Walter C

One Mother's Day in 1974 (or was it 1975?)

This relates to my 1966 Volvo Amazon. I bought it used in 1973 with 40,000 miles while I was a sophomore in engineering school. When I brought it home to show it to my Dad, he said that I would end up “using it as a hat”, implying that the car was too old and I would overturn it in an accident.

One Mother’s day evening, either in 1974 or 1975, my friend Tommy and I were driving to College, which was about 90 miles from home. He was riding shotgun and the road, a 4 lane highway with concrete center divider, was pretty busy with cars going at about 45MPH. All of the sudden the car in front of us, a 1969 two door Chevy Malibu full of teenage kids, lost control and hit the center divider at about 100 feet from where we were. Instinctively I came to a stop, as did everyone around us. Then I noticed that the Malibu’s accelerator had become stuck and that the car, perpendicular to the center divider, still had the engine at full tilt and that the rear tires were burning rubber. I then noticed that the Malibu was slowly doing a 180.

Almost like in slow motion, the Malibu freed itself from the center divider and started coming towards us, pedal to the metal at full acceleration! Tommy noticed it also and said: “quickly, go reverse!” I then looked at my rear view mirror and saw that there was nowhere to go; that although there were no other cars in front of us or on our side, we had lots of cars not moving behind us. I remember telling him: “where!?” (I think I also used some other, non-printable word).

As the Malibu raced towards us, I could see the teenage kids inside trying to do something. Expecting the worse, I grabbed my steering wheel and braced for impact. All of the sudden I noticed that the Malibu’s right door was open. At about the same time, 10 feet in front of us, the Malibu’s driver finally took control of the steering and did a sharp left (my right) towards a ditch on the right side of the road. That sudden turn was more than enough to expel a teenage girl through right front door of the Malibu, hitting the road, rolling various times, and stopping next to my right door, where Tommy was looking out the window. By now, Tommy and I were in a WTF moment!

The girl stood up, and although frazzled, looked OK and started walking to the ditch where the Malibu had come to a full stop. I remember then seeing people exiting their cars and walking towards the Malibu to help and the Malibu’s passengers exiting the vehicle. Everyone seemed OK, so I just put the Volvo on first gear and slowly started driving away.

About ten minutes later, I had to stop and take a walk. My legs (and Tommy’s) were shaking uncontrollably.

We made it to the dorms that night with no other incident. Tommy and I still talk about it.

I still have the Volvo and, no, no “hat” yet.

PS: And oh, by the way, I dated my wife in that Volvo. So it HAS to be a keeper!

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