By now you've probably seen the aftermath of this weekend's massive supercar crash in Japan involving eight Ferraris, a Lamborghini, and a Toyota Prius — among others — that resulted in what may be upwards of $3.85 million in damage. Here's how it happened.
Supercar accidents may occur with a sad frequency, but this 14-vehicle pileup in Japan is particularly awful thanks to the number of supercars involved. This wasn't a race track and all the cars, in theory, have brakes.
When authorities arrived on the scene of the accident along the Chugoku Expressway in the southern part of the Yamaguchi Prefecture near Shimonoseki they found a mess of exotics tangled up with a few non-exotics, including a curious Toyota Prius.
So what happened?
Let's start with the obvious factors that contributed to the multi-car exotic pileup.
- Speed: Multiple sources and eyewitnesses confirm the cars were speeding. A witnessed told the TBS network the cars were going "140-160 kilometers per hour" or approximately 85-to-100 mph. Not insane speeds, but fast enough for a crash.
- Weather: One witness described the road as slick, but local weather reports indicate it wasn't raining.
- The Road: Chugoku Expressway is a winding toll road that connects Honshu to Fukouka. The drivers have been described as probably heading from Kyushu to Hiroshima for a Supercar meet in that city.
If you look at the Google Street View for where the accident occurred you'll see the road narrows into a long and tight two-lane section with almost no shoulder. You can get an idea of just how tight it is in this video from that same stretch of road later in the day.
- RWD Sports Cars/Exotics: Fast, RWD sports cars are not always easy to drive and a few of them are old enough that they lack more advanced traction-control systems. This is one of the reasons why there are so many wrecked exotics.
- Traffic: On the morning of the crash there were other vehicles on the road, as seen images on Twitter and elsewhere.
Ok, so we've established there are a bunch of folks in Ferraris driving too fast along a wet road that's narrow and full of cars. So how do all of them crash at once?
They were driving in pairs.
Based on the images this was our original guess, but it's been partially confirmed by a police official who did an interview with the AFP.
"It's highly possible they were driving in couples," the official said.
Taking eyewitness reports and combining them with the eyewitness reports it becomes clearer how the accident happened.
The drivers of the Ferraris were lined up with one another as driving in "couples" when they rounded the Chugoku Expressway heading towards the supercar meet-up in Hiroshima. Most of the Ferrari drivers didn't know each other and instead organized the drive on the Internet.
The lead driver was the Ferrari F430 Scuderia, which was driven by a 60-year-old businessman from Fukuoka.
He came across a slower moving car (probably the Prius seen in the photos) and attempted to pass. While doing so he spun out. A TV eyewitness told broadcaster NHK that "the front car crashed into the left embankment and bounced off towards me."
Driving in such close formation the cars behind him all reacted, but their proximity created a chain reaction. The white Ferrari 512 hit the back of the black Mercedes and crashed into the guardrail. The other F430 in the group managed to avoid the accident but the two red Ferraris (an F355 and a F360) behind weren't so lucky. Then the next Ferrari F355, attempting to avoid the accident, also crashed into the guard rail.
Other cars did the same until there were a total of 14 damaged, including a pair of bystanders in Toyotas who had nothing to do with the convoy.
We're hoping someone managed to capture video of the accident to confirm the theory. Regardless of how it happened, it's a sad way to see $3.85 million worth of exotics destroyed.
Images: NNN, TBS, TV Asahi