As we approach the 52nd anniversary of Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed, which hit bookstores on November 30, 1965, and look back at our recent investigation into Nader’s safety concerns about the Corvair, a question came up in the Hagerty Forums that is ever-present in the classic car world: Do you feel safe in your classic car?
A story in the forum post recounts a friend stopping by in a brand new sedan and then driving to lunch in the author’s 1936 sedan. On the way home the driver noticed unease from his passenger, due to the lack of seatbelts or electronic driving aids. His friend went so far as to call the ’36 a “death car.” The author’s view: every car is dangerous in the wrong hands.
New cars are receiving safety features that are more and more advanced; some even predict a collision and act on behalf of the driver to prevent the impact. Our beloved classics span the whole spectrum of automotive safety, from a time when safety took a backseat to practicality and production cost, to more modern vehicles that still fall short of new-car safety standards. Given the continued progress in making automobiles safer, how does that impact how we use our classics on the road?
In terms of objective safety measures like crash tests, classics come up short compared to newer vehicles. But the essential debate is whether or not classic cars should still operate among the highly advanced modern automotive machines being built today. Some classic drivers focus on driving roads that they consider more classic-car friendly, avoiding interstates or congested roadways. Others focus on paying full attention to the road and recognizing the limits of their car’s capabilities.
We want to hear your take on the subject. Do you feel safe in your classic car? Join the conversation on the Hagerty Forums and tell your side of the story.