QotW: What’s your most terrifying car story?

Boo, it’s Halloween! Gather around the campfire and tell us your spookiest tales of automotive terror. Was it that time a simple repair turned into a months-long jack stand occupation? A near miss on the road? A 10mm nut disappearing into a dark and unreachable crevice?

About a year ago I was driving my original, 67,000-mile factory 5-speed SC300, a car I have babied for over 20 years. Suddenly, a truck tire came bounding over the freeway jersey barriers, bouncing a good two stories high and headed right towards me. Luckily traffic was light and I swerved two lanes to get out of its way.  In the rear view mirror I saw it obliterate the front end of the Prius behind me. I don’t think my heart moved for a good three minutes afterwards.

What’s your most terrifying car story?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What Toyota model is the most Toyota?

Somehow, all the answers this week were correct. Some advocated the trucks, like Ken Graham for the J60 Land Cruiser or Bill Bailey for the Hilux. Others nominated sports cars, like David Leong for the Sports 800 or Chet Manley for the Celica GT-Four. In the middle were proponents of the commoners’ cars like Franxou for the Corolla or f31roger for the Camry. Legacy-san wisely noted that it likely depends on the region, and in Japan Sedanlover‘s Crown would be king.

However, our favorite answer this week came from Land Ark, whose ode to the Celsior/LS400 got to the heart of the Toyota philosophy:

The Toyota Celsior/Lexus LS400 is the culmination of everything Toyota had learned about building affordable, reliable, practical cars and added “the most” in front of every good thing you could say about their cars. Toyota set out to build a Mercedes competitor and ended up eating their lunch. It was higher quality, dead quiet, smooth driving but not floaty, with a powerful but under-stressed V8 engine that would outclass cars that cost twice as much.

Starting in the 1980s, Toyota went from trying to build cars to compete to building cars that others sought to compete with. The LS400 was an attempt to beat Mercedes at their own game and wound up setting the standard that all other cars were judged against. This set the tone for years to come of overbuilding everything in the lineup thus cementing Toyota quality and reliability to this day – warranted or not.

And I say this as my Celsior has been out of commission for 2 months since I can’t get the HVAC blower motor working. I’ve been impressed with all other aspects of the car and in trying to diagnose the problem I’ve been impressed with how easy the car is to work on.

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

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13 Responses to QotW: What’s your most terrifying car story?

  1. Lakdasa says:

    Not that terrifying but nonetheless was an experience, my cousins and I were to do a trip to the hill side in my old Suzuki Baleno, as luck would stand a gearbox mount came undone and I had to nurse it home the day prior. No option was there but to take my Corolla which had semi bald tyres and a faulty brake master cylinder. I was designated to drive up the hill which I did with no issues, but coming down from one of the locations my cousin who took the wheel ran into the back of another car as he couldnt control the speed. I was given the wheel again and I safely took them back down peddling the brake pedal a few times before coming to a halt. These were narrow mountain roads with a massive slope on one side. The fun part was getting home, save me and one cousin the other three slept whilst I drove home through the twisty roads and got home and they were relieved when I woke them up at home. The car had bald tyres and even the wires were visible, a failed brake master pump when we got home. So yes not terrifying but still?

  2. speedie says:

    It was late at night and I was driving my sister back home on Route 95 in Philadelphia. I was in the middle of three lanes and a lowered Nissan Altima was passing me on the right. Just as the rear of the car was passing my driver’s door, it suddenly dropped and veered left towards the center median. My sister, who is actually one of the most nervous car passengers ever, said very calmly “Hey look, there is a tire rolling across the highway”. The tire proceeded across the highway where it hit the far right barrier, which prompted my still very calm sister to say ”Look its coming back”, as it headed towards the center median. The whole thing happened so quickly, yet it seemed to be in slow motion. I looked back in my mirror and saw the Altima resting against the median barrier less one right front wheel. I decided it would be best not to tell my sister what could have happened if the Altima had veered right instead of left when the wheel came off.

