I stumbled on something mildly disturbing this evening.
While perusing the automotive section at my local bookshop (looking for a shop manual for my car), I spied a book called Old Car Wrecks, 1920s-1960s. It’s a retro-accident scene photo album (misnamed; I saw a totalled 1907 Caddy).
Weird. Yeah, I thought I’d seen it all.
Obviously compiled by a car buff, as he identifies every car in every photo, such as in a head-on between two '57 Chevys, he identifies both the attendant Police cruiser and the one in the ditch as Model 210s, while the flat-faced one still on the blacktop is a BelAir. And waiting behind the cop car is a '57 Buick Special.
Hundreds of photos, of a rear-ended '49 Hudson, A Nash Metropolitan that got wrapped around a tree, a BMW Isetta that rolled…; lots of old and rare cars, in traumatic distress.
While I’d never rent myself out as an expert, I do maintain an interest in older cars and airplanes. And I normally enjoy scanning over photo collections of such.
But this was a little bit akin to looking at a collection of photos of sexy women with blackeyes, bleeding lips and the odd missing limb.
When I was a kid, I was facinated by a vehicle’s remnants after a wreck, possibly for the same reason as epraz. My parents’ photo album has pictures of me wandering around the entrance of a junkyard, looking at the wrecks which hadn’t made it inside yet.
Well, not strictly true – they might be small, but they were built out of good old heavy 1950’s sheet metal. So given sufficient time (maybe half a day) to build up enough momentum, a Metro could wrap itself around even the mighty oak. And given the safety equipment standard on the Metro (e.g. rotten brakes, no seat belts, and a rudimentary bumper) it would be an ugly little crash.
Heh. I was going to mention Reed’s book, but RTFirefly beat me to it. Fascination with collisions goes back much further than the 1960s, however. The article on Page 4 of this rail-oriented newsletter (note: PDF file) describes a staged head-on collision, in 1896 on the M-K-T railway in west Texas, that drew more than 40,000 fans.
Given the number of chase/crash scenes in popular movies of the past thirty years (and the habit of filming them in excruciatingly slow motion), not to mention the infamous Signal 30 series of films routinely shown in high school driving classes, the book mentioned by the OP seems rather mild in comparison, kind of like the grainy photos of women in lingerie one might find hidden in a shoebox in Dad’s closet (hey, not mine of course!)
As a final morsel for thought, here is a Baltimore Sun article on plans for a crash-themed restaurant which were abandoned after the events of 9/11/01: