By on October 31, 2011

Well, it’s Halloween…. the time of year when a young man’s thoughts turn towards death. Bertel gave us a double-shot of the macabre earlier today, but it was an unplanned spin-and-a-half (no, not on public roads) that most recently and viscerally reminded me just how deadly this whole driving a car business can be. And that particular bit of man-machine miscommunication didn’t even happen in the most scary car I’ve ever driven (thank goodness).

My scariest in-car experience actually happened earlier in the Summer, when I found myself on the freeway in a Chinese-spec Shuanghuan Noble… on which at least one wheel was seriously out of round. The second I hit about 72 MPH, the thing took on a life of its own, oscillating wildly back and forth and trying to throw itself into one adjacent lane after the other. Realizing I had only ever seen this vehicle crash-tested at less than half the speed at which I was then traveling, contemplating its top-heavy dimensions and not even knowing if this dealer-plated example had a functioning airbag, I grappled with the wheel and eased down the speed. Eventually it stopped pogo-ing, all though it took my heart another 20 minutes or so to follow suit. Even compared to my select irresponsible experiences with insanely overpowered-powered vehicles, it was by far the most terrifying, mortality-facing, PTSD-inspiring experience I’ve ever had in a car… probably because I only half-expected to be literally taking my life into my hands on that drive.

But, what about you? What car scares you the most? What was the scariest experience you’ve had behind the wheel? Was it a product of you trying to scare yourself with a machine whose limits exceeded your own, or did it just …happen?

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130 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: What’s The Scariest Vehicle You’ve Ever Driven?...”


  • avatar
    chuckrs

    1968 Volkswagen. Vermont snowstorm. Swing axle suspension. Trailing throttle oversteer. A panoramic 360 degrees of wheeeee. Didn’t hit anything. Kept going. Slower.

    • 0 avatar
      monomille

      Had a very similar experience with a 1960 Porsche 356B on an icy downhill in PA – even through the 356C they weren’t that much different than somewhat squashed down a little Vdubs with nicer carbs and cams unless you had a Speedster with the roller crank, etc.

      Go here for the classic scary/funny tale of Wolf Creek Pass – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6LzWZYWpOU

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    It’s funny, but I’ve driven and owned real POS mobiles and the two that scared me the most seemed in reasonable shape. No missing floorboards, flaky brakes or free floating suspensions. Just weird. The first was a friends Chevy p/u. Seemed ok tho old but I couldn’t drive it past 60 mph. It would just feel light and ready to wander off the road. The other was a Tradesman rental, less than 600 km on the clock and the same thing. Every time a semi would pass the sucker would change lanes. I couldn’t take the chance to go above the speed limit. Made for looong drive from London to Toronto.

  • avatar
    CamaroKid

    Easy…

    Smart ForTwo

    Spent the first half of the trip worrying if some 18 wheeler would flatten me, spent the second half worrying that the transmission shifts would cause permanent, undesirable, changes in my neck vertebrae.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    Not a car per se, but an experience. I was riding shotgun with my stepmother once. She had rheumatic disorder, but it had gotten worse with time. This was after she and my father had divorced, so I hadn’t seen her for some time. She was a bad driver already before that, and had totaled a car hitting a post at their own driveway once. Anyway, her rheumatism had made her hands mor or less incapacitated, she was virtually driving with a pair of flippers. And she didn’t slow down or accelerate, but tried to maintain the same speed all over, as handling the gears was troublesome. And she didn’t look where she was going, because turning her neck was painful. So I was riding with this maniac, that couldn’t handle the car, didn’t look where she was going, and maintained full speed ahead. I didn’t think I was going to survive that ride…

  • avatar
    Kevin Jaeger

    The scariest car I ever drove was surely the East German Trabant. Quite apart from its all round awfulness that is difficult to describe to anyone who has lived in the west these last 50 years, the car was a death trap. Even a Trabant made in the late 80s had no rear seat belts. No passenger protection. Scarily underpowered with an engine likely to cut out at any time. Better handling could be found in riding lawnmowers. Yep, scary all around.

    Yes, VW beetles are luxury, high performance automobiles in comparison.

  • avatar
    Lemmiwinks

    1987 Dodge Diplomat. Get that thing up above 60 mph, and the front driver-side quarter panel would begin to peel back and slap up against the body repeatedly.

    Additionally: My father was quite “thrifty” with his money, and didn’t believe there was anything wrong with replacing a bald, busted tire with another bald, busted tire that happened to be patched at the moment. Consequently, my car was always riding on tires of various ages and various sizes in various states of disrepair. Often I had to change a tire every 50 miles… I kept at least two spares at any given time. Blowouts at speed were, it seemed, encouraged. By the time I was 17, I was quite adept at handling a RWD vehicle with one (sometimes two!) blowout(s) on every surface condition imaginable.

    Factor in the fact that he would re-tire the rims *manually* each time he “fixed” one (a several-hour process in and of itself), and that he rebuilt the transmission himself halfway through my tenure with the vehicle (we never did find second gear again), and it was a very scary car indeed. Fun though, and it taught me a lot about emergency driving maneuvers, but man I was late for work a lot.

    • 0 avatar
      acuraandy

      Oh come on, I had my ’89 Gran Fury police pkg up to the speedo-limited 120mph once. And agreed, it was kind of scary. Especially with 15yr old shocks and front end parts, yikes. Tell that to the stunt drivers from Miami Vice though…

      P.S. I no longer own the car, although a good friend of mine ended up with it and threw in a ’71 Hi-compression 318 (it had stock a lean burn 2bbl 318). Thing would whip shitties after that like no-one’s business…:) He just traded it straight up for an ’85 Hurst Olds.

      • 0 avatar
        Lemmiwinks

        Oh, I’d take her up to her limit… the engine gave up the ghost at around 95 mph. It just wasn’t an enjoyable experience.

        But the body-shudder made it feel like I was re-entering Earth’s atmosphere… bumpy tires, multiple tire sizes, a father who felt that wheel alignment was a liberal conspiracy…

    • 0 avatar
      MrWhopee

      Funny, I experienced the same thing (windows banging at speed) except it was one of the rear side windows, the car was a rented first gen Hyundai Sonata, and the speed was 120mph. My friend was driving, weaving in and out of traffic, steering with one hand while the other clutching a cigarette. I told him that the windows banging shows that the automaker probably never tested the car at this speed, and urged him to slow down. Oh, and it was in the middle of winter too, on a trip from Minnesota to New York. But the Hyundai performed admirably and we arrived safe and sound. Later he taught me handbrake turn in the snowy parking lot.

    • 0 avatar
      Polishdon

      I’ll tell you this, I had a 1987 Chrysler 5th Avenue. I had that car over 100mph quite a few times and it was bulletproof! It took a IDIOT family member to drive the engine without oil to kill it.

      Want a scary car? I drove a suzuki Samerai 5 spd once. The peice of junk would bound out of lanes at expressway speeds when it hit a pothole. It was the only vehicle that I ever drove that was scare of them!

      • 0 avatar
        Lemmiwinks

        The Diplomat was running up through the turn of the century. I left it in IL when I moved west. One of my brothers killed it in a spectator race at a local clay track.

  • avatar
    dsignr

    The only car I’ve ever spun on the road was my late mother’s 1st gen Honda Jazz (European version of the Fit) with 1.4 ltr motor and CVT.
    No warning through feel-free steering and absolutely viscious oversteer on a slightly damp road.

    Can I add that I’ve had 8 911s which I delighted in driving to their limits here in the land of the ‘bahn and have driven my 427/425 ’66 Corvette hard for over 20 years without incident? I also practice ice driving on frozen lakes and have track experience on motorcycles.
    I am not claiming to be a Baruthian talent, but I’m also not the worst.

    That underpowered little car darn nearly killed me at 50mph, though!
    Like you say, it’s the unexpectedness of it…….

  • avatar
    appel599

    1996 Ford Bronco on Nevada Highway 50. A short wheel base, top heavy design, and the most vague steering I have ever experienced meant that swerving for jackrabbits at 85mph was out of the question!

  • avatar
    Wade.Moeller

    It would be a tie between a Ford Bronco II and a Nissan Cube. The Bronco II was a 4×4 and the steering was a bit vague. 1 turn of the steering would be just enough to keep it between the lines on the road and I never got it above 45 on my test drive. The Nissan Cube was fine if you stayed on the surface streets. But when on the freeway, it was a bit wobbly zipping along at 70 MPH and braking on an offramp from an elevated freeway caused me to imagine I was just shy of doing a forward roll.

    • 0 avatar
      Banger

      It’s the electric-assist power steering on the Cube that makes it feel that way. We felt that way on our test drive and for the first few highway drives, but once you learn to loosen up and stop trying to “correct” every little wobble you feel from the wind, it smoothes out considerably. Front-wheel drive is kind of self-correcting in those situations, anyway.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    My 62 Nash Metropolitan. Had brakes, then- no brakes… several times. Good car otherwise.

  • avatar
    THE_F0nz

    Easy.

    1990 Beretta GTZ. 5-Speed Quad4 DOHC. I overhauled the engine. Ported, and swapped in some GM Racing performance cams. The car was surprisingly stable at high speeds, accelerated through 1st and 2nd gears with ferocity. I could literally burn the tire(s) into third if I wanted. It was a riot to jump on the gas in either gear and break a few laws.

    The scary part? That car had the worst brakes I have ever experienced. It felt like stepping on an over-ripe banana every time, and worse when the rotors heated up. They fixed the problem in 91-92 by increasing their size considerably and adding ABS.

