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Thread: head-on collision: old car vs new

  1. #1
    I'll Lock Up scottyrocks's Avatar
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    head-on collision: old car vs new

    I love old cars cars as much as the next guy, but for those of you who like to say that they'd rather have all 2 tons (or more) of steel around them instead of today's rinky-dink plastic-laden vehicles, take a look at this video of a 2009 Chevy Malibu and a 1959 Chevy Bel-Air in a head-on. The results are not pretty, especially for the driver (crash test dummy) of the Bel-Air.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPF4fBGNK0U

    Quite the reality check.
    'There is a fine line between art and fondling.'
    - J.H.P.

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    Call Me a Cab vitanola's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottyrocks View Post
    I love old cars cars as much as the next guy, but for those of you who like to say that they'd rather have all 2 tons (or more) of steel around them instead of today's rinky-dink plastic-laden vehicles, take a look at this video of a 2009 Chevy Malibu and a 1959 Chevy Bel-Air in a head-on. The results are not pretty, especially for the driver (crash test dummy) of the Bel-Air.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPF4fBGNK0U

    Quite the reality check.
    Good point, but remember that the crash test chose a car, the '59 Bel-Air, with a known weakness in tjust that sort of crash due to a very poorly designed "X" frame. The car was hit in just the rignt spot to cause it to crumple, and a six cylinder engine model was chosen so that the impact would bypass the engine entirely. In this way the accellerautin of the mass of the engine would not absorb any of the energy which could otherwise be used to crumple the passenger compartment..

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    I'll Lock Up scottyrocks's Avatar
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    What bothered me most is that they destroyed a '59 Bel-Air.
    'There is a fine line between art and fondling.'
    - J.H.P.

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    I had seen this video before. I made a comment on this awhile back, in an old truck thread. The intrusion of the steering column into the driver's compartment was the cause of many broken necks, as you can see that the steering wheel almost went up to the roof. The driver was not seat belted either as the car was not equipped with them as standard equipment. Also you can see how the door opened up and the driver was in danger of being ejected, sustaining even more injury. Earlier cars are even worse there is a similar video of a late twenties car colliding with a solid barrier and the doors fly open, the seats are torn from the floor and the body itself is partially torn free from the frame. To top it off, the fuel tank, in the cowl ruptures. The driver is ejected. Unless you are a real vintage car fan, or have been involved in traffic collision investigations you have no idea of how much safer modern cars are. It's something that is taken for granted. I have read of several collisions where a modern hot rodder was killed in what was really a minor collision. And those "rat rods", wow. those are death traps on wheels. Both to the driver and to the other unlucky driver's sharing the road with them.

    I like old cars. I drove a 57 Cad as a daily driver in college. I've driven a 56 Cad and then did use a 66 Buick Riviera as a daily car until 7 or 8 yrs ago. There are realistic safety modifications that can be made that will improve safety but you really have to think about using your 40 or 50 something car as an everyday family hauler. After 1966 many cars had collapsible steering columns and safety belts, but these are not Golden Age vehicles.

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    Bartender LizzieMaine's Avatar
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    I actually survived a pretty severe collision in a car of similar vintage. When I was six years old, my year-old sister and I were riding in a '61 Chevy Biscayne with my mother -- all three of us in the front seat, no belts -- when the brakes let go and she ended up driving it into the side of a house. The nose of the car was completely demolished, and both my sister and I were flung off the seat under the dashboard. I got a severe bruise on my chin when I hit the dash, but that was the only injury any of us suffered. My mother was flung out the door and did a gymnast's roll when she hit the ground, but wasn't otherwise hurt. The house was in pretty bad shape, though.
    The humblest citizen in all the land, when clad in the armor of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of error. -- William Jennings Bryan

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    I'll Lock Up scottyrocks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vitanola View Post
    Good point, but remember that the crash test chose a car, the '59 Bel-Air, with a known weakness in tjust that sort of crash due to a very poorly designed "X" frame.
    Regardless, there were tons of them out there. The point is that safety was not at the forefront of design back then. Basically, as with so much back then there was limited knowledge.
    'There is a fine line between art and fondling.'
    - J.H.P.

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    Incurably Addicted John in Covina's Avatar
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    Not using seat belts allows for the ultimate safety of being "Thrown Clear!" of a wreck. This has happened to numerous people but it also seems to rely on all windows down so the glass and car structure doesn't impede ones exit during a crash or roll over. Also driving those old large autos meant that all collisions were "way out there" on the fringe of the body of the car.

    I was a passenger in a 77 Olds back when there wasn't a seat belt law. My brother was driving and had to lock up the brakes if there had been about another foot of open space we would.n't have rear ended that Nova with the huge bumpers. My knees were sore for weeks as ramming them into an all steel dash smarted. Worn seats belts ever since.
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    One of the Regulars lframe's Avatar
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    I tangled with a '66 Chevy in a '97 Ford Mustang. She pulled out in front of me, her son was standing up in the backseat and I turned to hit the ditch. Hit the side of the car. Totaled mine, gave me a severe case of whiplash, while hers had a dent. That car was a beast.

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    Bartender LizzieMaine's Avatar
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    One important thing to consider is that cars in the Era weren't being driven the way cars are driven today: they weren't being gunned down freeways at 75mph by drivers fiddling with cellphones or GPSes or whatever. Most cars were being driven in stop-and-go city/town traffic at speeds rarely over 35mph, and when they got on the open road they'd rarely be driven over 45 or so. An impact at 45mph is bad -- but it's a lot, lot worse at 75.

    It's important also to remember that then, as now, the vast majority of drivers never had an accident -- and the majority of drivers who were in accidents walked away from them. And no matter how safe a vehicle is on the drawing board, its ultimate safety depends on how prudent and careful the driver is -- an idiot is going to be just as much a hazard to himself and others in a Prius as he is in a Model A.
    The humblest citizen in all the land, when clad in the armor of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of error. -- William Jennings Bryan

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    Incurably Addicted AtomicEraTom's Avatar
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    Me, too.

    Quote Originally Posted by scottyrocks View Post
    What bothered me most is that they destroyed a '59 Bel-Air.
    I was in a wreck with a Chevy truck and I was in a 60 Bel-Air, more or less the exact same car as in the video, sans some design changes. My car had a frame rotted so bad that pieces would fall off while I was driving. The frame did buckle, the front of the car suffered some damage, I was not wearing seatbelts. I came out just fine and went to work afterwards, though late. She was going about 40-45 when she hit me.

    Lizzie's point is very true, people weren't driving like they do today and the interstate system was in its infancy in 1959. When every car on the road was built similarly with manual brakes, manual steering, etc, you know the limitations of those vehicles. Most people give classics on the road some room because they're 'pretty' but I do know a lot of folks do the same because they know the limitations of that classic car. When driving one, I always leave ample distance between me and the car ahead of me, because I know a single master cylinder, 4-wheel drums, and no power booster means I need some real distance to stop!
    -Tom N.

    I tell it like it used to be.

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