My Car Burned

Vintage Vw Cars

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Email your car burning story and pictures to John Snell!

1975 Ford Gran Torino The Torino Fire of '05 1975 Ford Gran Torino

Or, How to get from this:

1975 Ford Gran Torino

To This:

1975 Ford Gran Torino Car Fire

in under 20 minutes.

Now if you want to try this yourself, start with a '75 Ford Grand Torino. Find one with an electrical problem if possible.

Torino Fire Reflection Torino Fire Reflection
I double exposed the film--I shot the roll, then I fed the film through and took another bunch of photos (they happened to be of this monumental car sacrifice). I wouldn't recommend this approach to photography, but some of these shots are interesting. On the example above, one picture shows a nice apple tree (with a mysterious fire ball in it) and the other shows a car fire (with a mysterious apple tree coming out of it).

In the remaining photos, look closely to find the ghost of a CAT (or of a car)! How fun is THIS??!!

Torino Fire ReflectionTorino Fire Reflection
So SMOKEY. That's Toppsy Upside Down looking through the hole in her climbing pole.

Torino Fire Reflection Putting out the fire

I would've been running if I had that hose, but at least the Fire Department finally made it out to the party. BAM! Tire blew. KACK! Windshield Cracked. BOOM! The other tire blows.
Toppsy's watching the drama unfold from the photo above...

Putting out the firePutting out the fire

"Cute little kitty. Oh. Um, is that a car on FIRE?"

My 75 Torino on Fire
Jitters finally put the fire out with her paws...

Putting the fire out
So, I got a wake-up call at 7am the next morning telling me to "get out here as fast as you can! Your car is GUSHING GAS!".

I told the security guy it would take me over 30 minutes to get there. "Don't you have a bucket or something to catch the gas in?" I asked? That was beyond this guys capabilities. Of course by the time I got there all the gas had escaped. It must have been leaking all night. So they had to dig up all the dirt and dispose of it expensively.

fires out 75 Torino Burned

So there it is! $10,000 to $100 in record time.
Anyone want to buy some nice tail lights?

Burned 1975 Gran Torino

Story number two: A 1975 Beetle Convertible!

Burned 1975 VW Beetleme and my 1975 VW BeetleMy 1975 VW Beetle

Believe it or not, Here's another one of my cars that caught fire. It's a good story. Make sure you have some water nearby in case your computer catches fire while reading it. It's possible to get that engrossed. It's a good story. Did I already say that?

I have, in the past, had two really bad car experiences. The first cartastrophe, or bad car experience (bce), happened the day before my college graduation: June 5th, 1997. I had been working on restoring the body and mechanics of a 1975 VW Convertible Bug since 1995. Now the year was 1998 so I had 3 years restoration behind me. The car had been completely assembled for only 7 days the day I went out to start it. On the walk out to the garage I passed coolers of melted ice and cold bottles of beers from the night before. My roommates and I had just graduated from college so we had held a Graduation Party for ourselves. I opened the garage door and tried to start the BeetleI was planning to drive the car to my Uncle's shop to do some carburetor work. The bug had a problem where the carb gave the engine too much gas and the car would drown and not start. Well, thats exactly what happened as I tried to start the car the morning we're discussing. I got out of the car, unscrewed some screws and took the top of the carb off to let it air out. I also took off the fuel line leading to the carb to allow even more airing outing. Dumbing. After 4 minutes of waiting for the airing I leaned in to try and start the car. It turned over for about 12 seconds and then WOOOOMPH! Flames! Orange! Heat! Fear! My drivers door was open, and flames immediately swooshed out around my leg. The garage was instantly hot. I whipped my head back and saw a tower of flames reaching from the back of my car to the surface of the open garage door. I can now still tap into that fear, panic, disbelief, and horror that I felt that second. I grabbed my fire extinguisher from under my seat and ran back to the open motor. I whipped the pin out and pushed the trigger. Nothing! Pushed again, Nothing! WHAT?! I whipped the extinguisher and lunged to get the convertible top and out of the direct flames. I put the top up and quickly looked back at the flame tower.

