In 2001 I contrived to send my 944 turbo to Porsche heaven, as proven by the photos below. This followed a short but brutal fight between the car and a tree on a wet road near home. The fight was undecided as both car and tree were fatally wounded, the former expiring in a burst of flames. Petra and I both walked away with minor bruises and, in my case, a heavily damaged ego.
To put this in context, I had pulled out to overtake someone going between 80 and 100 kph and hit the gas. In the wet, when you have a car with 250 bhp and 245 tires, this is not very clever as even in a straight line the backend fishtails (sorry, fishtailed, past tense). The first thing I knew we were sideways off the left of the road heading for a row of trees.
During the space-time dilation which occurs when you realise that you've lost it but before you hit anything, I had three distinct thoughts :
Oh f**k, I've lost it.
As it turns out, numbers 1 and 2 were accurate, and number 3 took a while to happen (a couple of days before the bruises kicked in). At the time, we thought we'd got off scott-free, although we both had the wind knock out of us. This precipitated what in hindsight was a very funny conversation whilst neither of us could speak without sounding like my neighbour, geriatric-tracheoctomy-man:
Me: <Croaks> Are
The first part of the conversation, however, was not so funny - Petra screaming at me to get out of the car because it was on fire and her door was jammed shut. Not nice, believe me. Although my door was stiff, I got it open. It was only afterwards we realised that the other means of escape, via the sunroof or the rear, are only possible when the electrics are working, which they may well not have been. Learn from my experience and make sure you carry a fire extinguisher as well as one of those window-smashing seatbelt cutters.
Luckily, the first guy to stop had a fire extinguisher and put out the flames. This was followed by several fire trucks, some nice paramedics, questioning by police and a not-very-exciting trip in an ambulance for a checkup (more-or-less required by law). And the distinct displeasure of several meetings with the owner of a local breakers yard who is possibly the biggest wanker I have yet met in this country, or any other.
Added to that displeasure is the sobering walk-of-shame in the breaker's yard to recover whatever of value you can from the wreck. I reckon the Porsche will end up in East Europe with a new front end soldered on from another Porsche which went backwards into a tree. Not that I'm going to profit from that transaction. Looking at the wreck made me realise even more how lucky we were.
I also made the local paper, in an article along the lines of "32 year-old driving unsuitably for the conditions lost control of his Porsche and drove off the road into a tree, sustaining injuries". Just goes to show you should not trust what you read in the papers.
If you don't know me, and that headline makes you think I am some yuppy scum who had it coming, I should point out that it was a 12 year old car which is worth less on paper than, say, the very average five year old Golf 1.6 which was my first car. This was also my first accident after 13 years of driving. I always thought that was because I was a better driver than most (better reflexes, eyesight, bla, bla, bla). I realise now that the truth is I have been lucky, and never more so than walking away from this wreck. Please learn from my lesson and tell yourself that you too have been lucky and you are not especially gifted. Particularly when it comes to the ability to bounce off trees.
To drive that point home, Petra and I travelled along the same road the next day and we saw people paying their respects at the spot where a 21 year old kid was killed the same morning - he had lost control, left the road and hit a tree. He just wasn't as lucky as we were.
A couple of top tips:
The tree will have to be cut down and replaced, to my cost. Ironically, the bill for the tree was exactly the same amount as the bastard scrap merchant gave me for the car!