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Photo Sleuths #2


Have a vintage photo of a Citroën in the USA or Canada? Send it in and we will see what we can learn about it! 



This was an easy one since long-time Citroën enthusiast Michael Cox not only provided the photo, but identified when it was taken and who took it.

Michael indicates that the photo was taken by a Boston Landmarks Commission photographer on January 14, 1973. 


We can see that there was a bank in the building behind the SM; the Suffolk Franklin Savings Bank, which allows us to pinpoint the location: 66 Charles Street, Boston. The bank moved in in early 1957 and remained there until the late 1970’s. The building then went through a succession of different businesses including a 7-11 convenience store and a Peet’s Coffee. It is now a business called the Nuts Factory.


The SM looks a bit tired even though it was almost new! Notice the dent on the front fender at the side marker light. Also, the front bumper looks to be a bit bent down in the middle with the glass covering the license plate apparently broken out.


Michael notes that it was illegally parked in such a way that it was susceptible to even more front end damage!

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Boston Landmarks Commission

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Google Street View, 2023


These photos of a crash between a Buick and an SM have recently been circulating. Can we learn anything about them?


If you look closely, you can see a street sign in the background which eventually allowed us to find where the accident occurred: The intersection of Club Valley Drive NE and Angelo Drive NE in Atlanta, Georgia.

It seems likely that the photos were taken in the mid-1970's based on the cars, the kid's bicycles, and the clothing. The Buick is a 1972 Estate Wagon and the SM is (was?) a 1973 US model. The accident doesn't seem to have been covered in the local media, despite a pretty thorough search, so we weren't able to find any information beyond what can be seen in the photos. 



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Google Street View, 2023

There are a few interesting things we noticed about the photos. First, the accident seems to have happened just minutes before the photos were taken since the authorities had not yet arrived. Second, if you look at the first photo, we can see the Buick was parked against the curb since we can see grass and the curb immediately adjacent to the Buick's front right tire. Third, it seems like the SM was almost fully on the wrong side of the road. Lastly, the length of the SM's skid marks caught our interest.


By scaling off of Google Maps Satellite View, we estimated the car locations and the skid mark lengths. Below is what we came up with. The longest skid mark was about 50 feet long (perhaps even longer since the skid marks extend beyond the edge of the photo).

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Google Maps, 2023

There is an equation that allows one to estimate the speed of a car based on skid mark length. Using this equation and a coefficient of friction for clean, dry pavement, the SM was traveling at least 35 mph, which is above the 25 mph speed limit on this road - and it was probably traveling faster, noting that only a portion of the skid mark is visible.


It is impossible to be sure what happened, but it looks like the SM was traveling too fast and was on the wrong side of the road. Furthermore, it looks like the Buick was either parked against the curb or perhaps the driver pulled over when they saw the SM coming towards them. Do you agree with what we came up with?

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