This shot was taken after the whole thing was over but it's here that you can see how lucky the driver was. Look carefully and you will see that the red dots show his approximate path into the only tree on the edge of a 100 foot cliff.
I don't know much about the Tesla, but in the Elise, any damage to the chassis totals the car, since it's not repairable. The chassis looks damaged (epoxied frame member is ripped apart). I wonder what the rest of the car looks like.
In any case, lucky driver, glad to hear he survived, too bad about the car, but such is the danger when pushing it on public roads. Thankfully, there wasn't a cyclist or something on that turn.
The last Sunday of the month in September, 9/27/09, started out like many other last Sundays before it. I woke up early and drove to Super Car Sunday (SCS) by the Village Coffee Roasters at the crossroads of Woodland Hills and Calabasas (Jay Leno--> YouTube - Leno At Supercar Sunday Calabasas, CA). There I would meet up with a handful of other Tesla owners to spread the gospel to the hundreds of other car enthusiasts about who revived the electric car (www.WhoKilledTheElectricCar.com)! Who knew that would be the last SCS, mall management would subsequently shut it down (YouTube - Police Speech at El Camino Shopping Center), and it would be the last drive for the Tesla Roadster that I had waited to get from January, 2007 to March, 2009! Ironically the annual Jewish Day of Atonement began that evening; a religious day where it is decreed who shall live and who shall die.
After SCS 3 Teslas went for a spirited drive through the canyons. One Tesla had to peel off midway through to go home which left 2 of us. We were driving on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and made a turn onto Mulholland Highway and destined for Mulholland Drive, a famous widow-maker all the way from the days of James Dean to the present (Mulholland Drive - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). I found myself drifting to the outside of a 120 degree left-sweeping turn when I hit a patch of gravel that was on the road. It only "attacked" my outer right tires which began to slip and pull me off the road. I tried to give it some gas, err some accelerator-pedal to try and correct, but the traction control fed power from the wheels that were gripping the pavement to the wheels that were slipping on the gravel whereas I needed it the other way around. I realized that by now I was off the road and on the large shoulder that doubled as an inspirational look-out point. I jammed onto the brakes and the anti-lock proved worthy and significantly slowed down the car, but they were no match for the gravel which brought me slowly into a tree which I hit at the right front headlamp.
So slowly did I hit the tree that the airbags were not needed and did not deploy. The cabin was safe and not a scratch on me. At this point the only thing that hurt was my pride! I stepped out of the car onto terra firma and slammed the door in disgust! Then the car started settling and tree branches were crackling. Turns out that the tree I hit was not sticking out of the ground, but rather was jutting out at a 45 degree angle from the side of a cliff that was about 100 feet drop down! My car was "resting" in the tree with 3 wheels suspended in the air and only the back left wheel and where I had stepped out of the car still on solid ground! I looked to the right and there were no trees and I looked to the left and there were no trees and I looked around and there were no guard rails. They call owners of electric cars "tree huggers." Well that day, the tree hugged me back!
By this time the lead Tesla had doubled back to find me, as he put it, white as a ghost. I don't remember it that way, but he was probably thinking more clearly at that time. He summoned his wife to help as they only lived a few miles away and she was there in a jiffy. They were extremely supportive and helpful. Tesla owners are a breed who care about the environment, but also care about each other! The paparazzi started to show. No not the camera guys that hang out at sheshee Beverly Hills restaurants, but mostly guys on their motorcycles with camera phones. Actually the motorcycle community was also very supportive and called the CHP and LAFD who showed up surveyed the accident site and realized that there was no need for a report to be filed. The pictures do not do it justice, but here are some to look at Picasa Web Albums - Ian - Tesla Crash P.... Again, with the horrific accident that these onlookers came upon, more than one was shocked to see how well the cabin of the Tesla held up and how I was physically unharmed.
