This year marks the 60th anniversary of the M1 and to celebrate it we recreated Jack Sears’ amazing drive in the modern version of the AC Cobra Coupe. On 11 June 1964, Jack Sears drove the AC Cobra Coupé on the M1 motorway. He was the team-mate to Jim Clark and he gained fame after becoming the first British Saloon Car champion.
He began early in the morning by accelerating smoothly through the gears. His purpose was to find the vehicle’s top speed. You may wonder why we can tell it’s not because he wanted to have fun, it was something more important. He just wanted to make sure that the vehicle is stable and ready to compete at Le Mans. The race was due in nine days. In the UK, there is no track where you can simulate the Mulsanne Straight, and even if you are driving at MIRA, you can’t exceed 165mph.
He was very relaxed, sitting back, relaxed grip on the steering wheel, and it passed that point easily. There was no speedometer in the vehicle, so he had to look to the rev-counter needle to monitor the speed and when it reached 6500rpm, it didn’t move further. He got the information he needed, so he returned to base. His team took out their slide rules and found that the car reached 184mph. Jack was going home to have breakfast, for him it was a normal event, no hard work, no drama, just a little exercise to get needed information before the big race.
It was not like that at all, well it could have been if someone hadn’t gone to a bar and spoke about it. The same year, the motorway speed limit of 69mph was introduced and it was made permanent in 1967. Some people who didn’t have much knowledge started to blame Jack for this imposed limit, however, there was no evidence in favor of this and he always denied it.