Quick, click on this link to see some of the craziest car accidents ever! What, you say that somebody already emailed those pictures to you? It’s part of a venerable series of gag email strings crowding your inbox, along with the bizarre animal shots? Not surprised.

Take a close look at the photos and you may get the idea that somebody had a field day with Photoshop. But I’m not entirely sure. The main evidence for the prosecution is the absence, in many of the photos, of a clear path for the cars to have traveled to their now-precarious perches. Why, for instance, aren’t deep snow gouges visible in the cop-car-hits-house-in-winter shot?

And in this truck-hits-Taco-Bell photo, why does the surrounding grass and shrubbery still look immaculate? I’m skeptical. But since I have no authority when it comes to retouching photos, I asked my graphic artist friend Trudy, who’s worked with Photoshop and its ilk for decades. “I’d say it’s a mixture,” she said. “Some look pretty obviously Photoshopped, others are (sadly) believable. Not to say they aren’t Photoshop, but if they are, they’re very good.” That’s probably as close as we’re going to get to an origin story here.

But people really do, for instance, run cars into swimming pools. In 1967, birthday celebrant Who drummer Keith Moon did just that with a Lincoln limousine that he purloined at a Flint, Mich., Holiday Inn. He was apparently fleeing the local constabulary. Suspicion might be aroused by this note in one detailed account: “In some versions of this story the car is a Cadillac, and even in a couple stories I read during research the car was a Rolls Royce.” But lead singer Roger Daltrey confirms: “It flaming well did happen. We got the $50,000 bill for it.”

Stories do get enlarged in the telling, don’t they? As a check, I located some undoubtedly real car-in-the-swimming-pool stories. Here’s one from Australia involving an unregistered and uninsured Ford Falcon (right) slipping its handbrake, rolling down a hill and into an un-amused neighbor’s pool. The real photo is frustratingly exactly like the (probably) fake ones, complete with the trio of bystanders (though in this case cut off above the waist). There’s no clear evidence of the car going down the embankment, and it’s suspiciously intact in the water.

And another report, an Associated Press dispatch datelined Menlo Park, Calif., from way back in 1961. It contains the salient detail that the car’s headlights still burned with it on the bottom of the pool. “Brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘car pool’ doesn’t it?” someone asked.

Photos like these go up on the office wall, next to the Xeroxed and coffee-stained “You Want it When?” sign. For that purpose, they don’t have to prove their credibility beyond a shadow of a doubt. Want more crazy car accidents? Feast your eyes here:

Jim Motavalli ( @jmotavalli ) writes about cars, technology and the environmental world to anyone curious enough to ask.

Crazy car crash scenes: Real or fake?
Once upon a time we could believe photographs, but Photoshop has changed all that. So who really knows if these much-emailed, too-good-to-be-true weird auto acc