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09-17-2009, 08:40 PM   #1
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Crash test - 59 Chevy vs 09 Chevy

I really need to show this to my father who still believes the old cars were much safer than new. Built like tanks they were, but you still would be dead.

[yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xwYBBpHg1I[/yt]
YouTube - Crash test: 1959 Chevy Bel Air

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09-17-2009, 08:59 PM   #2
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I wonder if the engine and tranny was in the '59. the way the engine compartment collapsed, I don't think so.
09-17-2009, 09:13 PM   #3
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Hard to tell for sure: with those old cars the engine and all could get driven right through the firewall: (Guess people could lose their legs) It could have gone underneath. The dash bows up, but I can't see an engine, though.
09-17-2009, 09:18 PM   #4
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It is hard to extrapolate various models and years to other years and models also. I notice they didn't pick a '69 Impala. The A pilar was known to have problems in the '59 which allowed them to fold up like a cheap suite. Take out the engine and tranny, which would have had braces and mounts that would effect the kinetics of the impact and the picture could be misleading. The resulting impact looks more like a 60 mph impact. I notice people were making comments that people drove slow back then as well. I guess they didn't realize that the speed limits were increased BACK to 70 & 75 from 55.

Edit: Non the less, highway carnage is the #1 cause of death in Florida with drowning deaths following that. Drowning in Fl and Ca is probably a function of the number of beaches and pools.


Last edited by Blue; 09-17-2009 at 09:26 PM.
09-18-2009, 12:31 AM   #5
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Like others have said the engine and transmission may have been removed from the 59, weakening the structure.
Plus how do we know that it wasn't all rusted out, and falling apart already. I honestly can't picture too many people letting them destroy solid, classic metal for that test.

However, I do acknowledge that proper seatbelts, and crumple zones make todays cars safer.
09-18-2009, 04:08 AM   #6
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As someone who has worked many crash scenes. The number one killer in those old clunks, was the steering column. It very easily was drove back and through the driver.
The very fact that they were built " like tanks" is why they killed. The metal didn't give transfering all the kinetic energy to the occupants. Severed spinal cords in the neck base were very common even with seatbelts.
09-18-2009, 05:12 AM   #7
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I think that if I had ever wrecked the car I had in high school, I would not be here today. My parents must have had a great life insurance policy to let me drive that death trap. I was in high school in the late 80's and my car was a 1962 Mercury Comet. No seatbelts. Exhaust leak. Leaky fuel pump. Slightly dry-rotted tires. Old school, non-power drum brakes (the extra-wide pedal was so you could use both feet). All-metal dashboard that created a bit of a wedge (headsplitter) facing the front seat. Big steering wheel with hairline cracks at the column so that it could break away and skewer the driver. Niiiiice.
09-18-2009, 06:57 AM   #8
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On the other side of that coin, I saw them do 6 mile per hour frontal collision tests on new cars and the Malibu received some of the highest costs to repair. Six miles and hour! Something like $1,200 to repair. Safer? No doubt. Just make sure it is the other person who is at fault.
The same test was performed on a 1985 Escort and it suffered a repair bill of $75 in this study.
Engine components as well as many other components of vehicles in many designs are much closer to bumpers which today are made to merely absorb the force of the collision and distribute that force throughout the structure of the vehicle while keeping the occupants safer. Lighter materials are being used in construction of vehicles for fuel economy as well as other factors.

Oh by the way, we just bought one of those there Malibus. I tell my wife to drive safely everyday and hit something cheap.

09-18-2009, 07:00 AM   #9
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One of my brother's cars is a '68 Impala and I hope our Malibu and his car never meet a similar experience.
09-18-2009, 07:11 AM   #10
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looking at the video, I highly doubt the drivetrain was in the 59. and if so, this makes the whole test inaccurate in my opinion. neat to watch though. I want to see a modern VW beetle vs a classic beetle.
09-18-2009, 07:31 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by little laker Quote
Like others have said the engine and transmission may have been removed from the 59, weakening the structure.
Plus how do we know that it wasn't all rusted out, and falling apart already. I honestly can't picture too many people letting them destroy solid, classic metal for that test.
That was kind of sad to see, but actually, crash testers regularly destroy things to prove points, so I wouldn't put it past em. I doubt the car was all that rusty. (Also, I don't have any problems with the idea the engine broke loose: that was known to happen. )

I wonder if we couldn't write to the engineers and ask whether the engine was in there. It seems it wouldn't prove too too much about the new car if the full weight wasn't in the old one. Hey, wait a minute, the front would ride high if it wasn't, right?

Last edited by Ratmagiclady; 09-18-2009 at 07:42 AM.
09-18-2009, 07:33 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ratmagiclady Quote
Hey, wait a minute, the front would ride high if it wasn't, right?
somewhat. it depends on the suspension setup, which could be modified to mask that. not saying they did (we don't even know if the drive train was present or not) but it may or may not show, with the drivetrain removed.
09-18-2009, 10:12 AM   #13
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Apparently the car was complete and intact when it was crashed in this demonstration. In the video, you certainly can see the exhaust system

More Details About 1959 Bel Air Crash Test - Wheels Blog - NYTimes.com

More Details About 1959 Bel Air Crash Test
By Christopher Jensen

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released on Thursday a video of a crash test between a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air and a 2009 Malibu to demonstrate how car safety has improved. Not to simplify matters too much, but the Malibu won. And several Wheels readers commented, saying that the test was unfair because the institute used a Bel Air that didn’t contain an engine.

Armed with these conspiracy theories, I returned to David Zuby, the senior vice president at the I.I.H.S.’s crash-test center in Virginia. He explained that when the institute went looking for a 1959 Bel Air to crash test there was one thing the organization didn’t want and some things it did.

“We didn’t want to crash a museum piece,” Mr. Zuby said. “We were not looking for one that had been restored for museum or show quality.” But the vehicle had to have a solid structure, although a little surface rust would be acceptable.

They found what they wanted in Indiana. “The frame was sound and all the body panels were sound,” he said. It had a 3.9-liter 6-cylinder engine and was in driving condition.

The car was purchased for about $8,500 and had about 74,000 miles on the odometer, which was broken. It was trucked to the test center in Virginia.

Mr. Zuby said the cloud that shows in the crash video wasn’t rust. “Most of that is road dirt that accumulates in nooks and crannies that you can’t get it,” he said.
09-18-2009, 10:39 AM   #14
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so it did indeed have the drive train. interesting. I guess it doesn't really change anything. the new car is obviously safer. not as bitchin' in the looks department though.
09-18-2009, 01:28 PM   #15
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OK lets liven this thread up a bit shall we?
Barrack Obama , a millitant lesbian witch , Hillary Clinton and Kanye West were driving around in a 1959 Bel Aire. If it crashed into a 2009 Malibu what would happen?
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