statistically speaking...

one opinion. aint arguing i am right or wrong .. just sharing my experience with this topic.

as a former auto exec former with access to raw data on design, crash forces in the lab and studies of real world accidents... old vs. new cars .. the data say all things "equal" (meaning the speeds, vehicle sizes, crash conditions - hit a tree, vs went over a cliff, vs fender bender in the parking lot, etc., are comparable), the new car is "safer" to a demonstrated statistical certainty (e.g. really HIGH p-factors for the propeller heads here: P-value :))

forget the fancy stats part .. to me using common sense: air bags, ABS, seat belts, and all the design stuff you cant see but you know the new car has that the old one doesnt, the new car has safety advantages over the old one.

all of that is NOT the same thing as saying new cars are "safe" and old cars are not safe. driving -- the act of being behind the controls of these machines -- is the challenge for the "man and the machine" as it relates to safety.

Driving has an inherent danger factor .. the car builder does his/her best within constraints of cost (affordability), size, weight, operating conditions, unknown contingencies, technologies -- thats just the car then add the components (tires, glass, electronics, etc) needed to make driving as "safe" as it can be given its inherent danger (2 tons, going 80 mph or higher, in the snow, the dark, impaired operators, etc.)

oh and the laws of physics on this planet, compared to the tolerances the human body has vs. those laws shows we are pretty fragile vs. the actual and potential forces on us while driving.
A medical expert once opined that the sudden stop in motion, from say 50mph to naught in a split second, in the event of an accident, is a major cause of death. That is, our internal organs can't withstand the forces involved, regardless of safety features in our cars.
A medical expert once opined that the sudden stop in motion, from say 50mph to naught in a split second, in the event of an accident, is a major cause of death. That is, our internal organs can't withstand the forces involved, regardless of safety features in our cars.


take the "safest" 4000 lb 1940 car, 1970 car, and 2020 car. crash them at 100 mph into a wall, its not survivable 99.9999999999% of the time. Impact forces will fatally damage organs -- even if any restraint/design systems in the cars operated perfectly and even kept occupant in the car. body cant take the deceleration forces, let alone ejection-related impacts

dial down the speed under same conditions, to sudden impact force levels/g loads the body can withstand, the safety features in the 2020 car will (i forget the exact p factor but there are at least 4 nines after the decimal point) greatly improve survivability/injury reduction odds.

all things comparable, newer is "safer" -- and "watch out for that other guy" is still a good policy no matter what we are driving :)
The outcome would be a little different without that X-frame, not wildly different, but...

That '59 Chevy might as well have hit a tree. The X-frame which was under that car might have had good (for the time) torsional integrity, BUT nothing near what GM later used. Even on a '68 Buick, look for structure in front of the radiator! NONE!! A flimsy chrome bumper attached to two frame horns, NO real structure until you get to the cowl. Somewhat typical of GM designs until the middle '70s or so, by observation.

In the early '80s, I took a body order to a customer, for a '81 (or so) Olds Delta 88 2dr. That platform was GM's first to use computer analysis for design/structure. The young girl had seen a friend at the local Dairy Queen and turned into the parking lot, from the inside lane of a US highways in a more rural town. Only problem was that a high patrol trooper was in his state-issued patrol car. Whoops! When I got to the body shop, they had the full interior out of the car, primered metal everywhere. Which showed a very evident wrinkle in the floor pan from the rh cowl/door hinge area to the drive shaft tunnel, near the back of where the seat would normally be. I was shocked! Considering how many front end or rear end crashed I'd seen those cars survive very well, fixable with bolt-on parts.

I ended up taking back the rh door assy and hinges, as the metal they mounted to on the cowl had just been broken loose. Repositioning those panels, re-welding, put everything back where it needed to be. But that wrinkle across the rh floorpan/footwell area was troubling.

Over the next decade or so, the lack of lateral side-impact protection on that body series was graphically indicated, many times. But when the federal side impact standards were improved in the later '90s, GM cars became light years better in that respect, by observation.

There was one chain-reaction accident I saw one Friday night on "the main drag". A really nice '67 Nova had stopped for a car in front of it, but the '66 Fury behind it didn't. That particular Fury used to belong to our family's dentist, a normal Fury III 4-dr sedan. It has apparently been purchased by an owner that lived "outside of town", from the amount of accumulated dirt/mud that was knocked loose by the impact. The beautiful Nova (had been around town for many years, lovingly maintained by a few careful owners (it did have a 327HP factory engine in it). The quarters on the Nova were buckled a bit. The then-current owner was an amateur body builder. You could hear his anger and frustration in the sound of the short-handled sledge hammer as the impacts reverberated off of the buildings. The young girl in the Plymouth watched. The Plymouth didn't even have a bend in its grille, much less the bumper. No leaks, either.

A good body shop and a frame machine could probably have saved the Nova's factory sheet metal, but I suspect the car got parked somewhere, out of sight. Once the owner git the body away from the rear tires.

