The Ultimate 120 MPH Mega Crash

Fifth Gear, the British made show from the creators of Top Gear, has been the master of crash tests. They’ve proved the safety of numerous vehicles, crushing them in head-on collisions, side crashes, and thrown into walls. For this experiment, however, they were going to do something that no one, not even they, had ever done before. A head-on collision at 120 miles per hour.

The show is taking a modest Ford Focus Hatchback and launching it at top speeds towards an immovable concrete wall. While the result of such a crash should be pretty obvious before it begins, there is a question of just how much of the car will survive; if at all. As the narrator smoothly mentions, most crash tests are done at about 40 miles an hour; so this will be three times faster, and thus likely three times more destructive. In fact, the show had to use cheap dummies instead of regular crash-test dummies since the deformation of the wreckage could end up destroying them. As a result, they wound up using store mannequins as proxies for actual passengers.

As the unsuspecting Focus was set up, the crew had to make sure that everything would run smoothly. As this test was the first of its kind, they were traveling into unknown territory, and thus took special care with the setup. The car was positioned with a winch that would pull it towards the concrete block. In order to reach the speeds required, the winch needed upwards of 15,000 pounds of torque, or roughly the equivalent of 16 Bugatti Veyrons.

Finally, the car was unleashed and died a horrible, spine-tingling death. In a matter of seconds, it transforms from typical suburban vehicle to mutilated wreckage. The force of the impact completely crushed the front half, leaving just the rear sitting on its side. As the mannequins adequately showed, any passengers in such a crash would be killed almost instantly, and would be turned inside out by the crunching metal.

Overall, the test was a tremendous success and ended up with only half a car. While in Hollywood such a crash would result in a huge fireball, this test was surprisingly fire-less, even though the gas tank burst open like a dam upon impact. We could go into further detail about what the car looked like afterwards, but why not see for yourself?