Assumption that Andre the Giant could lift & flip over a car with 2 people in it. Plausible or not?

From this article in Slate about a book on Andre the Giant re this story about him

She then states at the end of the review the author believes the issue is not if he *could *do it, the author assumes he could but the question is did he?

I find this assumption questionable. He was huge, strong guy, but to flip over a car with two people in it would seem to be well beyond any single human beings physical strength unless we’re talking an incredibly tiny car.

Is this a plausible physical feat for a human being or not?

europe has incredibly tiny cars.

Don’t know how legit they are, but Youtube has a few videos of people doing so. Some are obviously faked, but some seem to be legit. They all use smallish cars, and they all do it by flipping it over the long-axis (so they don’t actually have to lift it that high, and don’t have to lift the engine very much).

And they’re all on a flat surface. If the car was on an incline, I think that would help significantly.

I don’t know how strong Andre actually was, but a very strong person does seem to be able to flip a small car.

I don’t know if it actually happened or not but it sounds plausible. Andre the Giant was HUGE and very strong. Without knowing the vehicle in question, it is hard to work out the physics of it but some cars can be lifted by people without much difficulty. For example, my friends and I used to love to pick our teacher’s cars up in the high school parking lot and move them into weird spots or put them in stupid looking parking configurations for all to see.

Those were models like 1980’s Honda Civics and Chevy Chevettes. They weren’t that heavy and it only took about 5 or 6 teenage boys to lift one up and move it completely without much difficulty. We never tried to flip one but it has been done many times by hand during riot situations. All it takes is a few people and a good angle. Andre the Giant could probably flip a small car on his own as long as we aren’t talking about a large SUV.

In googling a Chevetteweighed about 2000- 2300 lbs so each of those 6 teenagers was dead lifting and carrying approx. 350 lbs so?

Um, depending on Andre’s health it could have happened. Later in his career/life, his knees and back were giving him trouble. He was carrying a lot of weight around.

No, I knew somebody was going to point that out but the mechanics do not work that way nor do they for flipping over a car. It is all about leverage and angles. You don’t need to dead-lift anything or even strain your back to move a small car. You just pick up the back, move it to the side, pivot the front and repeat until it is where you want it to go. You can move a huge load of anything like that. Picture this, you need to move a fairly large fallen tree 50 feet. Do you just try to throw it over your shoulder and walk with it? It weighs 3000 lbs. in total so that probably isn’t a great idea. Instead, you can grab one end and move it forward before switching to the opposite end. Repeat as necessary. You can move huge objects with relatively little force that way.

It can be the same thing for flipping over a car. You don’t try to dead lift anything. You use leverage plus the wheels on the opposite side of the car to support the weight while you shift it into position. Granted, a normal man wouldn’t be able to do that with most cars but Andre the Giant was far from ordinary. His height and strength gave him a huge advantage in attempting such a thing.

The *Worlds Strongest Man *competition has included an event called ‘Car Flip’. Can’t link to a video of it from here, but Google will find it for you.

So it’s possible for a person to flip (well, roll) a car.

I have seen a video of him dragging a city bus on level ground. I think he could have flipped a car. Two people wouldn’t have made much of a difference.

These are two extremely different feats of strength. Lots of people could do the first and very few the latter.

I think we’d need to know more specifics. Generally anyone who is trained at lifting to the point of being very strong (say deadlifting 600 lb + ), could probably tilt a car onto two wheels (actually people with DLs far below 600 could do this), and given the right car and the right circumstances could flip it over.

The thing is flipping a car over is going to do damage to it that will require costly repairs. Andre was known to be a prankster, but unless provoked typically didn’t do mean things to people. I don’t think he’d destroy or seriously damage a friend’s car just as a joke. But pick up one end of the car and move it somewhere that it’d be hard to extricate it? Yeah, because while annoying that is mostly harmless.

I’ve seen lots of guys who were serious into powerlifting who could move a car.

