A Hulking 1959 Chevy Bel Air Gets Obliterated by a Mid-Size 2009 Chevy Malibu in a Crash Test

The auto indus­try con­tin­ues to take steps for­ward, some­times big, some­times small. They’re tin­ker­ing with elec­tric and dri­ver­less cars, and they’re find­ing ways to improve the safe­ty of every­day vehi­cles already on the road. How much incre­men­tal progress have we made? Just watch the video pro­duced by the Insur­ance Insti­tute for High­way Safe­ty. A 2009 Chevy Mal­ibu crash­es into a colos­sal 1959 Chevy Bel Air at 40 miles per hour. And despite its “Safe­ty-Gird­er” cru­ci­form frame (a safe­ty inno­va­tion Chevy devel­oped dur­ing the 1950s) the big­ger Bel Air did­n’t fare well at all. The same applies to the dum­my inside.

Here’s how the Insti­tute described what hap­pened to the Bel Air to The New York Times:

This car had no seat belts or air bags. Dum­my move­ment wasn’t well con­trolled, and there was far too much upward and rear­ward move­ment of the steer­ing wheel. The dummy’s head struck the steer­ing wheel rim and hub and then the roof and unpadded met­al instru­ment pan­el to the left of the steer­ing wheel.

Dur­ing rebound, the dummy’s head remained in con­tact with the roof and slid rear­ward and some­what inward. The wind­shield was com­plete­ly dis­lodged from the car and the dri­ver door opened dur­ing the crash, both pre­sent­ing a risk of ejec­tion. In addi­tion, the front bench seat was torn away from the floor on the dri­ver side.

The Bel Air got a “Poor” rat­ing in every safe­ty cat­e­go­ry; the Mal­ibu a “Good.”

Although a lot of Amer­i­ca seems stuck in reverse, car design is one area where we’re mov­ing for­ward, hope­ful­ly with even bet­ter days to come.

via Kot­tke

Relat­ed Con­tent:

178,000 Images Doc­u­ment­ing the His­to­ry of the Car Now Avail­able on a New Stan­ford Web Site

Jack Nichol­son Puts His Star Pow­er Behind “Green” Cars, 1978

Young Robert De Niro Appears in 1969 AMC Car Com­mer­cial

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  • F Again says:

    Two things: First, ‘hulk­ing’ is a mis­nomer. The new­er vehi­cle like­ly out­weighs the old­er.
    Sec­ond, the ’59 Impala is suf­fer­ing from rust, evi­dent in the explo­sive spray of same in the video. No won­der it folds up like a Dix­ie cup. In addi­tion, the ’59 Impala’s frame is a ter­ri­ble design, an ‘X’ con­fig­u­ra­tion not­ed for its weak­ness even back then.

    There’s no ques­tion new vehi­cles are bet­ter designed to pro­tect occu­pants. How­ev­er, this ‘test’ is at best a ris­i­ble demon­stra­tion of that fact…and a damned waste of a nice old car.

    One last note: I doubt many will cher­ish a trans­porta­tion appli­ance like the ’09 Mal­ibu in the same way the ’59 man­aged to sur­vive for 50 years until this bit of point­less show­boat­ing, because, well.…look at it. Feh. I’ll take the old Impala. It’s a car to love.

  • Marc Rettus says:

    It’s a four door six cylin­der junior mod­el with a B post.

    That’s dirt and paint fly­ing off the Bel Air.

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