Episode 130: Crash and Burn

Air Date: November 11, 2009

After crashing down a cliff, any car will always end up on fire.


To begin, Jamie and Adam brought a car to the top of a quarry. The car accidentally rolled off the cliff before the accelerator was pushed down with a weight. The car tumbled only part of the way down the quarry walls and did not explode. The MythBusters next brought in a fresh car and designed an improved launching method. The second car sped of the cliff and crashed much more impressively but still did not explode. Investigation of the wreckage showed that the gas tank was in a very well-protected position and barely damaged. At this point, the myth was busted. To find out if an exposed gas tank will even explode under impact, Jamie and Adam used a large, falling weight to crush a gas tank and added boxes of matches to simulate sparks. The high speed footage showed a wide spray of gasoline mist that quickly ignited into a large fireball. To attempt to recreate an explosion with an actual falling car, Jamie and Adam attached a gas tank externally to the front of a car and covered it with boxes of strike-anywhere matches. Upon crashing, the fuel tank did explode, but the result was less than hoped for because Jamie forgot to release the parking brake during launch. Finally, to duplicate the car explosions seen in action movies, Adam and Jamie successfully used a ramp, plastic jugs of gasoline, detonation cord, and a wireless trigger.

In 1633, an Ottoman Turk named Lagari Hasan became the first person to make a successful manned rocket flight by launching vertically to 300 meters (1,000 feet) and descending back to earth with a winged device.


Grant, Tori, and Kari started with a variety of reference drawings and built small-scale rockets to see if a single- or multi-engine rocket would perform better. Despite the multi-engine design performing better, the team thought it would be simpler to build a single-engine rocket for the full-scale tests. Deciding that hang glider-like wings would be too difficult to make and use, the team instead opted to see if a parachute could be used to safely land the dummy rocketeer. The team also replaced the 140 pounds of black powder stated in the myth with 15 pounds of modern rocket propellant. When the team attempted to launch their rocket, it did get off the ground but tumbled out of control after only 100 feet. Given that the team could not successful reproduce the mythical feats even with the aid of modern technology, they called this myth busted.


  1. austin says:

    what if thare were some thang in the gastank besides gas ?

  2. austin says:

    try c4 in the gastank it will be a blast!!!

    i am eleven and i hope you read this because moast other stars dont

    o by the way could you drive my dads old lawnmower off a clif thank you :)

  3. Emilee says:

    umm… this is emilee!!! and well i was wondering if the myth that if you cut off a cat’s wiskers it cant walk? very interesting. lol. ive been wanting to know this for a long time! ahaha i would try it myself but i dont wanna paralyze a cat. hee hee. yeah. (: well lemme know please!!! (; btw dude above. i love your name.

  4. Me says:

    At the beginning Kari were pregnant, and when they tested the myth she wasn’t. And when they told that the myth was busted she was pregnant again xD

  5. Paul says:

    What about the Pinto? What was the deal with that. Supposedly it exploded from just mild rear-end collisions. What is up with that?

  6. Karl says:

    If you watch the “Rocketeer” launch in slow motion, it is obvious that the rocket engine suffered a major failure shortly into the launch. Flames are shooting out of the top of the rocket, burning Buster already at only maybe 20ft off the ground. Then the flames increase and burn a hole in the side of the rocket. This is what caused their rocket to tumble out of control and fail. It clearly only became unstable once more thrust was coming from the wrong end of the engine than from the intended nozzle end. They should have confessed up to this and called the conclusion “inconclusive”. If the engine hadn’t failed, they might have had success and called it “plausible”.
    As an engineer, I see a lot of obvious mistakes on very many of the episodes, but I think they get a lot of email about it from the fans.

    • Jackson unwin says:

      I think otterman Turk myth would have have been plausible if you used the same rocket that u used in supper sized Jato rocket car

  7. Buster says:

    what is the song/music used in the succesful explosion. the part where the car was flying off the cliff.

    • Jim says:

      Did anyone ever find out what the piece of rock-type music was when the car plummets over the precipice?

      • Junior says:

        Just watched the episode again and the background music sounds like “Don’t Cry” by Guns N Roses. I’m not sure if it was slightly altered to avoid copyright issues, though.

  8. Astrobuf says:

    I too noticed that their was a major engine failure in the Turksih Rocketeer myth test. Clearly, the rocket was going straight until the engine began to burn backwards or perhaps sideways. Not sure what happened, but it looked like the engine case was breached.

    A former NASA Engineer!

  9. Jason says:

    I was very disappointed in this episode. You can clearly see the rocket propellant burning through the motor casing and the rocket was on a perfect trajectory prior to it blowing out the side. Fast forward to the crash and burn test. It’s obvious that the car didn’t catch fire during the crash and they must have had to go out and reset to create the explosion. Not a single camera shot shows the car in motion and then exploding. Every cut to the explosion only shows the car rocking up slightly in response to the explosion. Until this episode I thought they were being honest with their failures but it looks like this is just a scripted reality TV show…

    • Lennon says:

      Exactly! I found this comment because I was wondering if anyone else caught on to that and I’m happy you did. The final scene where they supposedly rig the car with jugs of gasoline and det-cord isn’t what it appears. They drove the car off of the cliff, and then after it hit the ground they set up the gasoline and det-cord in the wreckage to blow it up. You can see the camera cuts in between the fall and the actual detonation. Like you said, this isn’t really a big deal since they were just replicating the results, but this act flies in the face of what people appreciate most about this show which is its supposed “honesty”.

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