To understand why, imagine a foggy night in early January 1975 on the Tasman Bridge in Hobart. In the Derwent River below, a bulk ore carrier, called Lake Illawarra, collided with several pylons of the Tasman Bridge. A large section of the bridge deck collapsed, falling into the river and onto the ship. The ship sank, and seven of its crew died. Four cars failed to stop in time, plunging into the river, killing five occupants.
The green Holden Monaro was balancing precariously on what was left of the bridge.
“Next thing,” Frank remembered, “we dropped over, and the wife said, ‘Put her in reverse!’ And I said, ‘Bugger reverse, get out!’” Frank explained later, “The back wheels were off the concrete, off the bridge, and if I had put her in reverse, I think the vibration would have sent us the rest of the way off the bridge.”
Frank and his family escaped the car. Since the bridge collision had happened on a Sunday night, there was very little traffic, with few cars on the bridge. The disaster had cut the main artery to Hobart’s eastern suburbs, causing major disruption.
Every museum is filled with objects that defied the odds, that lasted long enough to make it to a museum. This car, however, feels like a particularly lucky survivor.