Originally Published on May 21, 2010
Globe Drive writer Peter Cheney recently wrote about an incident involving his son, a garage door and a $180,000 Porsche.
Take an expensive sports car, a curious teen and a garage door - and mix together to get one very embarrassed automotive writer
This story generated a huge public response, and many readers wrote to Mr. Cheney with their tales of woe. For example, one reader drove her husband's 1933 Chev coupe into a brand new minivan - which had been left in the driveway after a wedding for safe keeping. Both vehicles had to be towed away on flatbed trailers. That was the first - and last - time she drove the yellow coupe.
Son's Porsche mishap says much about a generation that has grown up driving automatics, says Peter Cheney
Another reader was reminded of his days working for UPS when he was 18 years old. His job was to wash the delivery vans and park them in a warehouse. One memorable day, he backed into the garage door, taking down not only the door, but the cinderblock wall too. 10 feet on either side of the garage door was left completely in rubble. That was the end of that job.
Now it's time to bare your (automotive) soul. Peter Cheney was online when this story was first published in 2010 to talk about bloopers, accidents, or any other stupid thing you've done in (or to) a car. Please feel free to add your comments on this story.
|10:26||Danielle Boudreau, Globe and Mail
- Welcome to our discussion with Peter Cheney on bloopers, accidents,
or any other stupid thing you’ve done in (or to) a car. Leave your
questions and comments now, and join us at noon E.T. when we're live. |
|12:00||Danielle Boudreau, Globe and Mail
- Welcome Peter, thanks for participating in this today. When you
wrote the story about your son’s mishap with the Porsche, did you
anticipate this type of response? |
- I thought it might be interesting to people, but who knew? I didn't
really expect it to be the Night of the Living Dead of car stories, I've
been getting calls and emails from around the world. It's definitely
sparked a lot of reaction. |
|12:01||[Comment From Holly]|
loved your article and I just wanted to say that although I am sure
that was an awful day for you and your family, I think it helped your
career immensely. I had never read your articles before even tho the
Globe and Mail is my home page. I went back and read some of your other
articles and found the one on buying your minivan hilarous and I look
forward to reading more from you. Today I am picking up my brand new
Chev Avalanche and I was hoping to read some reviews you had done on it
but unfortunately I did not find one. I am selling my minivan as our
youngest is now almost 18 and graduating from high school so I felt I
could relate to where you and your family are in your lives. I wanted a
sports car but my husband has convinced me the Avalanche would suit our
needs better and pull our trailer much better than the Nissan 370Z that
I preferred. I look forward to your next article.
- Holly - thank you for the kind words. Career advancement was the
last thing on my mind that day, But the story has definitely been a hit.
A crazy time. |
|12:03||[Comment From Guest]|
don't have any personal stories; but when working for an oil company in
Calgar[...]y during the 80s, we were told a story the quite well known
Vice President. He went out to buy skis, and returned with them attached
to the back of his car, at that time they were fastened on somehow to
the trunk of the car, and stuck up fairly high at an upward angle. He
drove into the garage, and broke the skis off. He drove into the
garage, broke the skis off[...], and then went back to the store for
another pair. He came home, and drove in to the garage, breaking off the
second pair. We never heard whether he went back for a 3rd pair.
|12:06||[Comment From Jpereira]|
I was 18 I got a dent in my dad's car. My parents were away and I was
so terrified that I took out $700 and got it fixed. I'm now 36 and I've
never told my parents. It was a crap second-hand Chrysler—I can't
imagine what was going through your son's head but it's pretty
impressive that he just didn't take off but came instead to talk to
you...I would have made for the hills and come back in a week or so.
- I did nearly the same thing - drove into a motel sallyport in the
Gaspe Peninsula with three bicycles and a carbon-fiber hang glider on
the roof of our Honda Civic. Ripped them all off, smashed out the
windshield. Wife and kids were with me - Will was a baby then, safely
buckled into the car seat. Glider was unscathed - flew it that
- Jpereira - I'm calling your dad. He should be okay by now. And thank
you for the kind words about my son. We have a good relationship. It
got quite a road test that day. |
- Peter, it is my great shame to admit that I washed my father's brand
new 1978 Olds Custom Cruiser station wagon (his pride and joy) with SOS
pads when I was 16. Don't ask why. I was stupid. He was absolutely
quiet when I showed him the completely scratched vehicle. It was as if I
had just punched him in the gut. He just slumped back and looked as if
he was going to cry. He never, ever said a word about it and, years
later, if anyone were to mention the story, this look of anger would
come over his face and I swear you could see wisps of smoke coming from
his ears. |
|12:10||[Comment From From Francis via e-mail]|
just read your online piece about your son, Will, crashing the Porsche
into your garage. I'm sure it wasn't at all funny in the moment, but
very funny story. (Also explains where you've disappeared to from the
pages of the Globe edition I get here in Ottawa.)