    I could never be honest with my passengers how scared I really was. At 16-18 years old I was always challenged to race given the car idled like a Harley Davidson. I was always trying to show off that my POS crap-mobile wasn’t as bad as the rest of the Berettas out there. You had to be HARD on the brakes to stop an accident even in a somewhat close call. One time the rear brake master cylinder even gave up and I lost brakes completely. Whew that brings back memories…

    Second place is an LS1 Camaro convertible. That body flexed all over the place and the Eagle F1 Supercar tires ensured that your life flashed before your eyes at every on-ramp when things got wet.

  • avatar
    mdensch

    No question, a circa 1971 Dodge Coronet.

    I was in college, newly married and short of cash. I (we) decided I really ought to sell my Honda 305 Scrambler that I wasn’t riding much anymore. The one person who came to look at the bike bought it but couldn’t find a friend to bring along to pick it up. His solution was to ride the Honda home while I drove his car and my wife followed in our Karmann Ghia to bring me back home.

    This dude drove for a low end cab company and his car was a Dodge Coronet that was too far gone to keep in service as a taxi so they sold it to him. The brakes were so bad that I had to pump them several times to get any pressure and even then the pedal was only about an inch off the floor when the brakes finally grabbed. The steering had at least 45 degrees of free play, the springs in the seat were shot and sank me almost down to the floor and there were so many clunks in the suspension I was convinced that pieces of the car were falling off.

    He lived about 20 miles out in the country and at highway speed – actually, 45mph was about as fast I figured the car could safely go – the top carriers he had afixed to the roof started whistling as air rushed across the uncapped ends. This awoke the dog in the back seat, which I hadn’t seen until now, and he began howling in response and growling at this stranger who was driving his car.

    I’ve driven a lot of cars over the years, some of them outright heaps, but the drive that evening still makes me cringe and is easily the scariest of my life.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    ’56 Dodge p/u with a 4spd manual and a 331cid V8. Slid all over the road, in dry conditions, NO handling WHATSOEVER. I was driving my friend (the owner) home from a party after ‘Back To the ’50′s’ weekend after he had a couple too many. SCARIEST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE.

    After driving that, winding a brand-new ’05 NSX at work up to 145mph was a cake-walk.

    That and with the same guy, again, leaving a party; as a passenger in his 2000 WS6 Trans-Am, winding THAT up to 140mph outside of Belle Plaine, MN to avoid Johnny Law to avoid a minor consumption citation/DUI after a weekend in Mankato (BAD, BAD town…) we hid in a Ford dealer’s used car lot while the ‘Smokeys’ drove past.

    Sidebar: he happened to flip that on its roof a few months after at 120mph one fateful night, melt the T-Tops, total the shell, and walk away. Despite being awake for 24hrs and breathalyzing .01 over the ‘legal limit’, he skated, AND LIVED TO TALK ABOUT IT. Talk about luck.

    HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    Easy.
    Car: 1963 Corvair (you know, the “free car”) rescued from my aunt’s driveway in Las Vegas.
    Event: Going to Grandmother’s house with my brother as a passenger for Thanksgiving dinner 1973.
    Location: Four-story high, two-lane freeway overpass that connects the 91 West to the 710 South in L.A.
    Conditions: Intermittent rain (It wasn’t raining when we got there and the ground looked dry).
    Scariness: 360 degree spin catching two guard rails with 70 ft. drop over the side.
    Nightmare memory: Two lanes of traffic approaching head on at 50 mph in mid-spin, nowhere for them to turn.
    Result: Mashed in the headlights, bruised my brother’s forehead and screwed up the transmission linkage. We weren’t even late for dinner. No other cars involved! No bloodshed! Amazingly, the Corvair righted itself on the high side of the curve out of the traffic lanes. As the equally terrified drivers behind me passed, I slam-shifted the car into gear and we rolled on to Grandma’s without even stopping. Though my brother never rode in that car again.

  • avatar
    wingnut357

    1976 Jeep CJ5 with a 304 V8, 32 inch tires, broken exhaust manifolds, and a very worn steering box. Forget off-roading, that Jeep provided total excitement when making left-turns in Florida.

    My 1968 beetle taught me that fire-extinguishers are not always just for show.

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    Hyundai Excel first gen on Belt Parkway, too slow to not get run down by others.

  • avatar
    Nostrathomas

    1999 Saab 9-3 with broken malfunctioning defroster/ventilation. Every time it rained or snowed, the car would fog up like it was filled with a sexed-up pack of teenagers. The last straw was having to drive on the Long Island Expressway in a rainstorm late at night with my head out the side-window almost the entire way.

    Not long after that led to my second most dangerous vehicle, but that was mostly in my head…..driving home from Pennsylvania, and through rush-hour Manhattan (ie, daytime) in non-stop torrential rainstorm for 3 hours after just picking up my new-to-me Porsche Cayman that I had unloaded a good chunk of my savings on. Absolutely paranoid about wrecking it the entire way home.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    A Ford F-450 flatbed I borrowed from work to help me move house. The steering is what scared me. I’d turn the wheel a bit, and seconds later the vessel would begin a slow wobble into its new course. I realize something that large is going to react slowly, but does the steering have to be so bad? It was hard to tell how much steering input was just “noise” that would be ignored, and how much would send me careening across the freeway.

  • avatar

    1950 Ford F-1 pickup. Built back when a truck was a truck.

    I borrowed it from my neighbor who had owned it for many years. He generously offered it to me so I could bring back a trailer full of cement from the rockery. He’s a retired cop with an impressively stocked gun safe, so wrecking his truck was the last thing I wanted to do. He’d dropped in a Chevy small-block and it has a 3-speed floor-mount manual tranny.

    The first thing I noticed was the lack of on-center steering feel. Or steering, really. Then, there was the so-called braking, which I came to assume were chunks of termite-infested two-by-four rubbing against the drums. You had to plan to brake two full blocks ahead of making a complete stop. This was pre-trailer.

    I arrived, sweating, at the rockery, fearing the drive back home.

    I made it, but it’s an experience I will never repeat. The neighbor has since cherried the truck out, fully-restored. But, that trip was a testament to the progress made by vehicle manufacturers in the intervening 60 years. They don’t make ‘em like they used to, and we should be very glad about that.

  • avatar

    Cadillac CTS-V… unreal

    http://theignition.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/dscf8206_01.jpg

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    The question was “vehicle” not nec car/truck, so that makes it easy. I drove a Seca 750 (when I had no business being on a 750), that had been in a wreck, resulting in a bad ignition switch that would cut the engine whenever the vibration wasn’t just so, on the DC beltway, in rush hour.

  • avatar
    RogueInLA

    Not really the scariest vehicle, but scariest combined with the location.

    1969 Honda CL350, Mineral King Road outside Sequoia Nat’l Park CA in 1975. Chasing a friend on a Yamaha RD350 for a few miles, since I couldn’t keep up with him (and he had his wife on the back) he told me to go first. About 5 miles later, rounded a curve and hit sand on the road, bike washed out at 15 mph, and next thing I know, I’m running alongside the bike taking BIG steps. Hit the berm on the outside of the curve and finally slowed down enough to let go. Neither I nor the bike was hurt, but took me about 15 minutes to stop shaking. We tossed a rock over the side, and it took it about 25 seconds to hit bottom. If not for the berm, I’d have been over the edge, rode back a LOT slower. My friend said it was pretty awesome watching me run alongside the bike. 2nd scariest, really ratty 1969 GTX 440, paid a whopping $75 for it in 1975, had it up to 110/115 one night, and it just lifted the front end and changed lanes, took it a little slower after that (and yeah, it was overpriced at $75, but damn, it was the fastest $75 car I’ve ever owned).

  • avatar
    drylbrg

    I bought a project ’71 Camaro that I had to get from Point A to Point B without the aid of a trailer. I got the engine running easily enough but I didn’t realize that the rag coupler connecting the steering wheel to the steering box was shot and only held on by a couple of loosely threaded bolts. It was like steering a very unresponsive boat. I made it, but my fingers were numb from the death grip I had on the wheel.

  • avatar
    seabrjim

    1968 plymouth roadrunner. Not necessarily the cars fault but getting it out of shape doing burnouts with a 383 auto on skinny bias ply tires had me staring at more than one telephone pole as I locked the brakes and prayed. Going from impressing your passenger to realizing you’re just a dumb 21 year old who hasnt been to Bondurant driving school has a humbling effect. Until the following Saturday night…

  • avatar
    mr_min

    Easy a Datsun 180B, I bought for crash and bash racing. I drove it for about 100km to the track, when I was preparing the car. I pulled the vinyl roof off and most of the sheet metal came with off. The car was so rusty that it had fist sized holes in structural place, like the base of the A and B pillars.
    Even with a helmet and some steel reinforcement I felt very scared on the race track as there was mothing but iron oxide between me and my fellow drivers. The worst part it was someones cherist daily driver.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Toyota Van LE. Rear-drove, six-plus feet high, mid-engine, three rows of seats and a shorter wheelbase than a contemporary Tercel (and only notionally longer than that of an Austin Mini!).

    Nearly got blown off the Burlington Skyway a few times, spun it (720 degrees, baby! Yeeaaahhh!) twice and lost it into a ditch once.

    It’s only saving grace was that it was totally gutless.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      Yup, a ride in an unladen SWB and RWD Hiace panel van in the midst of a snowstorm in dense Moscow traffic, when overdoing a throttle when trying to pull off from the lights would swing the rear into a shiny side of an S-Klasse or 7-er with some very 90′s-specific types inside (a bunch of unfriendly-looking flatheads).

  • avatar
    JREwing

    Hands down, it’d have to be the clapped out late ’70′s F-350 U-Haul moving van I rented to haul my gear home after freshman year of college.

    Bad – the 400 V8 ate a quart of oil at every fuel stop, and gushed much of it on the intake manifold
    Worse – initial top speed of 45mph (until all the bad gas and decades of carbon blew out under my lead foot).
    Even worse – nearly useless brakes
    Oh dear god NO! – Steering so worn the first 90 degrees of motion either left or right did NOTHING. The next inch would put you straight into the ditch.

