By on January 21, 2009

I know I pick on the kids a lot in this column, but they’re kids– they don’t even like themselves. Still, we were all young once. Back when that description applied to me, I was the proud borrower (and then owner) of a 1985 Pontiac Parisienne Safari station wagon. Turns out the world’s greatest Knight Rider live blogger, Alex Nunez, owned a 1987 Pontiac Safari. Just two days after he got his license, Herr Nunez got his sideways– with his mother in the passenger seat. He reports that he didn’t hit anything, and you know Alex was looking for the limits. Me, on the other hand, I managed to pull off a near complete 720, on the freeway in the rain. My even dumber friend decided he needed the heat on full blast. Anyone who remembers GM cars from the late 70s/early 80s knows that even if the EPA had choked the engines to (near) death, the HVAC systems were still (and kinda are still) the envy of the world. Meaning that full heat was not acceptable. And we fought. And we started getting speed wobbles. And around we went. And then we went off the road into the mud and spun again. After realizing that both us and the car were in fact fine, I chased him in circles around Dad’s brown Pontiac trying to catch and beat him. You?

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55 Comments on “Question of the Day: Your First Really Dumb Move?...”

  • avatar

    None so far.

    First car 1986 Volvo 240. Aside from being a little small its a great car.

    2nd hopefully a Kawasaki Ninja 500.

  • avatar

    I used to do 180’s out of parking spots in a ’74 Catalina, and was also used to getting airborne in my ’80 civic hatch back. I also did a lot of handbrake turns in the hatch, but I built up my skills in an uncharacteristically patient manner for a teenager. I never came close to danger using the hand brake.
    Nuttiest teenage trick was that I drove the school bus for the middle school basketball team for which I was the coach at 17 years old. Can you imagine a school doing that today? Seriously, the parents of a bunch of 7th and 8th graders sending their kids across town in a bus with a seventeen year old! I was very careful, but I still am amazed they let me do that.

  • avatar

    1989 Ford Escort 5 door. Didn’t know much about cars then, didn’t realize it handled worse than a ford Explorer or what it would do once it got loose. Bombing down a dirt road at night I crested a hill that suddenly dropped to the right, I tried to follow the road, did a 360 off the edge and another and 180 as I went backward down a bank and wrapped the car around the only pole for 50m in either direction. Got more for it from the insurance company than I could have ever sold it for so I often joke about returning to that spot whenever it comes time to trade. I wasn’t hurt at all but I found it interesting that despite the gas tank being crumpled and the fuel pump shut off reset button being propelled into the front seat, the car continued to run.

  • avatar

    I used to ride in the back of my buddy’s Chevy Luv if he had a girl up front. Doesn’t get much dmber than riding in the back of a 16 year old’s pick up. I’d have been better off riding a motorcycle.

  • avatar

    I wonder if it is a ‘teenager and GM’ sort of thing. .. My first bad gravel road experience resulted in 360+ into the ditch with an 82 Buick Skylark. I haven’t fully appreciated gravel since. I won’t go into the Bonneville SSE days that followed.
    My best memory however, was the first day a good friend of mine earned his license. Took a bunch of us out in his Mom’s 88 Caddy Cimarron. As a captive audience, we weren’t impressed when he tried to take the poor Cadalier past 100mph on a (somewhat)windy road. I swear he nearly killed us.
    We screamed him to a stop, pulled him out of the car and ‘expressed’ our disappointment in his driving skills. Good Fun.

  • avatar

    My 1st car was a 1982 Mercury LN7 (Ford EXP – the 2 seat Escort “sports” coupe). We had this really twisty road in my home town, and on rainy days I liked to drive through the curves looking for the limits of adhesion. I would turn into the curve and give it enough gas for the front tires to lose their grip. Well on one trip, as I hit the gas mid corner, and animal jumped out into the road. I panicked, hit the brakes, and spun the car into the guard rail.

    Since I paid for the car, my Dad didn’t yell at me too much.

  • avatar

    Defying the Law regarding a legal tread depth and the laws of physics as well by insisting that my “poor Boy ” Firestone SS racing slicks had better traction even in the rain on a Northwest coastal highway. Divine intervention kept us on the pavement after completing a 720 on a two lane road. My step brother and I found the sudden need to releive ourselves on the bushes that we should have ended up in.

