By on November 27, 2010

If you are active in the auto media, design community, or Ohio’s “foodie” clique, you may know Carl Acampado, the famous Rogue Baker. He’s well-known for his boutique cookies, but he’s also a very competent chef — enough so that I asked him to cater my Wednesday night holiday party.

After preparing a variety of dishes including a splendid steak for yours truly, Carl fired up his mint-condition 1984 Audi Coupe GT to run some cookies to another client. He never came back; if you look at the photo above, you can guess why.

The good news is that he stepped out of the car without a single scratch. To find out how, click the jump.

Carl’s account of the incident:

Last night, around 10:30pm, I was making the last 2 deliveries, on 71 N merging onto 270 E. My car’s rear end swung out unexpectedly, and I collided, at full speed, into the right side barrier wall. Then the car proceeded to bounce off, and finally stopped in the far left high speed lane. For any of you driving on 270 at that time, and wondered what was going on? Sorry. Yes, that was me on a stretcher that was holding up traffic. It’s okay, though. Well, I’m alive, for one. And I all I have to show for it is a bruised rib and thumb…and a totaled car. Sad Panda. The doctors and nurses at St. Ann’s Hospital told me I would feel like an 18-wheeler hit me today. I liken in more to a double decker bus…crashing into us. But like I said, I’m okay, no heavenly dying here. [see what i did there?]

As for deliveries for Saturday, those will have be canceled. I’m sorry for the inconvenience. Regarding future deliveries, let me brainstorm after I stop aching…I’m sure I’ll come up with something. ;)

It’s a common refrain at TTAC that older cars simply aren’t safe enough to drive on public roads… and the definition of “older” varies from “Ford Model A” to “2009 Grand Marquis” to suit the particular rhetorical needs of the poster at the particular time of the post. They often have a point: cars keep getting safer. Still, I think this story shows that a well-engineered car of any vintage can often see out a high-speed crash without killing its driver, or even injuring him much.

If you’re on Twitter, send Carl a word of support… and if you’re in the Midwest, inquire about the “I’m Not A Snickerdoodle!” cookie. You won’t regret it.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

82 Comments on “Was This Crash Survivable?...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Carl fired up his mint-condition 1984 Audi Coupe GT to run some cookies to another client.
     
    Wow a 1984 Audi was still running!
     
    Sorry Jack, just working the meme from the B&B that Audis are crap.
     
    It’s a common refrain at TTAC that older cars simply aren’t safe enough to drive on public roads…

     
    Some of the B&B will try to run me up a flagpole but I’m comfortable now with any car made after the feds made shoulder-belts mandatory in 1968.  (As long as I’m a front seat passenger.)

    • 0 avatar
      0menu0

      “Some of the B&B will try to run me up a flagpole but I’m comfortable now with any car made after the feds made shoulder-belts mandatory in 1968.  (As long as I’m a front seat passenger.)”
       
      I feel the same way

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      I don’t know if I’d care to venture into traffic in a VW Beetle with shoulder belts.
       
      Now, if we’re talking a BMW Bavaria or a Mercedes 280SEL 4.5 or an Oldsmobile Toronado (all from the late 60’s or early 70’s) I’d gladly drive one in modern traffic on a daily basis. Acceleration (especially in the Toronado or a Bavaria with a manual box) could easily keep up with modern traffic and brakes and handling should be very decent (at least in the two German cars – IIRC the Toro had a reputation for being a little much for its braking system).

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Yeah Olds was a little late to the party on disc brakes for the Toro.  Honestly there are some members of the B&B who want to call child protective services if you try to put your kid in a 1992 Toronado let alone a 1972 Toronado. 

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “Honestly there are some members of the B&B who want to call child protective services if you try to put your kid in a 1992 Toronado let alone a 1972 Toronado. ”

      And the sad thing is that they probably rode around in vehicles inferior in safety to the ’72 Toronado.

      I got a ride in more than one VW Vanagon before I was 10 (born in 1981). A ’72 Toronado would be a fortress of safety compared to one of those.

      Some of the B&B forget that they rode around in patently unsafe vehicles as children and survived.

