Last post on Nov 02, 2009 at 3:10 PM
You are in the Classic Cars
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Accidents, Coupe, Convertible, Truck, Sedan, Wagon
#2 of 45 Re: 1959 Chevy vs 2009 chevy [wevk]
Sep 21, 2009 (12:32 pm)
Yeah, I was kinda shocked by the results of that crash test, too. I had always been under the impression that those old cars would perform horribly if you ran into something that just flat-out will not budge, like a big enough tree, bridge abutment, etc. Or another, similarly-built car. But I figured that with a newer car that has crumple zones and such, that in effect, the new car would pretty much become the crumple zone for the old car!
But that doesn't seem to be the case here, as that 2009 Malibu tore into the 1959 pretty severely. Now in all fairness, both cars were reduced to scrap metal. But it is an eye opener, to see what a difference airbags, seatbelts with shoulder straps, collapsible steering columns, controlled crumple zones, etc make in car safety.
That being said, I've also heard that the 1959 Chevy isn't exactly the cream-of-the-crop when it comes to old cars. That old wasp-waisted/hourglass shaped "X-frame" evidently isn't so tough. I always knew it was a bit marginal in side impacts, but I've heard that it ain't the best with front-end collisions, either. A more conventional ladder frame or perimeter frame probably would have held up better. I imagine something like a 1957-58 Buick would have held up very well, as they had a ladder frame with an X-member in the center! You'd still have the problem of an unbelted occupant getting thrown forward, though.
Also, GM used to have the bad habit of mounting the steering box way too far forward in the engine compartment. In those days, that was one of the biggest safety factors, since if you mount it too far forward, even a slight impact to the front could send the steering column back into the passenger compartment. However, that might apply mainly to older GM cars...I'm not sure about the 1959 models. Now it's mounted awfully far forward on my '85 Silverado pickup, but at least by that time they had collapsible steering columns.
I'd also like to know what was going on with that '59 Chevy, when the front seat pulled loose on the driver's side. Did the whole seat rip from the floor, or did that side of the seat just come loose from the track? That might have been something attributable to old age, and not necessarily poor design.
Still, that crash test was an eye opener. Now I never had any delusions of invincibility when I drove around in my '57 DeSoto, but seeing that test convinces me that it's even less safe than I thought it was!
#3 of 45 Re: 1959 Chevy vs 2009 chevy [andre1969]
by Mr_Shiftright HOST
Sep 21, 2009 (12:52 pm)
I keep telling people that old cars are death traps when it comes to any kind of collision at speed, and that I would ALWAYS, without hesitation, rather take a hit in a 2009 car than anything built before the 1990s. I'd rather take a hit in a MINI than a 59 Chevrolet when it comes to my personal safety.
Old cars are merely a series of parts hung on a ladder frame like clothes on a clothesline. Think of a cardboard box with no top and a weak bottom at best.
Why do you think that 60s cars with huge engines often cracked their frames? There's really not much structural strength ---just weight and a bunch of bolts.
A 59 Chevrolet IS built like a tank---and that's precisely the problem.
#4 of 45 Re: 1959 Chevy vs 2009 chevy [andre1969]
Sep 21, 2009 (12:52 pm)
I have a suspicion that old car might have had some age-related structural issues. No doubt cars from that area didn't crash like modern ones, but that thing collapsed just a little too dramatically. The rust cloud is also indicative of something, IMO.
I am lucky in that my fintail is the first production car with crumple zones, and it has many interior safety features - so I think it would fare better. The ancient seatbelts in the front might not do a good job at restraining, though.
#5 of 45 Re: 1959 Chevy vs 2009 chevy [fintail]
Sep 21, 2009 (1:04 pm)
That car was supposed to be in good shape and complete with an engine. The IIHS paid around 8,500 bucks IIRC from reading the reports.
Does that price sound right for a good driver 59 Bel Air Shifty? Not a #1 show queen car just a good driver.
#6 of 45 Re: 1959 Chevy vs 2009 chevy [british_rover]
Sep 21, 2009 (1:09 pm)
I'm not Shifty, but I think $8500 would be more than enough to buy an excellent 59 Chevy 4 door post.
Did any American automaker perform crash tests back then? I've seen a good amount of footage of period MB crash tests, but nothing from NA.
#7 of 45 Re: 1959 Chevy vs 2009 chevy [british_rover]
by Mr_Shiftright HOST
Sep 21, 2009 (1:11 pm)
For a 4-door sedan? Sounds even a bit high for a #3 "clean driver". I'd figure more like $6500---but close enough. You could buy a mighty fine '59 4-door Belair for $8500 in my neck of the woods.
#8 of 45 Re: 1959 Chevy vs 2009 chevy [Mr_Shiftright]
Sep 21, 2009 (1:37 pm)
"I keep telling people that old cars are death traps when it comes to any kind of collision at speed, and that I would ALWAYS, without hesitation, rather take a hit in a 2009 car than anything built before the 1990s."
I agree. I've gotten some negative responses on some discussion boards when I try to tell somebody's daddy not to buy a 'neat 60's car' for their son or daughter's first car. Just a bad idea all the way around.
#9 of 45 Re: 1959 Chevy vs 2009 chevy [fintail]
Sep 21, 2009 (1:49 pm)
Did any American automaker perform crash tests back then?
Many years ago, I saw a film, "Small Car Crashes". In the film Impalas vs Vegas,
Galaxie 500 vs Pintos and a full size Plymouth vs Colt.
In all three headon crashes, the bigger car penetrated the passenger compartment of the smaller car. In the case of the Vega, its hood lifted up, went through the windshield and decapitated the two dummies in the front seat.
#10 of 45 Re: 1959 Chevy vs 2009 chevy [euphonium]
Sep 21, 2009 (2:24 pm)
Ha, I'd like to see that...guess I need to root through youtube and see if it is there.