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What Car Saved Your Bacon?

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Driving on public roads is normally quite routine, but every so often, life throws a curveball at you. Today we’re talking about cars that have saved our bacon. While we like to think that our driving skills keep us out of trouble, sometimes part of it is the machine. Let me give you an example.

In the odd daylight hours that the Greater Toronto Area’s highways move at all, they typically flow reasonably well, come to a dead stop, speed back up again, and repeat. Obviously, this creates huge speed differentials, which can be a problem when drivers aren’t paying proper attention. One day, on the Queen Elizabeth Way, the traffic ahead of me came to a stop and I did too. Awareness and following distance makes a difference, right? However, while I was stopped, I looked back in the rearview mirror and realized the third-generation Toyota RAV4 behind me probably wasn’t stopping. Uh-oh.

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Swiftly, I slid the gear selector in my 325i into first, cranked the wheel to the right, and gave the loud pedal a controlled squirt to get onto the shoulder. Better safe than sorry, right? Well, that turned out to be the right move, because the RAV4 ended up coming to a full ABS panic stop exactly where my rear seat was just a moment earlier. Panel damage averted, everyone got to keep carrying on their way. This might sound like a simple tale of defensive driving, but here’s the thing — if I was in a wider car, I likely wouldn’t have been able to fit between the traffic ahead and the wall. In fact, even in the 325i, I wouldn’t have fit both mirrors between the stopped V6 Charger’s passenger side mirror and the wall. Defensive driving certainly helped, but if it weren’t for relative narrowness, an escape route might not have been possible.

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So, has driving a specific car ever saved your bacon? Maybe your introduction to stability control was on sheet ice, or you happened to benefit from outstanding brakes, or the size of your car let you fit through a tiny escape route. Whatever the case, I want to hear about both the car and your experience.

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(Photo credits: Thomas Hundal)

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Musicman27
Musicman27
14 days ago

My dad had a 90’s Corolla that saved him in an accident. I think it was the one with custom suspension that outperformed most other “tuner” cars on the track. (he’s had multiple ’90s Corollas) and it had new tires. Some guy t-boned him and the car rolled 3 times. He got out of the car scratch-free, turned around and the only thing he could say was “MY CAR!”

AceRimmer
AceRimmer
16 days ago

Bullitt Mustang w/ winter tires. Was going thru a high-speed intersection when a Ford HD truck decided to make a cross-traffic turn right in front of me. Was able to make a ridiculously quick right-hand correction in the intersection, then quick lefty to avoid the sidewalk.

Car’s improved handling made the quick maneuver possible, then grippy winter tires in sub-freezing temps made it safe to maintain control and not get squashed by 4 tons of truck.

pizzaman09
pizzaman09
17 days ago

I was driving my Austin Healey Sprite down a very straight flat 2 lane state road that people like to pass on. Coming towards me was a slug of cars and the second car decided to pass by going into the oncoming lane that I’m in. The driver clearly doesn’t see my little British Racing Green Roadster headed towards him. Bing the Sprite is a very narrow car, I took the bumpy gravel shoulder, the passing car took my lane and the car in normal traffic in the opposing lane stayed where it was at, so three wide as we passed. The narrowness of the Sprite gave ample room on luckily a wide shoulder and it’s mega soft suspension and good handling allowed it to take it without being upset.

I pulled into the gas station up the road and just sat there and shook for a good five minutes to calm down. I avoid that stretch of road now and installed the most obnoxiously bright LED 7″ round headlights in the Sprite. Those lights really help people see the dark little car.

PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
18 days ago

1997 Grand Cherokee: too many times to count! One that stands out to me happened after I had a very expensive ABS issue…one of those things where the system would shut off due to a perceived fault, but simply cutting the vehicle off and restarting was enough to reset the system for a bit. Well, as much as I drive this Jeep (and not in areas where I want to pull over), I went ahead with the repair. The week after I got the Jeep back from the shop, I was driving home at night, and came around a corner to find some nitwit’s unsecured garbage – complete with the 55 gallon garbage can – perched in the middle of the lane. The road conditions, combined with the braking/swerving maneuver I executed, resulted in the comforting vibrating/grinding of the ABS doing its thing. Prior to the repair, ABS would have shut itself off by that point in my drive.

2009 Grand Cherokee: driving on the Maine Turnpike at some unholy hour of the morning in the remnants of some tropical storm, I was already at a reduced speed due to weather conditions, but was still going fast enough that I completely missed seeing the giant pool of standing water in the middle of my lane. I hit it going 50 mph or so…and went straight through it with no problems. I couldn’t see for a few seconds; fortunately, there was pretty much no traffic. But the Jeep went through it like it was nothing. Maybe it was the tires I had put on right before the trip.