    Probably the worst was trying to pass in this thing. Hey, I was 18 – I thought a full mile in the passing lane would be enough to get around a slower car. After said mile, I was doing 60.5mph. The guy I’m passing? 60. The only reason we made it is the guy I was passing finally let us over.

    After 700 miles of this, burning fuel at 4 to 5mpg, I actually got the thing to do 80 on I-96. I’m kinda disappointed it declined to throw a rod. It would’ve been fitting.

  • avatar
    RayH

    Scariest was a 1988 Suzuki Samurai with a 2 inch lift kit and I think a 305 v8 in front. I was young, and while I knew I’d have to take turns slower than normal, did not realize HOW slow! First and last time I’ve had a car up on two wheels. And it felt like only the rear brakes were working on it.

    Runner up is a rental Chevrolet Cobalt. It felt like there was inches of play in the steering, so much so I swung by a Midas and had them “shake down” the front end because I was sure a tie rod was about to go… they found nothing wrong. I stuck to surface streets from that point on, because keeping up with 70 mile per hour traffic felt dangerous. From memory it only had 5000 miles on it.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    1965 Mustang going down a steep, winding road with four adults in it. Didn’t take long for the 4-wheel drums to reach melt down and then it was hang on and pray for a long flat stretch. Actually did that twice, I guess Darwin loves me.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    2001 Ford Fiesta.
    Not the cars fault, I was just being a cheapskate and didn’t fit new pads on the front or tighten up the handbrake. I was driving in the ‘Lake District’ in the UK and decided to drive over the Wrynose and Hardknott passes as fast as I could go one Sunday evening (no traffic) and utterly cooked the brakes coming down the Hardknott pass. Upon reaching the bottom and still doing 15 or so mph with my foot hard on the brakes, the car coming the other way had no idea why this nutcase approaching him on a single track road was honking and flashing his lights while not slowing down. I managed to steer around the oncoming car, bumping over large rocks which slowed me down even more until at a very slow speed I fought my way past the synchromesh and jammed the car in reverse. The next day I set about repairing the brakes.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Two guys, who I believed,just got out of prison,picked me up hitchhiking. It was mid winter 1970, and they had a very tired,and very rusty 196O Pontiac. They put me behind the wheel, while they passed around a bottle of C.C.

    I drove a hundred miles from Timmins ont [Shania Twains home town} to about 60 miles north of Sudbury,in a blinding snow storm. The old Poncho,wanted to wander all over the road. Drunk number one decided,he wanted to drive. I pulled over in the middle of nowhere, and ran like f–k.

    A trucker picked up my frozen a$$ about an hour later. To this day that is the scariest experience of my life.

  • avatar
    cfclark

    let’s see…1982 Honda Civic, spun it twice in the rain (two completely different occasions), managed not to hit anything but became acutely aware I needed new tires, among other things;

    A GMC TopKick rental truck of uncertain vintage (and owned by a rental chain with a reputation for old and indifferently-maintained equipment–”U” might be able to guess which one), driven across upstate new York in February in a snowstorm, and overloaded to boot…true white-knuckle driving.

    A 2010 Toyota Corolla rental car with dicey brakes–why is every rental Toyota I get such a bad representative of Toyota?

  • avatar
    tiredoldmechanic

    1970 (or so) Ford Econoline van. I was working for a gypo logging outfit in the interior of BC and the van was an “ambulance”. It was beat to hell with about 200,00 miles of very hard service behind it.
    One afternoon one of the fallers slipped and damn near amputated his leg with his chainsaw. There was only me and the first aid guy around and he had his hands full keeping the faller from bleeding out. So I had to drive this thing about 30 miles over bad roads as fast as possible to meet the real ambulance at the main road. Even in decent shape these things were treacherous at speed and I recall seeing 80 mph on the speedo. Thankfully it was a radio road and everyone knew I was there and stayed out of the way because I used the whole width of the road just to stay out of the weeds.
    It was pure luck that all 3 of us weren’t killed, although the faller ended up losing his leg below the knee. Last i heard he was still a faller but I decided to try another line of work shortly after.

  • avatar
    bud777

    In 1974, i was traveling in Peru and rented a car to drive up into the mountains. The car was an English Ford that redefined flimsy. The road was a killer, one lane dirt with two way traffic mostly trucks. Sea level to 15,000 feet on the edge of a mountain with not one stick of guardrail. The trip up saw flat tires, broken accelerator and the loss of the exhaust system. Starting down, right at the pass, we hit a pothole so hard it shattered the real differential housing. The only things holding the wheel on were the bolts on the leaf spring. I started down, waiting second by second for the wheel to fall off, trying to anticipate which way the car would swerve so I could counter and keep us from going over the edge. At about 8000 feet, the brake pedal went to the floor. The shattered axle had cut the brake line and I was out of fluid. The next few hours were a matter of controlling the speed with the gearbox. Thankfully it was a manual and not an automatic. I still pucker thinking about it

    • 0 avatar
      acuraandy

      I think TopGear (British, not the fake ones) reenacted that a few years back…

      • 0 avatar
        bud777

        We were traveling with a woman who was writing a guide book called “A Traveler’s Guide to Eldorado and the Inca Empire”. She described the experience in the book. i wonder if that is where they got the idea?. I’ll look for the episode, thanks

  • avatar
    redliner

    A friends POS (I don’t use that phrase lightly, this thing was JUNK!) mid-90s Toyota Avalon, with at least three blown shocks and 3 chronically under inflated (bald) tires. The fourth tire, mounted on the rear, was a space saver spare, which had been in service for about 5k miles. The alignment was more crooked than Madoff. Power steering only worked for left turns. It bobbed and floated and rocked side to side and generally did everything except stay in a single lane of travel. The brakes where severely warped and caused instantaneous and violent vibration if one so much as looked at the brake pedal, but the bigger problem was that only the right side front brake worked. This “one wheel braking system” caused the front tire to lock up with alarming frequency, while providing the same amount of stopping power as your finger. I could probably stop faster by just sticking my hand out the window to create drag. This became a problem rather quickly at speeds above, oh, 0. Driving that car at 60 down a country road was more dangerous than spitting in a Mexican drug lords face, and then calling his mom a whore. Oddly though, the engine was still smooth and quiet, the air conditioning worked perfect, and the seats were still marshmallow-y as I imagine they were when the car was new.

    I rode/drove that car once for about 2 minutes. I refused to ever get in it again.

    I don’t need to tell you that only a few days later my friend totaled it 10 times over after running it off the road and into a ditch when the space saver spare blew out at 70-ish.

    Ugh.(*Shudder*)

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Definitely not the scariest vehicle, but the scariest incident. I was returning to base one late night speeding along about 75 or so in my 1964 Chevy, on old highway 65, just south of Marysville, CA, blasting Chicago Transit Authority on the 8-track around midnight when “Oh-oh”! The road disappeared. Vanished. Gone. It was there a week before when I had driven it. Well, for a split second I was airborne! Obviously, I wasn’t paying attention and missed the “Road Closed” sign – there were no barriers! They were building “new” highway 65. Anyway, I dropped about two feet and landed where the road used to be and eventually skidded to a stop. My heart got a good rest when it stopped beating for a second or two! Eventually I found a way back the way I had come and got out of there.

    That taught me a lesson I still carry to this day – pay attention to the road! At least the car wasn’t damaged. My pride? Well, that’s different!

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    Scariest car to drive? A Ford Aspire. I never took it over 60mph, for any reason… and I’m not sure it would have done it, anyway. I was always acutely aware that SUV bumpers were at the same height off the ground as my temple and it felt as though it had the strength of a soda can. It also had an unfortunate tendency to spin on little provocation and, once it started to swerve, there was no stopping the process. Nobody in the family liked to drive that car.

    Scariest experience in a car? Any ride with either of my grandmother’s sisters.

    Aunt Ruth was just bad. She’d rather look at you, while chattering away, than the road.

    Aunt Mary was somewhat more attentive but also much more aggressive. Speed limits were for losers. For a long time, she had a black and white, two-door ’57 Ford Fairlane 500 (as I recall) and it had been specially built, for some reason, with a Thunderbird engine. Every time she’d grab the key to start the beast, she’d pause, turn to me and cackle, “Dar, it’s got a Thunderbird engine!” Vroom… and we were off. Whatever it had under the hood, it was certainly quick.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    2010 Dodge Charger. The car had 2 miles on the odo when I picked it up as a rental. New car – great, right? I had the unfortunate experiences of having to slam on the brakes and find out how worthless they are. I also learned this car loves to plow through highway onramps in the rain. At that point the tires had 300 highway miles on them, and the damn car couldn’t take a highway onramp in some light rain. The slightest bit of gas in the turn and the front end gave up. Plus, every time I shut the car off, it had this distinct smell of burnt electronics.

    2004 BMW 330i with the staggered summer tires of the Sport Package (225/245R17). In the summer months its the most confidence-inspiring set of tires I’ve ever driven. At the front end of the 2009 Virginia blizzard (1″ of snow), I would have sworn they transformed into bowling balls. I could barely keep the car straight doing 25mph uphill in 4th gear, turning about 1200rpm. I nearly became epileptic watching the constant blinking of the DSC light in the dash. The most white-knuckle driving I’ve ever done.

    Previous generation Mercedes-Benz S600. I was a valet and had about 1/8 mile free to gun it. The thing accelerated so hard I could feel my brain shift back in my skull. It’s the only car to ever give me a headache by simply pressing the gas pedal.

