• Sep 17th 2009 at 7:59PM
  • 84
2009 Chevy Malibu versus 1959 Chevy Bel Air - Click above to watch the video after the break

They just don't build 'em like they used to. While that old saying is constantly bandied about in regards to modern-day cars and trucks, it's once again worth saying and was the first thing that popped into our heads after watching the video pasted after the break.

You see, most of the time, we like to think of our old automobiles as tank-like hunks of metal with full frames and acres of dead space in front of the driver and the massive chrome front bumper. While that may often be the case, all those thick bits of steel don't automatically equal safety. This point is driven home by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which decided to celebrate its 50th anniversary by crash testing a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air into a 2009 Chevy Malibu. The results were eye-opening. Says the IIHS of the Bel Air's performance:
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.... 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.
Ouch.... an instant death according to the IIHS. And the '09 Malibu? "A high acceleration was recorded on the left foot, indicating that foot injuries would be possible." Well now, as much as we like our left foot (perfect for operating the clutch, ya know), we'd rather take our chances in the new car, thank you very much. Click past the break to watch the video in all its car-crushing glory, and take a moment to mourn the passing of what used to be a rather nice '59 Bel Air.

[Source: YouTube]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      They still build em' like we used to.. in China.
        • 5 Years Ago
        At a fraction of the cost, unfortunately.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This comment deserves four stars.
      • 5 Years Ago
      And yet, they keep dropping speed limits all around me.
      • 5 Years Ago
      But man, being crushed to death in a '59 Bel Air, what a way to go!
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Celebrating 50 years of smashing cars together." as they pat themselves on the back.

      Sorry, I'd rather celebrate the people that REALLY did the work, the engineers that designed the new cars.

      How hard is it to smash 2 cars together to justify raising your insurance rates?

        • 5 Years Ago
        You're quite correct in calling out the real heroes in the Malibu's performance: GM's engineers.

        But honestly, why do you think GM hired them to do that? Let me inform those of you too young to remember, as well as remind those old enough who might have forgotten: the IIHS's sister group, the Highway Loss Data Institute, releases data on what cars do best in real-world crashes. GM cars used to rule those charts and GM would buy full-page ads trumpeting that. They'd say it wasn't just their cars, but who drove them and where. GM claimed leadership in crash testing and engineering, such as in their collasping steering columns, and the real-world results bore out those claims.

        Furthermore, IIHS's crash tests have put an onus on GM's engineers to fix embarassing results. I've already called out the Seville. Also, there was the case of GM's FWD minivans. The first Trans Sport folded like an accordian. After that was shown to the public, only then did GM's engineers do their magic and when the Uplander went against the barrier it was a completely different story, so I'd say the IIHS certainly deserves a whole heap of credit for getting GM and other companies to let their engineers do their job the right way.
      • 5 Years Ago
      They don't built'em any more...with such beautiful looks.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I've watched the video over and over and there is no way there was an engine in the Bel Air. Mythbusters have crashed junker cars straight into snowplows to see if they can split them in half and they came away with less damage than this Bel Air.

      I want to see photos of the car before and after. If there was an engine in the Bel Air and there was that kind of damage to the front end, the engine would either be under the car or sitting in the front seat. If the engine blew apart there would be a lot more debris flying around.

      The windshields of most classic cars were designed to pop out in the event of a collision so that isn't something negative.

      Sorry but I've seen classic cars that have collided with modern cars and every time the modern car has taken the worst of the crash. My brother drove a 53 Packard as his first car in the '90s and hit a Toyota Camry that pulled out of a parking lot onto the street in front of him.

      The Packard ripped the entire front off the Camry. The Packard needed a new fender, right headlight and new bumpers but didn't fold like an accordion like this Bel Air did. I also don't see an air cleaner flying off the Bel Air in the video either.

      I'm not saying that I would like to get in a front end collision in any car but I doubt this video is 100% legit the way it says it is.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I was watching the video and thinking the SAME EXACT THING! and then I wondered if anyone had been paying attention to that. There is NO WAY the Bel Air had an engine in it. Thats like taking an empty soda can and a full unopened soda can smashing them together and seeing which one gets crushed more. This video is just a marketing ploy.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Now can we have crash test between the 1st gen Ford trucks with the Latest Ford truck and see who is tougher? HAHAHA
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't think I can watch this.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Steel is a combination of materials (an alloy), so the term refers to many different types of materials with different properties.
      Same with plastic, or ceramic, or glass, or just about anything.
      The Malibu is likely miles apart from whatever the Bel Air is made of. Heck, one will rust and the other won't, at least for awhile.

      1:00 you can see the dummy's head flying out from someplace.
      Joe Gomez
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yes and thank You Daimler Benz Engineers for all the Safety firsts and letting American Car Companies copy you designs
      • 5 Years Ago
      To Dumbo:
      "Freedom of speech doesn't include bald-face lies" I'm assuming you meant BOLD FACED LIES.

      -As I stated in my answer to the previous question; IIHS is a private company and therefore open to lawsuits...big lawsuits. So even though IIHS is progressive agenda driven; they spend all their time tactically avoiding lawsuits from large corporations like GM who have most formidable legal counsel. They must be selective of targets.

      -Here's the answer to your question in a nutshell; any medium depicting a GM product (or any other product) must make sure it is free from any possible defamation IF a lawsuit is to be avoided. THEY ARE LEGALLY OBLIGATED. Not because the police officer down the street will give them a ticket for infraction of a law- but because they will end up in legal proceedings.

      OK You asked to know is there a written law for it? The reason why THERE IS NO specific law because it all falls under Tort. There is no law stopping you from hitting Brenda... in the eye...with a baseball. So are you allowed to hit Brenda... in the eye... with a baseball?

      -the statement "LET'S SEE A LINK TO THAT LAW, MISTER" unfortunately can't apply. So will you hit Brenda in the eye with a baseball? Why not? ...but what if you really DON'T KNOW what will happen next? Let's say it is your culture to say hello by hitting Brenda in the eye with a baseball. If Brenda forgives you and loves you, but still sues you for her medical bills; you are LEGALLY OBLIGATED to answer the charges against you in court.

      I hope this clears up any confusion Oh, and I did find a link on Wikipedia about it:
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's amazing and kind of sad how derisive many of these comments are. Instead of celebrating what amounts to world-changing American ingenuity, you naysayers would rather go off about the price of insurance, or the conspiracy behind the video, or who knows what else. But I guess your "right to bitch" is enshrined in the Constitution. Look at this video for what it is: the summation of 50 years of robust technology, politics, and business. Consider yourselves lucky that in this country, the people can insist on better, safer products, and the government and private industry can make it happen because we have a free market economy. You want cheap insurance, or the attitude of "nobody tells me to wear a damn seatbelt"? This liberal will advise you to go live in Russia or China -- ironically, libertarians can rest assured that those in charge over there don't particularly care whether you live or die in a car crash. Just don't insult the government! Meanwhile, the rest of us are quite happy that they really don't make 'em like they used to. I mean, who wants to get killed while driving anything, whether it's a new Malibu or a '59 Bel Air?
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