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In the last two weeks, vintage car crashes in Massachusetts have been a reminder to stay safe in your classic

In the last two weeks, vintage car crashes in Massachusetts have been a reminder to stay safe in your classic

It’s been a bad summer for the drivers of some classic vehicles in Massachusetts. First, there was the 1958 Ford fire on 128 we reported a few months back. But the last two months have been tragic, including one death and several serious injuries. It’s worth noting that as fun as vintage cars are, there’s a very real danger to operating them in day-to-day traffic.


The first incident happened in Holbrook, Massachusetts, on June 29th, where 55 year old Robert Ball was involved in a head-on crash driving his 1970 Oldsmobile 442.

According to reports from the accident, a witness saw the collision and notified the police. She stated that she saw an Oldsmobile and a Honda Civic collide head-on. Preliminary reports suggested that the Ball appeared distraught prior to the crash, and that the 442 fishtailed and lost control, hitting the Civic head-on.

Ball was transported to a Boston hospital via a medical helicopter, and died later the same day.

Olds 442

The second incident happened yesterday in Holliston, Massachusetts, where an unidentified 82 year old man driving a 1930 Ford Model AA west on Washington Street when a Honda Civic driven by an unidentified 59-year-old Milford man crossed over from the eastbound lane and drove head-on into the truck, according to Wicked Local Holliston.

Truck Crash

A third vehicle, a Volvo XC60, driven by a 49-year-old Holliston man, crashed into the rear of the truck. The unidentified 82-year-old man was taken to a Boston hospital by a medical rescue helicopter after the 11:33 a.m. crash.

It’s worth noting that regardless of fault, both classic vehicles crashed into modern Honda Civics with an arsenal of safety equipment to keep occupants safe, and that the drivers of both Civics walked away relatively unharmed.


This chilling video from the IIHS shows a modern Chevy Malibu crashing into a 1959 Bel Air sedan. The results are astounding. Be safe out there, and don’t underestimate the risk in driving your vintage car.

(Images courtesy: HollistonReporter.com, Wicked Local Holliston, Quincy Patriot Ledger)

Click PLAY below to see the horrific results of a crash between a classic car and a car with modern safety designs and equipment.

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25 thoughts on “In the last two weeks, vintage car crashes in Massachusetts have been a reminder to stay safe in your classic

  1. crazy

    pull the crash test video as it was set up. and is false.. that’s for starters..
    the olds in Holbrook is from someone driving it like a fool.. reports from over a mile before the wreck on 139 said the driver was driving like a nut… and that’s what happens sometimes when you drive like a [email protected]$$ on a busy route, may he rest in peace.. the 80y/o that was just bad luck.. and that goes with driving any car..

    toss the fake crash video.. and just leave it as , be safe out there,

    1. crazy

      me I’ll be at the bass pro shop cruise with my 80’s best crash tested car the fiero all 5 stars of it baby..

    2. Craig Fitzgerald Post author

      What’s false about it?

      An X-frame car built with the structural rigidity of a tin can in a narrow offset crash test versus something that was actually designed to absorb crash impact?

      It was a running, driving 1959 Bel Air with a six.

      1. crazy

        for that video they removed 29 bolts and cut away a bunch of inner supports.. and Like nbc and the gm trucks blowing up video.. they got caught..

  2. Craig Fitzgerald Post author

    “the olds in Holbrook is from someone driving it like a fool.. reports from over a mile before the wreck on 139 said the driver was driving like a nut”

    Regardless, he died, and the passengers he plowed into in the Honda Civic did not. His car folded up like a pair of twos and they walked away.

    1. crazy

      he didn’t have a seat belt on.. try facts.. it helps 40 y/o rustbelt car folded up. wow

  3. starterguy

    Why don’t we try that crash with a 1972 impala and see if it works out a bit differently.

  4. GuitarSlinger

    Good God in heaven ! So now ‘ classics ‘ owners are driving as badly as @$&hats in SuperCars / Sports Cars , beer addled MuscleCar / Full Size P/U owners and EuroSnobs in performance sedans/coupes … not to mention almost every Corvette owner from the C3 forward on the planet ?

    So whats up with that ? Is Stupidity on the rise or what !

    Oh wait … it is … even when it comes to Econobox drivers … Never mind !

