QOTD: Is Your Car a Superhero?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd is your car a superhero

The Civic Holiday I mentioned yesterday didn’t prove very civil for yours truly and his red Chevrolet Cruze Eco. Sadly, a second-generation Volkswagen Passat made mostly of rust, primer, and pure, simmering evil decided to make a play at the poor Cruze in the midst of a nightmarish traffic jam. I don’t want to get too specific about the locale for fear of tarring a whole community of drivers with the same brush. (It was Montreal.)

While the Cruze escaped intact, it didn’t leave the scrap unmolested. Looks like I’ll be heading out in search of paint and rubbing compound tonight (Note: first-gen Cruze bumpers seem to hold up under pressure; I can’t speak for the second-generation models).

The incident nonetheless reminded me of past run-ins, be it with large animals or large vehicles. My 1993 Corsica of years gone by didn’t weather a front-quarter hit from a circa 2000 Impala all that well. Curtain call. Six feet under. Pushing up daisies. Contrast the Corsica’s “folded like Superman on laundry day” performance to my beloved ’94 Camry, which soaked up two whitetail deer and politely asked for more. Zero dollars spent on repairs with that one. Just a minute or two spent evening out the hood with my rear end and some wooden shims inserted for headlight alignment. Duct tape wasn’t required.

What a tank that car was. Bland? Absolutely. Beige? What else? But beastly when push comes to shove.

There’s reliable rides, there’s quirky exotics that capture your heart, and then there’s the car that’ll save your bank account when wayward objects make an impact. Now that’s something that garners instant respect.

There’s no shortage of hazards on our roads. Dimwitted, distracted, and drunk drivers still abound, and the proliferation of driver’s aids can’t come soon enough to stamp out the scourge. However, even if every vehicle, new and used, came filled with every electronic nanny under the sun, there’s still the wild card. Nature. Bambi and her friends aren’t the most predictable creatures in the woods.

Sooner or later, you’re gonna make contact. Glass will shatter, plastic will snap, and steel will bend. But some vehicles don’t fold under pressure quite as easily. Sometimes, you’re the lucky owner of a bank vault, something that shrugs off impacts with remarkably little damage — regardless of how the other vehicle fared.

We’re mostly experienced people here. We’ve had our run-ins. So tell me, Best & Brightest, what vehicle — be it yours or a friend’s or a relation’s — made short work of the other vehicle (or animal) without mussing its hair? Maybe you expected it, or maybe it left you surprised at its hidden brawniness. Going in the opposite direction, what seemingly tough vehicle went down after the first punch?

[Image: Daniel X. O’Neil/ Flickr ( CC BY 2.0)]

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  • Ryoku75 Ryoku75 on Aug 08, 2017

    Perhaps, my Crown Vic P71 did save me and previous officers if the records are correct: 1. Making a turn the car got into a small-ish offset collision, new bodywork and it was good to go. 2. Hit a deer at night I think, new hood, back in duty. 3. For me, I had to drive the thing on ice with the factory-spec Goodyear tires (known for being crap in the rain, easily a joke on ice). Thanks to being both predictable, LSD, and sharp steering I managed to get home safely. 4. Does it count if the AC still works reasonably well in 90+ degree weather? Many of my other used cars have endured their share of accidents prior to my ownership, even if a few could be considered more "Skateman" than "Superman".

  • Nemosdad Nemosdad on Aug 08, 2017

    81 Camaro Z28. 16 years old at the time and smashed into the tail end of a friends car at a stop sign. Her car; totalled. Camaro; picked a few flakes of black paint off the urethane bumper (which was black under the paint) Funny thing is it had no subframe connectors. 79 F-250. Waiting to turn left an early 80's something Ford (Tempo?) caught about 2 inches of the rear bumper with the driver side hood of her car. Might have been a couple of flakes of paint gone from the truck bumper, but how would you know? It was a ranch truck. Car? Totalled, but considering how hard she hit (car stopped dead) it held up structurally quite well.

  • GregLocock Two adjacent states in Australia have different attitudes to roadworthy inspections. In NSW they are annual. In Victoria they only occur at change of ownership. As you'd expect this leads to many people in Vic keeping their old car.So if the worrywarts are correct Victoria's roads would be full of beaten up cars and so have a high accident rate compared with NSW. Oh well, the stats don't agree.https://www.lhd.com.au/lhd-insights/australian-road-death-statistics/
  • Lorenzo In Massachusetts, they used to require an inspection every 6 months, checking your brake lights, turn signals, horn, and headlight alignment, for two bucks.Now I get an "inspection" every two years in California, and all they check is the smog. MAYBE they notice the tire tread, squeaky brakes, or steering when they drive it into the bay, but all they check is the smog equipment and tailpipe emissions.For all they would know, the headlights, horn, and turn signals might not work, and the car has a "speed wobble" at 45 mph. AFAIK, they don't even check EVs.
  • Not Tire shop mechanic tugging on my wheel after I complained of grinding noise didn’t catch that the ball joint was failing. Subsequently failed to prevent the catastrophic failure of the ball joint and separation of the steering knuckle from the car! I’ve never lived in a state that required annual inspection, but can’t say that having the requirement has any bearing on improving safety given my experience with mechanics…
  • Mike978 Wow 700 days even with the recent car shortages.
  • Lorenzo The other automakers are putting silly horsepower into the few RWD vehicles they have, just as Stellantis is about to kill off the most appropriate vehicles for that much horsepower. Somehow, I get the impression the OTHER Carlos, Tavares, not Ghosn, doesn't have a firm grasp of the American market.