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Sharing vintage car "scary moment" stories

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  • Sharing vintage car "scary moment" stories

    mbhdesign -

    Michael Hennessey
    Proud Owner
    1947 Studebaker Champion Regal Deluxe Convertible

  • #2
    sometimes dumb luck is all that saves us!

    On day in 1974 when I had only lived in Lafayette a short while I pulled up to the tracks that crossed Main street and found the arm down. I was in my 1962 190c Mercedes four speed. I had been someplace and had at least one beer and was a little too inquisitive. I could not see the tracks because there was a building in the way (I am not making this up) so I decided to pull forward a bit to see how far the train was away. As I got onto the tracks I could see the train about 50' away and coming fast. I managed to cooley put it in reverse and back up. the train rushed by with inches to spare.

    I was unhurt except for needing a change of undies.!
    Diesel loving, autocrossing, Coupe express loving, Grandpa Architect.


    • #3
      Being 19 in 1979 I had a -62 Valiant with a tuned-up truck six & 4 on the floor (Hurst) & one sunny afternoon going to the (not legal) street races (out-run quite a bunch V8 cars, mostly Mustangs) with the car full of people, coming in to a long right turn & the car didn't wanna turn... & NO BRAKES EITHER!!!
      we went across the on-coming lane & I managed to gear-shift HARD + park-brake the car just in time to not go down into the ditch!
      After that, standing on the wrong side of the country road came a long line of cars with a police car in it, half a minute later & we would've gone right into those cars...
      We went out & looked but all we could see was brake-fluid from the right front wheel.
      I sat in the car & started to feel it by driving & the wheel with brake-drum climbed off the axle!
      The owners before me had put on a wrong bearing I later got told, the car was also pretty well known as a wild one with it's owners & had the 7:th engine in, but no heater - that had gone out with the last engine-swap.
      (Later I put a Red Ram Hemi in it, but that's not this story.)

      Champion V8
      4d sedan


      • #4
        Back in the mid 60's, my 57HK-7 used to have an odd quirk. In a hard left turn, the passenger door would fly open. Not too impressive while on a date.....( but she got used to it..)
        64 GT Hawk (K7)
        1970 Avanti (R3)


        • #5
          mbhdesign -

          Michael Hennessey
          Proud Owner
          1947 Studebaker Champion Regal Deluxe Convertible


          • #6
            We were both 16.
            We went to the drive in with my '61 Hawk..With the black interior.
            The sunset was complete.
            The movie started.
            The music was coming in through that aluminum speaker hung off my window.
            She slid over all cute like and sat on my chrome fire extinguisher that was mounted between the seats.
            All three of us went off too early.
            HTIH (Hope The Info Helps)


            Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain

            Note: SDC# 070190 (and earlier...)


            • #7
              Having the hood blow up and wrap itself around the roof on my old '56 Golden Hawk "at speed"! .....Many Hawk owners experienced this in the old days when these cars were actually driven!....A REAL learning experience!!!!!


              • #8
                1988, a year into my marriage, I bought a '67 Pontiac LeMans 2-door hardtop. Beautiful car with a 0.30" over rebuilt 326 and the Super Turbine 300 2-speed auto. A couple months into my ownership came the first rain of the season; my usual commute to work took me onto the freeway via a sharp s-curved two-lane onramp that began at a stoplight. Got the picture?

                In the left lane next to me, also turning onto the freeway, was a Greyhound bus. I, determined not to be stuck behind the bus in entering the freeway, put my foot down when the light changed and the car took off. Coming into the righthand turn of the s-curve and still on the throttle at about 50 MPH, the back end broke loose on the wet asphalt and I proceeded to spin 360 degrees in front of the oncoming bus. I could see the driver's face as he came toward me, but luckily no evasive action was needed - my car car completed the spin by moving to the left of the lane, stopping when the left rear wheel struck a dividing curb.

                The bus passed by, and I drove off, wobbling down the road with a bent wheel, bent rear brake drum, and munched axle bearing to show for my stupidity. I was very stupid, and very lucky!