  • avatar
    Bill

    Easily an old U-haul F-350 I rented when moving about 6 or 7 years ago. Between the constant shimmy in the steering at all speeds, the glacial reaction when making a lane change or turn, the lack of acceleration, the wicked pull to the left when braking, the popping noises in the suspension, and the general beat to death condition of the truck I was thankful the speed limits on all the roads I drove it on were 45 mph or less. Since then on the rare occasion when I needed to rent a truck it has always been a Penske truck.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    Easy. My ’72 Kawasaki H2 750 triple. The clever Japanese engineers managed to hide a hinge somewhere in the chassis. The bike developed a .5hz wallow in any kind of sweeping turn. The front disk brake was purely ornamental and the holy &%^#*$# crap, light the solids quality of the acceleration tempted to you to discover just how bad the rest of the bike was at every opportunity.

    The scariest moment was on my ’82 650 Seca when, at 80mph in the left-most (of four) lanes of Route 128 (America’s Technology Highway!), the nail I hadn’t noticed succumbed to centripital acceleration and rapidly exited the rear tire along with most of the air. Hang on, don’t do anything rash and hope that I’m going slow enough when it dumps me which, miraculously, it doesn’t. Bonus scary experience of trying to get the bike across four lanes of crazed Mass**** driver hell to the right shoulder.

  • avatar
    MusicMachine

    1985 Ford Ranger 2wd 5spd. No power steering. Lock to Lock you could turn the wheel 6x–that’s 2160 degrees–no frag’n joke!!!! Anyhow, for 10 winters it performed profoundly terrible in the snow. Neither could one spin the wheel fast enough to correct fish a tail. In 1995 it was cut up for scrap.

    Oh! I almost forgot. It received 3 engine replacements in it’s life time.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    1961 VW bus, on the Ohio Turnpike in the early 1970s. Damn thing has a flat out top speed of 62 mph. The limit on the road was 70 mph and trucks keeps blowing by it. Every time a truck blew by the damn bus jumped 3 feet to the right. It was night there was some snow and it was just plain scary.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I’ve driven my share of sketchy vehicles over the years, but the one that takes the cake was the ’84 Econoline conversion van I drove from Connecticut to Florida for a friend of mine. My friend is a quadriplegic, so the van was equipped with the usual handicapped conversion stuff; a side door lift, hand controls, shoddy wiring and what is called “zero effort” steering. To achieve “zero effort” steering, they do something to the steering box so that the steering doesn’t self center. Turn the wheel and the vehicle continues on that path until something interrupts it, like a vehicle or other immovable object. Imagine driving I-95 from Connecticut to Daytona Beach, then crossing Florida on I-4 to Lakeland in a vehicle you have to aim the whole time.

    Add this to what was already clapped out conversion van. The gas gauge didn’t work so I had to stop every couple of hours to gas up. No radio and the hand controls for the brakes made the brake lights stay on all the time, melting the housings. So when it rained during the trip the tail lights would burn out, so when I stopped for gas I also installed new taillight bulbs.

    I made it in one piece and soon after my friend sold the POS. I flew home.

  • avatar
    wsn

    I didn’t drive many cars. But here is a scary moment and a question:

    My 09 Subaru Legacy (PZEV auto) developed a “sudden surge” problem, i.e. it would lose traction briefly (like 0.3 second) and then gain a strong surge forward. It could happen at any speed under 40mph and feels as if the transmission selected neutral first and then 1st (just a guess).

    So the problem came more and more frequently, until one day, while doing a left turn from stand still, it did this 3 times consecutively, narrowly missing a car travelling straight in the opposite direction. That’s my closest moment to a major accident.

    I went to the dealership and they were able to reproduced the problem but simply didn’t know why. Or didn’t tell me why. They replaced the torque converter by instruction from the head office. It fixed the problem for like an year and now it kinda resurfaced. Do anyone know anything about this issue? Thanks!

  • avatar
    Marko

    I had to move my uncle’s 2000 Yukon XL from the driveway onto the street – when the brakes failed.

  • avatar

    1984 Ford Escort. On I-70 in a full-on Colorado blizzard. Damn thing was literally blown into a spin by a gust of wind at ~45 MPH and into a snowbank – then it caught on fire. Closest I’ve come to death in a motor vehicle.

    At least it was a rental.

  • avatar
    Aquineas

    1979 Ford Granada, driving from Jersey City to Philadelphia in the rain. That car required constant steering corrections even on a perfectly straight road. This was made more… interesting… in the rain on the New Jersey Turnpike.

  • avatar
    JKC

    1970 Ford Maverick, during a Christmas Eve snowstorm. 1979, I think. If there was (or is) a car worse in the snow than that old Maverick, I have yet to drive it.

  • avatar
    sportsuburbangt

    1963 Dodge 440, slant 6, 3 on the tree, manual steering and brakes. I traded a carton of smokes for the Dodge, in Dec 1992. The kid i got it from just got it from his grandmother. I drove it that winter and in a Long Island winter rainstorm I could not get the car over 40mph. The bias ply tires were so rotted and worn the car just wanted to spin out on the highway. The manual steering did not help!

  • avatar
    Streak

    180 degree snap spin in my dad’s Corvair in the rain on a winding two lane road at night in Tennessee. Resulted from a slight over application of binders when a mule appeared in the middle of the road on a sharp curve. Missed the mule and stayed on the road. Wish I could have seen it from the roadside.

  • avatar
    newfdawg

    Driving my ’72 Vega GT with snow tires. The regular tires were A7013s
    and despite the fact the engine was a piece of junk it handled exceptionally well. I moved back to Missouri to attend college and for winter driving to and from the campus in winter I decided that snow tires were definitely needed. I only ones I could find were A78′s and the first time I took a curve the rear end would really swing out with a vengeance. It was definitely an unnerving experience and I learned to approach corners with great care. I couldn’t wait for winter to end so I could get those tires off.

  • avatar
    athoswhite

    As a serial MG owner I’m lucky to be alive, but by far the scariest moment didn’t actually occur on the road. The parking brake on my ’56 MGA tended to lock up at inopportune moments. So frequently, in fact, I got to where I could get the car jacked up, wheel knocked off, brake unlocked, wheel back on, and car back on the road in less than five minutes. One weekend I decided to finally get to the bottom of the problem. I put it up on jack stands and spent a couple of hours taking everything apart and putting it back together again. Everything fine so far.

    The battery was dying on the car, so while I was at it I replaced it. The battery box on the MGA is under the parcel shelf, right by the rear axle. To get to it you have to remove the shelf. To remove the shelf, you have to put the top up. So it’s pretty close quarters in there to actually get at the battery. The DPO on my MG had converted to one 12-volt battery, and done kind of a bodge job on the battery box. Basically, the battery was held in place with a leather strap. I had put the new battery in–side post, and this is important–but not strapped in into place yet. This too, is important.

    I’m not sure now why I did things in this order. But here I was, brakes fixed, only one rear wheel back on, battery in box but not strapped in, and I decided to remove the jack stands. Which I did. At which point the plug on the bottle jack holding the car blew, spraying the floor with hydraulic fluid and dropping the car onto the brake drum of the side without a wheel on. The impact threw the battery out of the box and both posts came into contact with the rear axle. Well, actually the brake line, as it turned out.

    I didn’t realize this at first. I was busy looking to see if I had damaged the drum when I smelled the smoke. At first I had no idea what it could be until I saw the flames through the rear window. Remember, the top was up. I grabbed the fire extinguisher (one ALWAYS has a fire extinguisher handy with an MG) and quickly put out the flames, only to see the brake line–with both battery posts touching it–glowing cherry red.

    The problem was clear, but I wasn’t about to stick my hand in there to pull the battery off. Remember, the car is in the garage, and I had just killed my fire extinguisher. So as I’m looking for an implement I can use to try and dislodge the battery with, new flames appear.

    My wife, I should mention, is in the shower upstairs as this is happening. My neighbor is in his yard, and I scream at him to call the fire department (luckily the garage door is up). I’m torn right now: do I try and put out the flames–and we’re awfully close to the gas tank here–or try and pull the battery off. I have a glass of water handy–it was hot–and douse the battery with it. Flames gone, grab a hoe, and try and reach in to pull the battery back. It’s stuck. More flames. Run into the kitchen to refill my glass of water and repeat. The third time I do this drill I finally dislodge the battery. Crisis over.

    That’s when my wife sticks her head in the garage and says “The Fire Department’s on the phone? What’s up with that?”

    That scared the pee out of me.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      While krhodes1′s account (below) of the I-495 accident is certainly intimations-of-mortality scarier, this is my favorite. It’s a good example of how events can concatenate in a bad way to get to a completely unanticipated and improbable end result.

      So, did you flush the brake lines afterwards?

      Also, aren’t you glad that nobody thought of the 42V standard way back then and grateful it still isn’t a standard?

  • avatar
    AutoFan

    Between my freshman and sophomore year in college, I worked at a local mechanic shop as a parts driver for the summer. There were 3 vehicles at my disposal for pickups/deliveries. One was a mid-80′s Bonneville with no working speedo, an ’87 Nissan pickup w/ and automatic and NO a/c for the GA summer heat, and a ’91 Nissan pickup w/ a/c and no radio, great for those cross-town trips. I got to drive all kinds of cars in various states of repair/disrepair. But the scariest car I ever drove was one of the mechanic’s cars, an early-80′s VW Vanagon. Like many others have said, the steering seemed to require a full turn before any change in direction would occur. I would have been able to stop quicker if I could’ve put my feet on the ground rather than try to use the “brakes.” It barely had enough power to get it up the not-so-steep driveway out of the shop. When I got back from that run, I called it a day because I was so frazzled from having to drive that death trap. Why people love these things is beyond me.

  • avatar
    greaseyknight

    Never really been scared of a car that I was driving, I guess we know how to keep our junk at least sorta safe. Now tractors and dirtbikes are a whole different matter…..

