Can a Car Actually Get Shot Out of a Cannon?

We use our dearth of knowledge—and photographic history—to find out.

Keystone-FranceGamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Yes, Photoshop technology was nil circa-1955, but I still can’t tell what’s going on in this picture. Is it real? My rational brain says that there is no way it is possible for anyone—even a crew calling itself the Lucky Hell Drivers—to shoot a human-occupied car out of a cannon.

Cars are essentially steel frames with gasoline inside of them; humans are soft little pita-pockets of vascularity and feelings. Neither could fare well against black powder. Then, there’s the cannon itself. A cannon large enough to expel what looks like a large Mercury Convertible is a very large cannon indeed—maybe even larger than a foundry could manufacture. Even the great steel city of Pittsburgh would be hard-pressed (intended) to pull off a car cannon with the circumference of the Chunnel.

But then, look: It’s a photograph. Yes, the “speed lines” are pure cartoon, though that truck, trailer and barrel (cannon?) look very real. The name “Irish Horan” also rings of historical accuracy: Weren’t the Fifties a time when it was fine to call your Italian friend Federico “Italian Freddy”? There’s even great historical footage of the Lucky Hell Drivers abusing some coupes. They’re doing small jumps, coordinated swerves and doughnuts, but a cannon is nowhere to be seen. Other sources mention the crew jumping buses and crashing, deliberately, but remain silent on the issues of cannons.

Ultimately, it looks like this poster is just some high-quality, old-fashioned collage. For the man pictured, we’re glad it’s fiction. Personally, though, it would have been quite the spectacle. If Italian Freddy were still around, surely he’d feel the same way.