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Jumping Car: Real or a Hoax? – Resilient Wheels for the Landing?

The AACA Library and Research Center found this interesting photo of a stunt driver jumping a car between two rock faces on a road cut in El Paso Texas. The circa-1922 image shows the driver and a good-sized, medium-priced touring car at the half way point, as three gentlemen are watching.

While this jump may have happened, and the stuntman and touring car might have made it across the gap, the photo appears to have been doctored up by a local photographer. One can see that the car’s wheels are not spinning, and why are only three people watching? Please tell us your thoughts about the image and the identity of the automobile if you can.

Regardless, there is a possibility that this jump actually happened. A limited search on our part did not turn up anything, but we hope our readers can find more information about it. The photo from The Portal to Texas History is courtesy of the AACA Library.

At the bottom of the post, you can view the perfect solution for a soft landing – resilient wheels.

Jump 2

  •                   An enlargement of the stunt driver jumping between two rock faces in El Paso, Texas.

1914 Resilient Wheel

Here is the prefect wheel for such a stunt. The Resilient Auto Wheel was manufactured by the Resilient Auto Wheel Company of Duluth, Minnesota. It was featured in the local newspaper in 1914, and “The Automobile” magazine also covered the wheel in the May 21, 1914 issue.


For the ultimate in resilient wheels as seen here, check our earlier post covering twelve different types of the springy devices that cushioned early automobile travel.


23 responses to “Jumping Car: Real or a Hoax? – Resilient Wheels for the Landing?

  1. Well, if the car continued on it’s current trajectory, the driver better get ready to jump. ( is that a low tire on the LF?) I’ve always been amazed at the seemingly corny solutions back then, for what now, is simple. I guess you had to start somewhere. I can’t imagine driving a vehicle that had springs on a wheel itself. While I don’t know what the car is in the bottom pic, I think it’s cool, it had the “Old Motor” website on the toolbox, way back then. 🙂

    • I agree, Howard. The “angle of attack” indicates the car has already passed the apex of its trajectory. I also don’t see the car’s shadow.

      • Car would have to be going 200 miles an hour or so for it to maintain a level position at this stage in its trajectory. Cars are so front heavy, that the car would, at any reasonable speed, be standing near vertical. I once tried to jump a 1940 Ford. It climbed very fast at a steep trajectory, then reversed direction almost immediately, breaking one of the water pumps when it “landed:.

  2. I hope it is real! But given the time period and the cameras of that period, I don’t think many would have been able to capture that kind of motion with such clarity. But then again, it could have been timed correctly? Either way, its a cool photo!

  3. I would say its a hoax – no dust cloud or debris trailing from behind…. at least that’s what happens in the Duke’s of Hazzard! Neat photo though.

    • Got to be a doctored photo. The horizon on the left apparently cuts a power pole off rather smoothly.

      Also, looking downhill into El Paso downtown would show the mountains in Cd. Juarez in the background.

  4. I think it’s a hoax or joke picture. I doubt an ordinary 1922 car could gain the speed necessary to jump that far. Second, if that’s a “stuntman” he’s very bad at it. I’m sure even in those days they would have been smart enough to use at least a helmet to protect the head if it goes thru the windshield. Plus, of all the body styles a phaeton is possibly the worst choice, because structurally it’s one of the weakest and least likely to survive the landing.

  5. Obviously faked. The motionless wheels, the clump of dirt near the bottom of the front wheel(the ground that the car was resting on, the perfectly level attitude of the car and messed up perspective on the right rear wheel. It is a fun photo, though. It reminds me of the old Jack-elope photos or the giant ears of corn on a farm wagon postcards.

  6. I think it’s a fake. Based on 60 years of film photo experience, here’s how you do it: Take a photo of the car and make a print with the car sized appropriately. Take a photo of the site. Cut out the image of the car from the first print, and paste onto the site print wherever you want it (this guy got it too low), creating a composite print. Finally, re-photograph the composite and make the final print.

