We were taking s/n 9161 out for her weekly constitutional; it was the first trip of the year, since the weather has been rotten on the previous Thursdays this year. Felt nice to be in her again. We were headed up King?s Mountain Road, as usual. I know this road fairly well, am getting to know how the car behaves on it pretty well, too It?s twisty and wooded for most of the way up. There?s a straight stretch about a mile from the top where the trees open up and the road widens to almost four lanes - it?s a good place to let her breathe a bit, gain some revs, and then brake again for the last five or six turns and then a quick run to the top.
The first turn at the end of this stretch is a blind decreasing radius right hander; then there?s a quick left and a very sharp right. There?s a gap in the trees where the sun almost always shines through and tries to blind the driver, just as you need to crank the wheel over harder. It?s a fun corner. Since it?s blind, I never take the proper line of swinging out before turning in; instead I slow down enough, trail brake in, turn and then let the rear slide around.
Today, we didn?t make it around the corner. I still haven?t figured out exactly what happened. I don?t think I was going too fast, and I don?t think I panicked and froze and locked the wheels (more on that in a second).
What I do know is that a Volvo appeared from around the turn and we hit it: left front corner of ours scraped along the two driver?s side doors of hers. At some point, the cast Campagnolo wheel broke; 80% of the outside circumference is sitting in pieces in the trunk. All I remember is the feeling of very suddenly being out of control.
Damages: her doors and probably the fenders are not in good shape. The driver?s window shattered and showered her with fragments. The left rear tire got a slit in it. Volvo side impact protection works.
Our car: the impact was right on the corner, taking out that end of the bumper, pushing in the headlamp (damn, we just found those Marchals!) shearing off the sidemarker lens and trashing the turn signal. The shock waves went across the front valence, top and bottom, but the last wrinkle is before the right side fender bulge. The hood appears fine. Can?t tell about internals - the engine was still running ("both feet in"!) but there was a tick - maybe the electric fan that?s in front of the radiator. Suspension seems fine. I didn?t see any fluid leaks. The fender was pushed into the tire, and I?m guessing that the tire jammed and either the bead broke and the wheel dropped onto the pavement, or the whole thing shattered from the torque.
Everyone is OK. That is clearly the most important thing. We?re not hysterical. The car isn?t drivable; we towed to a body shop. I have no idea, yet, where we will find parts. The sheetmetal can be repaired; it?s just a matter of time and money. The paint on the front end of the car was in bad shape anyway; this metal has all been repaired (very well) once before, so it?s not like we damaged the work of The Factory. (Now we get to decide whether to repaint the front or the whole car, and whether to use lacquer or not.)
Aside from being annoyed and sad, I?m concerned about my reaction and what it says about my current level of driving ability. At first, I thought I had simply gone into the corner too hot, turned in too late, exceeded the capabilities of the old XZX tires, and crossed the center line into her. I also thought that I panicked and froze, locking up the whe