  3. JJ says:

    Terrifying car story?

    In my youth I, like most of my peers, considered the C4 Corvette ZR-1 to be the absolute pinnacle of the automotive world.

  4. Chet Manley says:

    I discovered what brake fade was after finding the top speed in my ’85 Celica Supra. That was a certified butt puckering event.

  5. Alan says:

    I once had to leave my SA22C, AW11, BP, and UCF30 and drive a 2012 Chevy Impala for a whole week.

  6. Jim Klein says:

    The check engine light came on in the Jaguar. It’s even orange on a black background. You haven’t ever felt terror like this…I was surprised there wasn’t a chime of a cash register sound when it lit up.

  7. Jim Klein says:

    Another comment went in the shredder…I know it’s nothing personal.

  8. Leslie says:

    In 1973 I was driving my 1971 Toyota Corona MK II back from a mall in San Antonio when I swerved to miss a cat in the road. I didn’t realize it at the time but there was a drainage ditch on the side of the road with a large tree stump in it. My car wound up on its side after hitting the tree stump. Luckily I had my seat belt on and was OK except for a scratch on my hand from broken glass. I had to make a Steve McQueen style exit out the car by going out the side window. When I was at the mall I had purchased a couple of LP records and some of the blood from the scratch got on the cover of one of the albums. The album was Moon Germs by Joe Farrell. I still have that album and the dried blood is still on it.

  9. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    Stopped for traffic & watching the top of a woman’s head down texting rear end my brand new 2023 Prius with no braking at all.

  10. Taylor C. says:

    A few instances:

    In San Leandro, CA, on the southbound 880 / 238 entrance, it’s a nice clover leaf and then a semi-banked, sweeping left curve to 238 itself. I was gunning it hard in the Miata and the rear just couldn’t take the “immense” power as well as cornering loads. The rear stepped out, and I tried to correct, but since I’m not Drift King, the car snapped the other way and pretty soon I was full slide on the freeway, almost facing backwards. “Backwards” was a big rig closing in on me. Fortunately I ended on the shoulder, car was unscathed, but I was definitely white-knuckled.

    Another time, also in the Miata and going fast on Redwood Road in the Oakland Hills. I took an off-camber turn too hard. One side was the canyon wall, the other side was a drop. The car fished and I ultimately stayed on the road, but it was pretty scary either going head-on or falling off the drop.

    I had a 1998 E36 M3/4/5 that I recently sold. Being a New England car, it was prone to corrosion, and one of the rear brake soft line brackets had fallen off. As a result the line was rubbing against the half shaft, and it eventually penetrated the line itself. Under harder braking the line would leak fluid, as I found out during a harder slowdown on the freeway. Pedal went to the floor with ~50% less braking, it was definitely sweat-inducing.

    I have spun out on Buttonwillow, Sears Point, and Thunderhill. All were nerve-wracking as the fear of catching the inside tires or going head-on to the wall loomed. Fortunately those weren’t the cases.

    Back in senior year of high school, one night I was rushing home from our school’s “Spirit Week” event, and was going 50 in a 25. The local cop saw that ’91 burgundy Maxima SE zoom by and took notice. Unfortunately, I didn’t, and so he flipped on the lights. He briefly lectured me, and then told me he was going to follow me home. At home, the cop had a talk with my parents, and if that wasn’t terrifying enough, I don’t know what was.

  11. MikeRL411 says:

    I was driving my 1970 Buick Electric South on PCH from Vandenburg AFB to LA when a North bound car skidded off the road and flipped upside down and headed directly for me while still airborne. The North roadbed was elevated quite a few feet from the South bound lanes. I hit the gas. Thanks 455 cubic inch engine, and the car sailed over me and ended upside down on the highway. I pulled over and all traffic was halted. I did not have a cell phone and several trucks were halted on the roadbed and had CB radios. I drove on home! This was many years ago. No roadside phones were spotted along the way until I reached Santa Barbara by then it was too late to report the accident.

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