21 October 2013

Losses and Lessons: Smoky burnout ends in tears for Plymouth GTX owner

VEHICLE COVERED: 1970 Plymouth GTX 440/390 hardtop coupe

WHAT WENT WRONG: There’s an old, two-word adage that “accidents happen.” Unfortunately, when mixing the wrong ingredients – large ego, high levels of testosterone and a crowd of easily impressed people, for instance – accidents are practically inevitable.

The owner of a 1970 Plymouth GTX stopped to get a sandwich at a local restaurant and came outside to see a group of teenage boys gathered around his car. Several of the car’s admirers commented how cool it was, and then one of them asked, “Can you show us what it can do?” Embracing the opportunity to help educate today’s youth, the owner spoke too soon, apparently, by answering, “No problem.” He jumped behind the wheel, turned the key, revved the engine, smoked the tires and released the brakes –immediately losing control and crashing into the side of a parked 2010 Jaguar XF.

DAMAGE/LOSS: The GTX suffered damage to the front end, hood and windshield, and the Jaguar’s passenger-side door and front bumper were crunched. All told, repairs were estimated at more than $20,000, which Hagerty paid. In addition, the driver hit his head on the windshield, broke a tooth and needed stitches to close a gash inside his mouth. The teenage boys couldn’t suppress their laughter while being interviewed by police, which also poured salt in the wounds.

LESSON: As it often does, this moment of bravado went terribly wrong. Insurance may cover stupidity – at least it did in this case – but use your head when you get behind the wheel of an automobile, particularly a powerful one. Instead of living by the adage “accidents happen,” remember that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

57 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Barry Birch Washington November 6, 2013 at 13:03
    These are old cars no matter how restored they are, you must be gentle with the machinery! They don't have the modern safety advances, you can hurt yourself badly. Drive them gently! Bystander like seeing your car go by slowly so they can admire them!
  • 2
    John C. Cargill Hanover Park Illinois November 6, 2013 at 13:10
    It used to be easy in the mid to late 60's to spot the inexperienced muscle car owner. Sometimes even before they got the license plates on the right rear quarter would be banged up. That first time they bounced on it too hard and the got sideways. I knew a few guys who went back for miller cars or had their insurance men demand they go for something not as strong.
  • 3
    jack key west November 6, 2013 at 13:29
    a video would have been hilarious! LOL
  • 4
    Jon Kittel United States November 6, 2013 at 13:35
    Wow, that brings back a similar memory. As a young teenager around 15 years of age in the early 70's, myself and 2 other friends were at a sleepover in a tent in the backyard of one of their houses and about 11 pm we decided to take a walk. We went down to the corner of a busier intersection a few blocks away and a neighborhood guy, in his 20's at the time, drove up to the stop sign in his 1970 Dodge Demon or maybe a Plymouth Duster. We talked to him a minute or two and said "get on it" and "squeel the tires." Well it didn't take much convincing. He left the stop sign, turned left and proceeded to light 'em up. Then lost control and slammed into two huge trees. Luckily he was alright, but the car was destroyed. I think this happens a lot more than we think.
  • 5
    adam Washington State November 6, 2013 at 13:35
    So where's the rest of the story we all want to know? Did he get cancelled after this stunt, or if not did his rates go up?
  • 6
    dick lenahan smog free torrance November 6, 2013 at 13:45
  • 7
    Kevin Houston November 6, 2013 at 14:08
    Unbeleivable that y'all PAID for this one - I thought that "contests of speed" was not covered - I guess showing off is - WOW - I hope you will shell out when I do something this STUPID - Kev
  • 8
    Skip Boise November 6, 2013 at 14:21
    .......After which his policy was cancelled......
  • 9
    Mark Cromwell, ct November 6, 2013 at 14:30
    If you don't have a good handle on what can happen if you do stupid things then you should fit the bill. Learn what your car is capable of in an open parking lot before committing to encouragement from the crowd! Common sense helps, but we all do stupid things at some point in our lives. Good luck on your repairs.
  • 10
    Tommmy Big V-8 Vega Burniston Erie, PA November 6, 2013 at 14:51
    With a sewed up mouth gash and minus a chicklet I sure hope the sandwhich wasnt a beep-beep take-out. The Plymouth GTX 440 has always been one of my favorite machines, mighty strong medicine for the street without a doubtPQ. Hope it was worth the byte.
