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1959 Chevy vs 2009 chevy



  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    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: 1,711
    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: 41,928
    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.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,604
    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

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    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.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,604
    Andre, you're sounding like the doctor who said "the patient died but the operation was a success ;)

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,603
    "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: 23,040
    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: 23,040
    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?
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    Big question - was the lady in the Thunderbird wearing safety belts?

    Our local paper notes whether accident victims were wearing safety belts, and more often than not, people killed in accidents were not. People around here aren't getting killed in cars from the 1960s (or even the 1970s and 1980s). Most of those cars are either junkyard material or trailer queens.

    Even newer cars don't provide much protection in high-speed collisions if the occupants aren't wearing their belts.
  • berriberri Posts: 7,749
    Ouch Andre, must we see beautiful classics all bashed up - it hurts!
  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    Even if the T-Bird driver had belts on, in a '65 they would have been lap belts only.

    While those are a lot better than nothing, they're not going to restrain you as well as shoulder belts.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,604
    So true. With lap belts you can be driven right under the dashboard and get crushed between the firewall and the seat. This is also possible with shoulder belts, but less likely (you aren't moving as much) and much less likely with an air bag.

    Ever see those police pursuit videos? It's amazing what people live through in those crashes.

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