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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • JOIN THE NAVY, 1917

Street Fight: 1957

Street Fight: 1957

Plymouth vs. Ford on the streets of Oakland circa 1957, with a battered bystander in the distance. 4x5 safety negative from the News Archive. View full size.

 
On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

It's a 6 cyl Ford

You can tell it is a 6 cylinder Ford because the single tail pipe is on the left side. The V8 had the exhaust tail pipe on the right. That is unless you installed "Headers and two Smitty glass packs" on your V8. Then you had both left and right side tail pipes.

Still can't sit on 'em...

Crumple Zones and safety aside... I just wish I would be able to sit on my hood without denting the dang thing in. We used to go the drive-in movies and sit on the hood, leaning back against the window. Nowadays you almost can't even lean on the fender without them bending.

They don't make them like they used to

I used to have a 1953 edition of Popular Mechanics magazine, which had a letter to the editor complaining that today's (1953) cars were made of flimsy sheet metal, and the writer would prefer to hang on to his well-built 1940 Plymouth, thank you very much.

Revisionist History?

Grandpa claimed only that the earlier vehicles were more substantially built -- not necessarily that they were safer. In that sense, he did not have it backwards. Nor would he have been backwards in claiming that earlier paint jobs were smoother than the pimply, orange-peel versions we get today.

Crush Zones

Appears that a couple poster's posters still do not understand the idea of crush zones and the ability of the car to absorb the energy of the impact. On cars of the era pictured the energy of the impact is absorbed by the passengers when they hit the dash with no seat belts or air bags.

Automotive Leapfrog

The creases running down the trunk and continuing to the crushed roof leave the impression that something was on top of the Ford's rear during this accident.

The roof could have caved if the driver's side of the Ford were entirely T-boned. But the creases on the trunk are not consistent with that, leaving me to wonder if the distant parked car was on top of the Ford during the accident and placed neatly by the curb by the authorities before this frame was shot.

I hope there are other angles of this one so we can see the other sides of these wrecks.

[The Ford seems to have rolled before coming to rest. Note the oval-shaped abrasion on the roof. - Dave]

Dad Had It Backwards?

He said cars in that era were steel. Cars today are thin aluminum. To crumple steel like that took some force that would have turned today's cars into aluminum foil. I've seen pictures of crashes with today's cars and practically nothing is left.

PS - Okay, saw the video. Considering how GM falsified some test crashes I wonder what they did to the BelAir for it to collapse like that. Then too, pity they destroyed a neat classic.

[The test was performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, not General Motors, and its purpose was to demonstrate the survivability of the passenger, not the vehicle. -tterrace]

[The sheet metal on most cars today is steel, not aluminum. - Dave]

The Rest of the Story

The Plymouth didn't inflict the trunk and roof damage on the Ford, unless the Ford went rubber up, or a big truck rear ended it.

Telephone pole?

All of the cars have fender damage mostly. The roof and trunk lid damage on the Ford point to something like a telephone pole falling on it.

My pop had the '53 Ranch Wagon with the same dark green top and the light green body.

Hula Hoop

Wow, I can't remember the last time I saw a kid walking down the street with a hula hoop. Oh wait - I never have. Anyhow, I like the way she has taken a moment from crash gawking to do some toddler tousling.

Traffic Control

Looking east on 10th Avenue at East 17th. Looks like they got tired of accidents and installed flow islands.

Three Sixes

The Ford would have a V-8 emblem along the front fender trim if it were so endowed and the '53 Plymouths don't have a choice--and what is it about these wreck-prone Plymouths, anyway? And can that be another '53 Buick approaching in the background?

Looks as if that Ford really had it in for Plymouths

It got two of them, both '53 models.

Crumpled Fenders

My granddad was telling me how heavy and sturdy the bodies on cars then were. It must have been lots of speeding to crumple steel like that. Today's cars would have been a crumpled mess of aluminum foil.

[Your granddad had it backwards. - Dave]

 
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