  5. Brent

    I’m not going to downplay the science of new car safety, but I had a couple of pretty good wrecks in old cars back in my early years and I walked away. The cars didn’t but they kept me alive. Sure, if they would have had airbags and the other 400 lbs and $4000 worth of government mandated safety equipment it would have been safer. But, the last time I looked this site was geared towards those kinds of cars and now I read an article about our “unsafe” cars without any regard for dumb luck and poor driving. my $0.02

  6. loren

    The crash video with the ’59 picks the very weakest point of an X-frame car where all impact energy will be absorbed by the body sheetmetal of one side only and not affect the frame other than to bend it in the middle, and pits it dead-center against the portion of the unibody car where energy is equally distributed through the entire structure. If they had hit the cars center-to-center the outcome would have been far different, but that “test” was engineered to be dramatic, not accurate. “False” is a fair term…also, “farce”. We keep seeing the video and most take it at first glance and not ask questions…as it’s makers surely intended.

    The perimeter frames used on other GM cars at the time and adopted for the Impala later looked better in crashes but were unlikely to save many lives until the “second collision”, between passenger and automobile component, was seriously addressed as in the late-sixties on up. That has been the real key to saving lives in collisions.

    On one hand I am the owner/restorer of a ’59 Chev and know the cars in-out-and under…but on the other I’ve made much of my living over the past 25 years prototyping parts for automotive safety systems and I know the progress that manufacturers have made. We shouldn’t need tricks played on us to make the point.

    I surely agree that taking a “classic” car out onto the highways to compete with the brakes, handling and airbag systems of a modern car is a dicey choice at times especially given that the safer cars get the less attentive their drivers seem to have become.

    As far as the 442 goes, people going out in high-powered old cars and doing burnouts ’cause their pissed or drunk have cost a lot of lives and property over the years. Some I know personally.

  7. Lee

    I understand the Author is trying to make a point . . . but how many crashes happened in MA from June 29 to July 10? I would guess that vintage cars were involved less than 5% of the time . . . if that much.

    The roads are dangerous no matter what kind of car you drive.

  8. Chris

    That crash test Is very valid. That car was the perfect storm for destruction. The x frame along with the inline six left nothing to absorb the energy. The fender and frame rail collapsed. The door frame, floor pan, and roof skin were left. The window post is verticle in those cars which does nothing to slow the mass from moving back.
    I used this in a class I taught to show how modern cars are safer. I still drive the classics on a very regular basis. I am not scared. I try to be responsible and drive safe. We have tracks to drive fast on.

  9. ratpatrol66

    Damn people settle down!!! I have a stock 23 Model T that does not get drivin on the road because of all the nut jobs!

  10. 3nine6

    About seven weeks ago my wife was hit by a 2009 GMC full size work van on her way to work. The woman pulled out in front of our ’05 Camry. Speed limit on the street was 35 MPH. Who got hurt? My wife. Shattered left wrist. The cause? AIRBAG. While I will agree that newer cars are probably safer, there is something to said for early heavy metal. Wife still has six more weeks of physical therapy. She’s a lefty, so it’s been especially hard on her. The ’05 Camry, totaled.

  11. Bob

    Some people believe that size and weight equals safty in a vehicle. That is not always true. While the video is a worst case scenerio it is still possible to have that type of crash in and old 59 Chevy. I used to own a 33 Ford pickup that I know if I would have been hit head on in it, my chances of survival would have been very slim. There was nothing in front of the cab really to absorb impact. The point the author is trying to make is, just take into account what you are driving and watch out for those other drivers out there. Especially the ones driving and texting.

  12. Scott Liggett

    Craig, a visit southern California will show that there are thousands of people driving 40 year old cars every day. While it’s true they do not have the airbags and crumple zones, the newer cars; those cars are quite safe with three point safety belts.

    The 82 year old man was riding in 1920’s truck that was essentially a bus bench in a box on frame rails. No seat belts. An 82 year would end up in a hospital for tripping and falling.

    There was a reason why those flimsy X frames were done by ’64. But, I would want third party confirmation that ’59 Chevy was not altered in any way before testing before I believe it. Today’s science is has gone the way of today’s news in accuracy.

    I believe you find that single safety design feature that save more lives than anything else was the three point belts.

  13. JohnnyG

    Last Weekend one woman was killed when the 67 Chevelle they were driving lost control and hit a tree. This happened in my neighborhood.

  14. Powerstroke

    No matter what you drive always pay attention and take nothing for granted (blinker going may not mean a turn is coming). The most expensive car in the world is worth nothing compared to losing a loved one. Still have fun just do it safely.
    Maybe this is what Chad wanted to say. My .02$

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