Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Airbag Development at Mercedes-Benz

Sectional drawing of the front passenger airbag module in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (model series 126). Key elements shown in the drawing are the folded airbag plus the two gas generators filled with solid propellant in the form of pellets.



Stuttgart. The protective airbags in the glove compartment and in the roof frame are celebrating birthdays: For 30 years the front passenger airbag and for 20 years the window airbag have been part of the continuously growing family of these potentially life-saving components in Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Today, the system is a component of integral safety and comprises up to a dozen different airbags in a single passenger car. They range from the knee airbag and the belt airbag in the rear to the thorax/pelvis side airbag.
Airbag development at Mercedes-Benz began as early as in 1966, with the company registering the corresponding patent (patent specifications document No. DE 21 52 902 C2) in October 1971. As the first production-ready solution, the driver’s airbag was introduced in the S-Class of model series 126 in 1981. This was a milestone in the passive safety of Mercedes-Benz. Due to its fundamental importance, this innovation was quickly adopted by the entire auto industry.
Little has changed in the basic principle of the first airbag to the present day: the sensors of the trigger unit register the particularly strong deceleration occurring in typical accidents and activate the airbag mechanism. In this process, nitrogen is abruptly released in the gas generator. The gas inflates the cushion-shaped textile structure made of polyamide fabric with a rubberised inside – the airbag. This protective airbag cushions the movement of the human body and in concert with the seatbelt (and the belt tensioner and belt force limiter) dissipates the kinetic energy generated by the impact.
Today, many front airbags have an adaptive design: They are not deployed all at once, but in two stages. 
The airbag anniversaries of 1988 and 1998 are part of the tradition of tireless vehicle safety research at Mercedes-Benz. Because ever since the successful launch of the driver’s airbag in 1981, the Stuttgart-based brand has been advancing the principle continuously. To this end, the engineers adapted the airbag to other areas of the vehicle and other accident scenarios. The first to benefit from this continuous development work was the front passenger: the front passenger airbag was a feature of passive safety not offered in this form by any other manufacturer at the time. It was presented in September 1987 as an option for the saloons and coupés of the S-Class. After its début in the luxury class in early 1988, it also became available as an option for the upper mid-size vehicle segment of the 124 model series. Starting in August 1994, it became part of the standard equipment of many Mercedes-Benz passenger cars together with rear head restraints. In the S-Class and SL sports cars, it became part of the standard specification as early as 1992.
The first front passenger airbag still occupied the entire glove compartment 30 years ago. After all, inflated it had a volume of 170 litres. However, the miniaturisation of the components soon made significantly smaller units possible. That was also the prerequisite for using the protective airbag in other places inside the vehicle. This was what developers were striving for, because a frontal collision, which causes the bodies of the driver and front passenger to be accelerated directly forward, is just one of many accident scenarios.
The side airbag, presented in 1993 and available in the E-Class starting in 1995, already aimed at providing lateral protection for passengers. This zone is also protected by the window airbag, which Mercedes-Benz presented in 1998. It unfolds like a curtain along the side windows in case of lateral impact. As a result, it is able to significantly reduce the risk of head injuries in particular for the driver, front passenger and passengers in the outer rear seats in case of lateral impact. When folded, the window airbag is stowed at the top in the roof frame.
This world innovation became available as an option in the E-Class of model series 210 starting in July 1998. In the S-Class of model series 220, which hit the market in autumn of 1998, the novel window airbag was then part of the standard specification from the start.
Further innovative steps of Mercedes-Benz airbag development were the head/thorax side airbag (2001), the knee airbag (2009) as well as the thorax/pelvis side airbag, the belt airbag and the cushion airbag (2013).
From the very beginning, Mercedes-Benz made it clear that airbags do not replace the function of the seatbelt as the most important restraint system. Rather, the two technologies are complementary and jointly enhance the level of safety. For some years now, combinations of both elements of passive safety have also been in use in Mercedes-Benz vehicles: The belt airbag in the rear presented in 2013 is an airbag integrated into the seatbelt.

Monday, February 19, 2018

How safe is your new car? Thieves Steal Jeep from Rancho Bernardo (San Diego County, CA ) Home


I'm back to looking at car theft again, this time more in the present than in the past.  If you are interested in the history of auto theft, you can not do better than to see my (and Rebecca Morales') Stealing Cars; Technology and Society form the Model T to Gran Torino (John Hopkins University Press, 2014).







