Safety Through Seat Belts
Now, I’m not going to harp on you about how unsafe driving around in old cars can be, or tell you to install airbags or a roll bar in your roadster… That would be completely hypocritical. We all know very well that there is a bit of risk and definite possibility of injury every time we take a flimsy tin can out on the open road. Up until the late 60s, the American automobile manufacturers resisted installing seat belts, padded dashes and shock-absorbing bumpers on their cars for a bizarre reason (besides the added cost)- They worried that installing safety items would imply to the car-buying public that their automobiles weren’t safe. The reasoning was that installing a lap belt meant they car companies knew you might smack your face on the dash in collision. Ford quietly offered front lap belts as an option staring in 1955, and Chevrolet didn’t bother installing them until 1964 when the writing was on the wall.
Below is a late 50s safety video by U.C. California about seat belts including a crash test to show how simply restraining the occupant in place great reduces the chance of injury or dead. WARNING- There are a few semi-graphic pictures from accidents. Creepy crash test dummies too!
By law you don’t technically have to have seat belts on a car that wasn’t equipped with them (pre-1966), but why wouldn’t you? It’s first thing I purchase for any old car I’m working on.