Hardly a fair contest, maybe, but hot-rod enthusiasts cheered a measure of revenge Friday for a 13,000-pound "monster truck" that squashed a row of Volvos.
Some in the crowd figured the little guy deserved getting bashed this time, the response of the U.S. Hot Rod Association to a Volvo television commercial that has been pulled from the air."I loved it. It was great. They had it coming to them," said Billie Burns, who brought her three children ages 4, 2 and 8 months from nearby Folcroft to the exhibition in the parking lot of the Spectrum sports arena. The trucks had arrived for a weekend competition at the Spectrum.
She was not impressed with the way the Volvos held up briefly before succumbing to "Bearfoot" and its 1,000-pound tires.
"They were stomped," she said with a grin.
In Pittsburgh, however, another monster truck had big trouble with a Volvo. "Big Boss" and its 800-pound tires got stuck on a 1975 green Volvo in the parking lot of Civic Arena.
Burns, like some other spectators, said they came to see Volvo's comeuppance for an ad in which a Volvo appeared to be the only car left relatively intact in a line of autos run over by Bearfoot.
The Texas attorney general challenged the ad, and the company pulled it this week, saying that unknown to Volvo, the Volvo in the line of cars had been reinforced.
Friday, Bearfoot and two other monster trucks, Predator and Black Stallion, took turns getting their own licks in as TV crews and a small crowd watched.
"We don't have a knock against Volvo," Hot Rod Association spokesman Steve Greenberg said. "We're doing this in good-natured fun.
"There is a reputation to uphold here," he added, citing questions caused by the ad about the power of the monster trucks, which he said draw 4 million fans a year to events around the country.
The junked Volvos in Philadelphia were no match over the long haul. But the trucks needed a few swipes to get the job done.
The white-and-blue Predator crushed a line of five cars - a Pontiac, three Chevys and a Volvo in the middle. The roof of the Volvo wagon held up enough that it might have protected passengers.
Then Black Stallion took one run at a line of six Volvos, breaking them in for four runs by Bearfoot. One car on the end gave the trucks particular trouble before giving way. Bearfoot finally finished it by coming at an angle to smash another that had roof supports still standing, coming to rest on the crushed car.
Bearfoot driver Todd Blaeser said he was surprised by how well the Volvos held up. Usually, he said, a line of cars would be finished off in two or three runs.
Asked if Volvo had passed the test, he looked at the pile of six crushed cars with the metallic blue truck on top of it and said, "It doesn't look like it, does it?"
Volvo spokesman Robert Austin watched the car stomping on television and said while the Volvos "didn't come out unscathed," they appeared to hold up well compared with other cars.
At one point, the Predator got stuck on the Volvo on its third pass over the five cars.
"It was apparent that the Volvo was standing up to the full weight of the truck. So I would leave it to the public to draw their own conclusions," Austin said.