What happened in MOTOR 15 years ago? We went flat out in 1300kW of fast metal

Throwback to some high-speed hijinks with over $1.4 million of mid-‘00s precious metal

High-speed airport test group shot
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As lazy Sundays go this one will take some beating. It’s 10am and the MOTOR crew is standing on the runway at Mudgee Airport in country NSW.

Parked on the taxi way is $1.4 million worth of exotic metal and carbon fibre, amassing a total of over 1300kW. The list of just four cars comprises Lamborghini’s 426kW V12 Murciélago, Merc’s even more powerful 450kW twin-turbo V12 CL65 AMG, Porsche’s brand spanking Cayman S, and BMW’s M3 Comp Spec.

This article was first published in the May, 2006 issue of MOTOR

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We’re here for a taste of Mudgee’s upcoming Wings, Wheels & Wine festival in which MOTOR will be participating at the end of April. Today, though, is a low-key day designed to give locals and the assembled mainstream media a taste of things to come at the main event.

Keen to kill two birds with the one V12, we’re also here to check out the Mudgee airstrip to see if it’s suitable for future performance testing, and maybe as a venue for our brand new League of Nations PCOTY.

You see, since budget airline Jetstar kicked us off Avalon’s fabulous three-kay runway, MOTOR’s been searching for our next high-speed home. We’ve tried the 1700-metre runway at Albury, and the 1200m strip at Cootamundra (which, currently, is our preferred option thanks to its very grippy and well-maintained surface).

Despite the Mudgee runway measuring only 1700m (of which about 500m is required for braking), the cars are running some big speeds today. We’ve set braking markers at 1000m, 1100m and, lastly, at 1200m.

Even the final braking marker is conservative but at these speeds you want to be safe, not sorry.

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With rolling starts, the BMW M3 and Porsche Cayman S are touching 240km/h as we switch from full power to full brakes at the 1200m marker. Both cars are tracking perfectly at these speeds and make the tough transition to braking with the ease you expect of big-dollar German engineering.

The $460,000 Mercedes CL65 certainly has big-dollar engineering, and with its gorgeous full-size body and V12 Biturbo badging it’s one of the crowd favourites. Again, with a rolling start (we’re not here to do acceleration testing on the cars), the big automatic Mercedes is stuttering on its 250km/h speed limiter just past the first marker.

At this pace, the CL65 is sniffing side-to-side over the runway’s centre line, and it moves around more under brakes. Still, it does the most runs of the day and its temp gauge doesn’t even flicker in the 30-degree heat. And whether it’s one-up or with three passengers on board, the 1000Nm V12 does the business. One observer reckoned it’d tow a boat and still hit 250. We reckon it’d tow the Titantic and still do the number.

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The bright yellow Lambo is undoubtedly the star of the day and lives up to its fearsome reputation on the airstrip. The Murcie runs to over 100km/h in first, but third gear is the killer gear – delivering one long slug of addictive acceleration. As the first braking marker looms at the one-kay mark, the speedo needle is standing straight up at just over 240km/h. Over the next 200m, the Lamborghini V12 digs deeper and somehow finds another 30km/h, as the incredible engine makes a big lunge at the redline. That’s 270km/h in fourth gear, with two more cogs to come.

And, remember, this engine has just been superseded by a bigger, more-powerful and revvier unit in the upcoming Murciélago LP640. Eek!

Under brakes the Lambo is just as impressive (maybe more so). A couple of us suggest moving the last braking marker to squeeze a fraction more speed, but sanity prevails once we realise it’d take the rest of the runway to see 300km/h.

With testing complete we park all four cars in town to plot our return and allow the amassed crowd to get a closer look

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It’s been a long while since team MOTOR have returned to a runway for high-speed testing. Stay tuned as we look to chase terminal velocity in today’s fast car vanguards in the near future!

Make sure to subscribe to ensure you don’t miss the ultimate Vmax comparison test.

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MOTOR Staff
Mark Bean
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