    One white knuckle drive this year, and that was pulling an overloaded single axle trailer with my F-350. The truck and trailer where fine, I was just scared to death that the tires on the trailer would blow. As my grandfather had taken them off a car in the 70′s. Dryrotted so bad he had placed tubes in them so they would hold air. Never over 45 on the freeway and very glad to reach home

  • avatar
    Steve NM.

    My very first car was a EP71 Toyota Starlet which is essentially a turbocharger with 4 attached wheels.

    In a fit of stupid, I fitted it with a set of 205/40R14 wheels to replace the 175/60R13 stocks – these scraped body every time I tried to make even the smallest turn or hit even the slightest bump. This setup, of course, was a death trap just waiting to spring.

    One night, on the way home from the clubs, I put pedal to the metal and hit a pothole at about 50mph. My nice new low profile tires could not pass up the opportunity to carry out their assigned mission to kill me dead. My shiny car took a nice spin, turbo still wide open around its front right into on-coming traffic (I grew up in one of those fortunate cultured places where they still drive on the right), somehow managed to play frogger and dodge everything in the way and landed on its side against an embankment up the side of a ditch.

    The one death trap I knew of though that I never got to ride in was my grade school science teacher’s VW Combi Bus that went sans intact floorboards for the 3 years I knew of it. Rust had eaten almost everything out to the point where you could look into the van from the outside.

    That little adventure cost me 4 months of pay to put right.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    As I posted in Hooniverse where the same question was asked…

    Truck #23. A 1970 Chevy shortbed 4WD stepside with at least 250,000 rough miles on it and nothing powered whatsoever. It was my daily driver for nearly two years when I got my first real job as a surveyor/soils tech. Being the newest kid in the company meant that I got the truck no-one else wanted to drive – it was nearly a decade old when I got it. If you looked at it hard, you could tell that it was blue once. The thing was really beat with gaping rust holes everywhere, the bed sat 20 degrees out of kilter with the cab, only a couple gauges worked, the gearshift would jump out of gear with a violent thunk in 2nd unless it was held in place, brakes worked in maybe two of the wheels, flickering lights, leaks everywhere, the windows would routinely fall down into the doors – the list of problems went on and on. However, the beast also had a 1/4-inch skidplate underneath and a steel I-beam for a front bumper, so it was fairly unstoppable off-road. Florida used to have safety inspections, and once I went in with eight known problems and left the inspection station with 14. I left the inspectors laughing.

  • avatar

    It was definitely Hubert The Hatred Bug for me. So glad I survived it.

  • avatar
    CC_Stadt

    The 2006 Hyundai Getz subcompact I rented in Sydney may well have been an excellent car (although I doubt it), but I wouldn’t know because it was the only time I have ever driven a RHD manual car in dense city traffic. Truly frightening. Much as I like shifting, next time in AU I’ll go with an automatic. Enough cognitive adjustment as it is, coming from LHD.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      This is a dumb question, I know, but as I’m not familiar with RHD cars I have to ask if the pedals are oriented the same as LHD. I think Clarkson may have said something about this once on Top Gear UK, but I was otherwise occupied.

      • 0 avatar
        CC_Stadt

        They are, but you still have to shift with your left arm while looking in all the right (or wrong) places while avoiding swerving drivers, turning into one-way streets, and generally trying to find your way around an unfamiliar city. Nothing that cannot be learned over time, but the initial experience was a scary one for me. I realized just how much of our driving behavior becomes semi-hardwired over 20+ years of driving, and it’s hard to just turn it around in a snap.

    • 0 avatar
      Patrickj

      I made the same decision on RHD standard shift after driving in Ireland last year. It was OK when I was younger, but at 50+, the brain circuits aren’t fast enough any more.

  • avatar
    stuki

    I’ve spun off the road quite a few times, but the memory that still scares me the most is driving a 1984 LeBaron convertible, with a broken top, that had been through a few rainy seasons seasons. Driving down the freeway at 70mph, tying to adjust my seating position, as I put weight on my left leg, it rammed through the rusted out floor.

  • avatar
    Abdul_Alhazred

    1996 Chevy K2500. My Ranger had vomited a connecting rod (It’s an ’04 with less than 70k on the odo. Never let your father borrow your truck when you deploy!) a week before our 60-day reintegration briefing and all I had other than the truck was my Harley – unfortunately the morning of the briefing was a torrential downpour. My neighbor let me borrow his truck, with north of 300,000 miles on it. Everything worked well, it was very well taken care of, but when I was doing 75 down I-75 the wipers quit just as a semi was passing me (!), meaning I could not see anything. At all. The windshield turned from a portal to the outside world to an impressionist painting, leaving me to ride from Dayton to Cincinnati with my head out the window – until the wipers started working again. The rest of the trip passes uneventfully until I get off the highway and I’m on my way to the hotel on a one-way street and the truck decides to spin 540-degrees leaving me less than an inch from the t-barrier in a truck I don’t own staring at rapidly approaching cars. I manged to right myself and get there with time to spare, but jesus, that was a ride. No hiccups on the ride home, however. I later ended-up owning that truck. Good times.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I think others have hit all the scary vehicles I have driven, old vans, U-haul heaps, even the Trabant I owned for a summer in Hungary. What do you die of after a collision in a Trabant? Paper cuts…. My avatar is me in the Trabant in ’91.

    Scariest driving experience I have posted on here before, but here it is again:

    Driving South on I-495 in Massachussetts a few years ago, just after morning rush hour, so plenty of traffic but it is moving 75mph. Just stopped raining after pretty heavy thunderstorms, so the road is very wet. A Northbound semi is hit by a hydroplaning car, breaking its steering axle and sending it out of control. It crossed the median, blowing through a pair of guardrails and some trees absolutely obliterating the full-size Chevy pickup directly in front of me.

    The semi came to a stop completely blocking all 3-4 lanes of I-495. I saw the fountain of mud when he hit the median and started braking, and really stood on the brakes when it became obvious that it was coming across. ABS and luck got my Saab stopped in a straight line about 18″ from the side of the trailer. I dove down across the console and gear lever fully expecting to be shoved under that trailer by the traffic behind me, but by some miracle everyone else got stopped too.

    The guy in the Chevy died on impact – there was literally nothing left of that pickup. The engine was 100′ down the road. Poor bastard never saw it coming, not even a flicker of brake lights before the collision. The Chevy folded up like paper on impact.

    One of those situations that really make you ponder fate and chance. What if I had been following closer? What if I had looked down to change the stereo and not seen the big splash of mud? What if I had been going just a little faster? What if the guy behind me had been driving a big SUV instead of a Volvo? On and on. I didn’t stop shaking for about an hour.

  • avatar
    Silent Communicator

    Thrill-seeking, I was tapping the accelerator on Dad’s Buick Le Sabre Wagon while driving alone on a rain-slicked state highway, enjoying the ease with which the big V-8 could spin those rears, when the car responded by going sideways, then spinning into the opposite-lane guardrail. One Buick totalled and half my teenage a** gone after a serious whupping. Yeah, talk about thrilling.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    The scariest car I ever drove was a 1968 or ’69 Ford LTD loaner while the dealer fixed some minor issues with my car. It would go into violent shake at anything over 48MPH. I was in rush hour traffic when I decided to get on the freeway, and as soon as I accelerated up the entrance ramp, the shake started and I almost went off the road. I have no idea what was causing it, but I’ve driven in two earthquakes, and it was scarier than either of them.

    The scariest ride I ever took was on the Old LA Highway outside Vegas. I was in my ’77 Dodge Power Wagon, heading towards LA. In front of me was a newer Toyota Corolla. I don’t know why, but he suddenly stopped in front of me, and he had no brake lights! I only had one way to keep from hitting him, so I went off the road, going on two wheels for a couple hundred feet. My dog fell against the transfer case lever, shoving it into low. The engine died, and the moron in the Corolla stopped and just looked at me. Over 32 years later, I bet I could still pick him out of a crowd. Some other guy asked if I was ok, and told me I had been up on two wheels. I was beyond pissed, and was yelling at the guy in the Corolla, telling him what I was going to do to him when I caught him. I held the gas pedal down and after about 30 seconds of cranking, the flooded engine fired up. Luckily for him, he got through the light at Trop and the strip, and I never saw him again.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    1977 Audi 100L. I had the car for about a year. The car drove and handled ok but the breaks were… unpredictable, requiring rigorous pumping to work. It had severe rust were the trunk did not latch closed. The exhaust fell off in traffic once. The car caught fire because the battery was under the back seat bench and anyone sitting on it shorted the battery with the springs. The headlights failed on a long night drive, I found they worked on high beam but then they fused like that and did not switch off. Head gasket blew 3 times, starter motor failed and the alternator wore the brushes off. The car eventually died by blowing a rubber water pipe on the highway doing 90MPH (yes, it could do that) I did not know it was over heating because the temperature gage did not work…

  • avatar
    pdieten

    A while back my broke-ass sister-in-law picked up a ’96 Caravan somewhere and was driving it around for a couple weeks. One day she ran it to the shop for some reason. At the end of the day my wife called me and told me I had to go to the shop, pick up the van and drive it back to my SIL’s house unrepaired. They had refused to work on it.

    When I got to the shop the mechanic popped the hood and showed me that the shock towers had completely rusted out. One good hard pothole and the whole front end would have blown to hell. I think I’d been happier if he hadn’t shown it to me.

    So I had to drive the damn thing six miles across town and then back to its owner, praying I wouldn’t crash. Fortunately it survived, and she had the car towed away and junked. I suppose the right person might be able to repair the towers, but frankly the car wasn’t worth the effort.

