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1959 Chevy vs 2009 chevy



  • You could tell how structurally inept domestic frames were in the 50s 60s and 70s by driving the could watch the windshields bounce when you hit railroad tracks.

    I remember what a revelation the Mercedes 280SL was to American car magazines because the convertible structure was so rigid during road testing.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    You could tell how structurally inept domestic frames were in the 50s 60s and 70s by driving the could watch the windshields bounce when you hit railroad tracks.

    I don't think my '67 Catalina convertible is too bad. The only real issue I see is how the back of the car is a bit out-of-sync with the front on rough can really see it where the back of the doors meets the quarter panel. I've seen newer cars, both convertible and fixed-roof, that jiggled worse.

    I'm actually impressed at how squeak and rattle-free the car is. My '76 Grand LeMans coupe and '79 New Yorkers are much worse in this respect.

    One of my coworkers had a 1973 or so Benz 450SL convertible for a few years. I rode in it once or twice and even drove it once. That thing WAS a solid little car. It also had something like 182,000 miles on it, and had a little surface rust in the doorjamb, yet still felt brick-like. Much more than the 1982 Corvette he'd had prior to that!
  • Well okay but if you jack up one corner of your car, the other door won't open and close properly. Or if you put it on a frame lift (where the wheels hang) you can't open the doors easily if at all.

    There's just too much overhang on these cars. The frames bend and twist too much.
  • wevkwevk Posts: 178
    I wonder how early 50s Packard would have held up, weren't they note for being stout?

  • The older the car, the more dangerous it is---would be a good rule of thumb. Of course, physics does work in one's favor in certain circumstances. I think a 50 Packard would fare much better than a new Toyota Yaris should they hit each other. But not necessarily the drivers.
  • Well I've driven in a Tucker, and it felt real twitchy to me, so i don't know about the "balance" part. But the pop out windshield was a good idea, and Tucker drivers did roll one over at high speed during an endurance run, and the driver walked away---and---the windshield DID pop out.

    Of course now we make sure you don't even hit the windshield. We want to keep you IN the car in the year 2009.

    It's pretty funny---Tucker wanted you to duck under the dashboard in case of collision---LOL! :surprise:

    The engine came out of a helicopter, and was originally air-cooled, and was modified to be water cooled. That's why it looks kinda funny. Transmissions were rebuilt used Cord transmissions with electric shifter on the column.

    Remarkable car, nonetheless, and for 1948, it went like stink. If you romp it in 1st gear, you can break the axles.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    Well, the windshield did pop out on that '59 Bel Air, although I don't think GM intended it to. :blush:
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,914
    On that note, apparently fintail windshields were designed to pop out and land a ways from the passenger compartment. Seems odd:

    Crash tests start at 0:30 or so. Some later detail shots are not actually of fintails.

    The crumple zones worked anyway. This was a car designed at essentially the same time as that 59 Chevy.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    I wonder how well Chrysler's early unitized cars crunched up? I have seen some late 60's Darts and a Diplomat or Gran Fury that had been hit pretty hard in the front, and they actually crumple up in a fashion very similar to a modern car, where the front takes most of it, deforms, and there ends up being very little passenger cabin intrusion.

    In fact, seeing a wrecked Diplomat/Gran Fury and a wrecked 80's Caprice copcar, side-by-side, swayed me to go Mopar. This was back in 1998, and I needed a car. There was a place about an hour away that sold refurbished police cars, and they'd also have wrecks and other junked cars around to use for parts. The Mopar they had sitting there had basically deformed like a decent modern car, where the front-end "accordioned" to a degree, and the passenger cabin was intact. Meanwhile, with the Caprice, it looked like the whole front-end clip stayed fairly intact, but then shoved back into the passenger compartment.

    Of course, that's hardly a scientific survey, as it's possible, I guess, that the Caprice had taken a harder hit. Those Mopar M-bodies were beefy little cars, though. They were about 7-8" shorter than a Caprice (204-205 versus 212), a couple inches narrower (~75" versus ~77), and on a 3.3" shorter wheelbase (112.7 versus 116), but they were about the same weight.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    sometimes those old cars can still be pretty brutal.

    Here's the result of a '65 T-bird that tangled with a Crown Vic police cruiser that was in a chase...