"The @(*%@!ing garage could to burn down!"I realized. So, I leaned into the car and whipped it into neutral. I quickly ran around to the passenger side and gave a firm push to get the burning car out of the garage. Just then, a "Whack" alerts me that the drivers door is still open!

"Whack, Whack, Whack!". The door had bent back and was thumping against the 2X4s of the garage wall. The rear wheels exit the garage to an incline, and nothing can stop the momentum of this burning carcass. All I can do is cringe as the car driver's door reach the narrow opening of the garage exit"Yaaaoooiiiinn". The door completely bends backward with an awful sound. Im left standing there in the garage in even more shock than I was 10 seconds ago. Mouth open, eyes huge, I watched my flaming newly painted bug convertible speed down into the alley and smash backwards into the side of my neighbor's stone house.

My 1975 VW Beetle My1975 VW Beetle

That sounds like that would be the end of the awful story, but NO! The car is still on FIRE! I can't rest, I can't think, I just need to run!

"Where?! Whatthe kitchen. ARGH! I'm going to have to run all the way into the kitchen and wait while a pail fills with water from the sink!??" ZOoM! Out the garage, into the yard, next to the door is a huge, long metal cooler!

"I'll fill the cooler with the hose!" I thought. I whip open the cooler and what do I find? Its full of melted ice (water) and some floating bottles of beer. Grab the cooler! Zip back to the burning bug! Dump the water and beers onto the charring engine!

"Still on fire!"

Back to get the other cooler! I was running back with the second heavy full cooler I vividly remember being so out of breath that I wanted to just collapse. I was in a panic trying to run in sandals while carrying a huge, full, metal cooler. I kicked off my sandals and hurried on. I dumped the contents of the cooler onto the smoking fire.



Water and bottles of full beer dump out onto the back of my bug. Still, the fire continues. Two huge coolers of water had still not extinguished THE FIRE, though both the fire and I were feeling the effects of the fierce battle. I looked around desperately for more fluid to put on the fire. BEER! BOTTLES of BEER! Grab! Twist! ARGH! I can laugh now, but when those beers werent twist offs, I just about lost my head. I ripped my palms pretty raw trying to twist those caps open. I tried quite a few bottles, and you'll believe me when I tell you I gave it my all trying to twist those things off. No go. My only option was to smash the necks off the bottles. I cracked a bottle on my neighbors house (the one my car just hit).

my cut hand

The bottle just disintegrated in my already bloody hands. I tried to smash another one a bit more strategically, but by that time the fire and I had about had it. We both had no breath left. I sat, bled, and stared at my new car.

The second part of this nightmare came just after repairing the fire damage. The repaired portion of the car was all ready for paint. Now I had only painted one other time beforeit was when I painted this car the first time. So I can blame my stupidity on inexperience, but I forgot to add paint thinner to the paint before I began spraying the car! So, I accidentally sprayed a dry, rough crap-mess all over my nice, smooth body work. Once I figured out why the spray gun was shooting out thick gunk, I left the spray booth to find my Uncle (He was the Master, I was the apprentice.). Try spraying just thinner on it. He said. He used his arms to smoothly say, Maybe it'll melt your mess into a nice paint job." I looked at him half waiting for him to tell me he was kidding. "You can't make it any worse. He concluded. So I tried a coat of strait paint thinner. That just turned the cars surface into a different kind of ugly with less color. I finished up the rest of the car with the correct mixture of paint, but I also ruined the passenger side paint job because a light coat of over spray got under the plastic (I actually sprayed the gun under the plastic above the passenger-side fender to blend the new paint job with the old paint job. I NOW know how to use tape to get a good, smooth blend.

Super Beetle new paint in progress Super Beetle new paint in progress

A week from this paint day, I had plans to go on a VW cruz from Salt Lake City to Portland and up to Seattle. I forced myself to not fix the ugliness but instead reassembled the car (rough paint job on one side and all) so I wouldn't miss the VW trip. It was 2 years before I got another decent paint job on it, but this time it was Yellow and Green instead of just green!

super beetle

Thanks for reading! All better now. Check out these other pages with photos and stories!

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Car Donation Info
Porsche Project