Taken from a DOJ, US Attorney San Diego news release:




Tuesday, May 30, 2017 Nine Members of Hooligans Motorcycle Gang Charged in Sophisticated High-Tech Auto Theft Scheme Targeting 150 Jeeps
SAN DIEGO – Nine members of the Hooligans Motorcycle gang are charged in a federal grand jury indictment with participating in a sophisticated scheme to steal scores of Jeep Wranglers and motorcycles in San Diego County using handheld electronic devices and stolen codes.

According to court records, the transnational criminal organization is responsible for the theft of more than 150 Jeep Wranglers worth approximately $4.5 million within San Diego County since 2014. The Hooligans used high-tech methods to disable security systems and steal away with Jeeps in just a few minutes, in the middle of the night, while unsuspecting owners slept nearby. After stealing the Jeeps in San Diego County, the Hooligans transported them to Tijuana, Mexico, where the vehicles were sold or stripped for parts.

Three of nine defendants are in custody, including two that were arrested today at a home in Spring Valley and at the border; the rest are fugitives believed to be in Mexico. The defendants are scheduled to make first appearances in federal court either today at 2 p.m. or tomorrow at 2 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mitchell D. Dembin.

“The joy ride is over for these Hooligans,” said Deputy U.S. Attorney Mark Conover. “For many of us, our cars are our most valuable possessions. These arrests have put the brakes on an organization that has victimized neighborhoods in a different way – by stealing something very personal. Something that required a lot of sacrifice to purchase.”

“Through the remarkable diligence and work ethic of Regional Auto Theft Task Force detectives, and the inter-agency cooperation with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office, a powerful case has been brought against the Hooligans gang,” said California Highway Patrol Captain Donald Goodbrand, head of the multi-agency Regional Auto Theft Task Force, which cracked the case.

“The work of law enforcement and crime fighting is 24/7,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric S. Birnbaum. “The FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to work day and night to stop these large-scale international crime rings in order to protect our neighborhoods and the assets that are central to the everyday lives of people in our community.”

The indictment alleges that the Hooligans did their homework before a theft by targeting a specific vehicle days before the actual theft would take place. They obtained the vehicle identification number in advance and then managed to get secret key codes, which allowed them to create a duplicate key for that particular Jeep. Then, during the theft, the Hooligans disabled the alarm system, programmed the duplicate key using a handheld electronic device, and quietly drove away without notice.

This was a method so new and technologically advanced it required investigators to exceed the ingenuity of the thieves.

In the summer of 2014, San Diego County was hit with a rash of Jeep Wrangler thefts. Almost all the thefts occurred in the middle of the night or early morning, and almost all of the Wranglers were equipped with alarms. Yet no alarms were ever triggered, and there was never any broken glass or other signs of forced entry. Agents from the Regional Auto Theft Task Force, known as RATT, at first were perplexed. But eventually they caught a break. 

On September 26, 2014, a Jeep owner parked her 2014 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon in the driveway of her home in Rancho Bernardo. She returned to the driveway early the next morning to find the Jeep missing. Fortunately, the Jeep owner had recently installed a surveillance camera on her house, and it happened to be trained on the driveway.

The surveillance footage revealed that three men stole her Jeep around 2:30 a.m. by disabling the alarm and then using a key and a handheld electronic device to turn on the engine. 

Based on the surveillance footage, law enforcement agents sent Chrysler a list of around 20 Jeeps that had recently been stolen in San Diego County and asked whether anyone had requested duplicate keys for the stolen Jeeps.

Sure enough, Chrysler responded that a duplicate key had been requested for nearly every one of the 20 stolen Jeeps. Moreover, nearly every one of the keys had apparently been requested through the same dealership in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The Jeeps’ owners did not request duplicate keys and were unaware that anyone had.

After additional investigation, agents began interrupting Jeep thefts and made several arrests. Through these arrests, agents learned that the Tijuana-based Hooligan Motorcycle gang was behind the operation.

