Long before seatbelts and airbags hit the scene, automakers had always at least given a nod to safety when rolling out new product. And we get it: Safety is important to consumers, who want at least a reasonable chance at surviving the trip from point A to point B, and also automakers, who realize that killing off customers in grisly crashes is bad for repeat business.
But it’s just not a very glamorous concept -- unlike speed, design, power, or even (dare we say) efficiency. So how did it come to be one of the main themes of the 1966 New York auto show?
Our crack archivist dug up coverage of the prior year’s show to figure out what was up. Turns out that, according to our coverage of the 1965 event, “A group of doctors made a midweek appearance at the show, picketing to protest ’the lack of attention to automotive safety, particularly where children are concerned.’”
The protest, while apparently “short-lived,” must have made an impression on show organizers -- as did Ralph Nader’s notorious “Unsafe at Any Speed,” which debuted just a few months before the ’66 show. The concerned doctors were there, if not with picket signs, then at least in spirit; hence, an OSI-built “safety car” that looks like a sad cross between a Porsche 914 and a second-gen Toyota Corona, plus the somewhat cleaner PF Sigma by Pininfarina, shared floor space with new BMWs and Opel concepts.
To prove that it had not totally capitulated to the buzzkills, the New York show also featured such delightfully unsafe vehicles as the Griffith, the Fiat Abarth OT 1300 and the Alfa Romeo Gran Sport Quattroruote Zagato, a largely forgotten limited-edition factory replicar that draped prewar lines over then-modern Giulia components. Plus, an AMC AMX concept car featured an unsafe-at-any-speed rear "ramble" seat that would give any well-meaning NHTSA bureaucrat nightmares. Fighting the good fight!
Check out our ’66 New York auto show coverage below.Competition Press & Autoweek -- April 23, 1966 New York auto show coverage(1.08 MB)Click here to download PDF
Graham Kozak - Graham Kozak drove a 1951 Packard 200 sedan in high school because he wanted something that would be easy to find in a parking lot. He thinks all the things they're doing with fuel injection and seatbelts these days are pretty nifty too.
Source : http://autoweek.com/article/car-life/throttle-back-thursday-safety-nannies-storm-1966-new-york-auto-show