14th Oct 2011, 17:04

I would like to see a logical explanation of how older cars (70's and 80's) were in any way, shape or form, faster, safer or more reliable than even a poorly built modern Japanese car. Our current 4-cylider midsized car is much faster, much safer and definitely far more reliable (in terms of required maintenance) than any of our 70's or 80's V-8 midisized or full-sized cars. Air bags and shoulder belts make impacts survivable that would have killed us instantly in our 70's V-8 Plymouth. Our 4-cylinder mid-sized car will downshift to 4th at 100 mph and peg the speedometer in 4th. Our 70's V-8 Ford wouldn't peg the speedometer going down the side of Mount Everest with a tail-wind. Our current GM has 100,000 miles without so much as a brake job or tune-up. Our 80's Ford V-8 required brakes and tune-ups before 80,000 miles.

16th Oct 2011, 23:14

Yes, but those Ford V8's from the 80's were far more easy to perform a tune up, especially in the F-series pick-ups. Try changing the plugs in an F-150 beyond the late 90's. If you are a do it yourselfer, I wouldn't recommend trying it, because it's a task that even a typical Ford mechanic at a dealership would dread to do.

18th Oct 2011, 07:00

You all can't be serious that modern cars are safer, can you? I used to drive a 1973 Cadillac Coupe DeVille back in the 1990s. Had I plowed it head-on into any modern car, the modern car would have been the 'crumple zone' and I would have walked away, assuming I was wearing my seat belt, which I always did and do.

I've often seen accidents like that back in the 1990s - a big 1970s piece of heavy duty steel would just plow right through a modern car, and the driver wouldn't even have to walk away - he could drive away. Usually the guy in the modern car was - if he was lucky - in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

18th Oct 2011, 10:33

You're lucky you didn't get into a head-on collision in your 73 Deville. As mentioned before, those old cars are not as ideally designed in comparison to today's modern cars when it comes to protecting the occupants. Perhaps they were safe for their time compared to other cars of that era, but technology has changed and improved drastically since then. A modern Cadillac is going to be a lot safer overall than a 40+ year old Cadillac, again because there have been a lot of improvements since then.

Sure - it might seem safer to be in a larger, seemingly heavier car. But what happens to the car is incidental. What happens to you is vastly more important. Like I said, I also own a "boat" of my own - a '55 Mercury, and it too is misleadingly big and heavy. If I got into a head-on collision with anything; well first of all I would probably ricochet like a rubber ball inside, hit the all-steel dash and solid steering wheel. Since the car has zero crumple zones, ALL of the impact would be transferred to inside the car. On top of that, my car (as well as a 73 Caddy) would likely suffer more serious structural damage, simply because unlike a modern car, the frames on those old cars simply sat on top of a frame using a couple of nuts and bolts. It was also not at all uncommon for older cars that got into head-on collisions to suffer from a sheared frame. Most sat on a sort of crude ladder frame. Unless the impact was completely absolutely head-on, the impact would hit one side of the frame or the other, pushing the one side back, causing the front of the frame to sheer.

There's more to deciding a car is safe just because it looks big. There's a lot of science that goes into designing modern car frames and safety features. Just because something "looks" safe, doesn't mean it "is" safe.

19th Oct 2011, 11:40

No, the Cadillac of the early to mid seventies was so heavy and massive it would simple plow through any modern car - even half the frame would do so. And it would be impossible for me to 'bounce around inside it' as I was always wearing a seat-belt. The passenger compartment was enormous and would have been uncompromised - the collision would have been taking place well over six feet away from me, with huge amounts of heavy steel in between.

Basically it is true that clever design can partially, but only partially, make up for a lack of mass in terms of safety, but there is no doubt that the mass is inherently much much safer.

20th Oct 2011, 08:57

Therein lies the crux. If mass is the decisive factor, then safety for car A means risk for car B. But over time, the cars on the road will be predominantly like car B. Now the people in both cars have a chance to survive, and that means safety has improved.

But if car A1 crashes with car A2, and neither one has clever design features, the passengers in both cars will be killed or severely injured.

Obviously, semi S will shred car B into scrap metal anytime. After such an encounter, car A may be recognizable, but the passengers will be 6 feet under just the same.

20th Oct 2011, 12:06

The above is a fair comment about the relative sizes - the period of the 1980s and 1990s, when the clever were driving $1,000 Cadillacs and Oldsmobiles for the nearly free motoring - was unique in the sense that we were driving something so much bigger than all the new plastic/cheapo cars, that we were actually safer than we would have been back in 1973, in the same car! It was as much the downsizing of the automotive fleet of the nation which made us so safe, as it was the inherent safety of our wonderful relics. In any case, they're virtually all gone now, so we really have very little choice - basically a 1990s or early 2000s Lincoln Town Car is the only clever choice which remains, and even they are getting thin on the ground.

20th Oct 2011, 13:19

Clearly the point I was making before wasn't understood. A car's size, age, and weight have nothing to do with its safety. The only argument I hear in this conversation is an assumption that a 40 year old car must "surely" be safer because it's larger and heavier. That doesn't mean it's safer. Size and weight do not compromise for improvements in structural engineering, safety equipment, and overall technological improvements. A modern car is hands-down going to be safer than any old car, plain and simple.

21st Oct 2011, 14:18

I know from real life experience that the old cars are safer.

I got t-boned by a drunk driver in a Subaru Impreza doing 50 mph; very fortunate I was driving an 80's Caprice.

My car had a slight dent on the lower rocker panels, but no one was injured in my car, and the car was good to drive still.

However the Subaru was a mangled heap of shredded plastic, and the passengers had to be airlifted to the hospital.

Thank god for the heavy steel doors and frame in my Chevy.

I would not be alive writing this right now.

I also lost a friend when his Accord got totalled. Wish he was driving another car, RIP :(.

I always feel safer driving a real, body on frame car or truck. No amount of "crumple zones" or airbags will change that for me, I have seen many accidents with newer compacts, and the cars are unrecognizable, with little to no chance of the passengers surviving. The roofs rip right off the car, as the metal is so thin and flimsy.