Case Number: 17cr1314
DEFENDANTSAGECITY
*Jimmy Josue Martinez31Tijuana, Mexico
*Mario Alberto Echeverria-Ibarra30Tijuana, Mexico
Henry Irenio Pulido24Imperial Beach, California
Alejandro Guzman23Tijuana, Mexico
*Narciso Zamora Banuelos29Tijuana, Mexico
*Adan Esteban Sanchez Aguirre26Tijuana, Mexico
*Salvador Isay Castillo21Tijuana, Mexico
Reynaldo Rodriguez33San Diego, California
*Sebastian Ponce20Tijuana, Mexico
*Fugitives

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy to Commit Transportation of Stolen Vehicles in Foreign Commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371; Maximum Penalty Five years in prison

AGENCIES

Regional Auto Theft Task Force, which includes the following agencies:
U.S. Border Patrol
California Highway Patrol
National Insurance Crime Bureau
California Department of Insurance
California Department of Motor Vehicles
San Diego County District Attorney’s Office
San Diego County Probation Department
San Diego County Sheriff’s Department

Ice Enforcement and Removal Operations
and police departments from La Mesa, Chula Vista, National City, Oceanside and San Diego.

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Agencies assisting with arrests include U.S. Marshals and San Diego Fugitive Task Force

Saturday, February 10, 2018

J.W. Jones and his "Live-Map" -- a Precursor to GPS? Hardly!

This morning I found some interesting historical information in the Dayton Daily News Wheels section.  The article was by Larry Printz entitled "4 New Car Features that aren't Necessarily cutting edge." A more complete source, as I discovered, was published in 2012 and is reproduced below.

Taken from the Saturday Evening Post website:

The First GPS: High-Tech Navigation in 1909

Published: February 4, 2012

Pity the motorists of a century ago. Automobiles in the 1900s were slow, stiff, and undependable. Gas stations were scarce. The roads, where they could be found, were in wretched shape. (In 1910, there were only 10 miles of paved highway in the U.S.) Traveling these rocky, rutted paths caused car engines to overheat and tires to blow out with a disheartening regularity.
As if this wasn’t enough discouragement, there was the challenge of navigating. Road signs were rare and often incorrect. Travelers were frequently reduced to driving from one roadside stranger to the next, gathering a few miles of directions at a time. The earliest road maps by Rand McNally were printed only after 1904.

A motorist uses this high-tech alternative to maps.
Yet a high-tech alternative appeared in 1909: a real-time, on-board directional guide called the Jones Live Map. It was invented by J. W. Jones, who had also introduced the Jones Speedometer, the Jones Disc Phonograph Record, and the Jones Yobel —“the gentlemen’s automobile horn.”
The idea was revolutionary.  The Live Map was a small turntable device with a cable that attached to an automobile’s odometer.  Before making their journeys, drivers would purchase paper discs with the route to their destination prescribed by The Touring Club of America.
At the beginning of the journey, the driver would place his journey’s disc to the Live Map’s turntable so that the journey’s starting point lined up with an arrow indicator on the glass cover. As the car began rolling, the turning odometer cable caused the map to rotate. The arrow would point to the driver’s changing position in the journey.
Each disc had up to 100 miles of travel details around its perimeter.  If the journey was longer than 100 miles, the driver would replace the first disc with a second, or third part.
Saturday Evening Post advertisement for the device described it as
the phonograph of the road. It has disc records covering the roads of the entire world. You insert the record of the trip you want to make. The Live-Map “plays” it. Not out loud, but with a pointer that always points the way—that tells you where you are now and what to do about it.
To have it with you is like having in your car a man who knows every road, every corner, every crossing, every landmark, every puzzling fork and crossroad in the entire world.
A 1910 booklet, “The Jones Live Map – What Happens Without It” brags that the Jones Live Map would save the driver from the Evil Genius of the Roads, the stranger who always gave incorrect directions. It was superior to route books, which were hard to follow and led drivers into unlisted trolley and railroad crossings. And it was more convenient than the large, clumsy, origamical maps that could never be refolded and were always tearing in the wind.
Jones Live Map
Jones Manufacturing offered over 500 map routes by 1919.
Jones Manufacturing was offering over 500 routes by 1919. The routes span the entire country from New York to Los Angeles, and included notification of speed laws where they existed.
However, the problem with this first GPS was the same that plagues such systems today. Roadways are in a state of continual change. Every time the Live Map offered printed directions like “take a right at the fork by the flag pole,” it was fighting a losing battle. Landmarks like flag poles could be removed at any time. The map discs might be corrected and reprinted, but a driver’s old discs, which relied on missing landmarks, could be close to useless.
By the 1920s, there was an abundance of road maps for much of the country. States and counties had begun identifying roadways with standardized signs along the roadside. Jones Live Map ceased production.
The next attempt to provide instantaneous driving directions didn’t appear until 1994, when the Department of Defense launched its Global Positioning System, which could locate the signal from a GPS device through a network of 24 satellites. The system was authorized for civilian use in 1996.
It quickly became popular with women drivers, but it proved just as welcome to men who felt that consulting their Garmin or TomTom wasn’t really asking for directions.
Postscript
The need for reliable navigation hasn’t changed in over a century, but the etiquette of the road certainly has. In 1909, the Jones manufacturing company sold its Yobel horn for its good manners, as this ad copy shows:
There is a vast difference between an automobile signal which says, “I’m coming,” and one which says “Get out of here.”
One is a gentleman’s request for his fair share of the road; the other is an insulting, abusive command to get into the ditch.
At the sound of one signal, a man turns out with quick civility; at the sound of the other, he unwillingly sulks aside.
Mr. J. W. Jones wanted a signal which would get the road without getting everybody mad, so he invented the New Jones Electric Yobel.
It is a signal that carries as far as any of the shrieking horns, but gives no offense. It sounds one harmonious, penetrating note. It is not the loud, coarse, vulgar blast of the rowdy. It is the signal of a gentleman’s car.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