Every look under an Imperial? By comparison, those cars seemed to be as stout as any 1-ton pickup built when the particular model year of Imperial was built. In the middle '80s or so, a man left the DFW airport and headed west. Only problem was that an old across-the-freeway runway was still in place. The rh lane had to merge into the land to the left, as that particular lane ended at the "concrete wall" of the runway's support berm. A well-known situation/hazard. Apparently the driver/man had a medical issue as he didn't merge to the left . . . at probably about 50mph (considering time/distance/traffic patterns). The fuselage Imperial he was in hit the concrete wall head on. I happened by, on the other side of traffic before they had the car removed. The main thing was that the body was bowed, front to rear. Normal front end damage, it appeared, probably some wrinkles in the roof? But no broken glass. It didn't just crumple, only bowed with the rear bumper higher than normal.

I read later that the man died AT the hospital, from internal injuries (I believe). Air bags might have saved him? When they hauled the car off, all of its sheet metal was still attached, meaning that the Jaws of Life were not needed to get him out.

IT was funny that when Ford put some crumple zones into the front frame horns on their '69 Galaxies, they worked in energy absorption. So well that GM was quick to see how they did it. LOL

As for the "strength of UniBody", as Chrysler did it, an article in one of the Motor Trend "annuals" of new cars, about 1969 or so, mentioned that a UniBody-type car's body would need about 150% of the force needed to permanently deform a body/frame car. By observation, Chrysler did the best UniBody-type cars, outside of the '58-'66(?) Lincolns and T-birds, by observation. The Square Birds, as I found out years later, had enough "guts" that people would make convertibles out of coupes, with no body problems.

When we got out '66 Newport Town Sedan in late '66, I was impressed as all of the switches/knobs on the instrument panel were all recessed well under the edge of the padded dash. The '67s were not quite that good, but the '68s (I believe) added some lower padding to the panel.

As a side note, in the middle '70s I drove by a metro-area Chevy dealer. On their lawn was a '68 Chrysler T&C wagon. The dealership was hosting a "car bash" for charity. They had the Chrysler wagon and another non-GM car. The young college "studs" were seeking to wield that sledge hammer and show off. I saw one take a hit on the Chrysler's hood. He looked amazed as hot the hammer just bounced off, leaving a minor dent. I laughed and smiled! Later that afternoon, the Chrysler was still salvageable, but the other car didn't fare as well.

Years later, our Mopar club had a similar activity, but with a '75 Buick Electra. Didn't take long for that Buick to be complete decimated. ALL of the Sheetmetal was severely dimpled/smashed. Anybody that wanted to take out any of the glass, that was a "cheap shot". LOL

By observation, the '65-'68 Chrysler C-body cars were some of the most solid cars Chrysler had ever designed/built, period. Everything was either bolted solid or welded. Which was probably the reason they had more road noise than a similar GM or Ford "frame-isolated" product. If the dealer didn't order the factory undercoat, THEN the "tin can" reference might be operative. Buy those GM cars would be nice and quiet on smooth/solid roads, but on a gravel or dirt road, when the rocks would fly up and hit the un-undercoated bare metal of the floor pan, not the underdoated fender liners/wheel houses, then you realized what you were driving on really quickly.

As good with road noise attenuation as the "Torsion Quiet Ride" C-bodies were, they just didn't have the same "brick=like" feel of the '65-'68 C-bodies to me. Still FAR better than anything GM built, though, in strength, back then. Just like a friend's CHallenger T/A on a rough road (only heard suspension bushings flexing a bit) compared to my '77 Camaro "rattle trap", by comparison. As if GM never really knew how to build a good unit-body car!

Sorry for the length. Just my observations of many decades . . .
We've all seen the NHTSA videos of their off-set barrier crash tests. How that little import car will impact and wildly "bounce" away from the impact barrier. Looks impressive. BUT that also puts g-forces in multiple directions into the occupants' bodies! First the forward motion is stopped. Then the rearward and lateral motions of the vehicle are transferred into the occupants' bodies. Much different from a "wall" barrier crash where the car hits and doesn't react so violently.

I feel that until the NHTSA publishes force results for these crash tests, it might not be a full indication of survivability of the crash. It's one thing to have a deformed vehicle body, by design, which can relate to "start" in their ratings, BUT as we learned in the '80s with some circle track racing "events", spine elongation and how wildly the brain "sloshes around" inside the skull in these "events" can be an ultimate determiner of survivability of any car crash.

Certainly, the amount and area of "intrusion" due to crash forces can't be forgotten! But how effectively the forces are absorbed and dissipated can be equally important for a properly-restrained driver/occupant.

Lots of crash-research videos are on YouTube. Some amusing, some primitive, most informative! Going back into the 1920s, even.

Remember, it's much easier to "total" a Chevy than a Cadillac, relating more to the price of the vehicle rather than the amount of metal that would need to be replaced . . . back in the '80s and prior. I saw some Cadillacs that were repaired, when a similar Caprice would have been totaled. Pity those Cadillac owners (current and later)! BTAIM

Just some thoughts,
Thanks guys. Now i want to hang up the keys!

