The car that went down with the Titanic . . . #historicalromance #amwriting #writing

Remember in the movie Titanic where Jack and Rose finally get it on in the car that is stored down in the cargo hold?

Yeah, well, sorry to ruin the moment for you, but actually, in real life, they couldn’t have done it. Well, I mean, if they were real they could have done it, but what I meant by “it” was having the moment in the car.

Now, that I’ve clarified that . . .

So why couldn’t they have had a romp in the backseat?

Well, it’s not because there wasn’t a car in the cargo hold, but because the one car that was down there was in a huge crate and wouldn’t have been accessible much less visible. I found this out in my research for a scene I was writing.

And no, not because my characters enjoy a randy moment in it.

The only automobile aboard the doomed Titanic was a 1912 (though, some research suggests it was actually a 1911) Renault Type CB Coupé de Ville and it was owned by William Carter of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

The 36-year-old Carter, wealthy heir to a coal and iron fortune, purchased the Renault while traveling France with his wife, Lucile, and their two children.

The family had traveled from the United States to England aboard the Lusitania in May of 1911 and had originally booked return passage aboard the Titanic’s sister ship, the Olympic, scheduled to depart April 3rd. They decided to stay another week, however, and purchased tickets aboard Titanic, departing Southampton on April 10th along with their maid, manservant, and chauffeur.

In the years since the ship’s discovery at the bottom of the North Atlantic, several expeditions have attempted to locate the car. Although no conclusive findings have been made, one research team did capture a photograph of what appeared to be the car’s left front wheel and fender.

After more than 100 years on the ocean floor, however, it’s not likely much would remain of the car today.

More on William Carter: taken from

On the night of April 14th, the Carters joined an exclusive dinner party held in honor of Captain Smith in the à la carte restaurant. The host was George Widener and the party was attended by many notable first class passengers. Later, after the ladies had retired and Captain Smith had departed for the bridge, the men chatted and played cards in the smoking room.

On the night of the sinking Mr. Carter awakened his wife, advising her to get dressed an head up top; she claimed she never saw him again after that and she eventually left in lifeboat #4 with her children.

William Carter joined Harry Widener and advised him to try for a boat before they were all gone. Harry replied that he would rather take a chance and stick with the ship.

Late in the proceedings, Carter ended up in the vicinity of collapsible lifeboat C which had been fitted to lifeboat 1’s empty davits. At one point a group of men desperately tried to rush boat C; Purser Herbert McElroy fired his pistol and the culprits were removed. Loading with women and children progressed but eventually no more could be found and as the boat was released for lowering Carter and another man stepped in. The other passenger was Joseph Bruce Ismay.

William Carter arrived at the Carpathia ahead of his family and waited on the deck, straining to see boat 4 which held his wife and two children. When it finally arrived William did not recognize his son under a big ladies hat and called out for him, according to some sources John Jacob Astor had placed the hat on the boy and explained that he was now a girl and should be allowed into the boat, other sources suggest, the more likely scenario that it was his mother in response to Chief Second Steward George Dodd’s order that no more boys were to enter lifeboat 4.

Upon reaching New York Carter telephoned his mother to advise her that he and the family were safe and well; she immediately fainted after hearing her son’s voice.

Carter got caught up in the finger-pointing associated with being a male Titanic survivor and was forced to defend not only himself but Mr. Ismay from the vitriol that they received.

Mr. Ismay and myself and several officers walked up and down the deck, crying ‘are there any more women?’ We called for several minutes, and there was no answer . . . Mr. Ismay called again, and getting no reply, we embarked . . . I can only say that Mr. Ismay entered the boat only after he saw that there were no more women on deck – Illustrated London News, April 27, 1912

The marriage between him and his wife, however never recovered and by June 1914 they were divorced. The reasons for the divorce were initially impounded but by early the next year details emerged that Mrs. Carter applied for divorce proceedings on the grounds that Mr. Carter had deserted she and their children aboard Titanic and that he had since shown signs of unpredictable behavior and physical and mental abusiveness. In addition, Mrs. Carter said her husband had subjected her to cruel treatment and showed the greatest ingenuity in devising ways and means to abuse her.

Following the divorce, Mrs. Carter was swiftly remarried and had another daughter. The family home in Bryn Mawr was sold and Mr. Carter later lived at Ivy Cottage in Rosemont, Pennsylvania. Whilst he remained wealthy Carter spent much of his later years at his farm in Unionville, Pennsylvania where he reared prize-winning Black Horn Angus cattle. He died aged 65 whilst on vacation in Palm Beach, Florida on March 20, 1940, following empyema of the gallbladder.

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