Life vests — not seatbelts.
That was the lesson over the weekend when an amphibious Hobbycar went from driving on land to boating across the water to sinking to the depths of Percy Priest Lake.
“You tell people: Do not put your seatbelt on. Because, obviously, if there’s some kind of emergency, you don’t want to be hooked to the car,” says Jeff Lane, namesake of the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville.
Lane was behind the wheel Saturday morning when his 1992 Hobbycar — one of just 52 ever made — took on water about a quarter-mile from shore during an annual exhibition for museum members.
“Really within about 20 seconds, it went down,” Lane told WPLN.
A second amphibious vehicle — also Lane’s — was nearby at the time, and facilitated a relatively drama-free rescue. Lane and his three adult passengers were not injured.
The incident circulated on social media, with several fans lamenting the debacle.
Lane says he doesn’t yet know what went wrong, as the car had been on the water a couple dozen times before.
“Sometimes you get a little splash in the back,” he said of prior voyages. “It pumps that out … something must have failed.”
A salvage effort will be attempted later this week, and Lane has confidence he’ll see his car again. Topographical maps show that the Hobbycar is likely about 25 feet down — “pretty shallow” — although he anticipates it ended up in muck or atop rocks.
Despite the episode, Lane stands by the quality of the Hobbycar’s design. And he said he had no hesitation about paying someone to retrieve it.
He estimated the car’s value at $25,000, but said that doesn’t capture its value to the museum, before or after it took a dive.
And, always the pragmatic mechanic, “now that it needs a bunch of work, it’s probably worth less than that.”