    • 0 avatar

      Off subject by now, but I had a 1980 Toro with the FE3 handling package and, although I never raced against my 1978 5 Series and I’m sure it would have lost, its comparative handling really wasn’t that far off of the bimmer. Don’t flame me – just my personal experience.
      BTW I had a GT and def would have (and did) trusted it with my undeserving idiotic hoonastic life.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      That was one of the reasons why I got a 73-77 Chevelle, instead of the much much more popular earlier Chevelles. I’ve already got most of the modern car safety features already baked in to the platform. Disc brakes, integrated shoulder belts up front and lap belts in the other 4 positions, rudimentary crumple zones, side impact door beams, a double roof in case it turns turtle, those massive 5 mph bumpers. great head lights, and a reasonably competent chassis. Style-wise it’s a mixed bag, but I’ve seen a few in actual wrecks over the years and was amazed at how well they handled it. Plus even with the stonkin’ 145 hp 305 V8 it still has plenty of oomph for traffic, 0-60 comes up in about 10 seconds, so while slow, it’s actually faster than my Explorer, and about on average with most of the econoboxes.
       
      My friends 71 Chevelle just has lap belts (convertible) for the 3 front seat passengers, and I feel uncomfortable in that thing at speeds over 60. Especially with drum brakes in traffic. I’m convinced if we were to get into a wreck in that thing, it’ll just fold up like a tin-can. as there is no strength in the body tub, it’s all in the frame.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Oh my, flashbacks to the _Ashes to Ashes_ finale :p
      (and I feel safe as houses in my 300SDL, thing is the size and shape of a bank vault..)

  • avatar
    JimC

    The hood is obscuring most of the windshield, but it looks like little or no cracks in the windshield- that is a good sign.  The passenger compartment looks like it bent a lot (jaws of life on that B pillar?) but didn’t completely cave in… which is probably about what Audi intended when they designed it 30+ years ago.
     
    Volvos and Mercedes of similar vintage also perform well in crashes…
     
    Glad to read that the baker and his sense of humor both survived- intact.

  • avatar
    BrunoSaccoBenz

    Wow, what a close scrape!  He’s going to be sore for a while.  A few years ago I had a high speed side impact accident on the driver’s side of my ’91 190E and I walked away from that without a scratch.  The next day I could hardly walk from every joint being in pain.  No side airbags back then, just a really well engineered structure.  Of course the car was totaled.

  • avatar
    Steve65

    Hmmmm. I need some parts for my not so mint 86 Coupe Gt…
     
    Glad to see he’s ok, and that the structure of the car seems to be pretty stout.

    • 0 avatar
      couper

      autobahn tough when the autobahn was less restricted. btw, to the left of the blue box is my 84. came with the cajun paint job [blackened red] ; soon to be restored to proper Tornado Red.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    The neighborhood drug dealer drove one of these things… and managed to crash it 12 times in a 2 year period.
    One of my most indelible memories is said douhebag driving the Audi at a 90 mph clip on the shoulder while coming back from the Jersey shore. Then he takes a turn about 35 mph too fast at the exit.
    He almost became a statistic on a government chart.  We were childhood friends. But after that experience I decided not to know him for the rest of my life.
    What do his parents do? They give him a 1970’s VW Beetle which he invariably totals out while spending the next six years living at home. Keep in mind this is the mid 1990’s where all you needed to get a menial job was a pulse and the ability to fog a mirror underneath your nose.
     
     

  • avatar
    ajla

    It’s a common refrain at TTAC that older cars simply aren’t safe enough to drive on public roads…
     
    Most of this talk comes from a hypothetical situation where Elroy annihilates you in his Tundra CrewMax of Death- not a solo crash into a barrier wall.

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      +1, the frame and crumple zone of a 1980s car (even a well-engineered 80s car like an Audi or Volvo) will not perform well against the structure of, say, a newer Camry or Optima.  Frames on newer vehicles are much more robust.

    • 0 avatar
      Disaster

      Yes, bouncing off a barrier is a tough test, but not as tough as a head on collision.  He probably wouldn’t have been so lucky if he experienced and offset frontal collision with a lowly Honda Fit.

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    A perfect example of why stability control and ABS are so useful, and will soon be required (as long as they can be turned off). What made the a$$ end come around? Tires a little thin? Oil on the road? I have experienced both, and still have a strong urge to grab a Pampers when I think about it. Say what you will, but the Germans have the whole “controlled crush factor, while leaving the cabin intact” thing down pat.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    I feel completely safe in my old Merkur Scorpio on the rare occasions that I drive it. No airbags, but it does have ABS and a really stout feeling structure. I’m sure I’ll get pilloried for this, but I’ve always felt that front airbags aren’t all that critical if you wear your belts and sit a reasonable distance from the steering wheel. Side airbags are another matter as they can certainly be useful in the right situation.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Don’t be fooled … an oblique-angle impact after speed is bled-off is not the same thing as a full- or offset-frontal crash.