    More on the story here. Now, the driver of the T-bird was killed, while the officer was hospitalized, so in occupant protection, the newer car still "won". However, the T-bird driver was also 91 years old, and I'm sure much more fragile than the 27 year old cop.

    All things considered, the T-bird looked like it held up very well, crumpling in a fashion similar to a modern car. I'm guessing the unitized construction of the T-bird definitely helped here. Those things were pigs, but they were sturdy, heavy little pigs.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    Not to sound insensitive to the situation or anything, I'm guessing that the 91-year-old lady who owned the T-bird bought it new back in 1965. I saw the pictures of it in the article Andre linked in his post, and it appeared to be in decent condition for being 44 years old.

    Now, if she had been driving, say a 1965 Volvo 122, I'm sure the situation would have been different. Volvo was installing safety features in its vehicles way before other manufacturers would.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,914
    That old Bird did a fair job of chewing up the modern car without collapsing in on itself. The unitized construction has to be the key here. No doubt the age of the driver was a role too, in the accident itself and in the fatality.
  • I don't see this as any compliment to the T-Bird. The driver died and the cop didn't, which demonstrates why modern cars are safer. The cop car was supposed to collapse. Probably the old man had an engine in his lap and steering wheel in his chest.

    "sturdiness" is the last thing you want in a collision. Would you rather jump off a roof with cinder blocks tied to your feet or coil springs? :P
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    Probably the old man had an engine in his lap and steering wheel in his chest.

    Nope. Check out this picture...

    If anything, I'd say it was the cop who ended up with the steering wheel in his chest. Just thankfully, it was a collapsible steering wheel with an airbag! Besides, elderly bodies are very fragile. If you had the cop in the T-bird and the 91 year old lady in the Crown Vic, you probably would have ended up with the same result. With the way the passenger compartment crumpled, the steering column shoving back, and the airbag going off, it probably would have been too much for an elderly body to take.

    If anything, I'd say this just shows the advantages of unit body versus body-on-frame. That T-bird crumpled up just like a car should, with the front-end absorbing most of the damage, and the passenger cabin remaining intact. Note that the windshield's not even damaged, and the driver's door was able to open. And the driver's side took the brunt of the impact! Doubtful that the steering wheel moved much, if any, as the front wheels themselves don't appear to have moved back significantly.

    But then, look at the Crown Vic. It did what body-on-frame cars usually do...the front end only deforms so much, before the whole thing shoves back into the passenger compartment, compromising it. In essence, it's basically that '59 Bel Air from the NHTSA test with an airbag and collapsible steering column.

    Heck, I say re-issue the '65 T-bird, just with a collapsible steering column and airbags, and you'd have a pretty safe car!

    And you definitely DO want sturdiness in a collision, to a degree, at least. You want the passenger cabin to be sturdy enough not to crumple up and crush you. Basically, your car needs to be "hard" in the center and "soft" at the ends.
  • Andre, you're sounding like the doctor who said "the patient died but the operation was a success ;)
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,355
    "Those things were pigs"

    Hey, I called them the exact thing on one of these forums once!

    Yes, they certainly were for a number of reasons.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    Yeah Isell, I think I learned that term from you!
  • You beat me to it.

    While the Crown Vic is a "modern car" with air bags and such it is still BOF and a platform that has been in existence since 1979.

    Not exactly modern compared to a car designed this millennium..
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    Oddly though, the Panther platform does rather well in crash testing, according to IIHS tests. Even though it's body-on-frame, they still designed it to crumple up more or less like a unit body car. Or so, that test gave me the impression.

    But, I guess a '65 T-bird is a harder hit than a deformable IIHS barrier. And running a car at 40 mph into a deformable barrier is a whole 'nother ballgame than running two ~3600 lb Chevies into each other at 40 mph. Or a ~4500 lb T-bird into a ~4200 lb Crown Vic that's in hot pursuit.

    And wow, no wonder those things were pigs! At ~205" long on a 113.2" wb, they're really not that range of my 2000 Intrepid...and some 70's compacts, for that matter! Yet 4500 lb is about what the Cadillacs started at in 1965. I guess compact dimensions and luxury-mastodon weight don't exactly add up to sports-car handling! I wonder if those suckers were hard on tires, too?
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