  • avatar
    obruni

    at the GM Auto Show in Motion (remeber that anyone?), a Bonneville V8.

    also, my parents had one of those 2-door Blazers during the early 2000s. Terrible body roll, wobbly steering, and massive blind spots (including the tire on the back, and dark tinted windows). Driving at night was spooky as hell.

    my most terrifying driving experience was in my beloved Subaru. There is a steep intersection near my parents’ house. I hit a patch of black ice as I was stopping for the red light, and did a complete 360 spin through the intersection….ending up facing the right way on the other side of it, managing to not hit anything.

  • avatar
    plee

    I was selling Porsches back in the late 90′s, we took in a 1984 911 turbo (930)? that had been modified with an intercooler, special exhaust and other goodies. I took it for a ride and scared myself out of my skin, it was blindingly fast and felt like it was going to fly off the road. Hit 110 mph real fast, turned around and went back to the dealership with my hands shaking.

  • avatar

    My 1969 Firebird, with a stout 350, drag shocks and floppy springs, with 4 wheel manual drum brakes and super-slow manual steering–and a spool (locked) rear end. Go around a corner at IDLE in the rain and the car would kick sideways. And stopping? Plan ahead.

  • avatar
    MidLifeCelica

    1985 Mustang GT 5.0 (aka The Widowmaker). Winter driving. Winter tires on, sandbags in the hatch (hah!). On a transition from asphalt to concrete roadway (the start of a long, curving bridge), I encounter ice. Back end starts to step out, I correct. Back end goes the other way, I correct. Swinging back and forth like a metronome, I’m easing off the gas, counter-steering futilely as the car just won’t straighten out. I see surrounding vehicles trying to get away, but they are limited by the icy road too. Did I mention the bridge is curved? I picture myself hitting some bare roadway and causing a 10-car pileup…

    With a heavy sigh, and with a firm grip on the wheel, I ease the left side up against the concrete divider. This stops the skidding NASCAR-style, with many small components shredding off the side of the car. That restores control, and although the front end is shifted to the right 5 degrees, the car is still drivable and I make it to my destination. An hour later another car runs into the back of it on the icy side street! The cop that was summoned to the scene hits it too. I should have stayed home…although insurance paid for the whole rebuild.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    A tie between two 1966 Fords….first, an old E100 Econoline I bought for $900 bucks, (yes I know,i got ripped off…I was gonna make the worlds coolest van back in the 70′s…who knew? Flat front end, poor brakes, shaky steering, rotten floor. Drove it home to Allen Park from near Frankenmuth, MI….dicey.

    Runner up was my ’66 T-bird 7-liter coup…bought it in Kalamazoo and would occasionally drive it up to Muskegon. Late on Friday night in the winter, was driving home along M-37 when the power brake booster pump failed….drove it another 60 miles at low speeds with a rock-hard booster pedal….also dicey.

  • avatar
    NN

    83 Chevy Chevette. We bought the car in college for $250 (circa 2000). My roommate was driving down a windy dark mountain road in the Appalachians and I was riding shotgun. He was going too fast, and I told him so. He said “I’m in control.” Not more than 3 seconds later the rear swung out (RWD), we did a 720, and mid-spin my roommate takes his hands off the wheel, raises them up and says “we’ve lost traction.” We crossed over into the oncoming lane and repeatedly smashed the guardrail that saved us from going over a cliff to our deaths. That same car leaked every fluid, so another scary moment was driving down yet another mountain road to go swimming at the rock quarry and realizing that we’d lost all our brake fluid when the pedal went to the floor like a clutch. I know I did some serious tranny damage slamming that 3 speed auto into lower gears, then pulling the e-brake, cutting the wheel and tail sliding off the shoulder of the road to stop the car. It worked, however, so we went swimming. Afterwards, I drove the car back into town with zero brakes…thankfully it was all uphill, so with careful throttle use and using the worn e-brake and shifter, I made it without killing anyone.

    • 0 avatar
      Diesel Fuel Only

      My uncle had same car in college. He was going hunting. I-20 outside of Starkville, Mississippi. It had been sleeting just a little or some such – he tells the story so much better than I do…

      He came to an overpass so the pavement went from slick to dry to slick again and for one reason or another the car went round-and-round, ending up pointing exactly in the right direction in the same lane and he just kept right on going.

      Fortunately, he was the only person crazy enough to be out on the road at 0700 on a frigid Sunday AM, so there were no other drivers to get in his merry way.

  • avatar
    Pahaska

    A European delivery van that was our ramp vehicle in Chambley, France. The steering was so vague that we had to stay well away from the aircraft and it leaned so badly that it was almost impossible to stay on the slippery folding driver’s seat. It was always a contest to not be the last man loaded since last man had to drive.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    No bad car I’ve ever driven has scared me as much as any good motorcycle I’ve ever driven.

  • avatar
    Brunsworks

    As a teenager, I desperately wanted a car in the worst way–and that’s just the way I got it. A buddy of mine at the pizza place I worked at was going into the Navy, and I bought his silver 1976 Toyota Celica 2.0 GT Liftback for the paltry sum of $200.

    Did I mention that it was 1990?

    So to keep this poor thing on the road, he and his brother had swapped out the steering column, but mounted the salvaged replacement in upside down so everything would connect (I don’t know why they didn’t just use longer wires), so I had to hold the turn signals down. The windshield was spider-webbed with cracks from a serious impact whose details I never learned. The suspension was, as far as I can tell, original to the car and made all sorts of interesting bobbing and weaving motions in response to road conditions. It was a lot like riding the shoulders of a punch-drunk boxer…or so I’ve heard. The cloth interior was in various stages of profound wear or utter rot (to the point that the cloth-covered particle board over the spare tire had been replaced with a rather nicely cut sheet of 3/4″ sanded plywood), and since one sat low anyway, made the car feel like a small rolling dungeon. The tires were bald, which made every turn an adventure, especially with the aforementioned bouncy suspension. But for those straightaways, I had something even better: a millimetric drive shaft or U-joint bend that caused a disturbing vibration starting at about 42.5 mph, and continuing up to the highest speed I dared risk (85, unless the statute of limitations hasn’t……..whoops).

    Needless to say, this drowned out the one working radio speaker (which hung forlornly down beneath the dash, which had long ago lost its under-panel) quite thoroughly.

    Despite this, the engine and transmission were basically flawless and showed not a hint of the 198,000 miles that the rest of the car bore with somewhat less dignity.

    I ended up going off to the Navy instead of my buddy, by the way, and sold the Celica to my next-door neighbor–a car mechanic–for $200.

    • 0 avatar
      rustyra24

      I have owned 4 Celica’s from that generation. The steering issue you are talking about seems to be a normal thing. I still drive one here and there and yes it is scary.

      • 0 avatar
        Brunsworks

        Weird. Even on a well-maintained example? My buddy next door fixed up the car and his wife drove it for another two years (with better tires, shocks, struts, other twisty bits, new driveshaft/u-joints, and steering column).

  • avatar
    200k-min

    Scariest moment ever driving hands down is the couple times I’ve fallen asleep to be awaken by the rumble strips. Yes, I was a kid and thought driving all night would extend my spring break. Nothing wrong with the vehicle per se, just my idiocy.

  • avatar
    toplessFC3Sman

    Driving home from Sno*Drift 2007 (January in MI) in my brother’s volvo 760 (old, RWD, auto trans, solid axle snow beast) with two friends in the car after the last day of events; it was dark, probably about 10 pm, and almost no-one on the highway. It was below freezing, but dry with more than sufficient traction for 70 mph, at least up until this point… We were coming up on a nicely banked corner when some lights began flashing ahead and on the inside of the corner. Both of my friends had dozed off a bit, so when I asked “what are those flashing red and white lights up ahead?”, the only response was the trusty PRV V6′s steady blatting.

    A moment later, the sound turned into a quick rev up to redline, as if the engine just disconnected from the wheels. Odd…we were still maintaining speed and going straight, did the torque converter just give out? As soon as that thought went through my head, we hit that nicely banked corner and the rear end stepped WAY, WAY out of line. As in, we were perpendicular to the guard rail, watching the giant rivets fly past the front of the car as we’re sliding sideways at 70 mph, out of line. As out of line as asking your girlfriend’s dad for a condom on prom night. My friends started waking up at that point, and the uncontrolable screams and oh-shit-handle-grabbing started. Somehow, with the massive amount of wheel angle that car had, the banking and the curvature of the road, I was able to get it back into a straight line, at which point I was again faced with those flashing lights.

    We had now gotten close enough to the lights to determine their source, and they weren’t actually flashing; they were rotating… and attached to the front and rear of a beat-up chevy S10 that was also rotating. Unfortunately, it was also making its way directly into our path, moving much slower than we were. Cue emergency swerving to avoid this pirouetting pick-up, and the resulting massive countersteer required to collect the old volvo again. We passed within probably 2-4 inches of the truck, close enough that bits of broken plastic sprayed across the hood and windshield.

    Once we were again going straight, I pulled over (which took about a half-mile to stop, and then a bit of reversing) to check on everyone and go back to check on the guy in the truck. Apparently he had hit the same bit of ice, the nose of his truck slid down the camber, hit the wall running along the side of the road which sent him spinning and propelled him back out into the road, in front of me. Definitely got all of our hearts racing, but we all made it home safe that night. I’m very glad the volvo had a brownish interior… hides those shit stains well

  • avatar
    Almost Jake

    Two cars come to mind; my brother in-laws 1982 camaro (v6) and a friends (1960 something) Dodge Dart.

    The camaro felt like a clown car from the circus. Whenever you turned, the back-end felt disconnected from the front, similar to a clown car that separates into two pieces. We used to joke that he could never use it as a get-away car since the police could follow the trail of parts that had rattled off.

    As for the Dart, I learned the hard way that the passenger door would randomly open on turns. We were traveling about 40MPH when it swung open; luckily for me, I had just joined the Air Force and learned to appreciate wearing seat belts.

