Video: They don't make cars like they used to, this is why that's a good thing

:eek: :eek: No contest at all. New cars are much safer. I had no idea how dangerous classic vintage cars can be.

You’ve just now discovered that video? It’s been around for a while.

The whole concept is both unfair and incredibly stupid. Let today’s cars be used for 50 years, and let them be exposed to 50 years of weather, temperature swings, etc., and THEN see how well they hold up in an accident.

Then you’ll be comparing them to cars with inertial dampers and force fields.
Hardly fair.

I hadn’t seen that video before. I knew, of course, that modern cars are vastly safer than older cars. But it’s pretty interesting to see it demonstrated so clearly. I shudder at the Bel Air’s windshield flying out of the car in almost a single piece.

I love my 65 Corvair, but I avoid highway speeds with it.

My dad started installing seat belts in his cars back around 1955. Long before they were factory standard and long before I was born. Anytime our family bought a new car that was the first thing he did after driving home from the dealership. Eventually they became standard from the factory.

My childhood car was a 1963 oldsmobile vista cruiser . I vividly remember the glass roof window directly over the rear bench seat. Loved sitting there on trips looking at the sky. The rear glass rolled down if the key was turned in the lock. all electric windows. very powerful AC. kept us cool even on our road trip to Carlsbad caverns in southeastern New Mexico…

ours was metallic blue. we kept it until 1971. I cried when dad turned it in.

That video has been posted to nearly every thread on this board about car safety.

I think you may have missed the point. The 1959 Bel Air was not a rust bucket. It did not crumple and crush the “driver” because it had gone through “temperature swings”.

It was not designed with crumple zones. The passenger compartment was severely compromised. This is HOW IT WAS (POORLY) DESIGNED.

The poor crash performance of the 1959 Bel Air has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with it’s being “exposed to 50 years of weather, temperature swings, etc.”

They’ll still do far, far better than the Bel Air did. As Euphonious Polemic suggests, it’s not just about how much they crumple, but where they crumple. Late-model cars do a much better job of keeping the passenger compartment intact and making the rest of the car body absorb the energy of the impact. I’ve seen other crash-test videos of vintage cars in which the dashboard completely closed the gap to the front seat.

Out of curiosity, how was that done? Were attachment points standard, even if the belts themselves weren’t, or did it involve serious work?


Check out Ralph Nader’s biggest claim to fame (and public service): Unsafe at any speed.

Main point: The auto industry was not concerned with making safe cars; it was concerned with sales, and adjusted its engineering accordingly, for decades.

It took some work. Drilling through the car’s steel floor pan. I’m sure there were detailed instructions included with the lap belts. At that time, if you wanted lap belts it was DIY or hire a mechanic to install them.

But it never took him more than a few hours. But, dad had already installed belts in several previous cars before I was born. it was only 4 sets of lap belts. 8 places to drill.

Here’s another thread on broadly the same topic.

The one thing I think is maybe slightly unfair is that the '59 Bel Air isn’t entirely typical of an old American car. GM used a special X-frame construction on certain cars (mostly Chevys) for a few years in he late 50’s and early 60’s, including that one. Even at the time, they were criticized for being unsafe compared to the ladder or H-frame construction that virtually every other car on the road used. (There was a notorious Ford ad showing a Chevy’s X-frame with the passenger seating overlaid, showing just how many people would get squished in a side-impact.) Although the X versus H-frame probably didn’t make a huge difference in this head-on scenario.

Was not? The report on the GM ignition disaster (mentioned on Marketplace yesterday) said that GM had a culture of profit first, safety second. Right up to when they got caught, and maybe still today.

A collection of vintage car crash tests. The one I was thinking of (where the front passengers get crushed between seat and dashboard) is at 0:21.

Of course they’re concerned with safety, but you have to identify and acknowledge the problem, first. This is where GM failed.

No one builds a bad design because they don’t care or that it isn’t important.

Certainly profits must come into some decisions; who will pay $60,000 for B-sized Chevrolet? Everything goes through an FMEA, risk analysis, pareto process, and if something is judged risky, it will be fixed. Unless an incompetent manager tries to cover something up. That’s criminal in my book.

I believe they took the car that sold the most units in 59 and crashed it into the car that sold the most units in 09.

Here’s a more recent Volvo vs a more modern small car. Frame geometry matters.

They were just two Impalas. The Impala might have been the top-selling car in '59, but definitely wasn’t in '09. They probably picked the Impala because it was a reasonably well-selling car in '09 that just so happened to have a nameplate that went back 50 years. There weren’t any '59 Camrys or '09 Galaxies to smash up!

Bullshit. I remember the decade or so that Detroit fought air bags tooth and nail. And it wasn’t just GM, it was all of them.

Their concern with safety totally lost out to their concern with profits.