Losses and Lessons: Old drum brakes take the T-Bird away

VEHICLE COVERED: 1956 Thunderbird

WHAT WENT WRONG: The owner took a prized T-Bird was on a drive when the car in front of him made a sudden stop. The drum brakes on the old T-Bird were not sufficient to stop the car in time, and he plowed right into the guy ahead of him.

DAMAGE: There was serious damage to the right front fender, headlight and grille of the T-Bird. The driver also injured his hip, shoulder and lower back.

LOSS: After an exhaustive appraisal process with a sheet-metal specialist from a nearby state, total damages came to just under $25,000. Not to mention the medical bills.

LESSON: Older vehicles with mechanical or drum brakes often take far longer to stop than modern machines. It’s especially a problem with some cars of the 1950s that have plenty of power and can cruise at 60-80 miles an hour with ease. But when it comes to stopping, they need a little longer.

BOTTOM LINE: Just because your older car can keep up with the fellow drivers on the highway doesn’t mean it can stop like them. Make sure you maintain a safe distance from any cars in front of you. A “safe distance” in a 1956 Thunderbird is farther away than in your new Civic.

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