  • avatar
    BPF

    A few years ago – it was a dealer borrowed 2007 A4 Avant demo while my S4 went in for service. The gas pedal kept getting stuck to the floor which was a terrifying experience during rush hour traffic in the Boston area. It was turbo 4 automatic, thus not that quick. Thankfully, you’re allowed to drive in the breakdown lanes between 3 PM and 7 PM which I had to do several times to avoid collisions. I had to force up the gas pedal with my right foot to unstick it – not an easy chore to do, especially with a fat triple E foot. Braking wouldn’t help and the car would keep accelerating. When I got home and called the dealer and said something was really wrong with the car, the service tech said to remove the driver’s floor mat. I looked at the floor mat and it wasn’t anywhere near the gas pedal – how could it be? I also noticed when I was driving I thought perhaps it was the floor mat getting stuck, but it was away from the gas pedal. Regardless, taking the service tech’s advice I threw the mat in the back seat and the problem disappeared. To this day, I’m perplexed. NO WAY it could have been the thin chintzy floor mat, but it did work when it was removed. VERY strange!!!

  • avatar
    dolorean

    2000 Chevy Metro 4 door sedan I rented when my 300ZX 2+2 was getting a paint job. Hampered with about 55 HP, a 3 speed automatic, 12″ tires, the little POS flew to 60 mph in 20 seconds and could barely hold highway speed. You didn’t drive it so much as sit on it like you would a riding lawn-mower. Due to its tall, aerodynamic twinkie shape, every semi-truck that flew past this thing made it do the death-wobbles towards the ditch or other cars. Four wheel drum brakes ensured that you were gonna die while screaming and your right foot firmly planted through the floor board. Thankfully the dashboard was made out of incredibly hard plastic as was the slippery steering wheel so you’d die a little faster.

    Absolutely bloody terrifying.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    240Z that had a master cylinder that the garage I sent it to took a few tries to fix, stopping was always an adventure. Same car, later two of the three reamaining lugnuts popped off the right front wheel at low speed (had been driving much faster the day before). Wheel wobbled but did not fall off. When everything was working, it was a lot of fun. (One of the scariest as a passanger: in a toyota truck in Peru, maniac driver, crappy roads, no seatbelts, and a smashed windshield with blood still on it.

  • avatar
    stottpie

    2 different experiences come to mind:

    1. my dad’s original ’68 chevy pickup. 4 wheel drum brakes, and no power brakes. enough said.

    2. the new shelby gt500. i’ve driven the cts-v, and felt very confident. in the shelby, the rear end wanted to get loose whenever you punched it. it was pretty frightening. it had the svt performance package, and my suspicion is that the faster rear axle ratio was to blame.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    1993 Ford Aerostar (Eddie Bauer Edition – woot). I was driving Betty one winter’s evening and was exiting one freeway onto another. The roads were slightly buttery, it was lightly snowing, and Betty had AWD (that worked when it wanted to); so I was trying to go as slow as possible around the ramp because I know she was top-heavy, but didn’t look as good as Dolly Parton. Try as I might to keep her going straight and true, Betty started to sashay herself towards the ditch, and her large derriere tried to break loose. I finally regained control and was on my way.

    I learned then that, when driving around an exit/entrance ramp, you figure out which speed seems reasonable for the conditions and then drop it by another 10 mph.

  • avatar
    tedward

    full size bronco…hands down. Snap oversteer taught me how to drive, but thats hardly an upside to brag about. We went through 3 as a family, and managed to only roll one of them.

  • avatar
    JohnRyder

    A 1959 Vauxhall Victor in bad need of wheel balancing, alignment and most of all, shock absorbers.

    A whole new meaning to the term, “floater”…my dad worked in a coal mine, and only drove the car the 1/2 mile to work, and it had never seen the high side of 30 mph till I got behind the wheel, and, after being coaxed by my soon to be terrified buddies, I took it to a shade over 55 mph.

    On a quiet day, you could hear it rust.

    JR

  • avatar
    jastereo

    Had a 15-17 foot Ryder moving truck for a trip from Philadelphia and moving back to K.C. Very slightly underestimated how big a truck we needed so it was loaded absolutely up to the top w/ our stuff (and not knowing this would happen we hadn’t been especially judicious about getting heavier stuff on the bottom). Anyway – started off after a very long, very hot and very humid loading of said vehicle for a fairly short 3 hour starter drive on I-76 to Harrisburg. Long sweeper of a cloverleaf merging onto the main highway and I quickly realized the error of my ways. The slightest wind or correcting for uneven pavement would start a slight rocking of the too-high center of gravity that I then had to correct back and forth until it evened out enough to go away. The worst part was knowing I had 2 days of uneven/roads being repaired interstate driving like that ahead of me. SUCKED ASS. Never been so glad to be done with a drive.

  • avatar
    sjmscott

    John Deere 7700 combine, diesel, hydrostatic drive, with a 24 foot small grain header. I was moving it from one field to another, several miles away. I’d folded the unloading auger back, locked the turning brakes together, and put it in 4th gear. In addition to hydrostatic drive, the combine had hydrostatic steering. There was no mechanical connection between the steering wheels and the rear wheels; it was all done by hydraulics.

    Unbeknownst to me, there was a hydraulic leak somewhere, and I was all out of hydraulic fluid (except for the hydrostatic drive, which had its own reservoir). I started bumping the lever for the hydrostat forward, and got it galumphing down the road at its 20 mph top speed. It started drifting to the left. I turned the wheel to the right. Its drift to the left accelerated. I turned the wheel farther to the right. When I was about at full lock, the combine suddenly darted right, while I cranked the wheel to the left and pulled back on the hydrostat to slow it down. After several oscillations, I got it stopped, without taking out any telephone poles with the header. Did I keep it on the road? Not even close. Lucky for me, the ditches at the side of the road were shallow, or I’m sure I’d have broken something.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Halloween two years ago. -1 degree centigrade and rain. Old Ford Sierra 2.8 with an automatic, that shifts irregularly (not in a very good shape). Winter tires without studs (IE summer tires) Almost a 1/4 round play in the steering, and a welded rear diff. To word it extremely nice, it was ‘interesting’. My pulse was a lot higher after that short 10 minute drive to deliver my daughter to some friends she was ‘trick or treating’ with.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Several:

    1. I’ve owned 3 Pinto/Bobcats – a 71, 76, and 80; never worried about blowing up.

    2. 85 Lebaron GTS: Once did a 360 on a snowy entrance to the freeway, and never hit a thing. Also once did a 180 on a gravelly uphill bend, ending up off the road in the parking lot of a bar. The car seemed to be 30 feet long as it spun.

    3. 74 Maverick: Once decided to see how it would stop by just applying the dash-operated parking brake. This apparatus was ratcheted, requiring a twist of the handle to release it. I forgot that, so the vehicle’s rear brakes locked and nearly sent me over a very steep hillside on a dark night. Instead, I managed to careen into the hillside on the other side of the road.

    4. 96 Grand Voyager: On a dark and rainy night, our van was nearly crushed into the jersey barrier by an 18-wheeler on the PA Turnpike. He ended up only bushing the RH mirror as I slammed on the brakes, the high beams, and the horn, while creeping toward the barrier, all in a matter of a few seconds. We had 8 people in the car. This was by far my scariest moment.

    5. 78 Fiesta: I totalled my dad’s car by failing to completely stop at a left-hand turn stop sign, and sideswiped a car approaching from the left, who then collided head-on with another vehicle. This resulted in 2.5 totalled cars, two bloody noses (other drivers), and bad feelings. If I had been in 1st gear instead of 2nd gear, I might have been killed.

    So most of my scary car experiences have been my own fault. I hope age and experience have also brought me some wisdom.

    • 0 avatar

      Funny you mention Bobcats and Mavericks. I recently did some posts about the Bobcat and the Maverick Grabber (and Comet GT) that I saw at recent car events.

      http://www.carsindepth.com/?p=4262

      http://www.carsindepth.com/?p=4829

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        The Bobcat in your video is exactly the color scheme and trim we had (ours was a 1980). It was ‘sold’ to us by a friend for $1, and turned out to be one of the most expensive cars I ever owned. My 71 and 76 Pintos were much better. We actually owned a powder blue 76 Pinto and powder blue 80 Bobcat for about a year overlap.

        A clean Maverick is rare, and a surviving Comet is even rarer, particularly the Grabber/GT variety of each.

        Nice finds, Ronnie.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    I’ll be different here. The B&B seems to be listing old, beat up hoopties that shouldn’t be on the road. Mine is similar – an old beat up hooptie that should’ve been in a junk yard, except with a laggy, explosive 500+whp turbo motor.

    The car was a ’95 Eclipse GS-T Spyder that a friend owned briefly. From the outside, this car was (as I’m fond of saying) “Dookie as f***.” it was in terrible shape. Ricer orange paint job. Stock chrome GS-T 15′s with some chinese all-seasons showing threads. Stock brakes that were so warped your vision would blur when you hit the brakes. Alignment? Balanced wheels? working suspension? No. Plus no power steering, no A/C, a rip in the sh*tty top, loud 3″ straight pipe exhaust.

    Well, under the hood was a different story. The engine started life, apparently, under the hood of an Evo 3 – an old school 6-bolt main block, the non-explosion prone kind. it was a 2.3L stroker motor with a gorgeous equal-length turbo manifold, and some GIANT turbo hanging off it. I drove the car at night, so I couldn’t see markings, but I’m guessing it was a GT35, or a Holset HX35, or some giant HKS BS. It had a lot of lag. The car had 880cc RC low-imp injectors and an extremely loud fuel pump. Some hot-shot intake manifold. A twin-disc unsprung clutch and surprisingly, an open diff.

    Driving around at 1/10th throttle, it was just unpleasant. People who put unsprung twin-puck clutches in street cars should be shot. Really light flywheel. Buzzy, loud, unpleasant in that quasi-sporty way a DSM is.