Ed-in-TolEDo
Ed-in-TolEDo
18 days ago

Not my bacon, but my daughters. I’ve posted this before how one of my 2000 Jeep Cherokee XJ gave its life for her when a truck pulled up off the berm in front of her while she was doing 70 on the expressway. She had three choices, go left and take out the car beside her, go straight into the DOT bar on the truck, or go right onto the berm. She chose right, taking the XJ off road and, as the guy in the left lane told her, did three airborne rolls before coming to a stop.

Myk El
Myk El
18 days ago

Not really sure the car’s abilities saved my bacon, but car enabled the method in which my bacon was saved. I had just made a left turn onto a road and a vehicle was approaching the exit driveway from a gas station on my right. There was a turn lane/acceleration lane out of that driveway, I was in the through lane. The driver leaving the gas station chose not to stop and instead gunned it to pull out into my lane. My reaction was to summon the V8 power of my 2005 GTO, go around this driver in the available turn/acceleration lane rather than stand it up on the bumper.

The driver of the other vehicle is what I call a vigilante. He was trying to get in front of the trio of cars led by me and control our speed. He did not attempt to tailgate, instead he just stayed slow after the acceleration lane went away and kept the other two cars stuck behind him until another opportunity to pass appeared.

James Carson
James Carson
18 days ago

Similar incident in Regina on Albert st. II was driving my 72 240Z. Summer afternoon rain made the road slick. Stopped at traffic light and noticed a car closing on me and not slowing. Decided to cut into left turn lane to avoid the impending hit. The driver plowed into the back of the car that was in front of me. Shut down and hopped out to check on things. The driver of the car was obviously drunk. They were making excuses about slick road, yadda… Cops showed, made statement. The narrowness of the 240 and it’s off the line dig saved the day for me.

BoneBrothOutback
BoneBrothOutback
18 days ago

Driving to winter class in College Park down I-95 in Maryland in the mid 00s. Driving Dad’s 98 ML320 (release year, he hit a deer with it with 67miles on the Odometer, another great story).

Sudden pretty intense snow squall, visibility drops to “nope” and all of a sudden I realize im driving into what looks like a red haze, which turns into a 30+ vehicle pileup. Start navigating around the mess, and see a bunch of amber flashing lights rapidly approaching behind me, which turns into a monstrous heavy duty cherry red wrecker just barrelling down the road at 60MPH. I mash the gas and slalom around the pileup as the wrecker does the best impression of the train from Inception through the pileup and slides to the end of the road and slowly falls onto its side.

I was 5 minutes late to class.

Last edited 18 days ago by BoneBrothOutback
Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
18 days ago

1982, I had one of the first new Supra’s to come in. Driving east in I-80 out of Oakland at typical freeway high speed. Car maybe a city block ahead of me made a left turn right into the median barrier. I dunno..stroke? Heart attack? anyway I was able to downshift and swerve around safely. I’ve always credited the handling of the car for getting me out of that.

TheDrunkenWrench
TheDrunkenWrench
18 days ago

My bacon was saved by being low & wide.
It was 2016, I’d just started a new job and I was working the 11pm-7:30am shift. I’d just moved in with my girlfriend, so my commute had ballooned to an hour and 10 mins door-to-door of mostly highway.

One morning I’m heading home. Beautiful sunny morning. I had the windows down, sunroof open, music up loud around 8am.
Despite all this, night shift is a bitch and I put all four off in the gravel at 118km/h on cruise control.

I came to, pulled it back on the road to some excessive tail wagging across both lanes of the 417 before bringing it under control.

If I hadn’t been in my genesis coupe, with its lowered and widened stance, I’d likely have rolled whatever I was driving. To this day I’m amazed it stayed so planted being thrown in to a power slide at triple digit speeds.

From that day forward, I picked a park & ride about 15 mins into my commute where I made a judgement call. If I felt tired, I’d pull over there and take a 30-45min power nap before continuing.

Thankfully those days are behind me, I now live 18mins from work and have a shift that corresponds with daylight.