    Wheeljack, the side-bags are great for keeping one’s noggins off the side glass, or even worse, the front-bumper of the other vehicle…

  • avatar
    Ironghost

    Ouch.  Too bad about that car.  Better still he’s alive to make more cookies.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    And this is the reason I’d rather be in a vehicle crash in a late 80’s Mercedes W126 S-class (dad used to own one) than any modern Korean mid-size sedan. The Benz was designed with engineering that said “To hell with price points, let’s make the best sedan in the world”.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      The W126 sedans were the last vehicles MB made that impressed me. They were built to a standard, not a price point.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Sam,
       
      My money says a 2011 Sonata will tear through a 1987 420SEL like a Renault Modus through a Volvo 940.
       

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      JMO,
       
      I’ll take those odds. Besides, I don’t doubt that Fifth Gear cut out some of the Volvo’s structure to make some more compelling television (the airbags, which would have been standard on a UK-market 940 didn’t deploy. Hmm).
       
      It would have been a much more boring sequence if the Volvo had just held up when the French merde-box hit it (as they do in the real world, which is why Volvo has had a reputation for safe cars for decades).
       
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Sam,
       
      Seriously?  So, you totally discount that significant strides have been made in metallurgy and finite element analysis in the past 20 or 30 years?  Your explanation is the the show was rigged?

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Believe it or not, auto safety “issues” have been manufactured before. In the early 1990s, NBC decided to try to show that the gas tanks of certain GM pickup trucks would explode in moderate speed impacts. In reality:
      “Last week, in a devastating press conference, GM showed that the conflagration was rigged, its causes misattributed, its severity overstated and other facts distorted. Two crucial errors: NBC said the truck’s gas tank had ruptured, yet an X ray showed it hadn’t; NBC consultants set off explosive miniature rockets beneath the truck split seconds before the crash — yet no one told the viewers.”

      Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,977814,00.html#ixzz16Y3tR0rG
       
      http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,977814,00.html
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Sam,
       
      Believe it or not, auto safety “issues” have been manufactured before.

      So, to you, that’s a more likely explanation than significant strides having been made in automobile engineering in the past 30 years?

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      You don’t sound like a car enthusiast.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      You don’t sound like a car enthusiast.

      Why, because I think cars are better now than they were 30 years ago?  Dude, 30 years ago was 1980!  Cars in 1980 sucked.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Thanks for making my point. I couldn’t have said it better.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Cars in 1980 had undeniable purity, character and a link back to the early days … but despite all that, those cars were not clean, efficient, or safe…

      If I had to crash in my 1969 XR-7, or my 2004 Smart ForTwo, I’d take the Smart Car…

    • 0 avatar
      Disaster

      “a 2011 Sonata will tear through a 1987 420SEL like a Renault Modus through a Volvo 940.”

      Agreed….but it would probably turn out even worse for the 420SEL driver.  The Sonata is a heavy car with a very stiff chassis.

  • avatar
    Boff

    LOL awesome Smiths reference. Glad your friend is OK.

  • avatar
    StevenJJ

    Having reviewed all the evidence I say ‘yes’, it was survivable.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    A well engineered car is key. As a previous poster said, the Germans know a thing or two about good engineering. Do it again with a similar vintage domestic, Mustang perhaps, and I wouldn’t be so sanguine about the outcome.

    Hyperbole is one thing, but at least raised standards does raise all boats. A good thing. I’ve been my own crash test dummy and it’s unfun. Walking away without a scratch; immensely satisfying.

    • 0 avatar

      “and I wouldn’t be so sanguine about the outcome.”
       
      I hear you. And that driver would probably become the newest citizen of Ex-Sanguine-Nation. :P
       
      Ok, Blunt-Force Trauma would probably do it, but there was a pun to be had in there, dammit!

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Driving to Coldwater, MI at  3 AM on Thanksgiving morning to rescue a friend in need, I came across an accident on US 131 near Martin, MI. The car was small and red. I couldn’t tell what kind of car for sure, all I saw was most of the frontal sheetmetal wadded up around the front wheels which were pushed back into the passenger compartment. It looks like the car may have taken the bridge abutment it was near at full speed (70 MPH in Michigan). There were many, many floodlights, ambulances and police cars nearby, they had closed the freeway at the point of the accident and had the traffic (as it was) go to the on and off ramps to continue traffic flowing.

    I thought about similar crashes in the 30+ years that I’ve been driving; I lost some of my high school friends and later, college friends due to accidents like the one I saw Thursday morning. I thought back to the last serious accident I was in 18 years ago, it was a slow speed accident, but I still suffered a crushed disc and fractured bones. I think back to my own children’s experiences with driving and realize that none of their circle of friends have died driving. We’ve lost more of them in Iraq. The safety measures work, they are worth the money and effort put into them.

