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1956 Thunderbird Convertible Meets Fate
Asheville, NC in mid June 1957
Editors Note: This is the earliest car crash on the site!
The car was a 56 Thunderbird convertible; the truck was a 51 Ford F8 road tractor, and was pulling a car transport trailer with 4 new 57 Mercurys on board. The vehicles were moved to an Esso station a few yards from my childhood home. I was 10 at the time; an older brother took photos(35 mm slides).Some years ago, he gave them to me. I also have a copy of the newspaper account on the wreck, taken from microfilm at the local library.
The wreck happened east of Asheville, NC in mid June 1957, about 1:15 am on a Saturday morning. It happened on a stretch of highway nicknamed, at the time," bloody 70." This was /is US Highway 70East/West. At that time, it was a narrow, 3- lane, concrete road, the center lane being a passing lane.
There were 2 men and a woman in this 2 seater car. Word is that they had been out Friday evening/ Saturday wee hours, visiting various night spots, and partaking of quite a lot of alcohol, to include some "moonshine". They went to a night spot about 2-3 miles east of the scene, and I understand that they created problems there, and were told to leave. They got in the car, one of the men driving, and tore out west on US 70. They passed a car stopped at a red light; that driver said they were going so fast, he couldn't tell what passed him. They went a short distance and crested a hill. At this, the car began to "float", little or no tire contact. They're were no skid marks until impact.
The tractor-trailer had entered US 70 from a truck route, and was creeping about 20 mph up the hill, going east. He saw the car careening toward him, and said he believed he had brought the rig to a stop, awaiting the inevitable. Some said the 'Bird was going as much as 120 mph,( the factory rated these cars to go 115, but their speedometers registered up to 150.) The car hit the truck at about a 45 degree angle between headon and broadside. The impact jolted the truck part of the rig 5 feet over the curb. Parts of the car and pieces of the bodies were found up to 75 feet from impact. One of the men was torn in to 3 sections. The damage to the grill area of the truck was all done by the victims heads/bodies. The truck driver was uninjured.
The impact was directly into the victims, with no buffer between them and the truck, except for the car's right door, which you see wrapped around the truck's bumper like foil. I watched later in the day on Saturday, as mechanics used an oxy/ceteline torch and pry bars, to remove the car's door from the bumper.
This was the worst wreck as far as gore and human damage, that I have seen to this day. I remember, several "he men" who looked at the wreck, had to go off and heave!
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