I just stumbled upon the saddest video I’ve ever seen on YouTube: (www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xwYBBpHg1I) and had to say something. While it was interesting to see how designing for safety has improved over the years, I had to shed a tear. They killed it…fuzzy dice and all!
Doc, It’s Like D?j? vu, All Over Again!
Circuit Smith already posted this link and a discussion is already open on this topic. Here’s the link:
Great I accidentally put this in the wrong category AND post something already posted. Sorry for showing my newbieness…
hold on a second. if I remember correctly, these cars were built on the “X” platform. instead of a full frame, they had an X underneath so they could sit lower. I’m not sure this justifies that all old cars are deathtraps.
Only insurance dweebs would do something like that.
It speaks volumes for their personality and mentality.
Those X frames GM came out with in 58 were so bad Nascar would not let them race, the had to run a 57 cahssis for several years under the later bodies.
IIRC correctly, only the Chevy still had an “X” frame by 1959.
I believe that those who spent the money for a more expensive GM product actually got a frame that would protect them in a side-impact accident, unlike those Chevies.
Here’s what wiki says about the full size GM frames:
“All B-body cars used suspensions utilizing coil springs both front and rear, exceptions include the 1959-60 Oldsmobile 88 and 98, and the 1971-76 station wagons from all four GM divisions, both of which used coil springs in front and multi-leaf springs in the rear. All B-body cars since 1965 have used perimeter frames with side rails, along with the 1961-64 B-body Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles. The 1958-60 Buicks used a ladder-type frame while an X-frame without side rails was used on 1958-60 Pontiacs and 1959-60 Oldsmobiles, 1958-64 Chevrolets and 1961-64 Buicks.”
This proves that those folks who think they are safer in old Detroit steel than modern plastic are dead wrong (no pun intended).
It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if it were a modern car versus something other than an X-frame GM car. The old Chevy did poorly in that demonstration because it is an X-frame car. Perhaps a new Sebring versus a Chrysler 300 series or Desoto would be more interesting, not that they should be destroying any more classic iron…
I just think a parallel framerail car would have done much better. GM did away with the X-frame because it was so unsafe, anyway.
not neccassarily. these had less of a frame then uni-bodys. I’d rather roll around town in old steel then a new bloated plastic car anyway.
a bit of history
All late 50s cars were death traps. Some just more deadly than others. There were no seat belts, no door reinforcements, no collapsing steering column, no crash padding on the dash, no roof reinforcement, etc, etc.
Your library will likely still have the book that launched the whole car safety movement, “Unsafe At Any Speed” by Ralph Nader. Although not an engineer, Nader tore apart US cars bit by bit to show both cost cutting and deliberate avoidance of making things safer. On the Corvair, the steering column (non-collapsing) ended just behind the front bumper, and the steering wheel hub had a stylish sharp point on it!
Having said that, the VW Beetle was an even worse death trap, as was the VW minibus. The number of Americans killed in these busses probably equalled the number conceived in them!
you can kill anybody with anything. all it takes is a bit of imagination.
There was a book that preceded Nader’s book by several years, titled, The Insolent Chariots.
That book detailed the existence of things like dashboard control knobs that were actually pointed, rather than blunt, steering wheel hubs that were pointed, non-padded dashboards that actually had sharp edges on them, door latches that burst open upon even slight impact, crappy brakes, and suspensions that were designed to give a “Boulevard Ride” at the expense of safe handling.
Despite the wide-spread misconception that people were safe when surrounded by all of that iron and steel, the reality is that with inadequate brakes and poor handling, accidents were much more likely than on modern cars.
Once there was an accident, the absence of passenger restraints, coupled with rigid body/chassis designs that did not feature controlled “crumple zones”, and coupled with vehicle interiors that could only be described as hostile to the occupants, the survival rate of people in car accidents was very low, up until the '70s. And, the survival rate has improved significantly even since the '70s.
For some reason, people like to think that a heavy, unyielding body design is somehow better in an accident. You know, “Look how that car just folded up when it was hit. My old Buick took impacts with almost no damage”. Unfortunately, that type of attitude betrays no knowledge of basic physics.
The rigid, non-yielding bodies and chassis of yesteryear allowed the full force of the impact to be transferred to the occupants. By contrast, modern cars with their “bloated plastic” trim sacrifice their structural parts in order to save the passengers from serious injury.
They don’t make them like they used to, THANK GOD.
Agree; in another post I mentioned that the fatality rate in car accidents has decreased to 1/15 of that in the mid 50s. In other words, the miles drive today is 15 times and the fatalities have remained the same, even though highways are much more crowded. The driving skills of US drivers has probably not changed, if anything we now have a lot more young and inexperienced ones.
So, all those unpopular things like seat belts and that “cheap plastic” have saved a lot of lives.
The VW Rabbit was introduced because the old Beetle could not be made to meet increasingly stringent US and European crash standards. Remember the original Ford Econoline van with its snub nose? No way could it be made crash safe.
Take an old Imperial or New Yorker against a modern car and see how it fares.
There is no question that an old Imperial (assuming that it has not sustained too much rust damage) will virtually demolish most other cars, old or new. However, the most important issue is preserving the lives of the vehicle’s passengers, rather than preserving the integrity of the vehicle. If the vehicle sustains little damage, then far greater impact forces will be transferred to the passengers.
Ideally, you want a vehicle with a rigid passenger cabin, scientifically designed “crumple zones” front and rear, and very good side-impact protection. That describes a modern economy car, but it does not describe the land yachts of yesteryear.
Other than it being a shame that what appears to be fairly clean old sled was used for this demonstration, I also consider it a bit of a loaded (intentionally) test.
Step the year up from '59 to '69 and see what happens when a ladder type frame is used.
Good example about the old Chrysler Imperials; probably one of the toughest tanks ever built.
There’s a reason why many demolition derbys outlawed the old Imperials from running; an unfair advantage.
Agree; Formula 1 cars routinely crash at 100 mph and the driver walks awy; the car has absorbed all the impact damage and it’s toast.
A few months ago there was a video clip of a large 10 year old Volvo colliding with one of the new small cars, a Nissan Versa or Hond Fit, I believe. The driver of the Volvo would have incurred severe injuries while the driver of the small car would have sustained just a few scrapes.
Where the large car has an advantage is in a T-bone collision at low speed. The driver of the large 50s tank will be OK, while the small car driver MAY sustain injuries.
An old car would kill its driver due to forces emitted improperly. A modern car crushes into a nice accordian and acts as a pillow.
I will take the pillow.