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In the world of test-driving autos, there can be moments of danger, particularly on racetracks or high, unprotected, twisting mountain roads, and offroad courses such as Moab, Utah, where some mistakes are clearly not survivable.
Ice in the Yukon, heat and dangerous roads in the Mexican Baja, the turn at Daytona International Speedway that you cannot whistle past without remembering that Dale Earnhardt and his 3 Car met their ends there.
There are moments of sheer awe over the landscapes through which we are often sent — Death Valley and the Mojave Desert, the beautiful climb to the Nurburgring in Germany, the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains, and the Pacific Coast Highway.
And there are sometimes lingering bouts of boredom, as in driving across F###*** Nebraska — as in "When are we going to be out of F###*** Nebraska?"
But there are often moments of great humor, sometimes after the fact.
As I finished a column on Saab filing for bankruptcy — full of both ominous portent and promise — I was reminded of a story I once did from Stockholm.
In Sweden, where moose abound, both Volvo and Saab put their vehicles through what they call "moose crash testing." They do this because, when a car hits a moose at full height, the legs snap on impact with the front of the car, but often more than half a ton of what's left comes crashing through the windshield and often can peel back a portion of roof. Drivers die, cars are filled with a mess you don't want me to describe.
So the tests, tires strung on a cable at windshield level, vehicles slammed into them, are to determine the integrity of the protective frame around the windscreen.
In a column about my Volvo testing, I mentioned moose crash testing for what was then a New England readership — where we have plenty of moose, where people are killed every year, and where both Volvo and Saab got their first and best purchases on American soil.
I figured folks would want to know. And yet, one woman in Cambridge, Mass., (go figure) wrote to admonish me for promoting the "killing of these innocent creatures" just to protect humans.
Somehow, she thought they were slamming Volvos into living moose.
I responded, in print, that I sure as hell was happy that I had not mentioned the testing they do on child safety seats. Suffer the poor children.