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Why does a car crash?

ER Classics Desktop 2022

New McLaren supercar worth 170.000 GBP crashes outside factory Gates. That was the headline of the October 14 Chicester Herald article that caught my attention this weekend.

Last week my wife and I were in England and I brought that newspaper with me to read at home at leisure. The article stated that a Mclaren of the type MP 4-12C had crashed during a test drive before delivery. The car in the photo with this article is a supercar that Mclaren had built in 1997 and with the new member, the MP 4-12C, they want to compete with the Italian brand Ferrari. But how could the test driver have lost control of this car? I know the situation well on the ground. There is a typical English roundabout that gives access to, among other things, the road that leads to the entrance of the Mclaren Technology Center. This car just came from there and when it merged into the roundabout, the car became unmanageable. Even with such a supercar you can't drive very fast there. All at once I thought of some bizarre experiences that I had had myself in the eighties. In The Hague, on a road that leads around the Peace Palace. With different cars. To start with a just purchased Alfa Romeo Bertone. The journey from Amsterdam had gone reasonably well, but things went wrong at the Peace Palace. Without giving a sign I lost control of the car in one go and it was turned 180 degrees. A closer inspection showed that the rubbers of the wishbones to which the rear axle was attached were completely worn out. This allowed the rear axle to move suddenly, causing the car to turn backwards. The same happened to me with another car in almost the same location. This time the tires turned out to have been inflated much too softly. After the tire pressure was increased, the problem was resolved. In another car, which was equipped with leaf springs at the rear, almost the same happened, but I was able to correct the car. Here the spring straps through which the so-called U-bolts stick to keep things in place were not sufficiently tightened. All three cars had their flaws, but why did it happen right there every time and not somewhere else? That could have been because of the angle of the road surface. No road is level because otherwise the rainwater cannot flow off. The road surface is always sloping to the left or right. This can intensify the car's response to acceleration or deceleration, causing the car to break out and the driver to lose control of the vehicle.

Photo and text: Jacques van den Bergh

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