  • 11
    John Camarillo, California November 6, 2013 at 14:56
    Hagerty paid ! WOW ! can't believe that they covered to pay for stupidity. What made this case different from the other stupid people. Just Glad none of the kids got hurt. I won't even do burn-outs because I don't like clean rubber off the lower back quarters or painting in rock chips. Guess my burn-out days were done when I had to paid for my tires and not my DADS. Note to myself. DAD gets a set of tires on Fathers day or on his Birthday depending on his current tire wear.
  • 12
    corvairdog New Hamshire November 6, 2013 at 15:35
    That's why I drive Corvairs. Zero chance of this scenerio. ;)
  • 13
    Ross United States November 6, 2013 at 16:25
    I tend to agree. Don't the insurance docs prohibit "speed exhibitions"?
  • 14
    Bill Harris Brighton, MI November 6, 2013 at 16:32
    I have to agree with Harvey.
  • 15
    Iko PA November 6, 2013 at 16:40
    I have 3 motorcycles [1941 & 1942 Harley still all original and a 1978 original Soviet Dnepr 11/16 KMZ MB650M1 with sidecar...no not a Ural IMZ copy!.....] that cruise often year round. Sadly we are more and more paying for the "idiots" on their 'master blaster rice crotch rockets' with an infantile mentality of weaving in and out of traffic at ridiculous speeds, speeding by on the shoulders during heavy congested slow traffic, doing 'wheelies' and acting uncivil. This creates bad rep for those of us who just enjoy our leisurely cruise as well as raises our rates! Hagerty should not payout for irresponsibility especially legal violations such as mentioned by Mr.Guilford!
  • 16
    Ray St.Clair Tucson AZ November 6, 2013 at 16:52
    Yea I agree that Hagerty should have paid for the Jag repairs but not the GTX. Stupidity should not be rewarded. There's a "stupid motorist" law here in southern Arizona. If you drive through or around the "DO NOT ENTER WHEN FLOODED" sign during our monsoon rainy season and get stuck in an arroyo and EMS has to be called to rescue either you or your car, you get fined $2500. Even that doesn't deter some folks but it surely helps. Just about every year there's a picture in the paper of someone on their hood waiting for EMS to come to the rescue. Having insurance bail you out for doing something dumb isn't a very good idea and I'll be AAA doesn't offer "roadside" assistance to the folks on the hood of their car.
  • 17
    Richard Poilleri East Meadow, NY. November 6, 2013 at 16:53
    I agree with Harvey, I'm surprise that Hagerty paid this guy, it would be a different story if he hit the jag because he lost his brakes, or his steering. stupid is as stupid does. I think this guy should send Hagerty a letter of gratitude for the paid damage.
  • 18
    Robin B Nevada November 6, 2013 at 17:01
    Stupid is as Stupid does....this is why i laugh when someone pulls up next to me reving their motor thinking it will provoke me to race them...do i really look that Stupid to want to take a chance on messing up my beautiful car....some people shouldn't be behind the wheel of a car let alone a classic!!!
  • 19
    Patrick Lafayette, In November 6, 2013 at 17:03
    I remember the feeling I had laying rubber out of a 4 way stop, with cars at the other 3 signs. It was smoky, and awesome, the way that 70 Cutlass would peel a tire. It was really cool until the entire exhaust system fell off at the manifolds! My shame was only enhanced as I trotted back to retrieve my exhaust from the roadway grabbing it with my bare hands...........Now I officially looked the part of a dumb ass teen hopping up and down with blistered hands, and a car so loud it would make your ears bleed!
  • 20
    Glen Weaver Macungie, PA November 6, 2013 at 17:07
    Some men are too dumb for their own good. A simple "sorry guys, no can do" would have sufficed.
  • 21
    Carl Drueckhammer Plano, TX November 6, 2013 at 17:08
    Ouch... I'm glad no one was seriously hurt and that Hagerty paid the guy's claim (in case, someday, I lose my mind). That said, I hope his coverage is dropped so he doesn't add risk and higher rates for the rest of us.
