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Just Say No To The '59 Bel Air

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On: Fri, Sep 18, 2009 at 4:28PM | By: Nick Truden

Just Say No To The '59 Bel Air

Remember the lectures from grandparents you used to receive, or perhaps still do? They would begin by uttering the clichéd “back in my day!” introduction leading to a story that made whatever it was that you were going through seem like a walk in the park. Well, the following video of a 1959 Bel Air colliding with a 2009 Malibu is proof enough that if your parents, or your parent’s parents, were to get into a collision, chances were slim for anyone to make it out alive or with minimal injury.

At 40 miles per hour two cars become one in a hail of twisted metal, shattered glass, and plastic body parts. That is, at least, for the driver of the Bel Air. During the collision, produced by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, they demonstrate how far vehicle safety has advanced during the past 50 years. The ’59 Bel Air literally caved in on the dummy driver with the windshield coming dislodged, the driver door opening, and the front bench seat being torn from the floor.

Still think that classic car you’re cruising around in makes you look cool?

A majority of people still lean toward the idea that an older car built on a sturdier frame with high-strength steel makes for a safer ride, but that is just not the case. Those aspects give way to modern ingenuity in vehicle safety. The ’09 Malibu’s cabin stays intact throughout the entire crash, keeping the driver secure and well padded with better seatbelts and, of course, an airbag.

According to David Zuby, the senior vice president for the institute’s vehicle research center, throughout the tests of hundreds of cars he has never seen a car perform as badly as the Bel Air. The vehicle got a Poor rating in every category ranging from how well the vehicle held up to the likeliness of injuries to the driver’s head and the rest of the body. The ’09 Malibu received the highest rating of Good in every category except for the left leg and foot, which received Marginal.

Looks like grandpa has a better survival rate now in his golden years than he ever did.


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