To quote Jeremy Clarkson, “Speed has never killed anyone. Suddenly becoming stationary, that’s what gets you.” It’s technically true, and hard to imagine someone surviving this spectacularly brutal crash test. The first order of business for the YouTube channel Vilebrequin (French for “crankshaft”) was to find its victim, a helpless BMW 5 Series Touring from the E39 generation.
Step two was to build a concrete wall that would ultimately spell the end of the German luxury wagon. Euro NCAP’s frontal crash test is conducted at 50 km/h (31 mph), which isn’t necessarily a high speed, but the impact is still immensely powerful and the outcome is a bit scary. Well, these guys decided to triple that velocity and make the long-roof 5 Series reach 150 km/h (93 mph) before slamming head-on into the wall.
Don’t worry – there was no one inside the vehicle as the old estate was remotely controlled using VR tech from someone sitting on the front passenger side of a Tesla that was traveling next to the BMW. The E39 Touring folded like giant pieces of metal origami, and it seems highly unlikely someone could’ve possibly survived such an intense collision at a whopping 64 Gs.
The video reminds us of an old Fifth Gear episode during which British journalists crashed a first-generation Ford Focus compact hatchback. It was conducted at an even higher speed, 193 km/h (120 mph), prompting the UK car show to say it was the “world’s fastest ever crash test” at the time. In both cases, the back of the cars rose to a 90-degree angle and the front smashed into the road.
Coincidentally, the 5 Series E39 and original Focus were sold roughly around the same time. Car safety has come a long way since the late 1990s and early 2000s, and we’d be curious to see how a vehicle currently on sale would fare in a high-speed crash test. Hopefully, none of us will ever experience it.
You can watch Fifth Gear’s Ford Focus crash test in the video below.