• Nov 7th 2013 at 5:00AM
  • 4
A 1990's Buick Roadmaster sedan (wikicommons)
How close are you to your car or truck? Has it ever literally saved your life?

Car companies that have models scoring very high on crash tests or coming equipped with as many airbags as songs you can fit on your iPod advertise how safe they are. Being safe and sound matters to a great many car buyers and owners. In fact, some buyers pay more attention to crash safety ratings than quality ratings.

I can think of one instance where a car probably saved my life. It was 1992, and I was testing a Buick Roadmaster sedan. General Motors' Buick division hasn't made the Roadmaster since 1996, but you can still see some on the road, especially the Roadmaster's woody-sided station wagon.

The Roadmaster was not a much-loved vehicle. It was named after a much cooler sedan of the same name, built off and on by GM from 1936 to 1959. It was a 1949 Roadmaster convertible that was featured in the 1988 movie Rain Man. In the film, Tom Cruise drives the Roadmaster his father never let him drive, and he collects his autistic brother, Raymond, played by Dustin Hoffman, and the two hit the road for Las Vegas.

This 1992 Roadmaster I was testing was meant to appeal to older drivers who missed the big burly tank-like sedans of the 60s and 70s. I happened to notice, while watching a documentary film, that the great actress Katherine Hepburn chose this model as her car in the 1990s and used it until the year she died. She was driven around by a chauffeur. No doubt she enjoyed the extra roomy interior and battleship-safe feel. But she is the only famous person I ever saw associated with the car.

One day I was driving in New Jersey and was stopped in the left-turn lane. There were two through-traffic lanes to my right. There was a red light for the two through lanes and one for my lane. I admittedly was preoccupied with a family problem. I looked up and saw a green-light, and started my left turn. But I looked at the wrong light--it was for the through traffic lane, not mine. As I swung into my turn, I was met head on by a Volvo 740 station-wagon going about 40-45 mph. It was driven by a young mother with her 2 1/2 year old in a car seat.

It all happened so fast. She hit my car on the right front corner with a car that was pretty beefy in its own right. The airbags went off, and the cabin filled up with the noxious smoke and gas from the airbags. I was dazed. I had been belted in. But I was concussed, I later found out.

It is my supposition that being belted in, driving that big, heavy beefy car and the airbags all conspired to save my life. I am pretty sure that I was at least spared serious injury by the big well-equipped Roadmaster. Police arrived and unstuck my driver-side door. The young mother and her child walked away, protected in their own big beefy Volvo wagon. I staggered away, but in one piece.

The Roadmaster was a fairly unpopular car, and not terribly successful at the showroom. But every time I see one, I give it a nod of respect, and remember that one week before, in the very same spot, I was testing a little Mazda Miata.

So, what's your story? Has a specific car saved you in a crash, gotten you through an unexpected epic snowstorm? Do you have a story to share. Click on the "Share Your Story" module and write your story and upload a photo, and we may choose your story to share with millions of readers.


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  • 4 Comments
      Jaybird248
      • 1 Year Ago
      The car that saved me was, of all things, a 1958 British MGA. This spindly little sportscar was rear ended by a drunk in a Dodge and shoved 200 feet into the side of a Buick. Both ends crumpled up like corn flakes but in-between, I was dazed but unhurt. And though the frame was bent, the car still drove, crab-rolling, to a garage where it was totaled by insurance. It's life was over, but it gave me a new lease on life.
      billsailor
      • 1 Year Ago
      In the 60's I had my first car a 1952 Desoto Sedan. After finishing work i was driving home and had to stop behind a car that stoped in front of me on a two lane road. All of a sudden I heard a screach of tires and BOOM I was hit from behind. The driver of the car that hit me ran to me and asked if I was allright. I said never mind me look at my car. The bumper hanging down to just touch the street and my fenders torne back and trunk caved in. Because this car had high back seats my head was saved from leaving my body. I drove the car about three blocks to my house. That car saved my life with tar that was placed between the fenders and the high seats. The next morning my neck was swelled out beyond my ears but returned to its regular position . Probably because I was 18 years old at the time. Miss my $100--- 1952 Desoto my first car.
      cam100z
      • 1 Year Ago
      My '84 Porsche 944 saved me. The car, although old, is still known for its awesome handling abilities, and it came through for me. As I entered an intersection at 40mph, a police car came flying out of a side street and pulled directly into my path. There was no distance available to brake, so I jerked the wheel hard to the left. Now, most cars would not make a turn this tight at 40 mph, and I would have skidded right into the police car. But the 944, true to its reputation, executed the sudden turn perfectly, and I came side by side with the police car with no collision. The officer gave me a dirty look, but continued on his way.
      • 1 Year Ago
      When I turned 18 my clunker became too much of a hassle to bare. I had $300 down for a car loan and I had NO CREDIT. A bank gave me a chance and out of 350 vehicles, I qualified for a 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT. I was embarrased at first, but I grew to love that van. I beat the he** out of the poor van and it refused to let me down. I could cram so many friends/ teenage junk in that thing and didn't have to fear breaking down. I frequently drove it over 100 MPH, did burnouts, drag raced it, and flat out abused it. That van kept going with ZERO trouble. One morning I was running late and flew around a corner going at least 50 MPH which it's a 15 MPH maximum turn. This was in the middle of winter. I hit slush, I remember the van's ESP trying to save me but it was too late. I flew off the corner and straight into a very large tree. I hit the tree so hard the van bounced off of the tree, did a 360 rotation slamming into a pole before sliding down a small embankment. The accident was so forceful the radio shattered, every window shattered, the dashboard popped out the middle row captain chair busted off the metal hinge, and the roof buckled and sheered. I literally put the van in park and stumbled out of the van unharmed. The policeman was so impressed by that van that he said his family would be getting one just like it. If I had been in my old vehicle it would have for sure killed me on impact. I had NO injuries besides a little soreness. I actually felt guilty that van refused to let me down, and in one last service saved my life. I did nothing but abuse that van and it refused to die on me. I don't care what anybody says, I believe that Chrysler builds a good product. I have purchased two more of them since that van. My 2010 Sebring Limited has been a wonderful ride to me, and when the 2015 200 comes out I will be buying another.