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I remember reading a short novel in the mid nineties, though I think it was probably written a few years before. It was based in the near future and revolved around the crew of a police vehicle that patrolled the "super highways" of the future.

A few specifics I remember about the story:

  • The highways were 7 lanes colour coded for speeds.
  • The highways were classed as their own country for law enforcement reasons.
  • Cars ran on ground effect fans when over a certain speed.
  • When the cop car went over 100 mph cocoons wrapped the crew in their seats to protect them.
  • I think the title was something like "car 58" but they always used its nickname in the book. I think that was something like "bertha".
  • At one point they pushed the new car to the limits and "bunny hopped" another car.

I don't think it was a hugely popular book, and it was only 200 pages or so. I really want to find it for my nephew. Any ideas would be appreciated.

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This sounds like Code Three by Rick Raphael. I haven't actually read it, although I think I'll have to; it sounds interesting. A review of it on Amazon mentions the color coded lanes, and calls the highway the Thruway. Sound right? Oh, and it's 176 pages long, so that would fit.

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  • That's definitely the right story.
    – Kyle Jones
    Sep 19 '12 at 17:06
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It's definitely Code Three, but there seems to be a (longer) short story, and a later (short) novel that expanded on the story. I have never read the novel, but I've read the story in a collection called The World Turned Upside Down. The collection is a great read, it's a bunch of classic SF stories, selected by current SF authors, that shaped them as SF fans, and turned their world upside down :)

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    Yeah, the original was fairly short, but it was later expanded into a longer story, which is the amazon link, and I believe, the PG link.
    – SaintWacko
    Sep 20 '12 at 14:09
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Code Three also had a sequel in which one of the drivers married the female nurse or doctor that rode in the rear, he became an instructor at their academy and was teaching new patrol personnel the trick to "piloting" a newer, faster more powerful vehicle that was actually designed to "fly" for short periods. He was tragically killed while training a hot tempered rookie who crashed them when the rookie knew he was being flunked out. The story ended with the training officers superior questioning how much longer they could keep up with faster more complex man-killing machines driven by the need for speed the public called out for.

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