  • avatar

    I had a few mishaps. Did a 360 on ice that I didn’t see or didn’t anticipate after I’d had my license about two months (and permit 6 before that) and I was lucky no other cars were around. But I don’t think I ever did anything really stupid. I was (and still am) pretty cautious. My parents let me drive across the country myself when I was 17. They let me and a friend drive from Stanford CA to Seattle over the Txgiving weekend. That I don’t quite understand. It was over 2000 miles in four days.

  • avatar

    I’ve actually been a very safe driver all my life, with my teenage & later years spent driving very low HP cars, usually with non-turbocharged Diesel as the motive power. That kept me out of most every potentially dumb situation. My lifelong dumb move came fairly recently, but in a car that allowed me to recover with style and grace:

    I’m on my way home with my son from a vintage car rally in our old “Family Heirloom” Jaguar. We’re car #2 behind an RV on a winding 2-lane in the Cascade Foothills and the RV driver is a complete numbnuts who has a train of 50 cars stacked up behind him. I’ve worked my way up to #2 position in short bursts through judicious use of the Jag’s loud pedal whenever a short opportunity presented itself. Car#1 in the queue is some ricer “sport compact” as it Car#3. A LONG (~1 mile) straight stretch of road magically appears and Car#1 pulls out to pass, as do I… and Car#3.

    Car#1 tucks in front of the RV, and I stay in the opposite lane and keep going, looking for a bit of open road. Car#3 tucks in behind Car#1… and both A-holes drop the hammer – blocking me.

    My dumb move was to choose the right pedal over the middle one and go for the road ahead.

    The old Jag has plenty of go, but the RiceBoyz had the jump on me and my mile of straight was running out. If I accelerated, so did they, if I braked, so did they. My only option was to test their cajones at triple-digits. Here I was, a 40-something driving a 40-something year old car, doing over the Ton at the dangerous whim of teenagers in plastic-coated cars their Dads bought them. Thankfully somewhere north of 125 MPH they either backed off or ran out of steam, and I was able to retake the correct lane -still accelerating. Not long after a sweeping left-hand bend arrived with a stream of oncoming traffic. The E-type handled the curve with aplomb and I just kept going, still at ludicrous speed, with the intent of never letting those kids get near me again.


  • avatar

    On my way to school I saw an accident in my lane and lane 2 was blocked so I hit the brakes at 65 mph. I hit a piece of black ice and had a 30 degree fishtail and ended up on the shoulder of the interstate. I have always liked GM vehicles after my 96 Cutlass was so easy to control at that moment.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    1981 Mazda 626, 720 degree spin, in the community college driveway.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    Drove my first two years with no license. Had 5 years behind me on minibike and tractor and outboard skiff by 14 so I knew how to drive. Got permit when of age. Wierd times, those early 70s. Can barely see through the haze back to then. I never got pulled over (or proofed at a bar) until I was 21.

    Then once in dad’s 1 year old 1975 2002 automatic, unauthorized, he’s on vacation, I am on dry pavement, eastern LI, long straight, telephone poles flashing past, geen sod farm out windows both sides, with lines of snow along road, 70mph, January, bend in road in midfield of sod farm up ahead, it looks kind of white in middle of bend, suddenly tail is coming around right, I’m staring at pole out side window closing fast, friend holding doobie staring out there too, jaw drooping, then its swing wheel right into pole, left, right, left and I am coasting slowly past bend on dry pavement again straight down right lane, car OK. Screaming top of lungs, friend says “cool”.

  • avatar

    Passing the school bus on the old rural 2-lane black top in Kansas was a right of passage when you got your first car in high school.

    The school bus in sight, I down shifted my 1981 VW Scirocco into the right lane and started passing the bus. Except there was a slight fog and an oncoming car!

    When I realized the error of my way, the bus was already slowing down and I had no where to go but to the shoulder where the long grass pulled me into the ditch where I knocked out several fence posts.

    The best part is that the fence owner showed up promptly at 6am that weekend to teach me how to replace the posts.

  • avatar

    When I was 17, I had a 1992 Grand Am coupe with the 3300 V6.

    After classes one day, a friend and I decided to go out speed my Pontiac down a straight but hilly rural road near the school. That I did it is not the stupid part though.

    The first time I ran down the road, I got my car up to about 85MPH and stopped at the end- no problems.

    On the second run down the road, I went about 85MPH again, but this time after I stopped I noticed smoke coming from my brakes. This probably would have been the time to call it a day and go home, but I decided to go one more time.

    On this third run, I got up to 90 MPH, but when it was time to stop my pedal went directly to the floor, and my brakes refused to bring me to a stop. This led to me blowing a stop sign, going across a (thankfully empty) cross street, and bounding a very long way into a field.

