Lifting a car, with superhuman strength, without damaging it?

#2100 in the “Ranchoth’s Weirdass Posts” series.

Well, I’ll just put it bluntly…would it be possible for a person with superhuman strength to carry a midsize passenger sedan, without damaging it structurally?

Say the person is a human male, 6’ tall, 260 lbs. Aside from being able to comfortably lift 10 tons, he’s otherwise normal. (i.e., no freakishly long arms, or anything.)

The car is, oh, let’s say a 1991 Volva 240.

Our hero wants to pick the car up, carry it two city blocks, put it back down, then start driving it. Could he do this, without bending the frame or anything?

Would there be an ideal place on the car’s body to lift it from, for maximum support? If so, where?
Well, thanks for your time,

…That would be a “Volvo 240,” of course. I didn’t catch that typo before, because I’m an idiot. :smack:

(Thank god the company isn’t “Vulvo.”)

Seems to me that our hero – in an effort to avoid damaging the car overmuch – could ever so gently tilt the car over until it rests on one side or the other. Then our hero can grab hold of the undercarriage – then jerk the car over his head. He may then rest the car on his shoulders to aid balance while walking.

Well…taking into accout that this guy is a super hero, and is strong enough to pick up a care…
I would have to say that he would also be able to have the ability to do this gently without causing damage to the car

After all he is a super hero :wink:

The trick is how to actually lift it without damaging anything.

I think it would be possible, just require some careful balancing.

Approach the car from the side, at about center. Lift from the bottom, grabbing the frame of the car. Tilt it up about 45deg, reach under and grab the frame on the other side of the car. Then gently lift straight up, trying not to burn your hair on the hot exhaust pipe.

Possible problem would be the angular torque placed on the opposing side wheels as you lift up the first side. Might be ok though, considering some stunt drivers can drive a car on two wheels - not sure how much reinforcing is involved there though.

You know, you can jack a car up, right?

If you can apply a force to one little point on a car and lift nearly all its weight, why would you think the act of picking up a car would damage it structurally?

Mechanics do get them up in the air, you know…routinely.

While I agree that the four jacking strongpoints are the best bet for lifting a car, you do NOT life “most” of a car’s weight when you jack it up.

Next time you jack a car, check the other three wheels. You’ll see that at least .two of them (the ones on the other side of the car) sag as they take on considerably more weight. In fact, on larger cars, the other wheel on the same side will sag, too (on small cars, the same-side wheel may lift somewhat, but it is still supporting substantial weight via its suspension).

You could get a good idea of how much weight even a partly lifted near-side tire is supporting, by measuring the position of that wheel, then putting your car on a left, and measuring how much force it takes to lift the wheel 6" or more up to the position it is in on the jacked car. You could, as I said, but it would be very dangerous. Don’t do it. There’s only a modest (but serious) risk of sliding the car off the lift, but you might hurt yourself exerting the 100s of lbs required. It’s simply a bad idea unless you know how to do it safely. (I’ve seen plenty of people come into the ER while doing DIY suspension work)

A mechanic’s hydraulic lift, likewise, supports the car’s weight evenly on four reinforced strongpoints. You can actually bend a frame by lifting at the wrong point while changing tires (or skidding at low speed sideways on top of a rock), even if all four wheels remain on the ground. It depends on the car – but just about ever owner’s manual warns of the risk of structural weakening, diminished handling and ride quality, etc. from improper jacking.

Of course, the type of people who make that mistake often don’t realize what they’ve done. There’s usually no single jarring symptom. It may not be noticed until they get in a (possibly unrelated) accidentand an auto body shop gets it on the laser machine. It’d most likely be assumed to be a result of the accident.

To the OP: Most cars today have a “unitized body”. The “frame” is sheet metal, bent in calculated curves to resist buckling, and welded along key lines to create a pseudo-tube frame - not the solid metal full or half frame, of decades past. That’s why modest impacts can cause $1000s in damage.

As you suspected, the car can’t safely be lifted, completely off the ground from very many points. However, since this is an emergency situation, your superhero might not care much that the handling and structural integrity is decreased. If it’s his car, though, even he will feel the pain when he gets the rame shop’s bill.

If I had to do it, I’d lift from one of the jacking strong points (often behind the front wheel well, or in front of the rear well), making sure I was on the “long end of the car” (i.e. the end that extends further past the wheel well on that model). I’d lift until the bumper of the opposite end almost touched the ground, and then swing my other arm across to the other strong point on that end.

You don’t want to lift too far, because that would cause your car to be resting on the bumper, and no bumper currently made is eve close to being able to support the weight of the car, much less from below!

You probably wouldn’t be able to lift it very far (maybe 3 ft.) before the opposite bumper hit the ground. It’d be a pain to maneuver your second arm into position – much like repositioning yourself as you move a large sofa or desk up a tight staircase. Annoying but doable.

The engine, transmission and suspension would be mounted with special strength. They might make good alternate handholds from below. Avoid the oil pan on the underside of the engine though; it’ll probably crumple. I’d avoid lifting by the transmission on a rear wheel drive. Those bell housings aren’t meant to take weight. I’ve seen a few crack from rough handling/abuse (back in the day)

You probably mean the differential.

I don’t see why the differential would break. Trucks are routinely lifted from the differential. Of course, trucks have live axles, which are far stronger than the independent suspension found in cars, but still the diff is one of the most sturdy parts of a car.