Glad to hear everyone was alright and that Porsche was so good about it.
Hope it doesn't make any other high-end care manufacturers leery about
lending you a car in the future.
Also reminded me of the time I trashed my landlord's garage door when I
lived on Kearney Lake Road during university. But that was with a crap
Toyota, my first car, worth less than your insurance deductible, and it
|12:10||[Comment From From Kellylee via e-mail]|
kid. At least he's young. I couldn't rely on that excuse when I put the
car in reverse instead of drive and backed into our garage. I was 30. I
think my husband and the repair person probably silently used the
"wife/female driver/new mother" excuse. Silently. ;)
- Darren - tell your dad that flat finishes are now the rage. You put
him ahead of the automotive style curve with the SOS-pad detailing
|12:12||[Comment From From d via e-mail]|
upon a time (1985 or 86) , I was one of the first Canadian Porsche
"Advanced Driver School" students. Rick Bye was my co-pilot. I had a
1985 928S and Mosport was the demolition zone. Apparently according to
Rick I was one of the better drivers and we watched in horrified
amusement as people totaled their cars on the turns and even one rental
Porsche was wiped out on the pit straight. Such a shame but damn were
there a lot of bad drivers with tons of money and sexual identity
Now on the garage door theme .. last winter I got the groceries out of
my trunk, hit the garage door button and then heard a crash. The door
fell off the tracks and created the attached BMW sandwich.. BTW BMWs
work so much better for single fathers with kids in car seats than
- Kellylee - yours was a classic mistake. It happened at the garage
where I worked as a mechanic many years ago. A customer pinned one of
our apprentices against the wall. It wasn't funny. |
Try it Now
Peter Cheney on car bloopers
|12:14||[Comment From Rose]|
I was in my late teens, I remember taking the keys to my mother's
Suzuki Jeep, yes Suzuki Jeep for a ride. Not only was I a new driver, I
had my younger brother on board. All was well until I tried to my a
U-turn on a narrow street. When I reversed, little did I know that I
was reversing into a ditch that was covered by tall grass. The next
thing I knew, the jeep was resting on its rear wheels , like a sitting
dog. In desperation to get out of the ditch, I revved and revved but
each time, I sank deeper. Finally, my younger brother crawled out and
walked home to tell my parents. Dad arrived in his car and I thought to
myself: girl, you're so dead.
- d - what an awesome story about the garage door. I have a buddy
whose entire garage collapsed on his car when snow built up on the roof.
Fortunately it was a Lada. Cosmic justice. |
|12:16||[Comment From From Walter via e-mail]|
story and reminds me of a potential tragedy in our family.
Friend of ours borrowed our SUV and returned it to our driveway. The
vehicle had a standard transmission and he left it "in gear" as that was
how he was taught.
I was taught to never leave it in gear but to depress the clutch just in
My wife started the SUV (she was used to us never leaving it in gear but
neutral) and it lurched forward hitting the car ahead of it.
Fortunately no young children were there between the cars.
Did you leave the Porsche in gear? If so, you might owe your son an
apology or shoulder some of the blame on this one.
I am a firm believer that all standards should not be left in gear when
parked (no matter what the "experts" say)
|12:17||[Comment From Rose]|
father's reaction surprised me. He asked if I was okay, and then sent
for a tow truck. After the jeep was pulled out, I found my way into my
dad's car because I thought my driving days were over. 'Not so fast,
young lady' my dad said. 'Hop back in the jeep and drive it home'. I am
always grateful for my dad's reaction. Had he reacted differently,
perhaps I would have abandoned driving for life. Mom's car was wrecked
and I paid for the repairs from the wages from my summer job.
- Rose - I cringed reading your story. You fell for the old tall grass
trick. Me too. Back in the late 70's, I landed a hang glider in a field
in the Fraser Valley, and decided to cut across a ditch with two inches
of water and a green, reed-covered bottom. Turned out the reeds were
about four or five feet long, Went in over my head, with a glider on top
of me. Genius. |
- Rose - as to the second part of rour story - your dad sounds pretty
smart. Got you right back on the horse. How you respond in crisis
defines you as a parent, and as a person, |
- Walter - I disagree. Putting the car in gear and using the parking
brake provides redundant stopping mechanisms. The chances of the brake
failing, or slipping, is far greater than the chance of a freak accident
like my son's, |
|12:23||[Comment From From Mike via e-mail]|
for the great article. I’ve always wondered about that with all the
cars being test driven by automotive journalists, some of them must have
been in accidents and what was the outcome. I’m sure the fact that your
son had the key and did the damage and not you was not too cool.
