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Road test: M1A1 Abrams

I enjoy reading Car & Driver for all the regular car stuff you’d expect. I also enjoy the occasional articles they publish that you certainly would not expect. One, called “M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank — Feature” is a road test of the main battle tank currently used by the United States military.

Seeing something that’s obviously not a car through the eyes of a car-guy is not only entertaining, but it’s very enlightening. Let me give you a few examples, okay?

The engine and acceleration:

The throttle, connected to the 1500-horsepower gas-turbine engine, is remarkably sensitive. With a little twist, you can move off at a modest crawl without jerkiness. Crack it wide open, and it feels as though you’ve been rear-ended by the Rocky Mountains. Even pushing 65 tons, the 3940 pound-feet of torque will cause the tank equivalent of chirping your tires, gouging out chunks of desert.


standing on the brakes from top speed will practically make the Abrams stand on its nose. Although we didn’t do instrumented testing, a rough estimate of the stopping distance from 45 mph is zero feet. It feels like falling headfirst into a sinkhole.

Ride quality:

even over rough desert terrain, the ride is smooth enough to rate as comfortable. More cushy, in fact, than that of any sport-ute I’ve ever driven over similar terrain. And unlike an off-road truck, there’s no banging and thudding of shocks, control arms, and bump stops. All you hear through the headset are a distant whine and the occasional rattle of steel treads.

And the bit a car doesn’t have, the big gun:

Major Johnson had generously arranged six rounds for me to shoot, and by the sixth round I was hooked. But completely. I wanted six more, and I was ready to write a check to cover the cost. I don’t know what heroin or biker meth feels like, but if it feels anything like shooting a gun as big as a utility pole accurately enough to shear the moustache off Saddam’s face, I had a 120mm monkey on my back.

Check out the whole article. It’s an interesting read.

Photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Ted Banks, courtesy of via Wikipedia.


There he was, gone


I think it’s the pants


  1. Brent

    Very entertaining! I am at the office waiting for a server to come back on-line and needed to kill a little time, so I checkout Alienshore, which is alway good for a quick read…and I was not disappointed. Tank and Driver, a new magazine?

  2. I want to say “Tanks, man” but I’ll restrain myself. 🙂

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