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Squashing Bugs photo feature Old Volkswagen wrecks

A look through a crash photographer's lens at Volkswagen wrecks in California between May 1956 and April 1961.

This series of crashes, each involving a Volkswagen Beetle, all took place in California between May 1956 and April 1961. It would appear that due to both the roundness of the “Bug’s” body and its independent rear suspension that early Beetles tended to roll over quite often after impacting other cars or other objects. Structurally, their rooflines also seem to have held up well after rollover accidents giving hope that all of the drivers and occupants of these Volkswagens were able to enjoy motoring another day.

Photographs are from the collection of Menlo Park, Calif., photographer Rodman Bingham and his wife Marguerite, generously donated to Old Cars Weekly in their memory by their daughter Patrice Offenhauser.

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Drinking appears to have played a part in why this Bug rolled, but
in this case it was milk, with the empty bottle as accident-scene

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Note the seatbelt lying outside the car, whose door flew open
during its flip that folded it in half.

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A side impact was so severe that it knocked out the Beetle’s

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This Bug rear-ended a loaded dump truck. Having the spare tire
(amazingly, still inflated) up front appears to have helped absorb
the force of the impact.

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While the damage to the driver’s side of the Beetle that rolled
onto its passenger side is apparent, the 1959
Ford Thunderbird that crashed into it suffered nothing more
than a ding in its passenger-side headlamp “eyebrow.” 

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