In the 70s, American cars were suddenly choked with new safety and fuel economy standards that let many to bemoan the death of the full-size, ‘Murican automobile. Despite my borderline unhealthy obsession with Malaise land yachts, even I can concede that we’ve taken some good steps. We’re no longer at risk of impaling the windshield with our faces, for one.
This video is proof that the now-ubiquitous three-point seat belt was probably the greatest safety innovation since doors and a roof. Demonstrated here on a brown-tacular Oldsmobile, without the seat belt, most of the occupants’ bodies end up chemically melded with the dashboard and pillow-top seats, and what isn’t is filled with windshield glass and whatever else they used to put in American cars in the 70s. Asbestos, probably.
On the bright side, I now know that those ridiculously cushy velour seats actually had a practical purpose: when you flew backwards after pulverizing your nose on the glovebox lid, they cushioned your impact beautifully.
With the seat belt on, the occupants suffer no more than whiplash, or if the crash was especially severe, maybe a broken rib or something from the restraining force of the belt. Certainly better than having the trunk-lid badge permanently embossed on your spine.
Now, of course, we have an absolutely dizzying array of safety options available on modern cars; an entry-level Mercedes or Lexus can tell you when someone else is about to crash into you, when you’re about to crash into someone else, when you’re falling asleep, or when your passengers are being too obnoxious, and then an option appears activate the ejector seat. Ah, how far we’ve come.