NO need for that! Just remember to "Watch the Other Driver" (updated from the '60s National Safety Council advertising) and anticipate what THEY might do that YOU'LL have to react to. Whether in front of or approaching from the rear.

EACH mode of transportation has its own unique safety issues. Always be aware of your surroundings, period.

At least when they were new, Chrysler Products had enough steering response/handling and brakes to allow the driver to respond to emergency situations easily. Even with the bias-ply tires of the time! Modern rubber should be much better!

Was it a rust cloud or dirt cloud? The people That were there could tell us.

I guess it depends where you live. Lots of farms and dirt roads around here. Especially 50-60 years ago. 300 days of sunshine.
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Was it a rust cloud or dirt cloud? The people That were there could tell us.

I guess it depends where you live. Lots of farms and dirt roads around here. Especially 50-60 years ago. 300 days of sunshine.

Could be dirt sure, but looks like rust to me. As stated though, the only people who would know for sure were there.

What leads me to believe rust is-

A. That car survived that long looking that good? That had to have been someone’s baby. With the short glimpses we get, I don’t think anyone was going down the back 40 with it. Somebody would have been pretty meticulous in taking care of that car for that long, and keeping it clean.

B. That car was a pig to start with, and they slapped a bunch of lipstick on it to make it look good.

C. Also as stated look at it pouring out of the rocker on the passenger side (again the paint behind the fender looks awe fully damn good and clean for how old it is.), as well as from behind the front bumper when it curls forward. Doesn’t seem like a spot a lot of dirt would would accumulate for a car that “clean” looking...
All that being said regarding the rust, the truth of the matter is that modern cars are generally way safer in many respects to the older ones.

I too believe that 59 was a painted rustbucket sacrificed for the video. Still, rusty or not, very compelling.
one last one from the peanut gallery.

I have witnessed dozens of crash tests. was not there for this, never seen an old car and a new car smacked into each other in lab crashes like this vid shows.

I have seen with my own eyes what I KNOW to be dust emerge from the collisions (cars undergoing durability trials in other parts of the country, then getting limited crash testing). after the "all clear in the chamber, you could tell it was dust (rub it between your fingers, smell it, etc).

the cars would get washed as part of the prep so camera obscuring was kept down, so surface dirt would be flushed away. dunno what they do now in crash test prep by my knowledge is good through 1992 - 2009

Capture 72.PNG

long story short .. i watched over and over, focused on this time section, and this car area, and watched the orange stuff billow out like it was being sprayed. the aerosol consistency looked like dirt to me. nothing came off the newer car.

same logic I could make the case that it was rust accumulated over 50 years but i dont know the construction of the rockers to say, let alone the history of the car but and it was coming from everywhere under the car (wheel wells, probably frame too, etc.). definitely places that can hide rust until high impact liberates it.

also places that get wet and dirty, then tend to stay dirty and get rusty absent some kinda resto to get it outta these nooks/crannies

I am back where I started .. I dunno but would bet on dirt as it looks like something I have seen before and knew without doubt it was dirt.

as an aside, the old car's "driver" woulda been seriously injured (impacts forces themselves and encounters with stuff in/on/from the car) or sadly worse. the new car "driver".. that impact set looked imminently survivable (air bag, dash stayed put, crush zone design obvious, etc.).

interesting thread .. i retire from it now :)
I had a woman pull out in a tiny tin can of a car in front of me a few years back & then stop dead almost immediately in front of me.
It took all my effort both feet on the brakes and a good amount of rubber skidding on the pavement to stop.
When I got a chance to get up beside here a few moments later, I told her that she needs to respect the rules of safe driving.
She got the message when I told her that her car was my crumple zone...
My neighbors son crashed into a tree at about 30mph in a brand new Holden calais with all the new safety features. he had no other injurys however he hit his head and died instantly. So the accident survival rate is so variable...
I once found a crash video done in the 1920s. The wood-reinforced body of the car pretty much turned into a pile of metal after it hit a brick wall, at about walking speed. The whole car turned itself into a pile of rubble on 4 wheels. It was driverless, I believe.

Watching the offset-impact barrier crashes of late-model F15-s is pretty scary. Especially how the front wheel is forced into the lh footwell area. LOTS of bend metal and plastic.

The first-gen energy absorbers seemed pretty good, but had lots of weight in that architecture. Replaced by a solid metal "impact bar" covered by the bumper cover, with molded Styrofoam between the two . . . which always seemed suspect to me as to just how much energy the Styrofoam would absorb before it shattered.

Vehicles up into the 80s always seemed pretty repairable for front-end collisions. Put it on the frame rack and pull/tweak as needed, then replace the sheet metal. Even for cars which needed two front fenders, hood, and other parts to fix them. Not sure about the newer stuff because I haven't been that involved in body parts over the past few decades.

Wonder what'd happen if a new Mustang crashed into a new F250 Super Duty? The bumper height mis-math could be deadly! Coming or going.

Just some thoughts,