One of the Internet’s small wonders is archival digitization. By knowing which university or library database to look through, anyone can have access to two centuries worth of printed periodicals including car magazines. Car magazines are nearly as old as the concept of the production automobile. Even in the 1890s, pages were filled with industry exposés and wild car-related stories. To think about it briefly, Jalopnik continues this 130-year tradition. Today, I’ll be briefly recounting a story that I read in a 1927 issue of Motor Age.
This story revolves around a 1921 Studebaker Big Six owned by Edwin F. Kimball of Woburn, Massachusetts. The Big Six was a touring car that seats seven passengers. The car was powered by a 5.8 liter inline-6 engine that produced 60 horsepower. This “mid-size” car would be considered massive by today’s standards. The Big Six had a wheelbase over a foot longer than a modern Toyota Camry. This particular Big Six had already been driven over 150,000 miles in its lifetime.
Kimball drove his Big Six on a business trip across New England in early November 1927 along with a few unidentified passengers. During the trip, he got caught in the middle of a huge flood near the Winooski River in northern Vermont. As he drove through ripping flood currents, he spotted a family trapped on the roof of their home. Kimball and his party attempted to rescue several children and their mother. Before they could get the family to safety, the house gave way and collapsed into the floodwaters with the stranded being “swept to their death.”
His tale of escape from the flood-ravaged area almost sounds stolen from a Hollywood disaster movie. From sub-zero temperatures and blinding sleet to roads being literally swept away by freezing torrents of water, Roland Emmerich could have directed this a decade ago with Dennis Quaid behind the wheel. Kimball even recalled driving over a bridge only for the structure to be destroyed moments afterward.
Thankfully, Kimball maneuvered the Big Six up a small trail to a fairly level clearing at the top. Edwin Kimball and his party were able to safely ride out the rest of the flood at the top of a small mountain.