  • avatar

    I only have good memories from my 1987 Pontiac Safari, same color as the one pictured here but with the wood grain on the the sides, I admit, I never put this car into any spinning but I can’t remember how many times I felt the rear end step out a little.
    What I really miss is how reliable this car was, never had a problem for 7 years and 90k miles.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Dumbest had to be the friend from a few houses down… who managed to get thrown out of three different schools.

    Idiot drove on the SHOULDER of the New Jersey Turnpike going 90 mph. We were going back from the beach in a severe traffic jam and if one person had decided to stick their car on that shoulder… we would’ve been stone dead.

    He then takes an exit at 75 mph (Audi Coupe Quattro) and proceeds to lose it for about three seconds. We’re going headways to a telephone pole. Somehow fate intervenes and the car regains traction before death came knocking.

    He managed to crash that Audi 12 times before finally totaling it. Last time I saw him, I had graduated from college. He was still living with his parents, looked like a muppet on drugs, and was driving an old Beetle. Very sad… for the Beetle.

  • avatar

    I once taunted a feminist.

    Oh, you mean car-related. Nope. Nothing.

  • avatar

    After a good snowfall, two of us used to ride on the rear bumper of my buddy’s Gremlin, so when he started to get bogged down, we could just jump off and push the car through the drifts. To relieve boredom, we would sometimes squat down, grab the bumper and surf down the road . . . it was hell when we would hit an occasional dry patch.

    The day after finals in my freshman year of college was when I was set to take my motorcycle driving exam. In celebration of getting through the year, I did not get to bed that night, and on the way to the DMV I missed a turn and went through the ditch. I stayed upright, so I just continued on my way to the test. Before the exam started, the examiner really wanted to know why I had weeds in the spokes of my street bike.

  • avatar
    Rev Junkie

    Well, about a year ago, a few months after I had gotten my first, and, well, current, car, a ’99 Civic EX Coupe with a 5sp, me and my friend were driving down a little two-lane road when I decided to test the limits of the car. Now on that road was a relatively sharp banked right-hander, 80-90 degrees or so, still a little bit away, so I got up some speed, about 70mph and tried to take that turn without slowing down. The next part was a blur, I remember skidding about two-and-a-half times, almost en route to being T-boned by an oncoming truck in a car with no side curtain airbags, and scared because the engine had stopped. I came to my senses, realized the engine had stalled, fired her up, and drove off thankful that I hadn’t crapped my pants.

  • avatar

    1980 Buick Regal, 2-door, maroon with maroon interior.

    Following a friend to a party, another kid (who we didn’t like) “borrowed” his mother’s Buick Skylark from the garage and was following me. The lead car wanted to lose him, so started going fast, as did I, as did the kid.

    Then the lead car ran a stop sign, but I didn’t hate the kid that much, so I stopped. So did the kid — with his front bumper inside my rear wheelwell. He then panicked, threw his car in reverse, and ripped the rear quarter panel off of my car before I had the chance to even get my seatbelt off.

    Eventually his parents paid for it, but not before he told my parents that I had been doing donuts in a parking lot earlier that evening (I had) and that most of the damage probably came from that (it didn’t.)

  • avatar

    I hope no one minds, but I have thought of two dumber things I used to do.

    Play a form of chicken in which I would drive with my eyes closed and have the passenger give directions–the first person to freak lost.

    At night in the north woods, I would take the top of my Sunbeam down, turn out the lights, and drive by looking up and staying centered in the opening in the canopy of the trees.

  • avatar

    I discovered the snap-oversteer limit of my ’95 Explorer in snow, 2 weeks into owning it. 1.5 seconds later, I discovered that ABS doesn’t work when you’re sideways, and 1.5 seconds after that, I distributed 4 mailboxes worth of mail across the neighbor’s lawn, postmarked by my driver side door.

    I’ve learned a lot since then… including how to use a post-hole digger.

  • avatar

    Driving 10 hours, at night, in freezing rain, with a broken defroster. I ended up draining the washer fluid, but I didn’t have any incident.

  • avatar

    Paying $15K for a 3 year old ’95 Pontiac Grand Prix.

    After three years, I was paying $300/month in payments and $300/month in repairs.

  • avatar

    Well, there was my 83 GTI with its leaky windshield. Leaky into the fusebox, rusting (swamping?) out the relays that is. Which led to learning how to read wiring diagrams in a Hayne’s manual and…

    …replacing the ignition system with a toggle switch for the fuel pump, another toggle for the fuel distributor, and touching two wires together to engage the starter.