I’m sure you’re getting lots of anecdotes and here’s mine.
Summer of 1986, 18 yrs old, working for UPS, one month on the job. It
was my job to wash the delivery vans and park them into a warehouse.
Some of the vans are quite big, more like a UHaul and they get backed in
and parked side by side so tightly that you go out the back door to get
in/out. I was backing up into the garage, creeping so slowly, looked in
my left mirror, looked in my right mirror and BANG!!!. The back corner
hit the side of the big garage door, took down the garage door and the
whole side of the cinder block warehouse. I mean 10ft on either side of
the garage was left completely in rubble. The garage door was just like
yours except this one probably weighed 500 pounds. I had to call the
manager, he had to call a security company, and I had to tell my parents
that I had lost my summer job.
Good luck to your son in university and I hope he enjoys your article
because he will be hearing it at his wedding. After UPS I went to
University of Guelph and I am still best friends with my residence
|12:24||[Comment From Rose]|
it sure does. Always grateful he did that. I am sure your son will
write about the way you reacted to the 'porsche event' someday.
|12:26||Danielle Boudreau, Globe and Mail - From what I'm reading here today, it seems that garage door repair might be a good business to get into! |
- Mike - what a great story!.....as to the automotive journalism story
- entire fleets of vehicles have been destroyed by the fifth
estate...... ironically, my record was perfect until this debacle..... |
|12:26||[Comment From Guest]|
Maybe Porsche will name their next concept after this adventure. The
new Porsche Cheney. Now that would be worth it! What car did you
always wanted to drive (past or future), not including Porsche?
|12:31||Peter Cheney - As to names - how about the Porsche Compensator GT?
As to the cars - I always wanted to drive a Ford GT, a Shelby Cobra,
and a Caterham Seven. Porsche was my father's dream car - he loved the
356 and the 911. I always liked them too. I'm not really a fan of
Porsche's big vehicles, like the Cayenne and the Panamera. They design
and build them beautifully, but to me, they aren't true Porsches - to
me, the brand means light weight and high performance, I am entranced by
the 911 and the Boxster Spyder. I was a Porsche-VW mechanic when I was
in my 20s.
|12:33||[Comment From From Bill via e-mail]|
the story reminds me of the time I tested my home made gun by firing a
shot at the target painted on the garage door then I heard liquid
running opening the door there was my dads new tractor with a
hole right through the rad there is more to the story. Hey Peter
you can send Will out here to do laps around my runway with my John
Deere it has twenty five horse power and wont go over twelve miles per
|12:33||Peter Cheney - Guest - forgot to mention - guess the Porsche Cheney would come with an automatic garage door opener........ |
Try it Now
Peter Cheney on car bloopers
- Bill - using the garage door as a rifle range makes perfect sense!
Reminds me of the time my brother and I set up a bicycle jump ramp aimed
into the street..... I was almost eliminated from the human race at the
age of ten by a pickup truck.... |
|12:36||Danielle Boudreau, Globe and Mail
- A colleague reminded me of comedian Eddie Griffin's crash in 2007,
where he drove a rare $1.5-million Ferrari Enzo into a concrete barrier
on a track, destroying the vehicle. The damage to the $180,000 Porsche
looks relatively minor in comparison. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNVrMZX2kms |
|12:36||[Comment From DJ]|
is one for the history books - I used to live in a house with a long
driveway which ended at a very steep hill with a river below. One very
cold evening I tried to drive out of the driveway only to be stuck on
ice. Quite frustrated, I thought if I put the vehicle in gear, step on
the gas from the outside while pushing it on the door frame with the
door open, then I could hop inside when it cleared the patch of ice. Not
so. My vehicle cleared the ice, but instead raced backwards, pushing me
over onto the ground and rolling down the steep hill with it. The only
thing that stopped it was a tree. I felt very close to death that dark
night seeing my tires inches from my face as I tumbled backwards.
Thankfully I stopped tumbling as well and although I had a few big
bruises on my back, I am alive to tell the tale!! My vehicle had nary a
scratch on it, but I had nightmares for quite a while....
- Yes, the damage to the Porsche could have been a lot worse. But it
was bad enough.... the pictures don't really show it, but the right
quarter panel took quite a hit.. There have beem some SPECTACULAR
crashes with high-end cars. |
- Peter, your son's mishap with the Porsche is the stuff of legend.
