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Accident

On the 4th (2006), I drove my tiger striped '73 out to the Nevada desert (the same location as Burning Man) and had a great couple of days. We loaded up the car - even put a board and an old metal gate on the roll bar for a make-shift roof rack:

Took the kids along too:

Leo and Terry (6 and 4) were in the back with their booster seats and lap belts. My step-son, Nicholas, was on leave from the Army, had just got his learners permit and wanted to help me drive.

We had a blast in the desert - the Thing is a perfect car out there! On Monday, I put the back seats down and had some friends standing in the back while I drove out over the 4-wheel roads to the hot springs with the music cranked up. Great time!

The night before we came back, I only got 4 hours of sleep and drove the first 3 hours. After we topped the Sierras (at Donner Pass), I let Nick take over. He was handling the car well - keeping the speed down and watching the temp. He noticed we were low on gas, so we decided to take the next turn off - Colfax. It's a quick, sharp offramp and has a 20mph sign. Nick only let off the gas, hadn't yet touched the brake and we were still at about 50mph going into it. I started shouting "slow down slow down SLOW DOWN..." a bit too late. Nick turned the wheel hard, trying to follow the road, but the car (thankfully) understeered, went off the road, missed a tree by 5 or 10 feet, skidded, then flipped. We were only going about 10 or 15 when we went over:



No one was hurt. Got that!?! No one was hurt!! About a year and a half ago when I had the body work done, I had the shop reinforce the roll bars mount points and install 3-point belts in the front. Thank God! The extra metal we put on for the roof rack mostly protected the windshield frame and it only moved an inch or so - it cracked, but didn't hit us.

Leo let himself out of his belt and bumped his head on the roof rack, Terry started crying, and I scrambled out (the window fell out of my way, then when I opened the door, it popped off! I loved that feature just then!) and found Terry suspended from his seatbelt perfectly seated. Nick got out with Leo, then tried his best to kick himself - he still feels horrible.

The paramedics looked at the car, said that we should be hurt, and strongly suggested a ride to the hospital. After the doctor checked us out, we discovered that I had the only injury -- a small scrape on my leg. The bandaid helped.

So, now the car. Left front fender has a new, unusual shape. The windshield frame is about an inch farther back on the drivers side than it should be. Windshield is shattered. The roll bar seems to have bent about an inch to the right - and the door posts (attached to the roll bar) are about a half-inch to the right. The hood won't close properly with the left side being about a half-inch higher than the right. The left-front camber is way way off and the suspension is probably damaged. The gas tank fell out, probably breaking the lines. The left tires need remounting - if the rims aren't out of round. The transmission mounts are torn. The engine jumped to the left during the roll, bent up the left-side tin and broke the air hose from the oil-bath air cleaner. The exhaust bent down on the right. There's an array of small scratches and minor dings on the left side.

Upon close inspection of the roll bar, I also found that the rear mount points almost tore free - the shop had not put washers on the nuts and they pulled up into the body. The passenger-side seat belt mount is also bent up.

I was going to spend the rest of my summer putting in my new Type4 2270 engine from Jake Raby. I had planned on rebuilding the suspension and replacing the tranny too. Now I'm adding body work and paint to my list. It could have been much much worse.

I learned a lesson. If someone has a learner's permit, it means they don't know how to drive yet. The one with the license is the tutor and should NOT be sleepy. I should have told him to slow down way before the turn - he didn't know. Nick learned a big lesson too about speed and handling. Hopefully, our lessons aren't too expensive. Thank God that price didn't include anyone's life.
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