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Watch Two Deeply Unreliable European Sedans Attempt Top Speed Runs at the Bonneville Salt Flats

Road & Track logo Road & Track 8/19/2020 Brian Silvestro
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As far as reliability goes, the fifth-gen Maserati Quattroporte and the Volkswagen Phaeton don't rank very high. They're old European luxury sedans, after all, packed with finicky electronics and over-complicated engineering. A top-speed test in the middle of a deserted lake bed would be the last thing we'd recommend doing in either of these cars. But that's exactly what these two owners did.

Todd Deeken and Paul Schmucker, hosts of the Everyday Driver YouTube channel, decided it would be a good idea to take a road trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats, a dry lake bed in Northwestern Utah famous for top speed records, in their unreliable European sedans to see just how fast they could go.


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The cars weren't exactly in the best shape going into the runs, with the Phaeton experiencing some HVAC problems and the Maserati showing a host of electrical issues. Still, they were both able to set some impressive speeds on a three-mile course, with the Phaeton topping out at 135 and the Maserati tipping 160. While the Phaeton wasn't as fast, its standard all-wheel drive meant it was a bit more stable along the slick, damp salt surface.

a car parked on the side of a mountain: A Maserati Quattroporte and a Volkswagen Phaeton fair about as well as you'd expect on the salt flats. © Everyday Driver - YouTube A Maserati Quattroporte and a Volkswagen Phaeton fair about as well as you'd expect on the salt flats.

Both cars somehow managed to make it out of the endeavor without much issue. The only real problem was the salt caked onto the inner wheel barrels of the Phaeton, which caused a terrible vibration, so much so that the team needed to pull over to scrape the salt out. A small price to pay, all things considered.

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