How The U.S. Government Killed The Safest Car Ever Built

Read entire article here:

For a piece of American-built iron from the depths of the Carter administration, the 14 Minicar Research Safety Vehicles had a massive amount of technology. The fender and front fascia were plastic composites that could take a 10-mph smack unscathed. Under the plastic body of the most advanced version were run-flat tires, anti-lock brakes with crash-sensing radar and dual-stage airbags. The front seats were attached to the roof with a see-through plastic shield, so they wouldn't collapse in a rear-end collision.

Power came via four-cylinder engines pilfered from 1977 Honda Accords, mounted in a mid-rear layout driving the back wheels through a 5-speed automated manual transmission. Test drives scored about 32 miles to the gallon, but test crashes suggested passengers might walk away from most crashes up to 50 mph with minimal injuries. NHTSA officials claimed thousands of lives a year could be saved if Minicar tech became standard.

And of course it had gullwing doors. Don Friedman, who managed the project for Minicars, said the idea was simply to look as stylish as the concept being cast around the same time by John DeLorean."
Note: The site has videos - Lorne Greene featured. I guess the only way to know how safe the vehicle really would have been would come after it went into production and got out on the roads.

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