On The Road Again
By Gene Cogorno

. . . an article with photographs appearing in the November-December, 2010 issue of MARC's Model "A" News.

KABOOM! What was that? "Are you all right?", I asked my wife. What happened?

Barely able to hold on to the steering wheel, I was able to forcefully guide our '31 Deluxe Fordor over to the right hand shoulder of Highway 70 in Putman County, Indiana. Once my wife Dayna and I realized that we were essentially in "one piece", we quickly exited our 170-B "blindback" Model "A" Ford only to discover that the back end of our car was demolished, along with the trunk in splinters and trunk contents/spare parts spread out everywhere across the highway.

We never saw this moment coming. We were returning from the 2005 Indianapolis National Meet caravan style (in the slow lane) with 5 other cars from St. Louis when we were hit. The morning of July 2, 2005 was cool and clear. Our group left Indianapolis at 6 a.m. and we had just commented on how well all the old cars were running. Out of "nowhere", a 17 year old driving a 2001 Oldsmobile Alero passed up 3 old cars behind us in our caravan before hitting us. Jim Ruth, our dear friend and fellow Missouri Valley Region MARC member who was following in a Model "A" behind us, later told us that the Alero was in a big hurry and tried passing a tractor trailer by driving around the passenger side of the truck and abruptly turning into the slow lane. His car was traveling an estimated 80 MPH when he hit us, instantly deploying his car's air bag.

Above photos taken on the day of the wreck, in 2005. To see a larger version of any photo, just click on it, then use your broser's "back button" to return to this page.

It wasn't long until the Putnam County Sheriff arrived with 2 ambulances. The first ambulance took the driver of the Alero to the Putnam County Hospital. The second ambulance took Dayna and me to the same place after securing our necks in "cervical collars" and strapping us onto stretchers. It was in the ER at the hospital that we overheard the other driver telling his mom that the "sun was in his eyes" when he rear ended our car. Funny thing is that we were traveling west bound at 6:30 a.m. with the sun clearly behind and not in front of the cars. We have since verified that the sun continues to rise in the East!

After the emergency room CT scans, x-rays, assorted examinations, cleaning and bandaging our wounds, we were released to go home. Fortunately, we had no broken bones or major detectable external injuries. The cervical collars came off and we were prescribed pain killers and follow-up care at home. Everyone in our Model "A" caravan had followed us to the hospital. While we were inside getting evaluated and treated, our group was outside prying the rear fenders off of the rear tires sufficiently to where the sedan could be driven home. We are blessed to have such wonderful friends and traveling mates in: Jeff and Terri Buckley, Alice & Bert Schott, Lance Klingemann, Jim Ruth and Terry Oberer.

As we soon found out, whiplash injuries don't usually manifest themselves right at the time of an accident but rather within the next few days. Sure enough, Dayna and I had our share of neck and back problems in the days, weeks and months that followed. I had previously had back surgery which, of course, was aggravated by the violent impact of the collision. Fortunately for both of us, with proper medical treatment in St. Louis and lots of physical therapy sessions, we're back to enjoying touring with the Model "A" again. We are both very grateful to be alive! Each and every day we are thankful that we have been given a "second chance" and did not loose our lives that morning.

Dayna and I both decided that the car was fixable, even though the insurance adjuster suggested "totaling" the car after his examination of the damage. Only 740 "two-window" Deluxe Fordor Sedans were manufactured during 1931. The frame had been bent, rear radius rods bent, both original rear fenders were beyond repair, the rear spare tire and wheel were "toast", as well as the rear bumpers, trunk and taillight. The impact of the accident had splintered much of the Briggs body floor sills. Both the front and rear seats had come loose in the accident. The Lebaron Bonney Interior was torn including the seat covers. The lacquer paint had cracked in many spots with the impact. Even the radiator shell had been pushed forward and had cracked on both sides.