stunt guy making requests.  After several testing sessions where they tried a few of their own ideas with no luck, they finally adjusted the toe after I persisted in my request and it made a huge difference. 
 

i am confident that favorable caster would have made a significant improvement as well. 
 

besides that, we had a few cars modified to put a driver's seat in the rear seat area facing backwards with our feet in the trunk and with hydraulic steering.  It was very helpful to see where you were going but we still couldn't safely get the speeds that the the director (and we) wanted.  Don't get me wrong, we were still cooking through traffic but it was 50 vs 70. 
 

in just a regular car, I've done stuff up to about 55 but it is not fun knowing that it could go pear-shaped quickly!

last anecdote - on Unstoppable we had a shot with about 15 cars that was about a mile long.  For some reason we all reversed back on the reset every time.  And, of course, with a bunch of stunt guys no one was going slow.  I mean it wasn't 50mph - the crown Vic's were regulated to 30 - but that's fast enough for something to happen pretty quick. 
 

oh, one really last thing - hands down easier to do it looking over your shoulder. Not as cool for sure, more skill needed to just use mirrors and if you have a bad neck it might not be practical, but it's my vastly preferred technique. 

Turbine
Turbine GRM+ Memberand Reader
8/30/22 4:46 p.m.

If the speedometer can be believed, I've been upwards of 25 mph in reverse in my old P71, but I chickened out before I could top it out. Apparently the civilian Crown Vics were capable of 60+ in reverse thanks to their 2.whatever rear end. The P71's was probably a bit lower thanks to its 3.27.

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
8/30/22 4:47 p.m.

I dumped the clutch in reverse in my awd dsm once, to see what would happen. It didn't go very fast, but it got there very quickly. 

rustomatic
rustomatic Reader
8/30/22 6:39 p.m.

When I was in college, I had a job moving trailers (48/53-footers--class A crap) at an Apple Computer plant.  Instead of yard goats, we had crappy old conventional tractors (2-axles).  Mine was an old Trashional with a 10-speed (hi/lo split gears).  Some days (nights--graveyard shift), I would have to do like 20-30 moves, so shifting would get tiresome, even if I only used like two or three gears.

A brilliant idea came to me one day:  High range works in reverse.  I got pretty handy at doing this, so I'd get cooking pretty good (up to 40 or so?) bobtailing through the lot if a trailer was kind of far away, then just pop out of gear and coast down to a point where I could just slide under (slam into) a trailer and click the pin in place.  I have done a E36 M3-ton of miles in reverse, with and without a trailer . . .

WillG80
WillG80 GRM+ Memberand Reader
8/30/22 6:41 p.m.


I bet this guy wins first place.

Brett_Murphy (Agent of Chaos)
Brett_Murphy (Agent of Chaos) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/30/22 8:22 p.m.

Does sliding down a long, icy hill backwards with the emergency brake on, but it's wet ice and you'd have more traction on a slip and slide, so just hold on and try to stay in the middle of the road and not hit anything count?

Because if so, the answer is "fast enough I didn't want to be involved, but here we are anyhow."

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
8/30/22 8:46 p.m.
stan
stan GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
8/30/22 8:49 p.m.

 Wasn't fast, but drove home from a date in reverse one time. She lived less than a mile from my house, but it was through a dark neighborhood and late. I thought it was cool, but like a lot of things you do when your a teenage, it was just dumb....

Tom1200
Tom1200 UberDork
8/30/22 9:31 p.m.

I'm thinking maybe 40-45 mph.

As for backwards; 90 mph for about 100-150 feet.

RacerBoy75
RacerBoy75 New Reader
8/30/22 9:37 p.m.

While in high school I bought a 1966 Dodge Polara to use in a demo derby, and I got my money's worth doing crazy stuff with it before destroying it in the derby (which was the least fun thing I did). That included going as fast as it would go in reverse, which I would guess was at least 30 mph, but it felt like 50. Once it topped out, the only thing to do was go from "R' to "D" without lifting my foot off the gas. It felt like the transmission was just slipping, but I took a chance and looked forward to see the speedo needle at 90 mph, and one very black strip of rubber coming from underneath the car's right side. I guess the tranny wasn't slipping! 

It took a long time for the car to stop going backwards, and then take off forwards. The second the car stopped going backwards, the cabin filled with tire smoke like when drag cars do burnouts. It was kind of scary because I couldn't see for what seemed like a long time. It took a while for the car to finally hook up and stop smoking the right rear tire.

We went back later (of course I had some friends with me) and the darkie was at least 1/8th mile long.

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/31/22 12:08 a.m.

My car has two revers gears. I have no clue how fast it would go in 2nd. I should look it up. 
 

I just did a search but could not find where I read it. Now I need to do more digging. 

Racebrick
Racebrick Reader
8/31/22 6:48 a.m.

 

 

This was the backwards slalom race to determine pole position for a lemons race a few years back.  It may not look fast, but it was enough to put the car on pole.

Tyler H
Tyler H GRM+ Memberand UberDork
8/31/22 10:07 a.m.

It has to be that one time I spun coming through the esses at Road Atlanta. Or do you have to actually be in reverse gear for it to count?

Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter)
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
8/31/22 10:22 a.m.