  7. Its a fake, Robert Goddard couldn’t have gotten that car moving fast enough to make this jump. As soon as it went over the cliff it would have gone nose down onto the road or splattered all over the opposing cliff-and that would have been the photo we’d be looking at!

  8. This car is remarkably similar to the Elgin that leaped a less impressive creek bed in Illinois in 1920. It’s possible they snagged that photo of that car, and superimposed it.
    I have the 1920 illustrated magazine cover at my blog, Deadly Curves.

  9. Trick photography has been popular almost since the invention of photography. I have seen this one before, and clearly it is a trick (as already pointed out by others).
    They did actually jump cars at that time. There are a few well known films showing them in action, but none are nearly so long and spectacular as this depicts. A standard car of that era could not have enough power and speed for nearly so long a jump. Especially not carrying enough ballast to maintain a level jump. (The General Lee required nearly a ton of ballast in the trunk to stay level.)
    Interestingly, stunt drivers at that time used very little if any safety equipment. It was a different world. All about what you are used to.

    If I recall correctly, there was a fellow that jumped a one cylinder Cadillac along about 1910. I seem to recall that he was in Australia? He went down a steep ramp to get enough speed and I think did so quite a few times at shows. It was a short jump, but quite spectacular for the day. I have seen both film and photos of it, but it has been a couple of years since. Maybe someone better than I with computers can find more about it.

  10. An obvious fake for all the foregoing reasons. Plus, Notice the dirt bank just overhead of the men and to the left. It appears that a pipe is sticking out of the ground or perhaps it is a smokestack beyond the dirt bank. Whatever it is, the photo has obviously been cropped from landing site, down the cliff, through the object, across the horizon, and up the cliff to the launch point.

  11. In addition to the other comments about it being a fake, it seems no one has noticed the wheels aren’t hanging. If the car were raised off the ground, the wheels would drop to the limits of spring travel.

    Or, if it is a real photo the driver is in for an awful hard landing.

  12. As I mentioned in the text the photo is “Doctored.”

    It may or may not have been made up by the photographer to represent a jump that some dare devil may have pulled off?

    Can any of the expert searchers in the audience find any reference to something like this happening?

    • Not much on vintage car jumps, ( except one on YouTube, of an old car jumping a house, with disastrous results. A lot of motorcycle stuff though. Jalopnik has a compilation of “Best Hollywood Car Jumps”, and the James Bond “Corkscrew” (which looks like an AMC Hornet), was judged the best.

  13. I am a PhotoShop expert, and my business is taking people photos of their houses, and doing a virtual “remodel” entirely in Photoshop (you can see some examples at my website listed above). Before PhotoShop, the way people would do photo manipulation is to literally “cut up” the photos making a montage. For some examples of what is a problem here, take a look at the horizon in the background (the hill in the far distance), and follow it over to the left side “bluff” that the driver is “allegedly” jumping to. Notice that there is a telephone or power pole that has been truncated. exactly along the line of the horizon “hill”. The manipulator probably attempted to simplify the pic, and make it appear that the car would simply “jump” the gap (no poles in the way). Also, the wheels have a rough trim job at the bottom of the front tires. Also, the “bluff” or cliff on the right side is very sharp and defined, which in this photo would be slightly blurred. Unfortunately, this is fake.

  14. Obviously a fake as the cars springs are all compressed. The axles would have been hanging down quite a bit further than they are in the photo. The weight of the car has compressed the springs as it is just sitting on the ground. (Funny none of the previous comments picked that up.)

  15. It’s clearly fake. The angle is wrong, there’s no take off or land point visible for the angle of the vehicle to be at that position. There are no physical forces evident on the driver or the car either, no motion of spin of tyres etc. Still fun though. .

  16. That could be old “Zim”. Grandpa used to tell me about a story that his father told about a guy name Zimmerman who was a daredevil in El Paso around 1900 to 1920. He liked Dayton motorcycles and doing aerials and having accidents with other motorcyclists. He raked up a few speeding tickets too I’ll betcha.

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