It's Harder Than it Looks in Movies

You know how in movies, when a car goes over a cliff, it always blows up spectacularly when it hits the bottom?  Well, it turns out that this is harder than it looks to duplicate in real life.


  1. L Nettles:

    NBC had the same problem in 1993 when they tried to do a story on GM's side mounted gas tanks. They were able to find a work around.

  2. Evil Red Scandi:

    Mythbusters investigated this in one of their episodes. Busted.

  3. Michael:

    He should have gotten a Ford Pinto and backed over the cliff.

  4. Gary:

    See this Mythbusters episode:

  5. Gary:

    Let's try that again. Se this Mythbusters episode:

  6. Dr. T:

    In Clint Eastwood's "Absolute Power," a car was forced over a cliff. I was impressed that it didn't explode.

  7. IgotBupkis:

    Yeah, the only way it occurs is if the gasoline is in an aerosol. "Liquid" gasoline doesn't burn, only the fumes. To get an explosion, you need to turn all the gas into "fumes", so it can catch fire all at once, causing the explosion. So essentially you need/get two explosions -- a small one to disperse the gas, and then a spark of some kind to set it off. That's part of the trick behind properly designing an ANFO device, getting the right mixture of an oxidizing agent and the explosive fuel. I suspect it's not hard to do (not like I've investigated, really) but it does probably take some experiential knowledge that isn't trivial to come by. You have to have a circumstance where you can screw up tests over and over and not get a lot of attention AND not get killed yourself.

  8. IgotBupkis:

    P.S., the main danger in an auto collision is a fire that's non-quenchable by water, and being trapped in the car unable to escape it. Not the car actually blowing up.

  9. Neo:

    I once ran into a used car salesman who was all upset because he would get customers who where worried that the car they purchased would flip over and blow up. His assurances, that this was extremely hard to do even if you wanted to, weren't enough to put their minds at rest.