A History of Driver Education in the US: Images from the First Version of "Sportsmanlike Driving," Late 1930s

Habit was at the heart of how one learned to drive during the early 1930s. 






The prevailing thought of the 1930s was that the responsibility for accidents lay in the hands  the driver, not the car or its design.


Pedestrian safety was a major concern during the 1930s, as cars began to dominate the street and its rules and regulations.  One did not want to be a "jaywalker."






These images were taken from the AAA Driver Education Booklet entitled "The Driver," first published in 1936.  See my paper on "Making a Nation of Drivers" for a detailed explanation providing context for these images.  Over the course of the next 5 decades the images contained in Sportsmanlike Driving would change edition to edition, reflective to a degree of a shift in thought concerning the automobile and American life.



Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Porsche 928 Story


Hi folks -- taken from a Porsche news release.  928s are fine cars but you better be good at doing your own repairs and have a very large parts stash. In purchasing one you may think you are getting a great deal, but the cost of upkeep will often be quite high.



Porsche Takes the Plunge

Spring of 1977: Porsche fans are shaken to the core when the brand comes out with its new top model, the 928. The car defies—and exceeds—all expectations.
Porsche 928, 2017, Porsche AG


“You cannot discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time,” said André Gide, French writer and 1947 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Although Gide could not have known it, his quote beautifully captures the mood at Porsche in the early 1970s. What was going on in Zuffenhausen? The Porsche and Piëch families had just withdrawn from the company. In the United States, Porsche’s biggest market at the time, legislators were discussing new crash-protection regulations. And the Porsche 911 was seen as obsolescent due to the stricter emissions and safety regulations on the horizon. The winds of change were in the air, and a few individuals at Porsche started to tackle these changes in a comprehensive manner.
Ernst Fuhrmann, the new chairman of the executive board, favored a novel model concept—a radical renunciation of the rear-engine principle. He envisioned a sports car with the engine mounted in the front and the transmission in the rear, connected by something called a “fast shaft.” This distribution of the drive system components is known as a transaxle construction, and it was to be a defining feature of the Porsche 928.

The development started in February of 1972

The decision was daring, given Porsche’s tradition of rear-mounted engines, but “everyone was on board” when it was made, recalls Wolfhelm Gorissen, who directed the Porsche 928 project. Development started in February of 1972, and the engineers at the Weissach Development Center broke new ground in every way. The engine, derived from a water-cooled, 4.5-liter V8 racing assembly made of aluminum, became the first to appear in a European standard production car. The engineers gave the chassis a completely new passive-steering, rear-wheel suspension: the “Weissach axle.” The car body was a combination of steel, aluminum, and plastic. And the polyurethane bumpers—yet another absolute novelty—were completely integrated into the body. They easily passed the newly introduced impact (pendulum) tests, which didn’t allow dents at impact speeds of up to 8 kmh.
Porsche 928, 2017, Porsche AG

With the 928, the engineers at the Weissach Development Center broke new ground

Bumpers hardly seem radical today but, at the time, they brought the engineers, designers, and of course project director Gorissen to the brink of despair. It wasn’t just a matter of their complex, elastic mount. In particular, the paint job presented a challenge. “At that time, we simply didn’t have a paint that could cover steel, aluminum, and polyurethane equally well,” Gorissen recalls. “There were different shades wherever you looked.” The right paint for the job had yet to be invented—and it was, just in time for the series production.