  • 22
    art wegweiser Allison Park (McCandless) PA November 6, 2013 at 17:16
    Sorry Harvey, but I think you are being rather harsh. Have you never made any stupid errors? Never experienced the so called "red mist"? Never been flattered and excited by interest in your personal toy and wanted to show it off? Fault should not be the issue unless it was a deliberate act and thus potentially criminal. What Hagerty recognizes is that we, by and large, treasure our machines and do everything to protect them and us. Thus their rates are incredibly low. Insure your car with Allstate or Geico or Nationwide and see what "good hands" are "on your side' after an accident. The move described here was quite stupid and, were I the owner of that Jaguar, I would have wanted to thrash him soundly. But be assured, in the future, this guy will be quite chastened. Bravo to our Hagerty for being humane while still, of course, earning a profit. Not too common a phenomenon in their greedy industry.
  • 23
    Peter Havlik B.C. November 6, 2013 at 17:20
    And I suppose you are perfect and have never made a single foolish mistake in your whole life?
  • 24
    Otto Cross Scottsdale, AZ November 6, 2013 at 18:16
    AGREED, your shouldn't be able to insure STUPID. This moron needs an awakening. He should have been on the hook for the Jag too ...
  • 25
    M.J.M. Crest Hill, IL November 6, 2013 at 18:18
    I agree with Mr. Knobs. There is NO place for immature acts like this. What if one of those impressionable teens had been struck by this idiot? Instead of proving his inability to drive his classic Mopar, why not explain the fine details under the hood? He likely would have made a better impression......
  • 26
    Harlan Gerrick Hanover Pa November 6, 2013 at 18:19
    Harvey, I agree this was a fool act but think about it, so is backing into a tree or pulling out in front of someone at a stop sign or any number of other things. I collected once for hitting a deer on a early November evening; ins. company probably could argue it was a fool act for driving my classic car during the rut. What good would ins. be if the company could deny payment for fool hardy acts?? My opinion........
  • 27
    Ira Goodberg Los Angeles, CA November 6, 2013 at 18:25
    I can't believe this was covered. Did he pay more for the "Idiot Option" on his policy?
  • 28
    Mike Butchart Jackson MI November 6, 2013 at 18:36
    Thank you for paying this and including it in this E-Mail. The driver would feel bad enough already and you taking care of this let's your customers know that honesty will be the best policy.
  • 29
    Paul Fannin Lake Milton, Ohio November 6, 2013 at 18:46
    Some of us know the power of the oldie and like to impress upon todays youth that we as "the elders" can have a little fun once in a while too. what you have to ask yourself is, is this his first boo boo and if so why punish him? he's probably paid insurance for many years without a boo boo but we don't know that, do we? It is funny but tragic he hurt his baby and I do feel bad for him but come on, and the name calling, does Harvey own a hunk of history? Don't grow old, just be a little more cautious with the horsepower. Have fun and thank Hagerty for being the best classic insurance company in the world and the most forgiving also. I applaude Haggerty, thanks for being my friend and company.
  • 30
    JP MI November 6, 2013 at 19:33
    I wonder if he was texting......
  • 31
    Craig Central Florida November 6, 2013 at 19:41
    Although I surely don't endorse such stupid behavior, I feel comfortable knowing that Hagerty stood behind this fool and confident that they will be behind me if I ever need them. If the kids want to see what my ride can do, they can drag their sleds to the strip and I'll be happy to show them. But bring your $$.
  • 32
    Pete Loscalzo Lebanon, nj November 6, 2013 at 20:42
    Ditto,. I couldn't have said it better myself.
  • 33
    William Harper Linwood, MI November 6, 2013 at 20:52
    I agree 100 % with Floyd Knobs, well said.
  • 34
    William Harper Linwood, MI November 6, 2013 at 20:55
    I agree 100% with Harvey Guilford, Well said.
  • 35
    P.Johnson Rochester Hills Mi. November 6, 2013 at 22:08
    Are you sure he was at a sandwich shop? and not a Tavern? At least he has a scar to remind him everyday how stupid he was!
  • 36
    Dave Rex Ohio November 6, 2013 at 22:36
    Agree with Harvey. Burnouts are a low point of this hobby. Why someone would deliberately do this to a $20-30,000 restored muscle car shows he/she has self image issues. "Stupid is as Stupid does!"
  • 37
    Jim Los Angeles CA November 6, 2013 at 23:49
    These type of events seem to be related to the car. I doubt this ever happens to owners of Brass era cars or CCCA Full Classics. I would hope that insurance companies base their rates (OUR rates?) on the type of car rather than just the value.
