Old Car Accident Photos from the 1900s to 1940s – 11 Vintage Photos

These old car accident photos show automobiles mangled, wrapped around trees, face down in ditches and more. Cars in the 1900s to 1940s didn’t have the modern safety conveniences like airbags or even seat belts in many cases. These photos depict the tragic side effect of early automobile accidents in American history.

Yes, apparently “automobile polo” was a thing in the early 1900s. There must have been many accidents similar to this one with people flying through the air. Coney Island, New York – 1913.

Old automobile accident photo showing the aftermath from two cars that collided into each other and then a tree – Washington, DC – ca1918. (Loc.gov)

Overturned car after an accident on Speedway Road in Washington, D.C. – 1922. Driver of the car did not see the sharp curve in time and overturned the car, injuring three people. (Loc.gov)

Old automobile accident photo of a mangled car after it crashed into a pole at high speed – 1940s. People standing around all appear to have smiles on their faces, but it’s hard to imagine no one was injured or killed in this crash.

The above two photos show damage from a 1921 single-car accident involving a light pole and a tree in the upperclass area of Penrose, New York. (Loc.gov)

Two Greyhound buses crash into one another – 1940s.

A standing still car accident – ca1920. Old cars had to be hand-cranked to start the engine and sometimes the crank would kick-back and catch the motorist’s arm, wrist or even their face. To assist with these injuries, the Red Cross came up with a First Aid Automobile kit to care for these mishpas. (Loc.gov)

Another automobile polo match photo – ca1913. Was this a crazy or genius idea? Seems like it was probably a little of both. The rules were the same as traditional polo, with the exception that there was a driver and a player allowed in each vehicle, instead of a single player on a horse. The sport only lasted from the mid 1910s to early 1920s due to the life-threatening environment. But, it was very popular, with thousands of people flocking to each match.

Old Car Accident Photos – Police officer standing next to a wrecked car and cases of moonshine during Prohibition in Washington, D.C. – ca1920-1930. (Loc.gov)

Old car wreck photo showing men using a pull and tackle system to hoist an undamaged Model T Ford out of a ditch – Memphis, Texas – 1914. (Loc.gov)

Brian Douglas

Brian Douglas is a digital marketing professional and entrepreneur located in Louisville, Kentucky and the founder of Tribupedia.com.

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