Porsche’s first Gran Turismo

While engineers were working on hundreds of little details in their quest to gain every possible centimeter and lose every possible kilogram, experts from the testing department were taking each successive prototype to its physical limits. The nearly ideal 50:50 weight distribution between the front and rear axles, the large-volume V8 engine, and the sophisticated suspension created expectations of first-class performance, at least on paper. But the 928 actually outstripped all expectations. Gorissen recalls those nighttime test-drives in the Black Forest very clearly: “It was winter. Some of the roads were icy, and it looked like a real challenge.” But the drivers climbed out of the car as cheery as could be after their excursion. “The car drove a full class better than the 911 of that time.”
The 928 was something different right from the start. Above all, it was positioned higher on the market—as a sporty touring car, or Porsche’s first Gran Turismo. The new car had four seats, although the two rear ones were not designed for long rides. It also felt extraordinarily spacious and had a capacious trunk. The car was considered large at the time, although it seems incredibly compact by today’s standards. “No other V8 sports car is so flat and elegant,” said Harm Lagaaij, Porsche’s head of design from 1989 to 2004. And he planned to drive “at least three 928s” in his free time.

The 928’s world debut at the Geneva Motor Show was a sensation

The 928 seemed to glide rather than roll on the road. It generated significantly less noise than the air-cooled engine of the 911. It handled much more agreeably and offered outstanding comfort: The air-conditioning system cooled the glove compartment; the height of the steering wheel and seats could be adjusted; and drivers could also adjust their pedal positions, foot rest, and gear shift. The windshield wipers had a separate tank with a dedicated dosage pump that sprayed a special cleaning agent onto the window from time to time to keep the glass free of streaks. And finally, the car had a specially designed “Porsche cassette radio with excellent reception qualities and clear, user-friendly controls.”
The 928’s world debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March of 1977 was a sensation, and the public was thrilled. According to Der Spiegel, “Former Volkswagen head Rudolf Leiding bought one at once—for his wife.” The magazine also noted, “No other car has played a more crucial role in Porsche’s highs and lows than the 928.” In other words, this completely new, incredibly modern, and timelessly elegant sports car clearly had everything it needed to take on the legacy of the 911.

The production of the 928 stopped after a total of 61,056 vehicles

But events turned out differently, as we now know, forty years on, even though the Porsche 928 was the European “Car of the Year” in 1978—the first and only sports car to have received that honor—and even though it was continuously improved and upgraded. Its output increased from an initial 240 to 350 hp in the final evolutionary stage of the series (the 928 GTS built in 1991). Production of the 928 finally stopped in 1995, after a total of 61,056 vehicles had been built.
Lagaaij has never stopped admiring the car’s design language. At some point in the conversation about its timelessly elegant aesthetics and coherent concept, he says something that seems to echo the words of André Gide: “The 928 was like a new continent in the Porsche world at the time.”
Andrew Phinney
Andrew Phinney, Porsche 928, 2017, Porsche AG

The fifty-one-year-old from Connecticut is the proud owner of the first Porsche 928 ever built. Eleven 928s, starting with chassis no. 9288100011, made their world debut at the 1977 Geneva Motor Show.
“As a teen, I would sit in front of the TV set, which is where I first encountered a Porsche 928: on The Six Million Dollar Man. I was smitten immediately. So far, I’ve owned around twenty Porsche 928s. But this particular 928 is something very special. I bought it from Jim Doerr, an enthusiast from Michigan. He first discovered it in 2011, relatively unloved and forsaken, in someone’s backyard somewhere in Michigan. The body was dotted with around forty holes and a number of special parts had been installed. But the original engine was still intact, as was the original paint job: Grand Prix White. I signed the deed of sale on February 22, 2017. That was the very same day, some forty years earlier, that the 928 must have left the factory in Zuffenhausen. On the following day, February 23, 1977, eleven new Porsche 928s made their world premiere. There’s scarcely a gap in the car’s documentation. In 1979 Porsche sold it to a private citizen in Hamburg. By 1983 the 928 was back in America where, because of import regulations, the original tachometer was replaced with one that indicated miles per hour. It now has almost 150,000 kilometers under its belt. I know what a treasure I have. Sometimes I take a seat next to it in the garage and wish it could talk about what it was like back then.”
Hans Clausecker
Hans Clausecker, 2017, Porsche AG