    …bombing north on route 3 in MA to NH in the poring rain, pulling out my windsheild wiper relay and blow drying it with the heater vents, all at 70mph in heavy traffic, back when this was a tight 2 lanes in each direction.

    …taking said short geared GTI to redline in fifth playing leapfrog with a Camaro late at night in the dark depths of Maine above Bangor headed to see my girlfriend. I probably topped out at 110 mph, shaking and shimmying, but he gave up before I did.

    I’m grown up now.

    One of my favorite automotive moments was Christmas Day ’96 in Denver. A blanket of fresh snow on the ground, Christmas mass on the other side of town, wife and baby boy in the new to us 88 Audi 90 Quattro.

    *sigh* My first real Quattro day.

    I all-wheel-drived that sucker the whole way there, gunning out of every light and power accelerating through every corner. And after mass, from where I was parked last in the line of parallel parkers, I just put her in reverse, backed up to about 20 mph and cut the wheel to a perfect sliding 180, and dropped her into second in stride to heading off into the sunrise. Absolutely perfect. Bo and Luke Duke couldn’t have done any better.

  • avatar

    The best moment, or worst, depending on how we approach this, would have to have occurred from the driver’s seat of my first car. A 1999 Isuzu Oasis.

    For those of you not familiar with the Oasis, it was a re-badged Honda Odyssey that was sold by Isuzu between 1996-1999 through a deal between the two companies that, in exchange for this fine service, allowed Honda to sell the Isuzu Rodeo under the Passport nameplate.

    All fascinating automotive history, I know.

    Regardless, my Oasis was an…”adequate” performer, whatever that means in the van world. It had 4 conventional doors, so it wasn’t as bulky, and with a 150 hp. Honda VTEC 4-cyl. under the hood, it felt sort of..peppy.

    Myself and a bunch of friends drag raced all of our cars, us being around the age of 16, in a church parking lot after a rehearsal for a high school play juniors always put on.

    Screaming across the vacant, post-school day parking lot at redline, 75 mph, with my buddy’s 1995 Dodge Ram 1500 jacked on a mean lift kit raging to my left, and another friend’s 2001 Lexus GS300 kicking both of our asses on my right, I fully entered automotive delinquency in all of its glory.

    Now, years later, I drive a 2001 BMW 540i M-Sport, and keep my tom foolry restricted to stop light stand offs against rebellious and over zealous G35s, 3-Series, and downright disrespectful and ignorant TL’s.

    When I put my money on it, though, the 6-speed + V8 combo usually wins.

  • avatar

    Racing my friend in his brand-new 1986 Vette on a very winding, crowded, mountain road in my 1979 Chevy LUV with a kid in the passenger seat and two more in the bed. It was slammed and handled surprisingly well. We were both passing over double yellow lines, speeding, etc. I did beat him though.

    Same truck, getting lots of air on the whoopdeedoos at the U-haul proving grounds in what was then the middle of the desert near Phoenix. I can only estimate, but we were probably doing 60 and going 3-4 ft off the ground.

    Playing “bowling” with those big wheel-out trashcans at a party in my friends neighborhood in a 1973 Cutlass that we all bought together for $100 and promptly cut the roof off of. Needless to say, we got a bit smelly on that one.

    Same Cutlass, we went out to a corn field and tried to jump an irrigation canal. We made it, the car needed to be dragged out the next day. It still ran for a few more weeks. The car was plain bent, and the doors wouldn’t close anymore.

    There are probably 20 more where those came from!

    I still have the LUV and it runs great.

  • avatar

    1994 Buick Regal two door. I was attempting to drive to my girlfriend’s house (her parents were out of town and I had a virginity to lose). It had been raining and a 150 foot area of the dirt road she lived on was flooded. Being sex starved and testosterone filled I decided to back up and make a run at the water in hopes that I could hydroplane across. I got up to a speed of about 70 mph before hitting the water. Needless to say I only made it about 50 feet across. One of the locals pulled my car out and helped me get it running again. I drove back home cold, wet, and still a virgin.

  • avatar

    Probably my 4th DUI. #3 and #5 were flukes, I blame the cop, but #4 I was really asking for it.


  • avatar

    I got stuck trying to off-road a Chevette as a youth and ripped off a mud flap. I guess that’s pretty minor. I’ve been pretty lucky with my other jackass moves!