    I didn’t get into boost in town, chapel hill has angry cops. But I laid on the throttle getting on an I40 on-ramp in first. RAMPANT wheelspin. The car pulls to the left. I shift at about 4,500rpm, lay on the throttle in second, more RAMPANT wheelspin. we’re roasting one tire, then the other, at 60mph or so. Third gear – RAMPANT WHEELSPIN, grip, and torque steer hard enough to shunt you a lane over. JESUS! finally third hooks up and the cheap-o boost gauge pegs at 20psi, lord knows how much it’s really making. Fighting the shaking steering wheel and floating body, this MONSTER 4G63 launches us down the last part of the on-ramp like we got rear-ended by a dumnp truck.

    I merge onto the highway, shift into fourth, and see “125″ on the speedo when I glance down. SH*T. I was calibrated for the accelerative capacities of my non-turbo Jetta at the time, which might’ve been doing 80mph by that point. I slam the brakes. the WHOLE car shakes side to side and I just basically start praying for the sweet embrace of death at that point. Pedal sinks, (oh, it has a failing brake master? Thanks dude) and I start pumping. Finally get it down to a reasonable speed, pull off the next exit, get out.

    “You drive it. I’m too young to die.”

    Either that or a stock 2004 Navigator, that was alarming too.

  • avatar
    JMII

    #1 – Not the vehicle (an awesome 89 Prelude Si) but the road and situation: driving up “bloody 27″ aka US27 in the Everglades from Miami to Lake O. Me and a buddy are going to meet my father up at the lake for a day of fishing. Its 4AM and so damn foggy you can’t see more then 20 feet ahead of you. Bloody 27 got its name because its narrow, only 2 lanes, surrounded by swamp and every other vehicle is truck overloaded with sugar cane going 35 mph. The trucks are so dirty that you can’t see their brakes lights. Did I mention it was 4AM and foggy? Thus you can either take 3 hours to reach the lake or attempt to weave in and out of traffic by passing the long line of trucks going in both directions. Well one said truck is broken down in the shoulder. At 65 mph I have no choice but to swerve into on-coming traffic or risk rear ending the truck. During this already questionable… scratch that: insane maneuver I realize the trucker has kindly left his door wide open, leaving me with about 1/4 of a lane to work with before I wind up in the swamp. I missed the truck by mere inches. We drove for another hour silently, then I finally spoke up, simply stating the obvious – we were lucky to be alive.

    #2 – ’96 Isuzu Rodeo – like many SUVs it suffers from being top heavy, slow to steer and even slower to stop. An accident occurred ahead of me as I’m coming over the top of an overpass bridge. I crest the bridge and realize the law of physics are not on my side. I apply the brakes hard and its like everything is in slow motion, unsecured items being smacking into the windshield but the Rodeo is clearly never going to stop in time. So I decide to steer away from the traffic. Now I know how the captain of the Titanic felt… its was like my inputs were being carried out via a slinky connected to the controls. The impact wasn’t that bad as I managed to glance off another cars bumper, but after that I was done with SUVs forever.

  • avatar
    OmarCCXR

    1994 Ford Explorer

    Driving that POS is the sole reason why I adore stiff cars. The amount of body roll on that thing was awfully scary. The car felt like it was flexing after taking two succesive sewer holes (that are in the middle of the lane, so pretty much unnavoidable).

    2nd scariest expirience was driving a Suzuki Aereo. And it was scary for the same reasons I mentioned before. That, and the engine felt like Suzuki got it off a lawn mower. No grunt whatsoever, a lot of noise and vibrations. But to be fair, I wouldn’t want to do over 50mph on a car as tall and soft as that one.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    c. 1974 Firebird. A friend in Massachusettes had left it at his girlfriend’s place in the mountains. When they broke up, she smashed all the windows, lifted the hood, and tore out a myriad of wires and hoses. I’d agreed to go with him to get it and drive it back to town. I wasn’t fully expecting the vandalized wreck that I found, but I felt obligated to try driving it back down the mountain. Being 14 at the time may have been a factor in my continued willingness to sit in a pile of broken glass and navigate down winding mountain roads without the benefits of power brakes or power steering. Initially, it seemed like I had neither manual steering nor brakes. Of couse the car was an automatic, so compression braking wasn’t going to happen. I took some pretty ragged lines through some of the turns, and I struggled to wind off lock after inducing massive understeer to scrub off speed at times. Eventually I got it far enough from his ex’s place that we thought it was safe, although we aborted plans to push it through town since the smashed out windows were conspicuous and 14 year olds probably can’t drive legally just because a car won’t start.

  • avatar
    CompWizrd

    Mid 90′s? Chevy Blazer.. with 335′s or so out back. Would lock up the tires on dry pavement on light braking.. god help you if you found water. At least the engine was so anemic you couldn’t really spin the tires for very long. More than once at 20-30kph the light would turn yellow and i’d tap the brakes and it’d start locking up. Had a nice exhaust system on it at least.. nice rumble.. but no power! Gave it back to the owner as soon as I could.

    I felt much safer driving a mid 90′s Chevy Astro van at 170kph on a gravel road, back when I was young and stupid and working for the local school board.

  • avatar
    Diesel Fuel Only

    Going from my VW to driving a Yukon in hilly New England was the worst for me. Squishiest brakes ever put on a modern car. I guess you can call it a car.

    Driving in Ct. at night with a stop sign at the bottom of the hill, downshifting the slushbox (which did absolutely nothing) and standing on the brake pedal with all my might I’m still not sure how it stopped. Not even going all that fast on the downslope either. It was all in slow motion.

    I had nightmares for years of trying in vain to stop a big vehicle as it floated right through an intersection as though no attempt to arrest it had been made, and I still feel uneasy every time I get into a suburban or see one supposedly about to come to a stop in my path.

    • 0 avatar
      chris8017

      My scary experience only happened just about a year ago during peak of winter. I was dating a girl who lived 45 miles away and I visited her sometimes on weeknights after waking up at 4:30am and a long day of work. For some reason, this one night driving home around 1am in my 2001 Saturn SL 5spd I sort of nodded off a few times but kept waking myself up (while staying in my lane on a rural highway). About 10 miles from home I nodded off and was awoken to the warning strips on the side of the highway. That shook me awake and got my adrenaline going so I figured I was gonna get home fine…I only had about 10 more miles to go…

      A few miles from home I nodded off AGAIN…this time I woke myself up and found a minivan in the middle lane where I was traveling just 10 or so feet ahead of me that I was slowly gaining on before I swerved into another lane. Realizing how big of a threat I was to other drives I pulled off the highway on an exit ramp screaming at myself for being so stupid and reckless.

      I don’t know why I was so tired that night and why each time it happened I thought I would get through it. I’m pretty sure I have some sort of sleeping disorder though. After that period I stopped driving home so late and I drank coffee before leaving. I never went through an experience like that again.

  • avatar
    couper

    … most recent humourous anecdote – I’m elected to drive a friend’s 73 MG Midget to the lake about 10-12 miles away. this is because a) I can get into it; b) I can operate the controls; and c) get back out with a minimum of aerobicise. at a stop light there’s a SmartCar on the other side of traffic. prevailing thought ; if we went nose to nose I’ve got a cloth top to be squeezed out of. …most retrievable 80′s anecdote – riding shotgun in a Fiero with `Jeff Spicolli’ incarnate at the wheel … I deliberately bought a Vanagon because …

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    I’ve been fortunate to have had cars that were reasonably safe and in decent shape mechanically speaking but I did have a couple of oh sh*t moments in 2 due to situations I’d forgotten about that almost got me in trouble.

    The unsafe car experience was the company car at a pizza delivery place I worked at, more on that in a moment.

    The first oh sh*t! moment:

    Driving my ’74 Nova home from the local Community college one cold, sunny day with snow on the ground and totally forgot about a section of road that is still in shadow,thus the ICE that still remained and went driving along, not a care in the world, though not fast when all of a sudden, the car careened left across the center line into the oncoming traffic lane but I was able to get the car back in control and back into my lane. Whoops!

    Second oh sh*t! moment:

    Driving my ’83 Civic hatchback and was coming out of what used to be known for years as SouthCenter mall, now Westfield’s Shopping Town, onto the overpass to I-5 to get to the cloverleaf onto SB I-5 when I’d forgotten about a little design issue with said cloverleaf as it was a gentle banked turn, but suddenly straitens out and if you hit that jog too fast like I did, the front will slide to the roads edge… I had to slam on the brakes and just missed going off the pavement, got the car straightened out and continued on my way.

    And now for the scariest cars I’ve ever driven.

    Back in 1984, I was hired at Domino’s Pizza as a delivery driver and at the time, drove the ’74 Chevy Nova but at the time, the store, which was owned by a local franchise owner soon received company cars, specially painted Dodge Darts, Plymouth Valiants and Dusters and soon found out how clapped out they were.

    And I mean clapped out indeed as they soon showed their true colors. First off, one of the cars, which I may have driven had its doors swing open (it was a 2 door Dart) when you go around a corner, but I DO recall bad brakes though, they were OK when stopping while going forward, but when backing up? Not so much. They shimmied and sashayed like the frame was about to break apart and I think I heard one car DID have a cracked frame or it cracked while in use anyway.

    There were other issues with these cars too as they all were clapped out badly and rumor was the mechanic the owner of the franchise hired to maintain these vehicles had a Duster or Dart himself and would buy new parts, put them on HIS car and put the old part on the company cars.

    I understand that shortly after I left the company in March of ’86, the state Police grounded all of the vehicles for being very unsafe and I think the mechanic was fired shortly after that.

    And the irony of it all was the company imposed an inspection of the cars for lights and such BEFORE it went out on the road, even all of our private cars had their lights checked out and yet the company cars were as unsafe as they were.


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