    I hope the folks in that crash I saw Thursday survived. I don’t know what became of them.

    Your friend is very lucky to have survived that crash with his body and sense of humor intact.

  • avatar
    Alexdi

    Safe is a threshold of risk, not a definitive standard. I like my side airbags and high-strength steel. Maybe you do too? What car would you put your children in?

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      If my wife and I had children, I’d feel fine about them riding in:
      Any W116, W123, W124, or W126 Benz in good repair.
      Any Volvo 240 in good repair.
      Any Saab 900 in good repair.
      Any BMW E12, E24, E28, or E30 in good repair.
      The list could go on, but you get the idea. European “premium cars” of the 1970s and 1980s are pretty safe.
       
      It’s always amusing when people invoke the “think of the children!” argument. I was born in 1981 and rode around in various American (mainly AMC and later, Mopar) and European cars (Volvo, Saab, Mercedes) during the first 10 years of my life. Somehow, I survived without the rear facing child seat the size of a Fiat 500 that infants get crammed into in modern days. My wife grew up under similar circumstances and rode around in an XJ Cherokee when she was young (sans gigantic child seat).
       
      Hell, my parents survived childhoods of no seatbelts and running around in the back seats of their parents’ Buicks and Fords.
       
      I don’t want to say that we’re turning into a world of safety-obsessed wimps, but…

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Any Benz, BMW, or Volvo made after 1970 that’s in good shape.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Sam,
       
      Then how do you explain the catastrophic failure of the 940?
       

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      JMO,
       
      That TV program was clearly rigged (read the YouTube comments below the video). The Volvo didn’t have an engine in it, nor did the airbags go off.

    • 0 avatar
      Alexdi

      Yes, clearly. You didn’t like the result; ipso facto, the test must be flawed. Additional hilarity for citing to Youtube comments as an authority.

      New cars are simply better. Choosing an old one is an intentional snub to safety that smacks of macho contrarianism. You can justify the choice, but don’t pretend there isn’t one.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      read the YouTube comments below the video

      Really?  Wow….

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Because anything shown on television must be true, especially when it comes to exposing auto safety “issues”.
       
      http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,977814,00.html
       
      Furthermore, 1990s Volvos still get top safety ratings by current IIHS standards, which adds to the conclusion that this video was probably staged.
       
      http://www.iihs.org/ratings/rating.aspx?id=36

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Why is it so hard for you to believe that huge advances into automobile technology have been made in the past 30 years?   I mean if a Honda Odyssey can blow the doors of an Jaguar XKE or Porsche 356 at the track – is it so hard to believe that a 2011 Hyundai is safer than a 1970’s designed Mercedes?
       
      http://grassrootsmotorsports.com/articles/soccer-moms-revenge/

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Your video comparison was between a 1990s Volvo and a new subcompact car.
       
      I don’t doubt that a brand new Mercedes is safer than a 20 year old one. Likewise, I don’t doubt that a brand new Hyundai is safer than a 20 year old one.
       

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      I don’t doubt that a brand new Mercedes is safer than a 20 year old one. Likewise, I don’t doubt that a brand new Hyundai is safer than a 20 year old one.
      So, you’ll agree that a ’11 Sonata Turbo is faster 0-60 than a 450SEL 6.9 or a ’89 560SEL but you won’t also admit that it’s safer?

    • 0 avatar
      Alexdi

      Because anything shown on television must be true, especially when it comes to exposing auto safety “issues”

      What straw man nonsense is this? Insinuation and speculation are no argument. The result is valid unless you show otherwise.

      Furthermore, 1990s Volvos still get top safety ratings by current IIHS standards, which adds to the conclusion that this video was probably staged.

      No! IIHS uses fixed barriers. The car only has to dissipate its own energy. When the collision is with an oncoming vehicle, the stiffer vehicle transmits a disproportionate amount of energy to the other. That’s also why, all else equal, a larger and heavier vehicle will trounce a smaller one even if they have the same rating. The Volvo in this case had to dissipate its own energy AND that of the oncoming car. It’s no surprise it performed poorly.

    • 0 avatar
      Garak

      May I point you to this video, made by the Swedes:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0NZwg25qPA
       
      And the end results studied scientifically, not by some “i guess these guys got hurt worse, eh” -journalists:
      http://www.folksam.se/testergodarad/krockfilmer/krocktest/hurklaradesigforarna
       
      You should remember that when EuroNCAP-tests started, almost all cars got 1,5 or 2 stars, even BMWs and Saabs. Only Volvo managed to get 4 stars in their brand-new S40, with its front and side airbags and seatbelt pretensioners. 940’s design dates back to 1982, a time when wearing seat belts was optional in many parts of the world, and “crash safety” was pretty much an abstract term.