                Clark in San Diego | '63 Standard (F2) "Barney" |


                • #9
                  In 1964, I was driving my father's 1960 Valiant station wagon north on Barrington St., Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the heart of the business district. My father was in the front passenger seat, and my mother in the back seat.

                  Going down the slight grade towards Duke St., I braked. With absolutely no warning, the pedal went right to the floor. Two Brill electric trolley buses were stopped in front of me, and another was coming the other way. Somehow I snuck between them. The traffic light at Duke St. was red, with another trolley bus going up the steep hill on that street. I went through the red light, turned left, cut that bus off, and made it two blocks up hill to Brunswick St. where at that time there was a Fina service station.

                  Once stopped, my mother spoke for the first time. "Bill," she said, "do you know you went through a red light back there?"
                  Bill Jarvis


                  • #10
                    Two different incidents, both with a 57 Chevy hardtop with a 283 in the early 60s.

                    1. Driving up US 40 in Maryland -- a 4-lane divided highway with a 50 mph speed limit, but with traffic signals every few miles. Cruising along at about 60 when I see smoke up ahead, and realize it's from skidding tires. I then realize that the Rambler in front of me has slammed on his brakes, and that his brake lights don't work. Realizing I'm not gonna stop in time, I whipped left out onto the muddy median strip without looking. I slid past five cars before I stopped, spraying them all with mud. The guy behind me hit the Rambler that had been in front of me. I stopped next to an MG -- the driver rolled down his window and said "Good show -- could you do it again?".

                    2. Same road, same car, next year. With my meager salary, I was slowly customizing the 57 Chev. A few months earlier, I had added an under-dash ammeter and oil pressure gauge to replace the idiot lights. Seeing a red light and stopped cars ahead, I put my foot on the brake pedal, which produced a loud pop and a shower of sparks from under the dash onto my right foot. Tried it again -- same result. Pumped the brakes as quickly as I could and got the car slowed down, and rolled onto the shoulder. Car was dead. A quick investigation revealed that I had never considered the fact that the brake pedal moves when I had installed the ammeter wiring. The brake pedal arm had worn through the insulation on that 10-gauge wire, shorting out the whole electrical system. It had burned the wire in half, but fortunately had not done any other damage. A short piece of wire spliced into the ammeter circuit got me home. But my new girl friend was not impressed.
                    Last edited by Skip Lackie; 04-05-2016, 07:47 AM.
                    Skip Lackie


                    • #11
                      My most spectacular vintage car accident happened at Biff's Burgers on Broadway. I granted a wheelie request to some bikers, and my Ex thought she would do one too.
                      She did pull off an impressive wheelie with her restored non-export 1957 Vespa 125 Faro Basso.
                      Unfortunately she ran out of parking lot and slammed into the door of a pristineblue '56 Chevy. She wasn't hurt as bad as her feelings and after we squeezed her front fender back into shape, all she lost was a headlight lens. (The bulb was unharmed).
                      The owner of the Chevy and his friends treated us like delinquents but we understood their diligence once we found out they already had two hit and runs on his car. I was surprised they hadn't tackled us after hearing that. Sadly the $800 damages to his cherished car were not repaired in time to enter the it's first car show. We really felt terrible about it, but how often do you see a vintage collision?


                      • #12
                        In what l think must have been the early spring of 1968 my best friend Larry and l proved how young and foolish we could be. This involved my dad's black '62 GT Hawk and his dad's yellow '67 Camaro 327 convertible. Both automatics.

                        After a March Sunday night church youth group meeting, our teenage sense of invulnerability (and lack of common sense) led us to decide that a neat test of "our" sporty vehicles would be to take them just outside of town (Owen Sound, Ontario) where highway 21 (two lanes) goes west out into the country after a traffic light. Traffic was non-existent. The last blast of winter snow had gone through a couple of days previously, but the city streets and the road out to that light were clear, if a little moist in spots. The great idea was to see how well the cars accelerated on the fly. We thot the Camaro was faster but of course l defended the dignity of Studebaker and the Hawk. l guess the whole scheme was to show Larry that he couldn't just beat a Studebaker Hawk as easy as pie any time he wanted to without any effort.

