By on March 13, 2013

These days, with the nanny-state enforcers of IngSoc and Agenda 21 mandating 3,000 pounds of safety gear on each new motor vehicle, it’s refreshing to hear that folks in the very early days of motoring got some good yuks out of the idea of impalement on the tiller of a curved-dash Olds. We’ve dug up this 1904 Cal Stewart recording of “Uncle Josh In An Automobile” to demonstrate.

Yes, those “benzene buggies” and “kerosene wagons” seemed like intergalactic starships back 109 years ago, and a scratchy 78 was the state-of-the-art medium for pop-culture commentary on the subject. Thanks to for the music!

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8 Comments on “Car Wreck Humor, 1904 Style: Is That My Eye On the Dashboard? No, That’s One Of My Ears!...”

  • avatar

    Lord Mr. Ford, what have you done?

  • avatar
    Ted Grant

    Here’s an interesting link to the Boston Public library. This is the largest vintage car wreck collection that I know of…

    • 0 avatar

      Amazing photos. Back when the entire vehicle was a crumple zone.

      • 0 avatar

        The bodies back then were sheet metal over a wood frame, but I was looking for splintered wood and didn’t see much. These photos were enough to make me wonder why all-steel bodies took so long. Wasn’t GM still making wood frame bodies in the mid-thirties, while Chrysler had gone all-steel with its Airflow?

        • 0 avatar
          Joe McKinney

          This photo from the BPL collection shows a wrecked 1934 Chrysler Airflow. It does not appear that these cars were much safer than cars with wood frame bodies.

          • 0 avatar

            That looks like one of the compacts, rather than the fullsize DeSoto or Chrysler. The compacts were conventional, while the full size models used interlocking steel panels that were almost unibody construction. The most fragile parts of an Airflow were the grille, hood, and front bumper, all intact in that photo.

            Without knowing how the accident happened, it looks like it was Vee-boned at a 45 degree angle (vs a T-bone at 90 degrees) just ahead of the driver’s door. No telling what hit it, but I suspect it was hit by something large and fast-moving, and I don’t think any BOF car made up to the 1950s would do much better.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    That 1984 reference is pure gold. We’re not far away from that… the telescreen is already “smart” enough.

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