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Full Stop: 1917

Washington, D.C., or vicinity. "Auto wreck." Tree 1, Car 0. Another of National Photo's "auto wreck" plates from 1917. 8x10 glass negative. View full size.

Washington, D.C., or vicinity. "Auto wreck." Tree 1, Car 0. Another of National Photo's "auto wreck" plates from 1917. 8x10 glass negative. View full size.


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Plenty big enough.

The tree in question is more than man enough to demolish a car of that era, and to inflict very considerable damage on modern cars, also.

During thirty years of police service, I attended numerous car v tree road traffic accidents; and many of them, where the car was very considerably damaged, some incurring fatalities, involved trees no bigger than that in this picture. Indeed, The trees were often very lightly damaged themselves, and years later I would pass those same trees, pondering upon their remarkable resilience and the tragic events they had been involved in. A healthy tree is an extremely robust organism. Those earlier cars would not have stood a chance.

vehicle ID

I suggest this is a Buick. A model K Ford was a right hand steer car with the spark and throttle BELOW the steering wheel like the model N,R,S & T.

Oh it was staged all right

Too bad we can't ask the poor driver whether this photo was staged. He staged it and then was rendered unavailable for comment. Instantly.

Ford Model K

The K was for Kindling.

That'll buff right out

A little rubbing compound will have it looking like new. Any guesses as to what make it was?

A Staged Photo?

I'm more comfortable commenting on architectural anomalies, but a friend of
mine who understands old vehicles maintains that this photo was staged: 1) The body parts are not torn or sheared but rather unbolted from the frame. 2) Cars of this vintage were tougher than this; such a small tree could not inflict this sort of damage. 3) Cars of this era had tough frames which would require speeds in excess of what was then possible in order to create the damage shown. 4) Key parts are missing; seats, floor, etc.

[Your friend is impressively ill-informed, or myopic. The frame of the car is wood; there's at least one door and a seat cushion right in front of his nose, etc., etc. National Photo was a news service employing many photographers; none of its dozens of car wreck photos would be "staged." I also wonder why your friend hasn't considered the possibility of various car parts not being in the picture because they're scattered elsewhere. - Dave]

Thank you for confirming what I had already suspected...

Just a wild guess

but I'm going to say it was a fatal accident.


I would bet any money on it, but that braded wire that's running from the frame at the side of the gas tank looks like some kind of ground wire for the electrical system. Had to rig something like that on a [deleted] I owned one time.

IIHS and NHTSB would not approve -

Goodness, in those days the entire vehicle was a crumple zone! Fascinating.

Two license plates

Does anyone know why a car at that time would carry license plates for both DC and Maryland? Did cars require plates for every jurisdiction in which they might be operated?

[At the time, yes. -tterrace]

It looks like the car slid sideways into the tree. Today's drivers don't have to worry about the body of their car shattering into jagged spears and splinters.

There's the problem

The air bags didn't deploy. I smell a recall coming.

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Handyman special.

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