  • avatar

    I was 17 and driving an eggplant colored Mercury Villager (a fancy Ford Windstar). I had a bunch of friends in the back, and we were bombing down a winding 2 lane road at about 65-70 and I forgot that there was this sharp 100° turn coming up. Somehow the brakes hauled us down to speed enough to get through the turn without putting it in a ditch. That was the day I discovered understeer.

    The next one is a friend of mine. I had just gotten my first stick-shift, a Saturn SL1, and my friend asked me if I wanted to learn how to do a 180° handbrake turn. Being the idiot I was (am?), I enthusiastically agreed. In an empty parking lot this would have been ok, but we tried it on the street outside the parents house. In the end, the road was too narrow and we ended up in a ditch, because instead of just hitting the brakes when it was clear the road was too narrow, and possibly saving it, my friend decided that he would try and get it in first and “power out” of it. Needless to say, he couldn’t get it into first, and we wound up in the ditch at about a 45° angle. I told the parents that since I was new with a stick, I stuck it in the ditch on accident. They didn’t believe me for a second. But the good thing was, that because I had the dent resistant panels, the car was really no worse for the wear!

  • avatar

    I think Blunozer wins.

  • avatar

    Echo johnny_ro’s first pargraph. I was a pretty wild kid though I thought I was the only tame one at the time.

    So there we were, heading down the freeway to Sebastian Inlet to go surfing in my ’73 VW bug with a Baja kit and a Porsche 912 engine. I’m not sure if it was the surfboards on the roof or the aerodynamics of the wide-eye Baja body but at 120 mph, the front wheels came off the ground and the car crossed 3 lanes, the grass median and into on coming traffic before I could get a hold of it.

    Or the time I was test driving a 427 AC Cobra I had been working on. I pulled out of the driveway and accelerated only to have the rear end pass me by and stuff me in a ditch.

    Or there was this one time I…I…I…I really don’t want to remember this stuff!

  • avatar

    Easily my crowning DUMBASS moment was in 1990. I was 15, driving my mom’s 1986 Olds Cutlass Supreme (complete with emissions-strangled 140hp 307 4-barrel V8). My mom was in the passenger seat and two friends of mine were in the back seat.

    A few miles from my house, there was a road with several small hills that everyone referred to as “Thrills Hills”. Taken at the 35mph speed limit, it would take your stomach as you crested each incline…at 55mph, two tons of GM iron would go airborne!

    I don’t know where I got the balls to do it…but about 1/4 mile before the first hill, I floored the gas. The sound of the 4-barrel opening up was like a jet engine…forward motion wasn’t greatly increased, but the sound sure made it seem dramatic. I managed to get close to 60mph before I hit the big hill…my mom managed to slap me a few seconds before we went airborne, and a few seconds later, we landed with a sickening thud!

    Somehow, I managed to hang on firmly to the pencil-thin steering wheel and keep it in the road until I coasted to a stop! The damage- broken front under-bumper spoiler, broken ENGINE MOUNT, busted radiator, killed the front suspension and, just for good measure, the passenger side window fell off its track and into the door!

    A friend of mine lived nearby, so I made a run for it on foot. Mom didn’t speak to me for over a week. To this day, Dad and State Farm think that Mom swerved to miss a deer in the road…

    Only in the last few years has she let me drive any of their vehicles! =)

  • avatar

    The first time I overtook a truck a car appeared coming the opposite way. There was enough room for us both to pass but for some reason I drove hard against the opposite side of the road and the car passed between me and the truck.

    I still don’t know why I did that.

  • avatar

    The car: My mother’s 2 yr old 1974 Pontiac Luxury LeMans. Honduras maroon, white interior.

    The conditions: Hard packed snow on the roads.

    The idea: Wouldn’t it be cool to keep the gas floored until the speedo needle swung to read 100 mph! And how cool that it’s right in front of my high school and in my own neighborhood!

    The result. At about an indicated 90 mph, the rear end starts to fishtail to the right. Easy – steer into the skid. Gas still down, car swings back straight – on the way to a nasty leftward fishtail. Too much to handle. I am now driving (riding, actually) sideways at about 30 mph. I was ok until the fire hydrant.

    So what did I tell mom? The truth, of course. It was slick, the rear end got away from me, and I overcorrected. But I still think I should have been able to keep the fire hydrant that mom’s insurance paid for.

  • avatar

    Almost put dad’s Jeep Cherokee into a lake when I was 18.

    Doing donuts at a local pier, on the ice covered parking lot. Figured 4WD would be my ace in the hole.