Did you ever do anything as spectacular when you were a teenager? |
|12:39||Peter Cheney - DJ - you're lucky the Reaper gave you pass.... I've had a couple of those moments too. They sure do smarten you up. |
|12:39||[Comment From matt]|
I was amazed by the effect of a dropped clutch on an idling engine when there was 400+hp behind it.
- Matt - it was actually FIVE HUNDRED horsepower. Of course that's at
peak. Hard to say how much it was developing in this situation. I think
my son's foot must have been on the throttle a bit - that car was like a
rodeo bull coming out of the chute. The Porsche Turbo's 0-60 time is
just over three seconds. |
|12:42||[Comment From From David via e-mail]|
month after picking up the Turbo PDK of which picture is enclosed, I
smacked the front spoiler into a curb. But only $300 to repair at Pfaff
Autowerks. The embarrassment was the worst part.
- Darren _ i did some stupid stuff. Backed my dad's 1963 Comet out of
the garage with a door open, and nearly ripped it off. Also rode a
bicycle off a steep slope, hoping for a ski-jump style ride, only to
have the handlebars pull off in my hands (it wasn't my bike.) The day
ended with me in the hospital having a brake handle separated from my
groin. Definitely a Darwin Award candidate. |
|12:46||Danielle Boudreau, Globe and Mail
- I often wonder how much damage is done to vehicles that are driven
over the high streetcar curbs in Toronto. I've witnessed many bloopers
in the downtown area - including a Hummer stuck on one near the Globe
office - unable to move forward or back. |
|12:46||[Comment From DJ]|
like mine and the above sure make you realize that your life is much
more important than a vehicle...whether it is a second-hand one or a
Porsche. Funny how we place such importance on something that
depreciates as soon as we drive it off the car lot!
- DJ - you hit the nail on the head. Even the most valuable car is
ephemeral. I keep thinking about Plato, and how each thing merely
represents an ideal. The Turbo is only metal and plastic, but it is the
embodiment of something more important - the passion of engineers, the
skill of mechanics, and the joy of drivers fortunate enough to drive
one, even if it's only for a while. |
|12:52||Danielle Boudreau, Globe and Mail - Your poor son - that's a lot of publicity at such a young age. How's he doing with his notoriety? |
- He's good. We drove to Kingston together yesterday to look at
Queen's University, and we had a great conversation. He's getting a lot
of texts and phone calls, but he has a solid sense of self and a good
sense of humor. He knows that I will be putting this in his wedding
speech. He had to go to Montreal with his hockey team the weekend after
this happened. I sent him a text - "I will always love you, no matter
how many Porsches you destroy." |
- Hey, in this day and age where it's strangely "cool" to put an iPad
in a blender, this may make him more popular with his friends. "Dude,
you smoked that car! Totally awesome!" Or not. |
|12:56||Danielle Boudreau, Globe and Mail
- Peter, since you're a fellow Haligonian, do you remember the
incident involving the car that was driven into the side of a Walmart
store, about 12-13 years ago? Luckily nobody was hurt, but the car was
stuck in the wall, suspended high in the air. It did a lot of damage to a
display of diapers inside the store, I believe. Luckily the car didn't
hit any support beams, so it was lodged in the cinderblock wall. |
|12:57||Peter Cheney - Good thing the Porsche is too big for the blender. |
|12:58||Danielle Boudreau, Globe and Mail - That's all the time we have for today. Peter and readers, thanks for sharing your stories. Safe driving!|
|12:58||Peter Cheney - Danielle - I vaguely recall that. Do you think Henry Ford expected any of this?
|1:01||[Comment From DJ]|
yes..the really real. Make sense...and if Plato's theory is correct,
art (such as a beautiful Porsche) is powerful and dangerous because it
stirs up our emotions so that our characters and behaviours change. One
then can see how we become so attached and act irrationally when we faun
over our cars as if they were human!
|1:01||[Comment From GS]|
first car - 1963 Chevrolet Biscayne. Country boy - lived on a gravel
road. had a spinner on the sterring wheel, made it much easier to do
whatt we called 'squirrelly dirllies' - swerving back and forth with
full gas and chewing up the gravel roads. Spinner made it easy (one
handed). Well, in the middle of one of these SDs, the knob came off the
spinner and I piled that Chevy into a tree.
Readers, please leave your comments and stories on the comments section of this story.
|1:02||Peter Cheney - DJ, GS, et al - thanks for writing in. What a week it's been. Over and out for now! |