Germany’s Autobahns — A History and our Experience Driving FAST on the German Open Roads

We love learning about automobile history from our European experts. That being said, we always seem to fit in something automobile-related on our European trips. Automobile Magazine very recently published an article titled “A Concise History of Germany’s Autobahns”. Here is a link to the article. It’s a great read and offers a lot of facts about the history of Germany’s famous road networks. Give it a read!

In this brief post, we present this latest Automobile Magazine online article. We also discuss our experience on Germany’s Autobahns!

For those who don’t know, Germany has a huge network of roads throughout the country that are limit free. In other words, they technically do not have a top speed limit. Here are some other fun facts about Germany’s Autobahns that you may not know:

  • The roads are very well maintained and constructed to a depth of 30 inches in many areas
  • It’s the third largest network of roads in the world.
  • Many lanes have minimum speed limits and there are areas that do have top speed limits
  • The far left lane is strictly a passing lane only
  • No passing on the right
  • There are different opinions about whether or not Hitler and the Nazi regime played an early role in building the road network

SD Experience on Germany’s Autobahns

In 2015 and 2017 Superior Detailer (Steve and I) drove on Germany’s Autobahns during our bike tours. More recently was in July 2017, just after America’s Independence Day and our first Goodwood Festival of Speed experience.

As the 4th of July just passed, we can’t help but remember our experience that year at Goodwood. The Goodwood 2020 event would take place earlier this month. But, we all know that the Coronavirus has different plans for us in 2020. In summary, remembering our travels connects us to this latest online article from Automobile Magazine.

Shortly after our 4-day Goodwood experience we rented an Audi A5 Sport and took the fast drive through Germany’s Autobahns.

July 2017 – Kim and Steve Heading into Germany for an Amazing Journey

What is the one thing we noticed most when driving on Germany’s Autobahns? Well, as the author Aaron Gold notes, “passing on the right is strictly forbidden.” In other words, you pass on the left! Germans know this rule and strictly adhere to it. Wouldn’t that be great if we had the same highway etiquette here in our country? Also, we found that many areas of the lanes had minimum speed limits of up to 60 mph!


German Road Sign Indicating “No Limit”

OK, so you’re probably wondering how fast we actually did drive that day. Well, first let’s say that a percentage of the roadways do have limits. And Germany does hold a “suggested speed” somewhere around 80 mph. As you’ll read in the Automobile Magazine article, though, many German automakers agree that their vehicles should not go over 155 mph.

But how fast did we go??

I took this photo as we were approaching our top speed.
200 km/h = ~124 mph
We likely got to 135 mph that afternoon. Even that speed is too slow for some!

Autobahn, Germany, Audi
Steven approaching his top speed on the Autobahn near Bremen, Germany, July, 2017

At 124 mph in the middle lane, there were still wagons passing us swiftly in the left lane. Germans understand and abide by the rules of the road. As a result, the traffic flows really well and there’s little confusion on the roadways. Tailgating is forbidden and it’s not really necessary there.

That’s it folks. We hope you enjoyed this short article about Germany’s Autobahns and our experiences driving in Germany. It’s definitely something you should experience! We hope you also enjoy Automobile Magazine’s article and learned a little about German history.

-Kim Giramma
Superior Detailer