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Initial body shop estimate for the 2010 Porsche Turbo – $11,000 plus taxes. (Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail)
Initial body shop estimate for the 2010 Porsche Turbo – $11,000 plus taxes. (Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail)

Earlier discussion

Peter Cheney on car bloopers Add to ...

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.

More Related to this Story

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.

 

10:26Danielle 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.
12:00Danielle 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?
12:01Peter Cheney -  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]
I 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.
12:03Peter Cheney -  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]
I 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]
When 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.
12:06Peter Cheney -  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 afternoon.
12:09Peter Cheney -  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.
12:09Darren McGee -  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]
I 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 was unscathed.
12:10[Comment From From Kellylee via e-mail]
Poor 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. ;)
12:10Peter Cheney -  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 job......
12:12[Comment From From d via e-mail]
One 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 issues. 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 Porsches.
12:12Peter Cheney -  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.

  Home Live Now! Try it Now Peter Cheney on car bloopers

12:14[Comment From Rose]
When 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.
12:15Peter Cheney -  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]
Interesting 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 case. My wife started the SUV (she was used to us never leaving it in gear but in 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]
My 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.
12:18Peter Cheney -  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.
12:20Peter Cheney -  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,
12:22Peter Cheney -  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]
Thanks 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 roommates.
12:24[Comment From Rose]
Peter, 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.
12:26Danielle 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!
12:26Peter Cheney -  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]
Peter, 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?
12:31Peter 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]
Peter 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 hour.
12:33Peter Cheney -  Guest - forgot to mention - guess the Porsche Cheney would come with an automatic garage door opener........

 

Home Live Now! Try it Now Peter Cheney on car bloopers

 

12:35Peter Cheney -  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....
12:36Danielle 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]
Here 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....
12:37Peter Cheney -  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.
12:38Darren McGee -  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?
12:39Peter 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.
12:42Peter Cheney -  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]
One 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.
12:45Peter Cheney -  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.
12:46Danielle 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]
Incidents 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!
12:50Peter Cheney -  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.
12:52Danielle 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?
12:56Peter Cheney -  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."

 

12:56Darren McGee -  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.
12:56Danielle 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.
12:57Peter Cheney -  Good thing the Porsche is too big for the blender.
12:58Danielle Boudreau, Globe and Mail -  That's all the time we have for today. Peter and readers, thanks for sharing your stories. Safe driving!
12:58Peter Cheney -  Danielle - I vaguely recall that. Do you think Henry Ford expected any of this?
1:01[Comment From DJ]
Aaah, 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]
My 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.
1:02Peter Cheney -  DJ, GS, et al - thanks for writing in. What a week it's been. Over and out for now!
  
 
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