The Handbrake Turn              
Sept 2018 R. Kwas, changes on-going (mostly when the spirit moves me)


This maneuver is based on the fact that a locked, non-rotating tire is just about as effective and happy going sideways (has as much adhesion to the road-surface) as in the axis of the normal rolling direction...that is to say, NONE AT ALL! 

A situation when this occurs is when jabbing the brakes on a slippery surface...the sudden Brake System pressure rise along with forward weigh-shift, can cause the rear wheels to lock...if the car has ANY rotational component at the same time (even from just the slightest steering input), the rear-end might just "pass you"!  In a normal driving situation, and for drivers who NEVER operate a vehicle at the limits of adhesion, this would undoubtedly put those drivers into a state of higher awareness, aka "instant panic situation", but we drivers who have intentionally explored such areas of car handling, call this maneuver a Handbrake Turn! 

The first Handbrake Turn I ever saw being executed live was while visiting a friend in Germany...while in a front-row-seat, following my friend Erich, he driving his Alpha Romeo, Gulia-Super, and returning to his home, he executed a (half) Handbrake turn on a narrow gravel road at about 25mpH, to turn and insert his car perfectly into a tight parking spot at right angles to the road...whereas normally this would have been done with a multiple see-saw maneuver at crawl speed in the small space available, he quickly and neatly flicked the tail around, stopping rotation at 90 degrees to the original direction of travel, and gently braked as the car rolled into its spot next to a fence, while I watched, quite impressed with his driving Kung-Fu and that he hadn't touched a thing with the sheetmetal in the process  He didn't have a girl in the car (see below!), and he might have had some practice behind him...

Austin Powers makes a grand entrance to a party in his flat, with a half (90Deg) Handbrake turn:


Another great example of a full (180Deg) Handbrake Turn by Elwood Blues (more likely his stunt-driver stand-in!):


Mandatory viewing after you watch the Blues Brothers video extract (a important discussion of why the hand-operated Handbrake Lever should never be replaced by an electrically operated just wouldn't be right!):   


Reference Information:


This information is Copyright © 2014-2018 Ronald Kwas.  External info is attributed.  The term Volvo is used for reference only.  I have no affiliation with this company, other than to try to keep its fine vintage products working for me, and to help other enthusiasts to do the same.  The results and information presented here are my own experience, and can be used or ridiculed and laughed at as you see fit.  As always, if you can supply additional objective info or practical experience, Iíd appreciate hearing it, and will consider working it in to the next rewrite of this article...along quite possibly with the odd wise-a** comment, if I can possibly work that in. 

You are welcome to use the information here in good health, and for your own noncommercial purposes, but if you reprint or otherwise republish this article, you must give credit to the author or link back to the SwEm site as the source.  If you donít, youíre just a lazy, scum sucking the Boston Globe wants you! 

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