                        Anyway, out toward the traffic light we went. The agreed upon procedure was that we were to glide through the light at 30 mph with me and the GT in front and he and the Camaro just a very few feet from my rear bumper. Just under the light, both of us would floor it and then wait to see how long it would take Larry to pass me.

                        Well, to my immense satisfaction, it took quite a while, and l was going 80 mph before Larry pulled out to pass! The Hawk had proven that it was a tough customer, not just summarily squashed by new shiny Camaro!

                        UN-fortunately, there was a small curve ahead. Worse, the snow had blown over the road and the somewhat mild late-day temperatures had made it slushy. Yikes!! Larry began fish-tailing his dad's new car as he pulled back into our lane when he passed me. l backed off the throttle on the Hawk and was having no problems, but Larry's attempts to control the Camaro were not going well and the fish-tailing got worse. He eventually skidded the convertible into the shoulder of the opposite lane where the Camaro came to a quick, oddly straight stop in a deep snow/slush mixture that seemed just right for bringing the errant car and adventure to a stop.

                        We slunk back into town and confessed to our not-too-pleased dads. l don't think there was any real damage to the Camaro. l was still proud of the Hawk.
                        Last edited by STEWDI; 04-04-2016, 07:53 PM. Reason: spelling
                        Roger Hill

                        60 Lark Vlll, hardtop, black/red, Power Kit, 3 spd. - "Juliette"
                        61 Champ Deluxe, 6, black/red, o/d, long box. - "Jeri"
                        Junior Wagon - "Junior"

                        "In the end, dear undertaker,
                        Ride me in a Studebaker"


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mbhdesign View Post
                          The momentum of the car and the inch of water I drove through blew the floor mats up into the car, the driver's side carpet landing on my lap.
                          This a good one.
                          It reminded me of my Peugeot 204. It was a 1975 model and I rode it at the beginning of the 90's.
                          One day, as I was rolling down a slope at 80 mph (a little bit faster than usual), I suddenly had the weird feeling that something was getting close of the top of my head. Then I heard a plop, and something was really standing onto my head! The headliner was inflated like a balloon!
                          After slowing down, I gently put it back in place and there was no traces of the incident. Of course, I, and the friend who was there, were still laughing about it at the end of the trip.
                          I discovered that air was getting in the trunk and could reach the headliner (unperforated) by the sides of the body.
                          This became a running joke with girls. "By the way, I didn't show you my airbag!". If I was really lucky, I saw theirs afterwards...
                          Nice day to all.


                          • #14
                            This is a story from the early 1980's.
                            Driving my '63GT just after a heavy rain.
                            Went down a highway on-ramp, and just after I reached the highway I realized that the car was pulling to the right.
                            No shoulder to speak of, and I thought it was tight RF brakes so I decided to limp 3/4 miles to the next exit.
                            As I limped down the edge of the road, the pull got worse and worse; steering wheel 1/2 a turn plus to left just to stay straight.
                            Made it to the exit and found that the RF wheel & cover were HOT.
                            Jacked it up and when I saw the tire and wheel hanging down, I though "wheel bearing", but NO!
                            Pulled off the entire tire/wheel/drum assembly, and found that the RF spindle had sheared!
                            Also that 2/3's of the break was old and that only the last 1/3rd was fresh!
                            Imagine that letting go at speed?
                            Turns out that 10 or so years prior, my friend the previous owner had wacked a curb HARD enough to trash the RF tire, wheel and tie rod, but had not seen any damage and so left the spindle alone.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by STEWDI View Post
                              ...He eventually skidded the convertible into the shoulder of the opposite lane where the Camaro came to a quick, oddly straight stop in a deep snow/slush mixture that seemed just right for bringing the errant car and adventure to a stop.
                              I feel SO FORTUNATE to have had miles and miles of deep snow (plowed) banks to somewhat forgive my teenage formative experiences with car control.

                              Somebody remind me to buy a "winter home" back in Ohio when my kids start drivers ed.
                              62 GT