This thread on a bodybuilding forum shows pictures a user posted of flipping a Ford Laser in Australia. This was by a female lifter, big for a woman but nowhere near as big as a serious male lifter or Andre. The mechanical advantages/leverages involved in where you pick a car up and what you’re doing make it probably impossible to come to a factual answer of whether or not Andre could lift x car, but it’s probable there are some cars he could have flipped. I find it questionable he would have done it as a prank to his friends, if it ever happened it was probably some deliberate thing as part of an official publicity stunt.

I actually misread the original story and see it was instead about Andre doing it to guys who called wrestling fake. Like a lot of old school wrestlers, Andre was extremely protective of kayfabe and would indeed have become very angry about people calling wrestling fake.

However, Andre was very cautious about things he did in public because he was actually sued at one point by a television host. The host asked Andre to lift him up basically as a stunt, the host then later claimed he was injured by being lifted by Andre and sued him.

We don’t know who this host was, but some years later Andre appeared on Letterman’s late night show that was on NBC after Carson, and Letterman said, “So you’ve said that you won’t lift me up before the show” and Andre goes on to explain that unfortunately he doesn’t lift people like that because a previous interviewer requested he be lifted and ended up suing him. Letterman tried to press him for information on who the interviewer was but Andre declined (I’m guessing there was probably a settlement and NDA involved.)

Unless it was very early in his career I doubt Andre would risk the trouble involved in the story as told. There are accounts of him defending himself from people in bars who felt the need to pick a fight with the largest man in the room, but those are always told as Andre doing it as a very last resort, and usually resorting to whatever it took to end the confrontation immediately.

He was also known to be a very heavy drinker, especially when he was young. It’s not out of the realm of possibility.

Sorry to doublepost, but the Wikipedia article confirms that he was one hell of a drinker. There are several accounts of him drinking more than one hundred beers in a single sitting.

And, for that matter, that page also details how the playwright Samuel Beckett used to drive Andre to school because the Giant didn’t fit on the school bus, and how Andre and Wilt Chamberlin once threw Arnold Schwarzenegger out of a restaurant because Arnold tried to pay for dinner, and Andre always liked to pay. Good stories!

Not exactly a nitpick - height is a disadvantage when lifting things off the ground, not an advantage. Given arms of equal length, a man who is six feet tall has to exert less strength than a man who is seven feet tall. Because the six-footer doesn’t have to lean over as far to pick it up, and doesn’t have to move it as far to lift it.

Given a small enough car and an angry enough Andre, I would think it was at least plausible. Although as mentioned above, Andre’s acromegaly and back problems meant that he couldn’t have brought it off later in his life.


How big was the car and how big were the people?

Back in the Seventies, I SAW a not particularly big high school senior roll an unpopular teacher’s Honda Civic into the school courtyard and overturn it.

Now, in THOSE days, a Honda Civic was a TINY car- MUCH smaller than a Civic is today. But the point remains, there are cars out there that could be tipped over by guys much smaller than Andre the Giant.

Right. I had a Renault Dauphine in 1961, and three of us lifted it into a tight parking spot at the Monterrey Jazz Festival. The engine was in the back, so I backed it in as far as it would go, and we lifted the front and jerked it over to the curb.

I just looked it up, curb weight 1324, front-back ratio 39/61, so 516 pounds to lift the front wheels off the ground – 170 per person. It was like lifting each other.

FWIW in 1970 I was in college after working construction after HS. I was in great shape.
A Subaru 360 was parked in my dorm lot one day. My buddy asked what kind suspension it had. I grabbed the front bumper and lifted it over my head.
They mentioned that it was rear engined and they bet I couldn’t lift the back of the car.
I grabbed the rear bumper and lifted. I could only get it about waist high.
I then walked the rear bumper as far to the left as I could, up to the front and repeated this after 4 repetitions I had the car perfectly sideways in the parking space between the cars on either side. 360s were small and light. According to Wiki a curb weight of 900 Lbs.
I have no doubt Andre could have flipped a small enough car.