The Story Of The World’s Fastest “Forklift”

The Story Of The World’s Fastest “Forklift”

One of the most interesting aspects of forklift trucks is that whilst a forklift hire is an essential part of speeding up many different tasks in construction, logistics and the supply chain, they are not especially fast vehicles and should not be driven at speed.

The reason for this is that many modern forklifts are designed to counterbalance particularly heavy loads on the front, which in turn makes them unusual to handle at speed if you are not used to them.

Even with that aside and ignoring the typical speed limit of five miles per hour, most forklifts will barely pass ten miles per hour. They are not typically speed demons and currently, there is no Guinness World Record for the fastest forklift.

This meant that it came as something of a surprise to a New Zealand police officer in Paraparaumu, a company based over a thousand kilometres away and anyone who had ever used a forklift when a forklift’s number plate was clocked going 15 times its normal speed.

Beyond The Limit

The story begins on 7th January 2009, when a Toyota vehicle was clocked driving at 119km/h (75mph) on State Highway 1 around Waikane, in a country where the highest speed limit is 110km/h (68mph).

As was standard protocol for working vehicles, they posted a letter to the address where the vehicle was registered in Invercargill requesting the identity of the driver at the time.

After looking through the company’s fleet, assistant manager Shelley Kempton was flabbergasted to realise that the number plate referred to one of their forklifts.

The forklift in question, which was bought in 2006, they claim had never left the city, let alone travelled over 1000 kilometres to the other side of the country.

The supplier similarly confirmed that the forklift had a top speed of 19km/h, which means that unless it had somehow been fitted with a jet engine or a nitrous oxide kit, it would be impossible for it to even reach Waikane, let alone break the speed limit for cars.

At that speed, it would take 52 hours, or two days, four hours, for the forklift to arrive assuming it could somehow drive non-stop.

Given that a forklift is an open vehicle, Mrs Kempton also wryly noted that it would have been extremely cold and uncomfortable.

This would also be by far and away a land speed record for a forklift truck, with Guinness not even having an entry.

Once the company figured out what had happened, Mrs Kempton could not help but laugh, as did everyone else contacted in relation to the ticket, related fine and police involvement.

Exactly what happened and how was never revealed but the company and police claim it was a case of mistaken identity, and the company was quickly told to ignore the ticket.

It might have been a case of a number plate being cloned and applied to another vehicle, but no further updates have been made to the story since it was originally reported in 2009, so at this point, it might never be known what caused the case of mistaken identity.