    • 0 avatar
      Geeky1

      “Safe” is absolutely a threshold of risk.
       
      My current DD is an ’87 300D; I’m completely comfortable with the safety level of that car. If I recall correctly, the W124 was the first production car to make extensive use of high strength steel in its construction… It’s undeniably still less safe in most crashes than most-indeed, likely all-new cars (Tata Nano excepted) but I don’t think the difference is necessarily significant in the large majority of accidents; I would expect that a wreck in a W124 would leave you somewhat more battered and bruised than the same wreck in a W212 would, but I believe that any accident that’s not survivable in a 124 is unlikely to be survivable in a W212, either. People can and have walked away from accidents at triple digit speeds in Mercedes vehicles designed in the 70s and 80s.
       
      Take a look at these two videos of 126 crashes at freeway speeds:

      (fast forward to 1:18)

       
      In the first video, the passenger cell is completely intact. In the second, with an offset frontal impact at speeds over 60mph (which would make it tougher than the current NCAP standards, I *think*), the A pillar buckled and the passenger cell started to crush, but everyone survived. If my recollection about high strength steel is correct, a 124 would have performed better still. I’ve seen 126s with the entire trunk crushed up to the gas tank under the rear window; the doors still opened and shut normally, the panel gaps on the doors were absolutely correct and the rear glass was totally intact.
       
      Sure, a new Sonata or whatever might very well do better, but those results are hardly inadequate by my standards. With that in mind, I’d be comfortable DDing any Mercedes back to the W116/W123 (and similar vintages of BMW and Porsche)-although I’d prefer a W124/126-or most Japanese/American cars made after the mid 90s.

  • avatar
    itsgotvtakyo

    I once sent a 94 integra through some forestry and walked away with nary a scratch on me. Obviously the physics of every crash are different but, in a car with no side impact air bags of any sort, I was obviously thrilled that an estimated 60 mph crash event to the driver side a-pillar left me no worse for wear. As much as I think it was just dumb luck and maybe someone up above looking out for us misfits and knuckleheads I also think I owe an engineer or two at Honda a debt they’ll never be able to collect on. I was fortunate to just lose a car and not my life.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      My 93 Integra gave it’s all in an offset frontal. I got a seatbelt bruise and scuffed palms.  Last action I took was rolling my thumbs out.  Tend to keep them up now.  The hatch wouldn’t close.  The roof was creased.  I got a bruise from the seatbelt.  I bought a 96 Integra.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Jack,
     
    Are you trying to argue, based on the pics provided, that the forces encountered in the accident we’re anything more than moderate?  Seriously, there was almost no forced directed at the driver it would seem to be mostly scrubbing of speed.

    Perhaps someone on TTAC who’s done some work on crash investigations can give us an estimate on the forces encountered.
     
     

  • avatar
    michaelfrankie

    Oldie but a goodie… crash test with a modern Malibu and a 59′ Bel Air.
     
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJrXViFfMGk
     

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      that test illustrated what a bad design the X frame of the 58-62 GM cars was in a collision. GM knew it, which is why they went back to the perimeter frame.
       
      Ford in 1956 built a safety package for their cars, hardly anyone bought it at the time. Safety in the 50s and 60s was not high on peoples lists for cars.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Looking at that car, it seems that the vast majority of the crash energy was dissapated by the ends of the car while it was moving sideways.  I’d say that part of the reason the rear stepped out is the high velocity it entered the curve with.  This car didn’t decelerate to zero in two seconds, that’s for sure.  Had this been a frontal crash into a fixed object, the outcome would likely had been very different.  A survivable one; even the Mustang mentioned above would have spared the driver.
     
    A modern car, striking a fixed object, would handily outperform this one, period.  Can’t imagine anybody arguing otherwise.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      A modern car, striking a fixed object, would handily outperform this one, period.  Can’t imagine anybody arguing otherwise.

      I agree, cars are significantly better then they used to be.  I just can’t understand why so many people insist on arguing that they aren’t.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      I have no doubt that new cars are safer than old cars. I know if I get in a collision in my 1977 Chevelle that I expect to come out the loser against most newer cars.
       
      then again, I got rear-ended in my 1995 Explorer a couple months ago by a last-gen Accord, at 15 mph or so, I wound up having to put a new bumper on the thing, the Accord driver had a hole in her bumper from my tailpipe, a neat little semi-circle.