The tow truck driver arrived. Nice guy. Looked like one of the long-bearded guys from Z-Z Top. He had been towing cars for decades after having his own trucking service years ago. Still he kinda scratched his head and said, "looks like you got yourself into a mess." "I'm not sure how we're going to get the car out of a tree, but I'll figure something out" he said. Two hours later we were successful! The tree trunk had severed the right front tire from the frame which was pushed up and wedged into the tree. The car had tracked through the gravel-sand to get to the tree and now the sand was up to the bottom of the door sils in some places. We had to use shovels to dig the car out and even the massive flat-bed tow truck, with all it's pulling power, at times seemed powerless against the sand and the tree. At one point we were stuck for a solution and a guy in a 4x4 truck passed by and had a pair of motorcycle ramps that he loaned us to wedge out of a jam. The trick worked, but the ramps never will again. Bent them pretty bad and feeling bad for this good Samaritan who was only happy to help, gave him some money to more than cover the purchase of some new ones. Off the Tesla went on the back of the flat-bed towards the tow yard. It was Sunday and the body shop opened on Monday.
Needless to say, my wife was quite shocked but knowing that I was not harmed she was quite supportive. That week I had to arrange for tow from the tow yard to the body shop and of course had to call my insurance, AAA. The body shop, Avio Coachcraft had 'top-shelf' service all the way through the entire process. They immediately identified that with the frame damage, they were going to recommend to AAA that the car be declared a total loss. AAA insurance also were quite professional and incredibly open to efficient communicators the whole way through. I was passed off or escalated up through subsequent different departments as they began to understand the magnitude of the situation. Turns out you can't just look up "used 2008 Tesla Roadster" in the Kelly Blue Book to find it's value. As great as AAA was at listening, the Tesla store in West L.A. and it's manager, Jeremy Snyder was even better at educating. They worked hand in glove with AAA to show them how the cars both had appreciated since the time I had bought mine and that there was still a considerable wait list to get one. Both of those added value to what AAA was going to give me for the totaled car. In fact dollar for dollar, I got about 25% MORE than I paid for the car, and that excludes all the after market equipment that was Al & Ed's Xtremed on the car which dollar for dollar I got back as well! My Dad later said, "there are easier ways to make money & I hope you pursue them in the future!"
I got the check from AAA on Halloween in quite an eventful chasing the FedEx truck story that I will spare you the details (not that I have spared you the details on the rest of the story). But once that was done I had already place myself in cue to buy a new Tesla Roadster. I could have bought anything with that money, but was there any doubt that I was going to get back into that car I loved? The wait was to be over 4 months, but between help from Jeremy Snyder and Tesla associate Michael Sagaria they found a Jet-Black Roadster Sport model (0-60 in 3.7 seconds instead of the snail-like 3.9 seconds of my old Tesla) that had just fallen out of "escrow" and with calling in some favors could be mine if I purchased it that day (end of the month is the best time to buy). I was coaching both my kids in separate soccer games in Calabasas and Oak Park and was also slated to watch my niece's game in Encino (I had promised her 2 months earlier that this date was the only game I could get to because of my coaching schedule). There was no way I could make it to Santa Monica and the 405 so since Mohammed could not come to the mountain, the mountain came to him. Ok, maybe too grandiose of a metaphor, but it was ultra kind of Michael Sagaria to take me up on the offer when I invited him to meet me at my gynecology office. Ok, at 1st he was taken a back with his "I'm not that kind of a guy" comment, but he acquiesced and we inked the deal. Not sure he ever delivered keys to a Tesla to a guy in a body bag, but it was a definite photo op (Picasa Web Albums - Ian).
So I am back in the saddle and can there be any more validation of my full faith and confidence in Tesla and what they stand for and how they stood behind their car than me buying another one? The questions that may briefly remain unanswered (for another blog) is whether I will be having the guys at Al & Ed's Autosound (www.AE54.com) Xtreme the 2010 as well? Definitely yes; if you want to see version 2.0... details to follow. Version 1.0 was supposed to be shown at the www.LAAutoShow.com this week, but they were able to get one of the other Tesla's they had modified for that; visit them downstairs in Kentia Hall to see what version 1.5 looks like.
The other question I get is whether the 2010 model (trivia answer: there never was a 2009 model produced-they skipped that model year moniker) is an improvement over the 2008? Another emphatic yes; the best way I can describe it is that Tesla owners were blogging and Tesla Motors was listening!