If "by accident" counts it's easily 50-60mph for myself and I have a friend that crossed the traps at 180mph at the strip and was backward and on his roof around 150 cool

Toyman!
Toyman! GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/31/22 12:35 p.m.

No clue, but fast enough to snap all the lug studs on the driver's front wheel of my friend's mom's 1979 Cutless Supreme while trying to do reverse 180s. We had been trying for a while because the quadrajunk would flood the engine every time. The trick was to keep your foot on the floor while shifting from reverse to drive.

Soon after that discovery the driver's front wheel left the chat. 

 

pushrod36
pushrod36 Reader
8/31/22 1:01 p.m.

Not sure if it is still the case, but in 2006 a reverse slalom in a crown vic police interceptor was part of tier 2 driver training at Ford.  I think I entered the course at 30mph.  That was a good time.

ScotBurner
ScotBurner
8/31/22 7:21 p.m.

I have a YouTube channel called Always In Reverse where I have documented how fast different cars go in Reverse for the last 2-3 years.  Most are electronically limited but some allow the gearing and redline to be the top speed. Unfortunately a Tesla dual motor 3  = 17 mph. Lol. The fastest has been a Kia Sorrento at 56mph

I have the Guinness World record for fastest mile in reverse in a 100% stock car in my C7 manual trans Corvette. 

I am pretty sure a viper will go 70mph ish with the stock gearing but I don’t have access to one to try it.

 

fun fact - some cars allow the cruise control to work in reverse. Honda S2000 and Nissan 370Z for sure. 

dbh1
dbh1 None
9/2/22 12:58 a.m.

I once was doing some "lead/pull" testing at a proving grounds, boring stuff that involved driving straight ahead at 55 mph and measuring the steering wheel torque required to keep the car in the lane with different (mis)alignment settings.  I was using the cruise control to keep the speed constant.  On one run another car entered the track and I had to abort the test.  As I was backing up to the starting point, the guy taking data in the passenger seat asked "does the cruise control work in reverse?" and reached over and hit the resume button.  Before I knew it, I was going 55mph in reverse with the engine screaming.  The vehicle was very unstable going backwards at that speed as it was effectively rear steer with negative caster.  I had to hold the steering wheel very securely and brake gently to prevent the over-proportioned front (now rear) brakes from locking up.

JFW75
JFW75 New Reader
9/2/22 9:03 a.m.

P71/Crown Vic/Interceptors will do 65-70 mph in reverse. BTDT at Jefferson Circuit for training. Drive the track backwards while pretending you are evading gunfire. Fun times.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
9/2/22 10:05 a.m.

In a Saturn the "standing" 4000rpm rev limiter is actually a "no fwd speed" 4000rpm rev limiter.  So I've done whatever that amounts to in reverse.

I did multiple autocross runs in reverse.  I beat the 2 slowest cars at the event that day.

Need to wait between runs though... no airflow across the radiator in reverse, it heats up quick.

03Panther
03Panther PowerDork
9/2/22 5:13 p.m.

Never looked at speedo... whatever was fast enough for a bootleggers turn. And haven't done one of them since the mid /late '80s angel

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy MegaDork
9/2/22 5:44 p.m.

What's the next thread? 
 

How far have you driven on 2 wheels?

 

GT
GT New Reader
9/8/22 8:15 p.m.

 

Does accidently backwards count? I have video evidence...

So there's this circuit down under called Phillip Island, you may know it from Aussie MotoGP rounds. Fast flowing circuit, particularly turn 1 which is a slightly banked long sweeper after a downhill end of the straight.

Done a few track days there in my '89 Toyota Corolla, with a 4A-GE 20V and 6speed swap. It still runs the OEM ECU including the speed limiter, which I can nudge at the end of the straight at an indicated 185km/h (~115mph) provided there isn't too much of a headwind. Once the (street) tyres are up to temp, I can tip it into 1 and hold on with the foot still firmly against the floor - but it's borderline :D Some days I had to have a bit of a talk to myself to stop the foot lifting a little, but definitely can't do it first lap or two in a session.

One day several years ago, well, I'm not sure if my line was slightly wrong, or the tailwind didn't help, but I dropped wheels onto the grass on the exit - into the turn 2 braking zone. I wasn't still doing 185/115 at the exit and probably less again by the time I got completely backwards, but it was probably still up near 100mph.

Oh and it was my road car, so no cage... I 'days of thunder'ed it and gathered it up on the grass outside 2, missing walls and marshall posts. Run a caged car these days.

Here's the gopro footage. :) It's the start of the second flying lap, so skip to 4:30 if you need to - and apologies for the audio, it was 11 years ago.

Edit: Actually it's the original image stabilisation that's the worst bit!

TheTick58
TheTick58 New Reader
9/19/22 6:03 p.m.

Not a blazingly fast top speed, but how about a full autocross course in reverse?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLa25JMiY10&list=LL&index=20&t=5s

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/20/22 1:51 p.m.

Maybe JG can chime in regarding whether or not an Omni GLH can achieve full boost in reverse. (Or was it a GLH-S?)

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
9/20/22 1:52 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

Maybe JG can chime in regarding whether or not an Omni GLH can achieve full boost in reverse. (Or was it a GLH-S?)

Chevy Sprint Turbo, and, yes.

 

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