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Crash, bang, wallop: Fascinating photos capture the thrills... and spills of the golden age of American motoring | Mail Online

Wrapped around a tree, nose down in a ditch and dangling precariously over water.

Fascinating photos from the 1920s and 30s show the dramatic and tragic side effect of the golden age of American motoring.

The pictures were taken in and around Boston, Massachusetts by Leslie Jones, who was staff photographer at the Boston-Herald Traveler newspaper from 1917 to 1956.

Mr Jones captured everything that happened in the city for five decades and when he died in 1967, his family donated a vast collection of 34,000 prints to the Boston Public Library.

They included these fascinating photos of vintage car wrecks from the great motoring boom.

Motor cars became affordable to the masses for the first time in the 1920s. By the end of the decade a Model T Ford cost $298, just a fraction of the $1,200 it cost in 1909.

The introduction of hire purchase also made it much easier for members of the public to buy cars, and by 1929, 20 per cent of Americans were on the road.

Ford, Chrysler and General Motors were all competing for the boom in business and by the time the depression hit in 1929, Ford was producing more than one car every minute.

Technology meant these early cars were capable of achieving speeds of up to 50 miles per hour - but safety measures were nowhere near as advanced as they are today.

Add in the fact drivers didn't need to pass a test before they got behind the wheel, and it's easy to see why accidents were frequent and often spectacular.

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I have people say to me all the time when they see the size of my '29 Cadillac that anyone who hits it will be crushed by its mass. Looking at these photos, that is most certainly NOT the case. With a body that's little more than a brittle wood skeleton with some sheetmetal nailed to it, then bolted to the frame with 8 or 10 ancient bolts, any accident I'm in with it will be a truly spectacular explosion of Cadillac (and human) parts.

Photos like these are truly eye-opening. Be careful out there!

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Harwood is right. These picture are frightening.

Has anybody else noticed how many of these cars have bald tires? Even the Model T postal truck.

Even with the depression, you would think that the Post Office could afford tires!

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I ha not seen that lot before but have seen other sets similar. Note some unusual cars in that lot. I think the car fitted with the 'winter front' and with plate 12465 might be a Stearns-Knight.

There is another set doing the rounds, taken only this year I think where a woman in a modern Lexus (GS400)? is busy texting while in a car park where cars are gathering for a show and tee bones a '67 Pontiac LeMans coupe. Scary for me as I drove one of that model all over the US in 1978.

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We talked about that story here quite a bit. An entire family, save for two young girls, was killed. The culprit was a Volvo driver who had several citations for doing something similar, although he never hit a Duesenberg full of kids before. He ran a stop sign and T-boned the Duesenberg, which rolled over multiple times and killed its occupants, including the driver, who had helped to restore the car with his father. Very, very tragic and sad story that many of us took to heart. Ordinary people out on the road are not paying attention--not seeing a 20-foot-long Duesenberg right in front of you is definitely a problem.

I don't think the Volvo driver got much punishment, either.



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