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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Saturday morning, drove through The tail of The Dragon on the North Carolina/Tennessee border (Deal's Gap). For those that don't know it, look it up - a popular motorcycle and sports car winding road through the mountains. Only 11 miles long, but a rollercoaster one!

The car handled it better than my aging body did. Since the car was technically still in a 'break in period' (yeah, right) I wasn't pushing it. However, the car stuck to the road like glue. Weather was low 40s, clear blue sky, and no precipitation of significance in the past week; very dry road.

Since this is the dead of winter, the road was empty. saw a 3 series beamer and a golf GTI coming back, a performance packed Dodge charger, and after my run, a quartet of Miatas on their way up from Tennessee to North Carolina. There were no cops on the 30mph stretch.

Sport mode was engaged. speed varied between 25 and 45mph (most likely slower on the corners - 10mph hair-pin bend is an understatement!) when I was able to take eyes off the road to look at the speedo. I think I stayed in 3rd most of the time, with 2nd for a few tighter bends - from what I recall. The road is a workout, requiring a lot of concentration to get the most out of it - and avoiding the steep dropoffs.

The car inspires confidence. Leading up to The Tail, there's a lot of steep curves. Avoid breaking on the curves. Entered a few a bit faster than what I felt was prudent, but feed the car in and it handles it with aplomb. Easing off the power (with no brakes) the car seemed to understeer a tad; keep some power and it seems to feed itself around. A couple of times the traction control/stability control light blinked on, but didn't seem out of sorts.

Having said all that, it could be that I was spending too much time having fun, and I was along for the ride! (I will admit that by just before the end, nausea was starting to set in, even while in the drivers seat).

I now have 950 miles on the odometer in 2 days. It is not uncomfortable at all; the top was down driving up North. By the time the temperature hit 32 degrees, the top went up. Something to be careful of - this puppy will go from 65 to 95mph in absolutely no time at all [so I'm told...]. I believe I [saw someone] pass a cop in Tennessee at 90mph and thought I [he] was completely screwed, but the cop must have been looking for cars in the other direction. Of course, I was doing the speed limit (the brakes work well in that kind of emergency).

It started snowing crossing into Michigan from Ohio. Handling in the snow? The laws of physics apply: simply pretend you don't have any tires with any grip at all. It didn't stop, it didn't turn, it didn't go. Luckily, it was only a few miles home by then.

So, yeah, this is a fun car, I think I'll keep it.

[EDIT: I posted this in the pictures forum, intending to just post pics, but then it turned into an essay]
 

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Excellent! Many happy motorcycling memories in that area... before the internet went mainstream it was like "Fight Club..." no one was supposed to tell anyone about it. (That didn't last.)


Most of the other roads near there are just as good, and much less travelled. Can make a whole weekend out of that region and never drive the same great road twice. Perfect place to break it in.
 

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The tail of the Dragon is one of those proving grounds for new vehicles, a place to put the 124 Spider through its paces and I have no doubt it would have performed magnificently.

Did the Maita owners look your way?
 

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SJ, I really enjoyed your post. I have driven that road in Fiats a few times, but I haven't done it yet in a 124. It certainly sounds like a good time.

Greg
 

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Thanks for the post. There is a FIAT rally planned for March 31 around the Dragon. Done it a half a dozen times on motorcycles, but haven't got down there yet in the 124. As others have said, lots of other equally good roads without the speed restrictions or traffic. You picked a good time to ride it. I also recommend Rt 16 from West Va to VA A.K.A. "Back of the Dragon"
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The tail of the Dragon is one of those proving grounds for new vehicles, a place to put the 124 Spider through its paces and I have no doubt it would have performed magnificently.

Did the Maita owners look your way?
Yes, the miata guys waved. There were so few cars in that area. Indeed, stopping to take one of the photos above, there wasn't a car passing for 5 or 10 minutes and all I could hear was the whirr of a little motor in the engine bay (coolant recirculator?), the tink of the car cooling down, and woodpeckers.
 
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