Lady picking up car - Real event or urban legend?

We’ve all heard the story of a mother exhibiting tremendous strength to pick a car up off of her injured child. The Guiness book of world records cites that back in
1960 Mrs. Maxwell Rogers (bw 112 lbs) of Florida lifted one end of a
3600 pound station wagon off of her son long enough for another
person to pull him out.
I am skeptical that such an event actually occurred. Does anyone know of any verification that such an event occurred, or is this story an urban legend, or something in between?

I don’t have any cites, but the phenomenon is associated with an adrenaline surge triggered by what I would term “controlled panic.” It’s a special case of the “fight or flight” syndrome. I’ve heard of this happening in various situations.

It sounds impressive to note that it’s a 3600 lb. car, but the claim is not that she lifted that much. The front of the car weighs more than the back, and the weight at one rear corner (which is what I assume was lifted) might well be less than 700 lbs.

If we assume that he car is a rigid object with center of mass over the center of its base, then she would have to have lifted 1800 pounds (half the weight). The center of gravity is probably towards the front, though, which would make the task easier if you’re lifting at the back.

As for a cite, I would personally regard the Guiness book as sufficient, but I don’t know of any others offhand.

Does anyone remember the helicopter crash that was videotaped. It crashed into a ditch and a large man (nicknamed Tiny, I think) lifted it just enough to so that the injured guy could be hauled out. I’ts probably not as unusual as a 110 lb woman lifting a car, but I was impressed and I treat it as the same “adrenaline kick” being mentioned here.

Adrenaline is wonderful stuff. I have recounted in another section of the SDMB about mey experience with the rattlesnake coiled by my ankle. When I looked down and saw it I was instantly (or least with a speed that was far beyond my normal range) about 4 feet away. At the time I was about 70 years old and not in the best of physical condition.

Muscles are so strong that they can break bones, in the case of tetanus for example, and tear loose their tendon attachments. A good, stiff shot of adrenaline will do wonders.

It’s no big deal.

Some of the cars I park are VW Golfs, Ford Festivas, Geo Metros,
or some other sub-compact. Up in the garage (where customers
can’t see :wink: ) I often show off to my co-workers my ability to
grab the rear bumper and dead lift the rear of the car.

It’s “only” about a thousand pounds or so. :rolleyes:

(Yes…my hands and back hurt afterward)

I’ve heard that the unreported aftermath of these stories is that the lifter is generally severly injured, often crippled for life, or sometimes even killed by these feats of strength. As David wrote, human muscles are potentially strong enough to do a lot of damage; including to the body they’re a part of. Adrenalin doesn’t actually give you any extra strength; it’s actually more like a case of bypassing the safety fuses and turning the power on full.

There is always the possibility of a miracle from god, with four invisible angels lifting the car…

No there isn’t

Agh! Impulse Post.
Please, don’t let this drift into that discussion… Sorry! I’m Sorry.

In the 1960s, my stepfather rolled an MG sportscar, and was trapped under it. His father had been following, and saw the accident happen. He lifted the MG enough for my stepfather get out from under it.

My stepfather’s father died aged nearly 90 several years ago, and he had never himself spoken to me about the incident. I only knew him as an elderly man, but he was even then a big man, and had hands almost the size of T-bone steaks as a result of strenuous pyhsical work when he was younger. If anyone could have lifted a car, it’d be someone like him, though he had apparently maintained that it was adrenaline which enabled him to do it, and the feat would be impossible to duplicate.

I’ll ask my stepfather about it again. It’s nearly twenty years since I’ve heard the incident related to me, but I remember it was told in a very matter-of-fact way. I don’t recall being told of any physical injury resulting from the strain.

Don’t worry flapcats. There is always the possibility that someone found your post amusing. :stuck_out_tongue:

That’s the thing about a car. Not only is it noticeably heavier in front (I would guess a 60/40 weight bias), it’s also got a suspension with springs. When one corner is lifted, the other three can support quite a bit of the weight, unlike the case with a rigid box of the same size and weight. There’s also the consideration that it probably didn’t have to be raised a huge distance to provide enough relief to extract the victim. I think it’s quite safe to say that it didn’t require anywhere near 1800 pounds of lift to do the job.

And never underestimate the powers of adrenalin. One of my uncles used to work at a psychiatric hospital and he mentioned that even an old man was very difficult to subdue once he went berserk. The case he mentioned required some 4 people (burly young men) to restrain.

I’ve had personal experience with adrenalin moving cars out of ditches. I found that I could just keep pushing harder and harder but there was a point when I could feel joints starting to fold the wrong way. Very disturbing feeling…

It isn’t stated if the kid is directly underneath a wheel (ouch!) or if he’s just pinned in the existing space under the car. Just about everyone can raise one end of a car an inch or two without too much difficulty as long as they aren’t lifting the wheels off the ground. For instance, when the passenger gets in the car and the passenger door jams into the curb, I can lift up on the door enough to let it close, and that’s with no adrenaline, just a little annoyance. As GaryT mentioned, the car’s on springs, which means it’s in equilibrium between the weight pushing down and the springs pushing up. Even small amounts of force will change this equilibrium and move the car up or down.

Also, the wheels of the car aren’t at the very front/back of the car. If you’re lifting the back of the car, any weight that is in front of the front wheels is actually helping you lift, like a see-saw.

I would also think that in a situation where a car is off the road and overturned, lifting one corner of the car may in fact just be tipping the car on the uneven ground surface on which the car is resting. The rescuer may be lifting one end and lowering the other as the car tips. This would be a lot easier than actually lifting and supporting the weight of one full end of the car.

Not to detract from all of these acts of heroism, of course…