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    I had 1960’s daily drivers as recently as about 1990, and mid 70’s daily drivers as recently as 2001. I’m probably personally willing to drive daily almost anything from 1968 on except for tiny microcars and tinny early Japanese.  The reason the simple lap belt had such an impact on crash survival rates was that with no belts you were sure to get tossed out of the car.  For the convincer, see

     .  The significance of 1968 is that was, I think, when energy absorbing or collapsible steering columns became standard.  Some older cars have decent passenger compartment integrity in a crash but the steering wheel still gets pushed back.

  • avatar

    I’ve owned a Coupe GT, and crashed it at high speed when a Chevy Celebrity pulled out in front of me at highway speed. The impact sent the sunroof into her back window as it popped otu of the tracks.

    I walked out of the wreck with only scratches. That said, dont’ want to do it again.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    Yes, but what about the cookies?

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    It looks like he got lucky, a sideways crash like that almost always means hitting the head on the side window or B-post .(good thing he was not driving a sedan) I belive the wide area that dissipated the force, and the light weight of the car (unless it’s a Quattro?) saved him.
    When it comes to the silly discussion about safety in modern cars, I think there are a lot of things people forget. First of all there’s a big difference in crashing into a wall or tree than hitting another car head on. And secondly, it’s not the size of the two cars that matter, it’s the mass (IE Weight) A new Sonata is probably not much lighter than a 70’s Merc S-class, and unlike the merc it is tested for an offset frontal collision, most old cars are not, and will collapse like that Volvo 940 if they aren’t allowed to spread the full force of the collision over the whole front end. So, aim for other old cars, walls , or at least try to hit dead on, not offset, if you crash with your old car.
    And if you hit a stationary object like a wall, the weight of the vehicle you are driving will be caclulated with your speed to get the force of the crash, so the lighter your car is, the better the outcome will be. (in a Merc S-class, after you hit a wall there’s still 3000 pounds of steel behind you trying to decelerate… In a Citroen 2CV theres maybe 400 pounds of steel behind you…)
    And american pickups aren’t half as dangerous to crash in as they seem by test standards.Unless you hit a wall. They move through other cars like an icebreaker, but hit a wall and the huge masses of steel behind you (and any payload) will do their best to crush you. But if you watch the crash test videos where they have an offset collision, most really huge cars crush the tiny aluminum block meant to simulate a meeting car, and after that they are effectively crashing into a concrete wall, and that’s hardly fair.

  • avatar
    adehus

    I’m also, I suppose, what you’d call a member of the central Ohio ‘foodie’ community, and know Carl and his Audi through his business. Always thought that one of the perks of receiving deliveries was talking with him and checking out that Coupe GT. Jack isn’t exaggerating when he says it was *mint*.
    Very glad to hear that Carl came out relatively unscathed, hope he’s back up and running (ideally in an equally cool ride) soon!
     
     

  • avatar
    bunkie

    I’m sure this was an interesting article. However, for some reason, I couldn’t parse the notion that “foodie” and Ohio could possibly intersect. My five years in Columbus were a sort of culinary black hole experience-wise.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    And secondly, it’s not the size of the two cars that matter, it’s the mass (IE Weight) A new Sonata is probably not much lighter than a 70′s Merc S-class

    And if you hit a stationary object like a wall, the weight of the vehicle you are driving will be caclulated with your speed to get the force of the crash, so the lighter your car is, the better the outcome will be.
     
    I would add that more important that simple mass is the disparity between the mass or the two vehicles and the difference in ride heights. All these factors come into play.  “Just make it heavier” does not make it safer.  Also, the total energy of the car is the mass times the velocity squared, making the speed the overwhelming contributor to the total energy to be dissipated as the velocity increases.  That is why in single vehicle crashes, the design of the vehicle plays the biggest part in survivability.   Pickups use their mass to their advantage, as you pointed out, when they mow over the lower bumper height of the car in front of them.  They don’t fare as well when they strike a tree, that’s for sure.
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      I agree completely, I just figured people certainly won’t be driving any slower just because they have a bigger car. And we seem to agree with the pickups, i forgot to mention that the height difference is of great importance, even a difference of only few inches on identical cars (fully laden vs empty) can have catastrophic results, and as I said, they don’t do well when they hit a stationary object (that is capable of holding up) One thing I forgot to mention is the way cars are built today versus the past. Modern cars are usually have more (or smarter placed) spotwelds, and the different parts share the energy of a hit in a much greater way then old cars, which is very apparent in both the Impala vs Monte crash, and the Volvo vs Renault test. On the old cars the passenger side of the car gets very little damage, while in the newer cars they whole front end shares the force. And I guess transversely mounted engines makes for a better barrier than a loosely mounted iron block that wants to travel into the passenger compartment.