Born in 1940, Clausecker became a suspension expert and joined the 928 development team shortly before the car’s premiere. He was involved in testing winter tires—and in making the only factory race car of this model type.
“I joined the testing team about a year before the 928 was introduced. We were focusing on winter tires and running tests in Austria near the Turracher Höhe Pass and on frozen Lake Falkertsee near Bad Kleinkirchheim. To see how it handled, we drove to the Nürburgring or the Contidrom near Hanover. Thanks to its nearly ideal weight distribution, the 928 was much less problematic to drive than the 911. I thought it was extremely good-natured and found it to be a wonderfully comfortable touring car. My colleague Günter Steckkönig and I both thought this car would be an ideal candidate for the European Touring Car Championship. As a matter of fact, we received authorization to proceed; the 928 was ready to go in 1983. It did well at the Veedol Endurance Race on the Nürburgring and at the 24 Hours of Daytona as well. But unfortunately, it didn’t meet the requirement for the European Touring Car Championship of five thousand production cars sold in a year. That put an end to the dream of a racing career for the 928. More than thirty years went by before the 928 race car was resuscitated by Porsche apprentices and two Porsche retirees—Günter Steckkönig and me. Now the car is back, at the stage it was before its first race in 1983.”
Hans-Georg Kasten
Hans-Georg Kasten, 2017, Porsche AG

After studying design and automotive body construction in Hamburg, Kasten promptly joined Porsche in 1970 at the age of twenty-three. He worked on the 928 from the start, first as an interior designer, then on the exterior and as an assistant to studio director Wolfgang Möbius.
“I joined Style Porsche in August of 1970 and started working on interior design under Hans Braun, who was the director at the time. The future sports car soon became the big project, and everyone thought it should defy the zeitgeist and break with the usual wedge-shaped, angular bodies. It should look completely different: more organic, more modern, ‘Porschier.’ I think that’s why the 928 still has an interesting and timeless aesthetic to this day. My first job was to put Hans Braun’s design for the interior into practice. Completely new features included a cockpit that could be adjusted in tandem with the steering column and a central console that rose up to the dashboard and nearly enfolded the driver and front passenger. I transferred to exterior design in late 1973. The biggest challenge there was integrating the bumpers into the body, which had never been done in a car. The problem was that these bumpers had to meet new and very strict U.S. crash regulations, which took an enormous amount of development work. We finally came up with an excellent solution. But that was only possible because we not only designed a completely new sports car but also established an entirely new type of cooperation between engineers and designers at Porsche.”

Friday, February 2, 2018

A 1951 Packard and a Close Call: Sometimes an Inch Makes a Big Difference




A contribution from Ed Garten:

John, you may find this story interesting:  In summer 1957 my parents were separated pending a final divorce.  My grandfather Garten loaned my mother a car from his used car lot -- a 1951 Packard with the Ultra-matic transmission.  I was only 9 years old but I still remember every detail of that car.  Mother took my sister and me to the State Fair of West Virginia about 40 miles from home and as we were going down a very long hill into Lewisburg, West Virginia, the brakes on the Packard went out.

My mother screamed at me: "What should I do?"  Of course as a nine year old I had no idea other than to yell at her "pump the brakes, pump the brakes."  Which did no good as the petal went to the floor (those Packards had pedals that went through the floor as opposed to later cars with suspected pedals.

Clearly a brake line had burst or the master cylinder had gone out........but my mother hit a telephone pole at the end of the hill -- likely going 50 miles an hour.  My sister was int he back seat and she went over the seat hitting her head on the hard metal dash and my head missed a protruding radio knob by about an inch.  One more inch to the left and I would have died for sure.  The car was demolished.  We three were taken to the local hospital -- all three safe but really beat up.

But today, I was searching some newspaper archives online and actually found the car that my grandfather had loaned my mother -- that 51 Packard -- which he had listed for sale for $295.  Yes, two-hundred and ninety-five dollars.  If you can bring up this PDF I formatted, look toward the lower left and you'll see an advertisement for Garten Motors in April 1975 -- there are a bunch of used cars all listed for sale for $295 and the Packard that I might have died in is first on the list.

Two weeks from today I will turn 70 years old -- but for luck or the hand of God, I lived 61 years beyond that old Packard.  Great story, hey?


a 1951 Packard 200 -- not Ed's mother nor the way his car looked!