Safety of old cars

Is a 1972 Datsun 240Z - in good condition - a safe car to drive? Does the absence of airbags, power-steering, anti-lock brakes, etc., make any car of this era NOT roadworthy?

The single most important factor in the safety of a car sits behind the wheel.

As machines, cars are not “safe” or “unsafe” as if there are 2 categories. They are more or less safe relative to each other. By today’s “safety feature” standards a '72 240Z is relatively unsafe. But see my first point. I would not hesitate to drive it. I would not put my teenager in it.

These are great cars, and certainly road worthy as long as you don’t have worn steering and/or suspension parts. In a crash the car won’t have nearly the passenger protective systems in modern cars.

Wear your seat and lap belt when you drive and have fun. If you plan on a very aggressive driving outing, perhaps a track day or vintage car road rally, you can add a lot of protection by wearing a good helmet.

Are the brakes and front suspension in good shape? Is there much rust (an issue with 240Zs)? If the car’s in good shape, it’s roadworthy. Assuming it has lap+shoulder belts, and you use them, it meets the basic requirements. However, it will lack airbags, and it will have much less body strength than, say, a new 370Z, so you will be more likely to be injured in a wreck. Up to you.

I would drive it. I wouldn’t give it to my 16 year old nephew though.

It’s terribly unsafe. I’d better just take it off your hands, as a public service. :slight_smile:

As the others have said, this car is safe–as long as the driver operates it in a sane, safe manner.

However, I STRONGLY suggest that you have the brake fluid flushed.
That old brake fluid is now largely water, due to absorbtion of moisture from the air over the period of…however many years it has been since that procedure was last done. Brake fluid on all cars should be changed every 3 yrs/30k miles if you want to have properly functioning brakes.

Hey, it has the best safety technology available in 1972. What more do you want? Your car is WAY more safe than my '71 VW Bus was. At least your feet aren’t 3 inches behind the front bumper.

I wouldn’t hesitate to drive a 1972 automobile, or even a 1952 automobile. I’d be careful where and how I drove it, but I’d drive it, and I wouldn’t worry about the safety aspect of it.

How did all of us old timers ever manage to survive without all these modern safety “features?”

We even used to have to use maps (!) to figure out where we were going. Cars had metal dashboards and no seat belts, much less air bags. No power steering, no power brakes, no radial tires, etc, etc, etc.

A '72 Z-car is a veritable safety cocoon by comparison.

Excellent post. I agree entirely.

And your '71 bus was safer than my '61 Beetle.
And my '61 Beetle was safer than my frends Isetta (year unknown). Isettas were at the bottom of the heap as far as safety goes.

I still prefer maps.

Sure. Just drive it on clear, warm days. A 1972 car is a hobby car anyway. Why would you take it out in bad weather when the lack of safety features would be most needed?

It should be fine as long as you don’t hit anything. Then the differences will be more apparent. But heck, it’s now safer then the best motorcycle you can buy in an accident.
One thing’s for sure too, there have been no recalls on sudden acceleration.

you could drive a bomb down the road safely, its just a matter of who is driving. the only problem is everybody else in their “safe” cars who think they’re invincible.

that being said, a 240Z is a terrible thing not to be drive. have heaps of fun, but dont go overboard.

I prefer maps also. I know how to fold a map, but I can’t figure out how to fold the GPS my wife got me for Christmas.

I’d love to have an early Z car! But I’ll live with my '68 Triumph TR250. And I’ll continue to believe that the biggest safety feature is the nut behind the wheel. Now, I wouldn’t advocate an old car for a teenager, but I grew up on these old buckets of bolts and they are not inherently unsafe if you maintain them. If you want unsafe, buy an SUV and try to make an evasive manuever on the road in one. I notice that even with power steering, very few drivers turn from the right lane of a four lane street into the right lane of an intersecting four lane street. Today’s drivers are just plain too lazy or too fat to turn the steering wheel. Now, anti-lock brakes are nice in snow, I must admit, as is front wheel drive. But if you are going to the trouble of buying a classic like the Z, you probably are going to put it up for the winter. The very best thing you can say about this car, just like my Triumph, is that there are NO MICROCHIPS aboard!

I like mcparadise’s answer. My family had a '62 VW microbus, the 23 window version, and I’d love to have one like it … but you’re right, there is something disconcerting about having nothing between you and the oncoming accident except a sheet of 1/8" steel. And for seatbelts, we did not put them in our Porsche in '55 because the law said to, we put them in to hold us onto the leather seats going around corners.

Those cars were just at the beginning of the end of natural selection. Before seat belts, air bags, good brakes etc. cars were natures way of natural selection. It eliminated the lesser examples of humanity and now we are being over run by (take your choice Republicans, Democrats, CEO’s mechanics etc.

Just to add to that thought, I’m sure it’s out performed in most areas by a lot of stogy looking compacts today. It was a great performer in it’s day because of things like air leaks, road noise and a ride that told you you were going fast and cornering hard while beating the snot out of those Granadas from one light to another. Remember 0-60 in less than 10 seconds was the sign of a performance car; now it’s a sign your car is in need of a tune up.

Oh, yes.

I installed seat belts in my '67 Sunbeam Alpine only after I was run off the the road by another driver and nearly rolled over.

Scared the hell out of me.

Those were the “good old days.”

Your 240 Z is not a death trap. By 1972 we already had collapsible steering columns, door bracing, seat belts and shoulder harness, crash padding and a number of other things.

Your driving skills at this stage are the most important thing to keep you out of trouble. I would rather ride in a 240Z with a good driver at the wheel than in the latest car model with a mediocre driver.

The car has good road holding and handling; I drove one at very high speed through the rural Ohio countryside one evening.

Just make sure the brakes and other devices are working properly. Have fun.

Once again, the OP is long gone. Who knows if he or she ever bothered to read the responses to the original post.