  • 38
    Harvey Guilford Floyds Knobs, IN November 6, 2013 at 12:46
    This is exactly why all of us pay more for insurance. Should Hagerty have paid for this jerks mistake? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Given the fact there were witnesses to confirm it was totally his fault for doing something completely stupid and dangerous Hagerty would have been well within their rights to deny payment for his car, not the Jaguar. What it this guy had seriously injured or killed an innocent bystander? Idiot!!
  • 39
    Richard Columbus Ohio November 7, 2013 at 16:30
    A little to much car for that dude. He need's a Satellite with a slant 6 or a 318 in it. lol
  • 40
    David Michigan November 7, 2013 at 17:06
    All I can say is I'm glad you people are perfect. You mean to tell me you have never done anything that you later regretted?
  • 41
    Steve Bagatti Madrid Iowa November 7, 2013 at 18:07
    I have been confronted with the very same situation. When asked to see what it will do, I said sure. I started the car up, backed into the street, honked the horn, and drove civilly away. Don't think it impressed them to much but made me grin big.
  • 42
    Jake Rock Tavern, NY November 7, 2013 at 06:30
    Harvey, this is NOT why we pay more for insurance. In fact, this driver could be in a "no fault" state, which means that the car is covered regardless of fault. Or the guy might pay more in premiums so that his own policy covers such stupidity (like letting your teenaged son drive your muscle-car). That is the purpose of insurance. If you think you pay too much, you can examine some other factors. Here's one: In New York State, we insure the vehicles, not the drivers; does that make sense? I mean, even if I own five cars and two motorcycles, I can only drive one at a time, right? Why should I pay a premium for all seven of them? Try to get NYS to change that and you'll see the power of the insurance lobby. Remember, insurance companies are not in the business of providing insurance, any more that the phone company is in the business of providing telephone service; they are both in the business of "making money".
  • 43
    Dave K Michigan November 7, 2013 at 18:49
    Run Forest, Run.......
  • 44
    rollie demay newark,ny 14513 November 7, 2013 at 06:55
    Obviously the fellow made a huge mistake,(understatement). Hagerty may well have denied the claim, but did not. I would presume, however, the company will be sure to encourage the man to not repeat this stupidity, (Pop his premium !). I have several old cars and drive them about 200 miles per year each, but with restraint. The parts are much to hard to replace, and are way to expensive to be an idiot for some kids amusement.
  • 45
    Sam Setser KY November 7, 2013 at 07:09
    I agree with Harvey. Pay for the Jag, and the price to be paid by the driver of the GTX would be "lesson learned". Many of the younger generation are well impressed with a quick 0 to 60 when safely getting onto the highway.
  • 46
    Mark Michigan November 7, 2013 at 08:15
    Not stupid, reckless not careless, the willful and wanton disregard for ones self or others and property. My Haggerty policy is very reasonable in comparrison to the insurer I used before, but if Haggerty makes payments for the willful disregard of others and yourself then the costs will no dout rise.
  • 47
    Don Nicholson Westland Michigan November 7, 2013 at 08:41
    This is one of the reasons why our events have a zero tolerance for burnouts. Both Cruisin' Hines and The All American Cruise in Westland are zero tolerance events for burnouts, race starts and stupidity. Luckily in the story no one was killed. If you want to show off how fast your car is,, Go to the race track.
  • 48
    Billy Stone Amarillo Texas November 7, 2013 at 09:00
    As the owner of few Hot Rods, it is hard not to test the horsepower sometimes. There is a time and place for it. Although thru my years I have left many burnouts in Sonic parking lots in lots of cities. Times have changed. Now its at our dragstrip, or if they are not open--a straight way out of town on FM Road.
  • 49
    Frank La Forge Wichita Ks November 7, 2013 at 11:06
    WOW! This article on your coverage has produced what I believe is an abnormal amount of responses. I will have to refer to the others who have gone before me "WHY IN THE HELL DID YOU PAY THIS CLAIM???" It's pretty obvious as you state in your advertising slogan "Haggerty insures the best drivers in the world", I only hope to hell that you dropped this idiot immediately. By paying this idiots claim on his car (yes, I am sure by law that you have to pay for the Jag) you have severely damaged your reputation and your slogan. You need to do a follow up on this story and settle the minds of your fellow policy holders the reasons you had for paying for this guys GTX, and if you subsequently 'dropped' him afterwards. Were you obligated by law to cover the GTX damage?