Danger Ranger
Danger Ranger
18 days ago

I’ve had 3 actually, my 98 Wrangler on 33’s saved me when I got hit head on by a drunk driver on a blind curve, his estimated speed was approximately 80. Mine was about 30 because I was slowing down to turn into a driveway. Completely shattered my right ankle, sprained the left, and fractured my right wrist because I was downshifting at the time. Unfortunately, he did not survive the crash. My ankle needs to be rebuilt (again) but at least I’m here today, if I would have driven my Trans Am or my Beretta Z-26 that night I would have been in the same situation as him.
2nd was my 98 GC that I bought after the Wrangler, I was at a red light, got rear ended, pushed into a one way and got smacked pretty good on the passenger side front. Changed the tire, drive it home and had it for another couple of years. It was totalled but ran fine, so I fixed it up so it was presentable and ran it in winter.
3rd is my Mazda Ranger that I have now. Downhill, sheet of black ice, brakes were not going to help me miss the previous accident at bottom of said hill, slammed it into 2nd, headed for the ditch, missed everything and everybody, the much heavier Tahoe that was behind me was not so lucky, he stopped by hitting one of the previously mentioned vehicles with his rear bumper aligned with my driver’s door. There is something to be said for lighter manual vehicles in that sort of situation.

Here4thecars
Here4thecars
19 days ago

The keyboard player in my band driving to the gig in his 4Runner got t-boned in an intersection by a drunk driver. The driver side door was caved in and the car rolled over from the impact, but he was ok, and amazingly enough all his keyboard gear survived. Once he got the insurance money he went out and bought another 4Runner. He told me, “Shit, that car saved my life. I’m getting another one!”

NosrednaNod
NosrednaNod
19 days ago

A Volkswagen. HAHAHAHA. J/k.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
19 days ago

Shortly after moving to San Francisco in ’93, I was with a friend one evening in my ’89 Mercury Tracer driving down Market Street towards Downtown from the Castro.

Yes, I was distracted while blond – To this day, I seriously am not capable of driving and carrying on a conversation at the same time.
Yes, I missed the red light at Van Ness.
Once I was in the intersection and noticed the phalanx of cars bearing down on us from the right, I made a VERY hard left onto Van Ness – which we drove up as if nothing had ever happened.

Last edited 19 days ago by Urban Runabout
Cerberus
Cerberus
19 days ago

My ’90 Legacy wagon. It was there for me through severe, rage PTSD and took everything that was thrown at it with a shrug. Avoided countless incidents in weather, altercations, crashes that happened around me, being followed by several people at once (Though I wasn’t in danger, I didn’t know that at first and I did some stuff. Actually, making and f’n with those corporate security guys was one of the best days of my life.), and inspired me to write, which got me to recognize the PTSD and, eventually, get through it. It’s not speculation to state I wouldn’t be here—or at least not free from prison—were it not for that car and that’s a hell of a lot more than I can say for any damn humans. I may have saved two people from suicide, but that car was the only thing that was there to save me from some form of that myself. All the other cars I had have just been cars, I wrote off half of my family without second thought, I’ve mourned relationships in less time than it took to walk to the parking lot to my car after a breakup, and I’ve stepped away from friends of many years after we drifted apart without looking back, but that car still shows up in dreams after almost 20 years, same as some loved ones who have died.

Rob Schneider
Rob Schneider
18 days ago
Reply to  Cerberus

Both my kids have Subies. I hope they get the same service from their cars, too, if they ever need it.

MtnCamantalope
MtnCamantalope
19 days ago

I was delivering pizza as a high school kid in my ’91 Cherokee (2dr 5spd that’s right DT). On my way back to the shop from my first delivery it’s sleeping and I’m following a dump truck, so my forward visibility is garbage. This is the exact moment my wiper motor decides to pack it in. So I’m thinking “shit, I’ve got to be on the road all night, what am I going to do?” and I catch the sign for the pizza shop through the haze that is my windshield. Without even thinking I crank the wheel left to turn into the parking lot. I didn’t even see the full sized Ford Excursion coming the other way until I had already been spun 180 degrees and was watching it roll into someone’s front yard. I had to pry open the Ford’s door so the poor women I had just crushed head on could get out of the car. Not only were both of us a-ok, but you’d better believe I was even able to drive that jeep home. The Excursion was totaled.

Donovan King
Donovan King
19 days ago

2012 Tiguan SE. A Corolla on 84 in CT lost control, over corrected, lost a front tire, hit the barrier and bounced towards us.

My wife was 8 months pregnant and we were on the way home from a baby shower.

Sport mode, pedal to the floor, and a thankfully short length and we were able to squeak by on the shoulder. 80mph traffic behind us was not going to slow down.

Pulled off at the next exit to breathe, cry, discuss. That Tiguan saved our bacon that day.

Citrus
Citrus
19 days ago

My brother had a second-gen Chevy Sprint. He also wasn’t a very attentive driver. So he wasn’t paying attention when we were driving and a train happened to be crossing. But a Sprint is a very short car, so while there was a moment where I saw a lot of train in the window we were not actually hit by the train, and I’m still pretty sure if the car was any longer that would not be the case.

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