News News by Brand Chevrolet News

Owner of 1947 Chevy Suburban In For a Harrowing Experience After Brake Failure

Thanks to the quick action by area police, the vintage Chevy was slowed down before it reached a traffic jam.
vintage chevy suburban brake failure
ABC 7/Fontana PD

One of every motorist’s top nightmares is their brakes failing at any given moment, and if it’s a big, heavy old vintage car, it probably raises pulses even higher. This nightmare came to life this past weekend in Fontana, California, where owner Alexis Pritchard, owner of a 1947 Chevy Suburban, experienced a brake failure after stopping for gas.

As reported by ABC7 and KCAL/KCBS, Pritchard traveled more than a few blocks without the ability to stop. She ran red lights, weaved through traffic, and drove over traffic cones for five harrowing miles. This area of Fontana around the I-15 freeway isn’t exactly flat, either—the San Gabriel Mountains sit just north of it.

KCAL reports that Pritchard made more than a few attempts to stop, including downshifting and turning the engine off, but to no avail.

Thanks to quick action by the 911 dispatcher and Fontana PD, Officer Albert Charco was able to get ahead of, block, and gradually slow her down with his brakes before the hulking Suburban ran into a traffic jam ahead.

There’s no word on what caused the brakes to fail, but it could be one of many factors. Something as simple as a damaged brake line could’ve completely dropped pressure from the hydraulic system, the reservoir could’ve sprung a leak, a caliper or drum could’ve seized; anything. 

Before anyone considers jumping to conclusions due to it potentially being a project car: We can only assume this is Pritchard’s pride and joy. KCAL reports that she’s worked on vintage cars with her grandfather for years, and in my experience, home-wrenchers who take pride in their work double, triple, and quadruple-check critical systems after working on them.

Subscribe to Drive Wire. Stay up to speed with the latest news, car reviews, and culture stories sent straight to your inbox daily.

While there’s never an ideal scenario for one’s brakes to fail, at least this happened on a Sunday when possibly fewer people are on the road. It’s also a mighty bummer that this happened to such a cool and unique ride, but then, it’s really only metal at the end of the day. Car damage can be repaired, but a horrifying alternate reality potentially can’t be.

Got a tip? Send it in: