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Road to Nowhere: 1957

Oakland or vicinity circa 1957. "Road construction accident." And yet another battered Buick. 4x5 acetate negative from the News Archive. View full size.

Oakland or vicinity circa 1957. "Road construction accident." And yet another battered Buick. 4x5 acetate negative from the News Archive. View full size.


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Tire marks?

From the scuff marks on the lower middle area of the car, I'm guessing this accident is the result of getting smacked by one of the large earth movers or some other large vehicle. The sweeping mark left in the dirt would indicate the damaged Buick was parked at the time.

[I think the tire marks on the ground resulted from the Buick getting shoved out of the way so traffic could pass - note that the Ford at the right edge and the car behind the Highway Patrolman are both in motion. -tterrace]

Century power

The Buick Century was built on the shorter wheelbase Special body (122" vs. 127" for the Super & Roadmaster) but carried the Roadmaster's 322 cid V8 instead of the Specials 264 cid V8. They were called the "Banker's hot rod.

Special Body

Roadmaster engine--best power-to-weight ratio of all Buick models in 1955! 270 special production Century two-door sedans were built for the California Highway Patrol, 135 with standard transmission, 135 with varitable pitch Dynaflow. They are also the most fondly remembered of the cars that Broderick Crawford drove as Dan Matthews in TV's Highway Patrol.

The car to the left

It's actually a '53 Chrysler, Mostly likely the cheaper Windsor model. The lack of a V8 emblem on the hood indicates it's powered by the L-head 6 engine, not the famous "Hemi" V8.

2 Eucs and a Cat

The scrapers at left and right are Euclids (GM, with Screaming Jimmies), while the one in the center background is a Caterpillar. Unusual, as most companies then and now tend to standardize on one brand, to simplify parts inventory. Macks have always dominated on-road constuction hauling.

From the height and shape of the damage, and the skid marks, the car was hit by the front bumper of a scraper, and spun around. Lucky driver probably survived unharmed.

Easy spotting clue, the crossbar of the scraper frame is hexagonal on a Euc, and round on a Cat. It appears the Eucs have hydraulic bowl controls, while the Cat is cable. The leftover cable is kept on the spool atop the crossbar for the next renewal.

Pretty much all GM

There is a Mack truck front end at the left edge and a Ford at the right edge, but otherwise every vehicle in the picture was made by GM, including the scrapers, made by the Euclid division.

Built like a tank?

It's amazing how these cars from the 50's just seem to rip apart in an accident. When I was a kid they seemed so solid and the steel so much thicker than what came around in the 70's and later.

1955 Century

Capable of 100 MPH was the reason for naming the top of the line Buick the "Century". Easily identified by the 4 fender emblems vs 3 on other models. A modern car would hold up a bit better than this hardtop.

[Buick's top-of-the-line series was the Roadmaster. It, the Century and the Super had four ventiports; the Special had three. -tterrace]

Applied title.


'55 Buick

And it's a Century, I believe, from the four venti-ports and rear deck trim.

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