Losses and Lessons: Empty gas tank puts Bel Air owner in a sticky situation

VEHICLE: 1968 Chevrolet Bel Air

WHAT WENT WRONG: Sometimes simple mistakes can complicate things rather quickly. The owner of a 1968 Chevy Bel Air was out for a cruise when his car ran out of gas while ascending a hill. After a friend arrived with some gas, the owner put the car in neutral and applied the emergency/parking brake before starting the car. He pumped the accelerator pedal a few times and the Bel Air roared to life, but when he attempted to release the brake, it wouldn’t budge. So he turned off the car, got out, and – with his friend looking over his shoulder – pulled on the brake release as hard as he could until it popped free. With the Bel Air still in neutral, the car began rolling backwards down the hill, pinning both men under the door and dragging them 50 feet before hitting the curb and coming to a stop. Stunned bystanders had to lift up on the door to free the men.

DAMAGE/LOSS: Fortunately, the men didn’t suffer any serious injuries, escaping with scrapes and bruises. There was damage to the front trim panel and hinges on the driver’s door – all repairable with minor refresh to the door and fender edge. Total repair bill was $793.94, which Hagerty paid.

LESSON: Always make sure the vehicle is secure before releasing the brake, and never release the brake from outside the vehicle. You can never be too careful, but even a momentary lapse in judgment can be costly.

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