  • avatar

    hey guys, it’s me, the car-crashing cookie guy. :)
    i just wanted to address some questions that some of the guys here had regarding the accident. perhaps it was poor wording, but yes, this was different than a straight head-on collision, as you can see from the damage. as i was driving, i was taking a right-handed on ramp onto the highway from another highway, very small radius of curvature. the driver’s side rear kicked out, which i guess was due to ice; it had been drizzling on and off w/low temps that evening. [after speaking with the police, apparently 3 other vehicles right after me had similar accidents; an officer i spoke with said that particular section of road ices up quickly, and they’re always pushing for more de-icer/ice melter applications, even when it seems “fine”.]
    so as the rear came around, i counter-steered; if i was going to hit the wall [and i was very close to it after counter-steering], i wanted the passenger side of the car to take the grunt of the impact, and maybe i can get the side of the car parallel to the wall, just scrape it up to come to a stop. now this is where it gets foggy, as it happened so fast, i can only reconstruct in my head what happened by looking at the damage and what i remember. being a physicist, i’ve been running through the kinematics and forces in my head to try to understand since it happened, but it’s much harder when you’re actually part of this non-inertial frame of reference. ;) from the info that i have from what i felt/what the car looked like, it seems that as i was close to the right side wall, the passenger front corner of my car grabbed the wall, creating a sort of pivot point, which, in combination with my forward momentum, allowed the car to rotate, forcing the driver’s side front into the wall, totally crushing it against the wall. the car then may have bounced off from the impact [backwards?], and the car ended up stopping in the high speed lane, basically blocking the whole lane. the door was ripped off/barely held on by the hinges, and i remember my head whipping to the left, and feeling my glasses fly out the now open car door when the car came to rest.
    i was honestly unaware of the extent of the damage to the car, as i thought it couldn’t be that bad, since i felt fine. i unbuckled my seat belt, and was ready to step out to try to find my glasses when a group of people ran to my car, one of them being a nurse who immobilized my head & neck, and urged me to stay seated. the interior of the car seemed okay, and i was seated in the exact same position in which i was driving. later inspection of the wreck revealed the steering column was broken, and the windshield was smashed; passenger A-pillar seemed to have the most damage, with the glass popping out of the frame in that corner. and yes, they did cut me out with the jaws of life, cutting the driver’s b-pillar. the emergency crews wanted to pull me out of the car horizontally, because they were afraid that i might have leg or spinal injuries.
    as i said, being a physicist, i’ve basically been running through this accident scenario in my head since…well, since i was on a stretcher in the ambulance. and the ever present “shoulda coulda woulda” thoughts have been bouncing around in the ol’ noggin. but i think i’m finally getting to the point of finally saying “hey, does it really matter? at least you’re still around and well enough to type this response.”
    thanks to Jack, and all you guys for your concern and well-wishes. i really do appreciate it. if you have any other questions or just want to talk, you can find me on my personal Twitter account here. and if you interested, check out Rogue Bakery on Facebook or Twitter.

    • 0 avatar
      couper

      hey Carl – thanks for sharing here because I don’t use the social networks. so CONGRATULATIONS. `any wreck you can walk away from…’ well done. glad you’re mostly able to recall the tale. I couldn’t expand the pic to read the tire but, I can relate to wide skins and wet[ice] roads. not so glad to extend my sympathies for the Coupe…

    • 0 avatar
      dculberson

      I’m in Columbus as well, and driving on Thursday morning I saw no fewer than seven accidents in a 15 minute drive.  One of them happened behind me in a similar manner to yours – the car spun 180 degrees and into a guard rail.  The difference was this was on a straight section of 670 instead of a ramp.  I have no idea what was going on Wed/Thur, but it was like something out of a post-apocalyptic movie.

  • avatar
    zznalg

    In 1983 I got broadsided in my 1982 Subaru hatchback by a 1983 Audi (I don’t remember which model). The Audi hit my passenger’s side door. There was a front seat passenger. My car flipped over and settled on it’s back. I was only driving about 10 mph when the impact occurred. Both my passenger and I crawled out of the Subaru unscathed. The roof held the weight of impact without collapsing and the side impact did not intrude upon the passenger compartment. The Subaru was totalled but did as it was engineered to do. I have often silently thanked those engineers at Subaru. I certainly believe a modern car would do even better but, even some lightweight hatchbacks were sturdy back then.

