Titanic Pages
Titanic History Website

The car aboard Titanic

Deep within the ship in Titanic's cargo hold was a car belonging to William Carter, the only car listed to have been placed aboard the ship, the 35 horsepower Renault was later fairly prominently depicted within the 1997 Titanic film, staring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, perhaps helping to make it one of most well-known today items to have been within Titanic's cargo hold, if not the most well-known.

Returning home to America with his wife, son and daughter, William Carter boarded Titanic at Southampton, accompanied aboard, within Titanic's cargo hold - located at the forward end of the ship on her orlop deck - far below his first class cabin on B Deck, his newly purchased Renault car, listed in Titanic's cargo manifest as 1 case auto - indicating the car was placed within a crate, which is said to have been standard procedure for transporting cars across the Atlantic around the time. Cars would usually arrive at the dock then be enclosed in a wooden crate ready to be loaded aboard the ship. The car would then be removed from the crate once it was unloaded from the ship after arriving at port.

From the dock side the car would have been lifted by a crane and lowered down to the cargo hold through a cargo hatch. Although William Carter's car is the only one listed to have been aboard the ship, Titanic's cargo list does list a case of auto parts having also been aboard.

William Carter and his family survived the disaster. He having escaped Titanic within the last lifeboat to successfully leave the starboard side of the sinking ship, as did Joseph Bruce Ismay, the managing director of the company which owned Titanic. The car, of course, went down with the ship.

As part of the Carter's $11,670 claim against the White Star Line for loss of property in the sinking, $5,000 was for the car.

Locating the car within the wreck of Titanic has long been desired, however, the car has not been discovered by dives to the wreck, despite the cargo hold having been entered.

In the 1997 film William Carter's car is seen being loaded aboard Titanic while the ship is awaiting her maiden departure from Southampton. It is then prominently featured shortly before the iceberg collision when it is visited by Jack and Rose. It is last seen as viewers see the cargo hold starting to flood after the iceberg struck.

Related pages - Titanic Lookouts and Crow's Nest, All Titanic Pages

Titanic Pages (home) | Site Map | White Star History