Losses and Lessons Cliffhanger: ’69 Opel owner and his dog escape just in time


WHAT WENT WRONG: It’s been said that truth is stranger than fiction. The owner of a bright yellow 1969 Opel can certainly attest to that. Driving through the mountains of northern Virginia with his Redbone Coonhound, Lucy, relaxing comfortably on the passenger’s seat, he swerved to avoid a deer as it bounded out of the woods. The Opel hit the gravel on the side of the road, and the driver lost control of the car. Amazingly, he and Lucy both escaped just moments before the Opel tumbled over the edge of a 75-foot cliff.

DAMAGE/LOSS: The driver still can’t explain how he and his best friend escaped without injury, but he said he typically slides the handle of Lucy’s leash over the stick shift, so he was able to grab it before bailing out. The Opel fared much worse than its occupants and was totaled. Hagerty paid the Guaranteed Value of $10,000.

LESSON: Chances are, this was one of the very first things you were told in drivers training: Never, ever swerve to avoid an animal or object in the road (unless it’s a human being, of course). It’s an instinctive reaction, but you could lose control of the car and injure someone. Cars, on the other hand, can be repaired. Fortunately, this story had a happy ending, but the Opel owner could have lost a lot more than his classic car.

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