For the sake of this post, let's say that your average passenger car can hit a top speed of about 120 miles per hour. Ever wonder what would happen if a run-of-the-mill car – even one that's considered safe by modern passenger-car standards – crashed into an oncoming replica of itself?

The blokes from Fifth Gear wanted to find out, so they procured an older Ford Focus, which is importantly just the kind of car you're likely to come across on your daily commute, and rammed it into an unmovable object at 120 miles per hour. That's the equivalent of two Focus hatchbacks colliding, both having been traveling at something close to their top speeds.

You probably know what's coming: One very big bang. And you'd be right. But you might be at least a wee bit surprised by the sheer amount of devastation inflicted on the poor Focus. Want to watch? Click past the jump... unless, as Fifth Gear says, you've got a 'dicky ticker.'



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 171 Comments
      mp908
      • 3 Years Ago
      I am shocked, SHOCKED, to discover that a 120 mph impact with a stationary object could cause that much damage. I'm telling my wife not to go faster than 110 from now on.
        svntsvn
        • 3 Years Ago
        @mp908
        Priceless comment
        • 3 Years Ago
        @mp908
        [blocked]
        You guy
        • 3 Years Ago
        @mp908
        Its too bad they don't have #cotd here.
      Paul Bertucci
      • 3 Years Ago
      A moving object hitting a stationary object at one speed is NOT the same as two moving objects hitting each other head-on at half that speed. Rather, two moving objects hitting each other have the same net result as one moving object hitting a stationary one at the same speed: with two moving objects, the amount of total force (mass times acceleration) is doubled due to the additional mass, but it's then divided across both cars. Please consult Newton's Third Law of Motion for more information.
        RAT
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Paul Bertucci
        Your right Paul and Mythbusters proved it
        Carbon Fibre
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Paul Bertucci
        It's exactly the same dude. It's been shown in several car shows. I would of easily no too but I was wrong lol.
          Não Pirilamparás
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Carbon Fibre
          You can't have opinions on physics and also write "I would of". You just can't.
          Bruce Lee
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Carbon Fibre
          Those shows are wrong, anybody with a basic grasp of physics would know that there's only half as much energy in such a crash. Fifth gear are being idiots.
      Kent Kangley
      • 3 Years Ago
      Mythbusters did this a few years ago. They crashed a Daewoo sedan into a concrete block at 50 mph and then another at 100 mph, then they crashed two more into each other at 50 mph each. Yes, they utterly destroyed four Deawoos in the name of science. They were trying to determine if one car hitting a concrete wall at 100 mph equaled two cars hitting head on at 50 mph. The thinking was that since the closing speed was 100 mph for the two car collision, it should equal the same force as one car hitting a wall at 100 mph. Not true, since the force has to be divided between twice the mass. So the force of two cars colliding at 50 mph equals the force of one car hitting a wall at 50 mph.
        tkosoccer03
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Kent Kangley
        it also depends on the mass of the wall.. just think about a car hitting a wall 1 cinder block.. and then do it again 2 cinder blocks deep. then 3, and so on. each time, the car will receive more and more damage. so in the mythbusters episode, this is one important variable they really didn't consider.
          ravingricefarmer
          • 3 Years Ago
          @tkosoccer03
          what matters is that the wall does not move during impact. as long as the wall is strong enough to withstand the car's impact, it makes no difference how much mass the wall has.
          Krishan Mistry
          • 3 Years Ago
          @tkosoccer03
          The wall, if it doesnt move or break, would deal the same damage to the car regardless of mass, because if it isnt accelerating, it isnt absorbing force, but reflecting it back on the car. It could be 10000 tonnes of immovable concrete, or some mythical indestructible material weighing 100lbs and unable to move half an inch. Now, if the wall was being pushed by the car, then mass would be a factor. But we assume an immobile wall doesnt move.
      Hazdaz
      • 3 Years Ago
      400g's! Wow.
      notafan
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well this is sobering. People take for granted all the crumple zones and airbags but at these speeds none of it really matters.
      KAG
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wasted those rims
        ryan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @KAG
