Friday, June 3, 2011
Exploring My Family Tree: Not Forgotten - The Car Wreck
When sorting through my great uncle's photos, I came across this series of pictures and after questioning my grandfather, learned that my great grandfather Victor Kuck had survived not one but two very bad car wrecks. In a later wreck, he had been hauling all his and my great grandma Grace's possessions in a car trailer from their former home in Rockford, Iowa to their new home in Fort Meyers, Florida and ended up rolling it multiple times. He survived unhurt, got the remaining possessions gathered up in another but now much smaller trailer and continued on his journey. In the wreck pictured in this series of pictures, he wasn't so lucky.
As you can see from the top picture, he was broadsided at a fairly high rate of speed in 1952, well before seat belts. He was thrown across the car hard enough that you can see the passenger door significantly bowed out where a side view mirror would go on a modern day car where Victor's body and head slammed into it. He ended up in a coma with multiple holes drilled through his skull to relieve pressure and fortunately ended up surviving it.
As I scanned these pictures, my mind gravitated to what kind of car this was. I couldn't find any wording but it did have a distinctive albeit unfamiliar emblem on the front of the car. After some surfing, I'm fairly certain that what I'm looking at is an early 1950's Studebaker but don't know the exact model of the car. I'm guessing perhaps the Commander Starliner or Skyliner Champion? Google will have one picture that says it is one but then another picture, totally different under the same name. I've gone back and forth and still don't know what it is other than a Studebaker of early 50's vintage.
When I see these old cars, I am amazed at how far vehicle technology has come. Now a days they have seatbelts, airbags, crumple zones, etc. Back then, the technology was to put as much metal between you and the other driver and hope you or both walk away.
I'm not sure how to take this last picture of the opposite side of the car as the impact. With the tire folded under, was he pushed up against a curb or perhaps something else that left the scrape marks on the fender? What I do know is I wouldn't mind having one of those cars. One in this shape could go for $5k and one in good shape upwards of $25k. Certainly not very high compared to other vehicles of the era but not too shabby.