    Nope. Owned by physics. Thank god for a breakwall.

    Told my dad that I hit a patch of ice (kinda true) and hit a curb (a large curb).

    First time that I ever had to turn the steering wheel 90 degrees to the left to make the thing go straight.

  • avatar

    Was 18, showing off my (literally) brand new 1975 Pinto station wagon, and having read in the car buff books that the one thing it supposedly did well was to stop fast, I finished boasting by jumping on the brakes on a country two lane, promptly spun the car which stopped on the opposite side of the road in the gravel along the road (northern Michigan having very wide, flat shoulders – or I’d have ditched it). No damage, except to our nerves. The tires apparently screamed so loud, the old boy living in the house ran out and ran up to the car to find two shell-shocked teen boys just sitting there and blinking.

    I lied to the old guy and said an animal had jumped out in front of us.

    Never did THAT again.

    Yeah, it’s teenager-itis, that causes all of this stuff. At about 13, one’s brain falls out and doesn’t grow back until about 25 or so.

  • avatar

    I was 17 and driving my first car, an F-250, with two friends next to me, just cruising between two driveways on a back road. My friend, Veronica, decided that she really had to have a cigarette during this 1/8 mile trip, ignoring my “absolutely not.” Deciding that her smoke would ruin the old manure car smell that I was getting so fond of I reached over to snag it out of her mouth and toss it. Ended up in a ditch, sitting in the truck, with two pissed off columbian girls (twins) deciding how best to never let me forget this moment. Of course, I just put it in low range and backed out, but that was over a decade ago and I still hear about it.

    Also, I “discovered” how to do J-turns furiously backing out of my driveway in a 92 Dakota after getting in a fight with my parents. That little truck had at least 80% of its weight right over the front axle and I learned that particular physics lesson when, at the slightest correction from me, I swapped ends going 20 in reverse. Apparently it looked very very cool from the kitchen window, mitigating the amount of trouble I got into for that stunt, and I quickly made this the standard procedure for quick driveway exits.

  • avatar

    Back in the day, my best friend and I both owned Plymouth Arrows..mine was a ’78 GT, is a ’79 Fire Arrow! Early one Sunday morning, we decided to switch cars and go racing through my part of the Tennessee countryside. We got to a decreasing radius left hand turn (downsloping, in tons of gravel)…needless to say, I was in front with the Fire Arrow given it’s 2.6 liter engine to my 2.0. And I wasn’t used to the extra power. Into the turn I go, back end breaks loose and the front end immediately heads to the drop off along the side of the road. I firmly planted the front bumper in the ditch. With work, we were able to extricate the Arrow out of the weeds, and he drove HIS car home. Come to think of it, I’m not sure I was ever allowed to drive the 2.6 again…

  • avatar

    Trying to bury the needle in my 86 Chev 1/2 ton. It ran out of speedo after 90 mph so I have no idea what speed I was going after that, but I had the needle pointed straight down so my guess would be 110 or 120.

    Let me tell you though, the ride quality at that speed? Float like a Cadillac. Good thing the RCMP didn’t bear witness to my efforts that day, especially since I was on a well-travelled highway south of my hometown.

  • avatar

    By far the stupidest things I’ve done is drive in white out blizzard or drive while extrememly tired keeping the vehicle on the road rumble strip to rumble strip.

  • avatar

    The dumbest thing I ever did in a car was one of the first things I ever did behind the wheel. Shortly after I earned my license, I purchased a ’75 Buick Skyhawk for $300. Picked it up having not yet learned to drive manual transmission. Also having not yet learned that carpet bunched up on the driver’s side footwell is a bad thing. On my way home, I stopped at a 4-way intersection, then turned right. As I upshifted I didn’t realize that the throttle was stuck open until I shifted to ssecond and released the clutch.

    Did I mention the drizzle? Because that is kind of important here. I drifted (for lack of a better term, this was 1986 after all) the car into the oncoming lane (luckily the car coming in the other direction saw me and stopped), then spun the car into the curb of my travel lane, backwards, knocking the rearend out of alignment. The driver who stopped short so I didn’t hit her? Screamed at me for my wreckless driving.

    Its been uphill ever since.

  • avatar

    I guess in looking back, I realize I must have been heavily influenced by TV and Movie Driving. My first real car was a 1970 Dodge Dart with a 225 slant six. I did my best to kill that 225 and couldn’t (valve float is a wonderful rev limiter). Anyway I tried to pull off a Rockford on a narrow street and ended up backing up the curb instead of completing the cool slide maneuver.

