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Wreck of the Week - Part I

One of the most popular features in Old Cars Weekly is the 'Wreck of the Week' photo showing the aftermath of some colossal collision involving cars from the past.
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An April 1969 accident in Preston, Wis., involved a 1962 Mercury
Comet station wagon that rear-ended what appears to be a rare
(1 of 2,000 built) “Princess Grace” edition ’63 Ford Thunderbird
Landau hardtop that was preparing to make a left turn off
Highway 13 onto a side street. The driver of the Mercury was
cited for excessive speed. This report and images were submitted
by Matt McLaughlin of Arkdale, Wis., from his extensive
collection of accident photos.

Model A Fords and telephone poles do not mix well. This
photograph of an open, pre-1931 Model A comes from reader
Marvin H. Cohen, who said the accident happened outside of
Middleton, N.Y. From this angle, it’s difficult to determine
whether the car is a roadster or phaeton model, but it’s obvious
the side curtains were in place during this spring or fall accident.
Considering the size of the pole, the old Ford held up well. The
body appears intact from the cowl rearward, though the bumper,
axle and passenger fender were clearly torqued from the impact.
This unfortunate wreck likely went to the salvage yard in the sky
to provide parts for other more fortunate Fords.

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It appears a postwar Buick convertible and a 1938 Chevrolet tried
to tango on a two-lane highway when a 1940 Studebaker
Champion tried to cut in, tangling all three in a twisted mess. The
accident happened in the Redwood City area of California. The
photo was submitted by Cameron M. Dall, whose friend took the
photograph while working as a photographer. Few details can be
ascertained from the nighttime wreck, but from this angle, it appears
the Studebaker took the brunt of the damage. Of course, after the
independent was pried from the Buick’s toothy grille and hood, the
story may have changed. It’s almost certain the Studebaker didn’t
live on to be a restoration project, but perhaps the Buick and the
‘38 Chevrolet in the background drive on.

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In the early 1950s, this 1947 Cadillac went from pre-owned car
to airborne star. Reader Robert M. Hawkins submitted the photo
of the wrecked Cadillac, which he believes was wrecked in 1952
or ‘53. Even though the car rolled three or four times before it
came to a stop, and the roof was crushed down to nearly the top
of the front seat, Hawkins said the driver only suffered bruises.
The impact of the accident sent the driver to the floor and out of
harm’s way when the roof was crushed. Hawkins also noted the
car in the background is a 1937 Graham sedan, which appears
undamaged and ready for a Sunday drive — unlike the Caddy.

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After only two years of use, this 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle two-door
hardtop met its demise on a wintry road in central Pennsylvania.
Other photos accompanying this devastating image from the
collection of reader Herbert Stewart indicate the Chevelle crossed
paths with a 1952 Dodge sedan in a front-end collision. The
central-Pennsylvania accident occurred at night and broke the
Chevelle’s hood loose and ultimately set the car on fire. The
Chevelle was not far from home, having been purchased new at
Harpster Chevrolet in central Pennsylvania. It also didn’t stay
new for long, and likely landed wheels down in a salvage yard
immediately after this wreck.

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