Photo courtesy Ben Gregory

Meet Ben Gregory, the YouTuber filming cars’ watery deaths

The Spielberg of splashy endings, @bengregers chronicles vehicles—the more expensive, the better—sputtering out in floods
February 28, 2024

Here comes a pale blue BMW X6—prices for this model start around £75,000. It begins to negotiate the muddied waters of the rural ford well enough and then—fizzle-pop!—it glides to a halt in just over 50 centimetres of water. 

And now we have a dark blue Jaguar going for it with relish. It stutters to an ignominious ending, wisps of smoke rising from its bonnet. 

How about this bright red Vauxhall, a taxi based in nearby Mansfield? Surely he’ll know the lie of the land? But, no, it gurgles to a stop and the driver makes an elegant escape through the window and across the roof. 

And there to chronicle these and other humiliations is Ben Gregory, 21, from nearby Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, who has become something of an internet sensation for his social media feeds capturing the untimely and watery demise of so many cars.

The flashier and more expensive the car to die a watery death, the better

Gregory is @bengregers_ on Instagram (where he has 60,000 followers) and @bengregers on TikTok (half a million followers) and YouTube (118,000). A recent graduate in business management, Gregory has become the Spielberg of splashy endings.  

“It began during lockdown, sort of the back end of 2020,” he says. “It just went sort of boom… The rain helps.”

“I go all around the UK, wherever there’s a ford. The most failures I’ve had in one day is 17—literally one after the other. It was unbelievable.”

Gregory’s audience is big into schadenfreude: the flashier and more expensive the car to die a watery death, the better. A Toyota Land Cruiser jerks to a steamy ending. “A great truck. But still not idiot friendly,” observes a commenter below.

Another BMW emits a babbling death rattle. Commentary: “It’s because of these types of people that bleach bottles have a label saying, ‘Do not drink’.” 

A grey Mercedes E class X4 approaches far too fast, water cresting over its bonnet; within seconds the engine has conked out. “Is this becoming some kind of dumb competition?” asks someone underneath the pictures. “How many cars had been murdered there… Honestly, if the manager of the local recovery company isn’t living in a mansion, I’d be surprised.” 

One of Gregory’s favourite locations, Rufford Lane Ford in Nottinghamshire, was eventually closed by the local council after it became the AA’s “number one flood related accident hotspot”. But he has plenty of backups. 

Drivers seem unaware that going too fast through water risks “hydro-locking” an engine, which is when water enters through an air intake or filter. The pistons bend, or even break; the engine seizes and the vehicle stops. 

If you’re lucky, the engine can be restored with a set of new spark plugs and a change of fluids and oils. If you’re less fortunate, someone’s going to have to strip back the engine or replace it. 

“My favourite was a Scania lorry that just launched into the water,” remembers Gregory. “That was about £100,000 worth of damage, easily—just catastrophic… I’ve seen a Mercedes-AMG—about 80 grand worth—wrecked. I think it cost about 15 to 20 grand to fix. A BMW 6—that was about £15,000 to repair.”

“I sometimes go with some mates and we will help tow people who get into trouble. But mainly it’s just a hobby.” 

His viewers—nearly half of whom are from outside the UK—lap it all up. Recently they were treated to a cream-coloured BMW making the most common mistake of ploughing into the water at speed—and suffering a prompt death. “Not all clowns are in the circus!” chuckles a virtual onlooker. “I don’t know why but I always enjoy BMW mistakes the most,” adds another. 

There are, inevitably, the conspiracy theorists. “I feel like people come here to claim insurance on cars they don’t want,” speculates one. He is quickly repudiated by another: “Insurance won’t pay out for using your car as a boat.” 

Gregory is now looking for a job meaning that, one day, the fun will stop. Until then, as someone commented on an Audi SUV slowly sputtering to a standstill: “This is the best account on Instagram. It’s strangely satisfying to watch.”