    Another time I was driving mom’s 73 Chrysler Newport (air cleaner lid flipped over) and decided that it would be a good idea to jump the railroad tracks a’la Dukes of Hazard. I hit the upside at about 40mph and cleared the tracks. On the landing, gravity got involved and during the severe bottoming of the front end, tore out the transmission cooler lines from the radiator. A couple blocks later the Newport would no longer motivate. I “repaired” the lines with some fuel hose that lasted until the next week when dad was towing the boat to the lake!

  • avatar

    Back in the stone ages, say 1975. January. Near Buffalo NY. Ice Covered roads. Late for work.

    No problem. I had a 74 Civic – true the car was the size of gnat – but it had FWD, and studded snow tires which were legal in those days.

    Screaming along a 2 lane at about 65; no problem.
    Came to where the Interstate passed overhead with exits on either side. 2 lane widens to 4 lanes at the exits for about 1/4 mile. Giant, rusted Chevy Caprice slides down the exit ramp, across both lanes going my way, and stops, nose against the concrete divider.

    1. I say @#$%@%$!
    2. I hit the brakes. Remember that ice? Oh yeah. I don’t slow down a bit.
    3. The car turns sideways, and now I’m travelling 65 mph towards the Caprice, but looking at it through the driver’s door window. Lovely.
    4. Repeat @#$%@%$!
    5. Having tried the brakes, there’s only one other control available – the gas. I punch it, and turn the wheel left.
    6. The car swings the other way! – I’m still going down the highway sideways but now I’m looking out the passenger’s window!
    7. I slide past the tail of the caprice sideways, but miss it nicely.
    8. I’m now past the caprice, but the road is turning into two lanes again and I’m running out of room. Hey! It worked once! I floor it again. and turn the wheel right.
    9. The car slides back again so I’m looking out the driver’s window again, so I stay on it, and turn the wheel back the other way. Fishtailing vigourously, I finally get it straightened on and fly on down the highway away from the amazed Caprice driver, just like I’d meant to do the whole thing. Nice, neat, clean…. and still doing 65.
    10. A mile or so down the road (out of sight of the Caprice), I stop the car on the berm, lean the seat waaaaay back, and smoke a cigarette with shaking hands. The Hell with being late for work…!

  • avatar

    Not MY first dumb move, but we crammed 5 people into my friend’s 1984 Ranger (stick shift). I opted to lay down in the bed (can’t let the cops see you, right?) while the driver and three girls were up front. Every time he shifted into second or fourth, things got a bit personal for the passenger beside him.

    I on the other hand, tested the limits of my 1991 MR2’s aggressive rear-end geometry through a narrow turn. I almost killed myself, my passenger, and an oncoming 5-series. Luckily, after making it through the turn, and drifting into the other lane toward the beemer, I tweaked the car back over as hard as I could, which resulted in the rear-end facing forward. We flew backwards for Lord knows how long and off the side of the road.

    Result: A blown tire and a wiser driver.

  • avatar

    BobJava’s post reminds me of one of mine (another in the “teenagers and GM” category.) 7 (or possibly 8) people in a 1986 Camaro. Bear in mind that the back seat could barely seat *one* functionally, but I think we had 2 up front, 3 in the back seat, and 2-3 in the (open) hatch. Not driving especially fast, but still… in retrospect I wonder what on Earth I was thinking I would say if a cop pulled us over, which would seem a fairly likely result of a cop seeing us.

  • avatar

    AND ANOTHER in the “teenagers and GM” category… 8 people in a 1983 Chevette.
    We were all 22 or older and in college, but there were 2 in the front passenger seat and 5 in the rear. The car was bumping along on its fully compressed springs and we looked like a clown car when we stopped at the Dallas hotel and piled out. I’m sure we would have been ticketed if a cop had spotted us, good thing it was only for a three mile trip within the downtown area.

  • avatar

    Senior year in high school; took a snow day (i.e. skipped school to go sledding). At about 3 pm, my friends and I headed back to school to pick up our homework. I was driving a 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon (this was in 93). Leaving school I happened to catch a snowbank with the front bumper spraying some snow all over the windshield. I thought it was great and decided to turn around to do it again. Big mistake. This time the wheel caught the snow and we drove up into the bank, getting stuck a couple of feet off the ground stuck in the snowbank. My 5 friends and I all got out and spent the next 20 minutes pushing and pulling the damn thing until we finally got it back on solid ground. Learned a good lesson that day. Unfortunately I can’t remember what it was. It’s a good story though.

