• May 28, 2009
GM 1968 Crash Test Footage: Click above to view the video after the jump

Back in the Sixties, cars were huge. Some equated the size of their boats-on-wheels with safety, and even if their vehicle actually had seat belts, many didn't bother to use them. Fast forward to today, and we have three-point safety belts for all occupants, crumple zones, and air bags in just about every location possible. Yet some vehicles still only manage to score poorly in IIHS testing.

Beyond the jump is a video that proves just how safe cars are today when compared to some of their counterparts in 1968 (oddly, some of the footage looks older). The video is actually archival footage of some of General Motors' 1968 crash testing procedures. They didn't use cement barriers back then; just two cars hitting one another in every way imaginable. Watch in horror as cars and crash test dummies get mutilated in the name of science and safety. The poor dummies in this video rarely remain in the car post-crash, and one even looks like it got run over by the other car. Metal folds like cardboard, glass flies in slow motion, and one rear-ended vehicle burst into flames. It's amazing that anyone survived crashes 40 years ago. The video is definitely worth your time – especially if you're into carnage and dummy gore.

[Source: Web Rides TV]



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  • 61 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Newer cars get "totaled" because they're designed to sacrifice themselves with crumple zones to absorb the energy so your head doesn't absorb it with the windshield. Of course they thus look like total crap after getting into accidents, but all in all I'd rather it be my car than my face, lol.

      Of course in two modern cars the larger one would still have an advantage in an accident, but regardless things have come a long way since those days. Then again idiots still insist on not bothering to wear their seatbelts, which manages to negate most of these advances in safety since crumple zones are a lot less effective if your body isn't actually in the car anymore, or you just flew from the rear seat into the front windshield/the driver/etc.

      On another note, back in the days when this was filmed you didn't have to worry quite as much about having to spend the rest of your life as a quadriplegic...because there was a pretty good chance you'd just be dead.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Keep in mind that though these cars look hideously unsafe they were fabulously safer that what was available forty years before in the 1920s. It's a continuum but we may be getting near the point of diminishing returns regarding crashability. Vast engineering effort and great heaps of cash will be needed to make. vehicles only a few percent safer than they are now. I doubt that in another 40 years the differences in vehicle safety will as starkly apparent as in the old videos.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'm going to have to completely disagree with you here. Compared with a car from even 20 years ago, today's vehicles are vastly safer. Consider the addition of front and side airbags, more advanced crumple zones and safety cages, active head restraints, anti-lock brakes and traction control among other things.

        Here's a good example of how far we've come in the last few years:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3ygYUYia9I
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't think cars can be improved another order of magnitude in physical safety, but we're just starting to see technological advances like blind spot warning and automated braking systems that will probably make crashes much less frequent and hopefully less severe 40 years from now.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm actually quite impressed by how well the front/rear crumple zones worked in these cars. For the most part the passenger compartments are well maintained. What is severely lacking is the passenger restraints and side-impact protection. Everything from seatbelts, to door latches to seat rigidity, to seat anchors and head rests are hugely inadequate when compared to today’s cars. As for fire, keep in mind that even to this day a large percentage of vehicle fatalities result from post-crash fires.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Aren't those two black Fords crashing into each other at the beginning and the last two towards the end? Those hub caps are definitely a Ford design.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah, they are either 67 or 68 Ford Sedans. The green cars were Plymouths 63 &64's and the black cars with the fins are 1960 Plymouths.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Watermarked video? Available for free at gettyimages.com? Looks like somebody didn't read the terms of use on that footage...
      • 5 Years Ago
      those crashes are brutal, still brutal today also.

      From the CDC—In 2006, motor-vehicle traffic-related injuries resulted in 43,664 deaths, accounting for 24.4 percent of all injury deaths.

      until we remove the single factor that causes deaths and collisions from the "automobile"- every advancement is simply a band-aid. we'll continue to drive faster , swerve in and out of traffic, and crash and kill ourselves & others.

      until the steering wheel is removed from the car. no advancement will diminish those numbers. I dont know why the propeller heads haven't figured that out yet.

      there's a reason we dont crash very often on roller coasters.

        • 5 Years Ago
        David: there's evidence to show that the more safety features you add, the more reckless people will drive. So that really *does* show by how much the safety features work.

        People were told to drive as fast as they felt safe, first with, then without a seatbelt. The speedo was covered. People consistent drove about 10-15% slower without a seatbelt.

        Also, traffic speed was measured on a tree-lined road before and after the trees were cut down and uprooted, purportedly to improve traffic safety. Not only did speeds rise, but frequency of accidents rose too.

        This was sometime in the mid to late 80s on British TV, quoting peer-reviewed studies. (Might even have been Top Gear, or in the early 90s.)

        So yeah, I agree with you, but exponentially so.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow. That's a powerful statement. Doors that come off, dummies that fall out, dummies that get dragged by wheels, hoods that flip off, and engines that catch fire on impact? Even the Brilliance BS6 and Jiangling (not sure of that spelling) Landwind are far finer vehicles than the landwhales of the 1960s.
      I totally agree with the person who linked the video of the new Renault Modus vs. the old Volvo 940; in fact, I just rewatched that video after reading the article.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I was looking at this video and something struck me (no pun intended). There are no GM cars in this footage. The cars are mostly Plymouths and some Fords. I also noticed the "camera wagon" was a Plymouth. I saw a show a few years back about UCLA doing crash testing on their own in the early 60's. They used ex-cop cars from the CHP. I noticed UCLA lettering on the doors, also the Plymouth coupes in the first part would have been already 8 years old by 1968. I can't remember the title of that show,but I think it was on the History channel.
      • 5 Years Ago
      In all these crashes, the blue dummy always seem to come out worst. Being thrown out of the car, mashed against the other car, run over by his own car. That guy couldn't get a break.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It is interesting to see that GM wanted to smash up Plymouth's and Ford's but not their own. As bad as these cars did was GM studying them to see how to improve their cars performance?!
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think this is just a compilation of crash test videos and the whole video doesn't pertain to just one automaker. The video does prove the point, though, that we have come along way in safety.

        A side note: one of the dummies nearly got run over by his own car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If you look at some of the footage here, you see "UCLA-ITTE" on a number of the cars being crashed, which would seem to suggest that these crash tests might have been conducted by someone besides the automakers themselves.
      • 5 Years Ago
      There are *tons* of classic crash test videos posted on YouTube; one I'm thinking of shows a '61 full-size Chevy hitting a non-breakaway steel light pole, that goes all the way through to the passenger compartment, and basically collapses the whole car. They don't build 'em like they used to? Thank goodness.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow, total death traps, good thing all the wanna be gangsters drive in them, cause they all going to die in car accidents.
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