Automotive History Capsule: The Real Story Behind The Best Bob Lutz Photo Ever

You mean a J turn like this?

(first posted in 2010 at the other site)   I somehow stumbled upon this picture at an obscure site and used it in another article about Bob Lutz. Shortly afterwards, it quickly made the rounds on the web. But the story behind the picture was left to speculation, beyond knowing that it happened on an Opel test track. I helped a German site ( find the source of the photo, and in exchange, I got the real story, from Florian Schwaab of that web site, who wrote the following:

Here’s the story in short form:

This happened almost certainly in 1968, eve though Bob believes it’s from 1965. But the car shown in the picture is clearly a 1968 model. This can be recognized by the two slots over the front bumper and the new coil spring suspension on the rear. Also, George Gallion was present, and only joined Opel in 1968.

There was a big test day at the Opel proving ground in Dudenhofen. The engineers and managers where all there to compare the Opel products with the competitors from Ford, VW etc.  At noon they all sat together to have lunch and Bob rushed in and said to Hans Mersheimer (Technical Director): “Hans, someone in the US told me the Kadett is not safe. It can easily flip over when performing the J-Test.” “No, that’s impossible” replied Hans, “the Americans are always on the road with insufficient tire pressure. Our car is safe”.

“I’ll show you, but someone has to explain me what to do on the J-Test” said Lutz.

The J-Test is driving straight ahead at around 50 mph, then applying the hand brake and turning the steering wheel to one side very quickly. The car should not flip over in this situation.

Five minutes later Bob sat in that poor little Kadett speeding to 50, applying the hand brake and turning the steering wheel to the left. The Opel showed heavy roll and eventually flipped over.

Bob climbed out of the wreck, lit up a cigar, and sat triumphantly on the Kadett, waiting for the engineers and managers to come back from lunch. Mersheimer was very embarrassed because Lutz had proved him wrong in front of nearly every important engineer of the company.