  • avatar

    First or worst?

    Equation –

    Reckless teenager + mom’s 1970 Maverick + two sets of double railroad tracks about 30 feet apart + 85 MPH = entire exhaust system and rear bumper left on the street

    Second equation –

    2 reckless teenagers + some alcohol + 1961 Morris Oxford saloon + empty field + youthful bravado / taking said Oxford for a 4WD-type outing in said field + rocks and potholes = leaf springs snapped in half and front seat broken off of it’s moorings and a couple of concussions and lacerations (apparently God looks out for most drunk teenage boys)

    Worst? 1971 Impala 400 CID on the highway in a blizzard at 90 MPH – swerved to avoid a slow moving truck and hit the ditch and buried the car so deep in the snow that I actually had to be dug out of the car. Thank God the truck driver saw it happen, otherwise my stupid teenager corpse would have been found in the spring melt.

  • avatar

    For me it was my nasty 46 Ford six-cylinder four-door sedan. I thought I’d try a controlled drift on a frosty road. Half a second later the front hit the bank and my chin hit the steering wheel. Got out, slammed the door, and bummed a ride into town to call my folks for a ride. After I got done phoning I realized I wasn’t wearing my glasses. Yes, sure enough, I’d slammed the car door on them.

  • avatar

    My high school car was a 4-banger 1982 Mustang. Today in retrospect I’m appalled Ford ever made a low-powered 4-cyl Mustang of course, but as a kid it was great.

    Back then I was thin and had hair and girls liked me, and on one or two occasions we did the clown car act and I’d pack no less than 11 girls into my car for a trip to McDonalds. I could hardly brake the car to a stop it was so heavy. Nothing went amiss, but can you imagine if I had got them all killed in a wreck? I would’ve been sued for a billion dollars and sent to the chair. 25 years later, I feel faint whenever I think of that.

  • avatar

    I missed the “first” in the title…I guess my FIRST stupid thing was driving too young. My parents went to a conference leaving me home alone at age 12 for 10 glorious days. Gramma came to bring decent food every couple of days. Neighbors were supposed to keep an eye on me. Anyway, the second day, a package came for my dad, and when he called later in the day, I let him know. It was an exhaust system for our ’75 Civic. He told me to put it on. (I was already a decent mech at this point helping him on the weekends keepin our jalopies running) It was 10 degrees out and the ground covered in snow and ice. Under the car was the only dry area, so it wasn’t too awful. It was a very simple job and took me about an hour. (rusty bolts). Anyhoo, I decided to start the car just to make sure “everything worked”. Then I got curious. I had watched my dad drive a million times, and I was proficient in go-karts and the like, so, I slipped it into gear. Went forward a little. Backward a little. Before I knew it, I was driving around the neighborhood like I owned it, and even picked up a friend on the next block. We went up to the HS near us which had a mini F1-like road around it and zoomed around the rest of the afternoon. Took it out at least once a day the rest of the week. Parents come home. Dad happy with work. At supper table that night : “so, did you have a nice week? Anything to tell us” “nope” Mom gets a look on her face…blurts out “we know you took the car out. What were you thinking. DO you know how much trouble you are in MISTER” Dad silent. Grounded for I don’t know how long by mother. Dad had no say in that. Watching TV after dinner. Mom in kitchen. Dad is beaming with pride I learned how to drive stick all by myself. 1980 equivalent of a high five, and a “don’t tell mom”. Dad let me drive all the time after that, especially when he wanted to get tanked… would NEVER happen today.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    I taught myself to drive in a 53Ford I paid 5 bucks for. The clutch was shot, so I couldnt really get into much trouble. When the car died, I replaced with a 53 New Yorker, a 331 Hemi. It drove well with just one minor flaw. No brakes . It had a driveshaft mounted E brake that would lock both wheels. I was 13 and with my 10 yr old brother ,we would cruise when my parents went to choir practice. Never got caught.

  • avatar

    I pulled a Scandinavian left-foot braking flick with a front wheel drive Acura on a gravel road. Problem was the thing was uncontrollable once it got sideways (something I learned after that experience, and some more time in icy parking lots). Rather than the graceful slide I envisioned, the car slithered in a none-too-comforting S, ending up on the wrong side of the road, perpendicular to the lane, with the trunk hanging over the ditch and the rear wheels on the shoulder. That was as close as I ever came to crashing. And I never screwed around with that car again.

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