        lol i was thinking the same thing.
        azamali01
        • 3 Years Ago
        @KAG
        i was exactly thinking the same thing. from the start of the video loll!!! such nice rims
        Krishan Mistry
        • 3 Years Ago
        @KAG
        Rear ones look fine to me. Front ones dont even look like wheels anymore.
      Dave
      • 3 Years Ago
      We had a couple of kids here who replicated this experiment the hard way a few weeks ago. They drove their Mustang across the median strip of the Interstate head-on into a semi. The combined speed was estimated to be in excess of 130 mph. When the smoke cleared you couldn't tell it was even a Ford, much less a Mustang. And it was hard to tell which of the kids was driving. Semi driver was uninjured. Physically, anyway.
      Wunderbird
      • 3 Years Ago
      A full tank of gas? Really 5th Gear? It's not like you needed it.
      fastaudi
      • 3 Years Ago
      hitting a wall at 120 mph is not the same as two cars (same brand and model) hitting each other at 60 mph. Both cars would absorb the impact while in this case only one does. I am not saying that the occupants wouldnt be toast in both cases. Still - fairly interesting. To think that Rocky hit an Armco at about that speed in the R18 Audi and survived talks about the safety of that race car.
        BipDBo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @fastaudi
        Wrong. You're correct that in a head on collision between 2 cars each traveling at 120, both cars would absorb the impact, BUT there is twice as much ketetic energy to be absorbed. Accurate simulation. Also, think about it this way, in both cases, each car goes from 120mph to 0 mph in the same distance in the same time. In both a head on collision and a collision with a wall, the paint on the front bumper decelerates to 0 instantly, and remains stationary.
          BipDBo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @BipDBo
          Facepalm.
          Bill Eby
          • 3 Years Ago
          @BipDBo
          http://mythbustersresults.com/mythssion-control This would be like two cars hitting each other each going 120mph, not 60mph. ----- In their small scale tests, the Mythbusters compressed clay at 1x and 2x speeds. Their results showed that two objects hitting each other at 1x speed will cause 1x damage. In their full scale tests, the Mythbusters crashed two cars into a wall at 50 and 100 mph as references. They then had two cars going at 50 mph collide into each other. After surveying the results, it was clear that the two cars suffered damage identical to the car that crashed into the wall at 50 mph. The Mythbusters explained that was possible through Newton’s third law of motion. Although the total force was doubled by having two cars, that force also had to be divided between both cars during the crash. -----
          Pat McCok
          • 3 Years Ago
          @BipDBo
          Reading Fail
          TomB
          • 3 Years Ago
          @BipDBo
          Not to mention that with the 1 car hitting the wall, the wall will not move and convert much of the force of the collision back to the 1 car. 2 cars hitting will likely not hit exactly head-on enough to be a similar crash. Some of the energy will be absorbed by 2 crumple zones and malleable metal - not 1 crumple zone, etc, and a wall that will not move. The car that the wall is supposed to represent is going to cause the 1 car to absorb more of the energy that a 2nd car would absorb had it been an actual car. Not to mention both cars would be thrown from each other as some of the kinetic energy will be sent back as kinetic energy and the cars are thrown from each other post-crash. Been 20+ years since physics class, but as others have stated and can probably do better, a car hitting a wall at 120 is not the same as 2 cars hitting at 60 each; its the same as 1 car hitting a wall at 120.
        Tracie
        • 3 Years Ago
        @fastaudi
        Right...this would have the 'irresistible force meets an immovable object', concept applied. It is NOT the same as two vehicles impacting each other.
      togglebolt02
      • 3 Years Ago
      Myth Busters explored the same experiment but went one step further, they crashed two cars into one another. Much better experiment. The two cars in the 60mph head on collision suffered less than half of what the concrete wall caused to the focus. Both crashes are unsurvivalbe.
        nattomethane
        • 3 Years Ago
        @togglebolt02
        Note: The Mythbusters guys are sci graduates, unfortunately journalist rarely have such training.
        Tickers
        • 3 Years Ago
        @togglebolt02
        That's because they were travelling half the speed... 120 into wall = two cars hitting at 120
      killrmoose27
      • 3 Years Ago
      With how that guy reacted when it hit the wall you'd think there were actual people in the vehicle.
      LilCe003
      • 3 Years Ago
      Awww man I could of used those rims :(
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