  • 50
    derek los angeles November 7, 2013 at 11:23
    Not much worry about doing this in my Karmann Ghia! It has to be run flat out from a light just to keep up with daily traffic. But really, I've put a lot of money and effort into restoring it and making it road worthy. I'm not about to risk it to impress someone I'll never see again.
  • 51
    James Hopper Riverview, New Brunswick November 7, 2013 at 12:39
    I understand the temptation for the odd burnout, and stupid mistake. But it seems so unfair, because I got in a small 5-mph weather-related accident in a snowstorm with my daily driver, small dent in my bumper, headlight and fender damage to other car. Never bothered to fix mine, not a problem. Probably less than $500 damage to the other car (however, they refused to contact me over payment). I thought everything was fine until I went to renew my insurance, and it had skyrocketed, costing me more than 3 times what it had previously, actually more money than my truck is worth. I had no choice but to cancel my policy, and my truck has been in my garage for 8 months with no insurance, and I'm forced to take the bus to class across town everyday, which takes 2.5 hours, rather than 15 minutes driving. So when I hear of something like this, it kinda pisses me off. Similar things have happened to friends of mine, driving twice the speed limit in a new car, crashing into a ditch, blaming it on a tire that blew (no witnesses), and getting full payment from insurance. 5 digits free money for an accident sort of like this, speed and idiocy related.
  • 52
    Larry New Jersey November 9, 2013 at 19:53
    Obviously, this claim was handled correctly, by an experienced insurance company. I dare say that most "Hot Car" guys would have at least given the rear rubber a chirp and perhaps a patch in second. Its so easy to be critical of someone in a comment. I'm quite sure our fellow hot rodder was more embarrassed than I hope we' ll ever know . Let us not cast a stone but be glad the accident wasn't any worse.
  • 53
    C.Lewis Isleton California November 10, 2013 at 04:43
    Shouldn't the smoke in the illustration be white?
  • 54
    JR. Dugas Greenwich NY November 11, 2013 at 09:06
    I agree with all the rational comments above. NONE of us are above making a mistake. That includes one that arises from a bad decision. Hagerty is a rational, compassionate insurance company. Almost completely unheard of in this day and age. One of the other "Losses" stories they published here was about a good friend and client of mine who's 1961 Caddy was damaged when one of his prize deer mounts came off the wall of his garage. Should he not be covered for a stupid place to park, or stupid method of hanging stuff on the wall of his shop? Where do you draw the line? I bet the GTX driver has learned a painful lesson, and will likely not EVER do something like that again. BRAVO Hagerty! I would probably never drive my 58 Apache if my only insurance choice was Progressive, or Geico.... Get off your high horses people...
  • 55
    R. Hays Jacksonville, FL November 15, 2013 at 09:55
    I agree with Mr. Dugas. I'm sure all of those people who ranted about cancelling or not paying have never had a single lapse of good judgement in their lives. Many wave their self-rightousness like a flag. Did any of them make the "stupid" choice to live near the Boardwalk in New Jersey? Hiow many made the foolish decision to marry the wrong woman? I'm glad you have all these bloggers who use their macho gene to judge others and have never and will never make a bad decision. The GTX driver succumed to the macho gene and made one stupid mistake that could have been much worse. Bravo to Hagerty for standing behind their policy holder and for using his story to remind us that you should always think about the "what if" at every moment you are operating a motor vehicle.
  • 56
    Steve Hamilton, ON September 25, 2014 at 21:28
    That's why my '69 BUICK GS 400 still has it's 2.73 peg leg rear end. I can do a nice smoky burnout and keep the car straight. Of COURSE Hagerty would pay for the damage. The POLICE would be the one's to charge him with careless driving and the associated fines. Will Hagerty cancel his policy? Good question.
  • 57
    Jim Walters oakland ca. May 20, 2016 at 07:25
    Hey I found this site telling my friend about jimmy Addison Sunoco station I worked there at that time he had a acid diped duster that he was working on I remember his wedge pick-up truck hell of fast also just light in the rear Chrysler paid any race he lost but he never lost Jimmy Addison was the Guy I am glad this story backs my story and word for word I was there those summers then the hippies took over memorial park at 13 mi rd and all the street roders would hang at cunninghams drug store 13&Woodward summer of 67,68,and 1969

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