  • avatar

    Ed.Dan: Some of the B&B will try to run me up a flagpole but I’m comfortable now with any car made after the feds made shoulder-belts mandatory in 1968.  (As long as I’m a front seat passenger.)
    Allow me to run you up a flagpole: I’m just very thankful that I never got into a bad crash in my >2,000 lb 1977 Toyota Corolla. And I’m equally thankful that I never got T-boned by a large SUV in my 2,450 lb 1993 Saturn. All else equal, I’m sure there has been a steady trend towards greater passive safety since 1968, and if I’m going to crash, I’d rather be in the later car, as well as the larger car. Although for driving fun I prefer the lighter cars.
    Anyway, we’re all glad that–for whatever reason–Carl is OK. He sounds like a great character.

  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    Hope they manage to salvage some of that Audi , it was a nice car before he bent it.

  • avatar
    LimpWristedLiberal

    I think the refrain is more like “it’s unsafe to be struck by a new (high, heavy) car in an old (low, light) car.”  Also, the rear end swung out _unexpectedly_?  You’d think the article would say he deserved to die for driving poorly. Think of all the competent drivers he might have put at risk!

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    I like his Smiths reference. Glad he’s OK.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Of course we’re all glad that Carl is here to tell about the story that led to the photo.  When you’re talking about safety, the question is always “How safe is safe enough?”  There are a million answers to that question, which is why the debate is endless.
    Let’s recall that the catalyst for mandated airbags, was the never-ending quest for “passive safety,” i.e. somewhat to protect the knucklehead drivers who refused to fasten their seatbelts.  When people started walking away from head-ons, in cars equipped with airbags; and those people also reported that they had been wearing their seatbelts, the idea started getting around that the belt-and-bag combination offered some serious protection, and people were impressed.  Now seatbelt use is much higher, but no one argues that airbags are unnecessary, as everyone understand that the combination is what really offers the benefit.
    Regarding older cars, one of the key concepts in body design for crash survivability that has become widespread in the last 25 years, is the concept of the car body “sacrificing itself” to protect the passenger.  The 1980s-vintage Mercedes were well built, by the standards of the day; but their crash test performance wasn’t that good because the body transferred more of the energy of the impact to the relatively fragile passenger inside.  Same with the old Volvos (240-series).  Once those engineers internalized the idea that the car body was supposed to sacrifice itself to absorb the energy of the crash (while preserving the integrity of the passenger compartment), then the cars became “safer.”  After all, it’s cheaper and easier to replace or repair the car than the fragile human inside.
    I remember riding in the bed of a pickup truck going 70 mph down the highway (because there wasn’t room for me in the cab) when I worked on a ranch in the early 1960s.  But, just because I lived to tell about it, doesn’t mean that its safe or I would recommend that anyone do that today.  Same thing with the relative safety of cars.
    Finally, let’s be honest, the most important safety component in any car is the driver.  People who don’t drive impaired, who don’t “test the limits” of their vehicle and who are reasonably competent drivers, are very unlikely to have accidents.  My father is 85 years old.  He’s always driven and has never been in an accident.  He doesn’t drive like a ninny (i.e. under the speed limit or hyper-cautious), but he drives sanely, always pays attention to his driving and never drives impaired.
    I think he’s had about two traffic citations in his life, as well.  And, he’s probably driven as many miles as the average person of his longevity.  We lived in the suburbs, took car vacations, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC

      “…the body transferred more of the energy of the impact to the relatively fragile passenger inside.  Same with the old Volvos (240-series).”
       
      I think you have your facts bass-ackward about the Volvo 240.  Those definitely had crumple zones combined with a robust cage around the passenger compartment.  Otherwise an excellent post.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    The front end damage looks pretty minor compared to the head-on at almost 60 mph that I experienced in an ’87 Grand Am.  I’m surprised the roof buckled in that Audi.  Mine buckled much worse, but I think the impact was much greater.  They had to use hydraulic equipment to extract me. I was hit by a Chrysler dynasty.
     
    http://i754.photobucket.com/albums/xx187/rpn453/Front.jpg
     
    http://i754.photobucket.com/albums/xx187/rpn453/PassengerSide.jpg

    http://i754.photobucket.com/albums/xx187/rpn453/DriverSide.jpg

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Syke: Definitely want. Now, if my mechanical abilities only extended beyond bicycles . . . . .
  • Syke: If my personal experience is applicable (and I was raised by a bush-league Joan Crawford), I’ll put my...
  • 285exp: mcs The wide availability of electricity doesn’t help you much unless you have a fast charger available, and...
  • 1500cc: And while I don’t think anyone doubts that the F-Series will eventually capture the sales crown again...
  • Syke: As someone who built his first bicycle to use as transportation to junior high school (there’s no way I...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber