1973 Chevy with airbags... - Page 2

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Thread: 1973 Chevy with airbags...

  1. #16
    4.6 Liter Northstar V8 Caddyguy57's Avatar
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    Re: 1973 Chevy with airbags...

    I was there on Sat the 5th. Great event. Saw the Impala. Just sitting by itself off to the side not parked by anything else. I guess they did'nt want it to detract from all the Packards and Cord's and V-16 Caddy's.
    It was clean though...

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    2.4 Liter SIDI ECOTEC graycav56's Avatar
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    Re: 1973 Chevy with airbags...

    Quote Originally Posted by b4z View Post
    Those '71-76 full size GM cars were so big it was ridiculous. The Suburban of that era was actually shorter.
    we had a '71 Townsman station wagon and it was so wide that our brittany spaniel could actually squeeze between the seats and the doors.
    our next door neighbor had a Cadillac Fleetwood sedan that was even bigger. He had it in reverse one time and hit the gas instead of the brake and smashed into the front of our wagon. Caused $300 damage(in early '70s dollars) and no damage to his Caddy.
    War Story: My dad's Uncle Harry purchased a new DeVille every two years starting in the mid-50s. He had a 55, 57, 59, 61, 63, 65, 67 and 69. After he purchased the 69 he drove less and less, and did NOT buy a 71. I think his salesman had a heart attack when he told him the news.

    Shortly afterwards, Uncle Harry decided not to drive anymore and he gave the Caddy to my Dad, who really took great care of Uncle Harry and his wife in their declining years. Dad never had much as he spent all his money on his growing printing business and his family. A BelAir or Malibu was high style for Pop.

    However he was beaming with pride as this almost brand new dark green with black vinyl roof Sedan DeVille pulled into our driveway.

    He beamed that was, until he tried to pull that boat into our Model T era garage. I think several feet of fin stuck past where the door SHOULD have come down.

    Pop was stoic as he backed the car slowly from its intended home, and he told my Mom that he would return. Later that day, he came back with a brand new, loaded 74 Malibu Classic that easily fit in the allocated space. Dad's brush with luxury was short lived.

    My Dad was never an emotional guy, but I know that he equated owning a Cadillac with finally reaching "it". Somehow I think this tough WWII and Korea veteran had some water in the corner of his eyes as he drove, alone, to the Chevy dealer that day.

    Pop is gone many years now, but lives in me... forever.
    "31 Cars to Date...15 Chevys, 3 Pontiacs, 1 Saturn and a bunch of debris."

  4. #18
    6.2 Liter LS3 V8 skylark68's Avatar
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    Re: 1973 Chevy with airbags...

    Quote Originally Posted by graycav56 View Post
    War Story: My dad's Uncle Harry purchased a new DeVille every two years starting in the mid-50s. He had a 55, 57, 59, 61, 63, 65, 67 and 69. After he purchased the 69 he drove less and less, and did NOT buy a 71. I think his salesman had a heart attack when he told him the news.

    Shortly afterwards, Uncle Harry decided not to drive anymore and he gave the Caddy to my Dad, who really took great care of Uncle Harry and his wife in their declining years. Dad never had much as he spent all his money on his growing printing business and his family. A BelAir or Malibu was high style for Pop.

    However he was beaming with pride as this almost brand new dark green with black vinyl roof Sedan DeVille pulled into our driveway.

    He beamed that was, until he tried to pull that boat into our Model T era garage. I think several feet of fin stuck past where the door SHOULD have come down.

    Pop was stoic as he backed the car slowly from its intended home, and he told my Mom that he would return. Later that day, he came back with a brand new, loaded 74 Malibu Classic that easily fit in the allocated space. Dad's brush with luxury was short lived.

    My Dad was never an emotional guy, but I know that he equated owning a Cadillac with finally reaching "it". Somehow I think this tough WWII and Korea veteran had some water in the corner of his eyes as he drove, alone, to the Chevy dealer that day.

    Pop is gone many years now, but lives in me... forever.
    Nice story. Thanks for sharing. I imagine it was really tough to trade in the Cadillac, not just for the luxury, but the association of the car to the person that owned it.
    1968 Buick Skylark (Buick 350/4)
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    5.3 Liter Vortec V8 jzEllis's Avatar
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    Re: 1973 Chevy with airbags...

    Quote Originally Posted by b4z View Post
    Those '71-76 full size GM cars were so big it was ridiculous. The Suburban of that era was actually shorter.
    we had a '71 Townsman station wagon and it was so wide that our brittany spaniel could actually squeeze between the seats and the doors.
    our next door neighbor had a Cadillac Fleetwood sedan that was even bigger. He had it in reverse one time and hit the gas instead of the brake and smashed into the front of our wagon. Caused $300 damage(in early '70s dollars) and no damage to his Caddy.
    as a matter of fact those 1971-1976 was as big as every day cars ever got period, except for the odd fullsize Lincoln of the late 70s (well actually it just never downsized)

    as for the air bagged 73 Implala, i remember that episode of Top Gear when Clarkston put his head in his a$$ once again and said that! the first car that came to mind when the airbag question came up was the Impala. i could have sworn that they where producing them as early as 1971 though.

    one can also look at the dismal take rate for Airbags in the 70s as a reason why GM began to stop innovating. for the most part; from the optronic eye with it's auto dimming headlights, rain sensing wipers, and rain sensing convertable roof; the turbo aluminum F-85 Cutlass v8, the turbo flat 6 corvair (which beat Porche to the punch buy 10 years)...heck the rear engined corvair in the first place! and other GM first, most of GM's great automotive "innovations" were generally rejected buy the buying public and subseqently dropped. after a long track record of consumer rejection and ignorance, you almost can't blame them for being timid with the new ideas.

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    Re: 1973 Chevy with airbags...

    I remember Chrysler testing ABS on a 1971 Imperial, fuel injection was offered in the 50's on the Vette and Bonneville, the 1961 Tempest had an independant rear suspension on a compact sized car along with a novel slant 4 Trophy engine and mid mounted transmission, Buick and Olds had an all aluminum V8 in the 60's, Pontiac had a very powerful OHC straight 6 with near V8 power levels at that time and Buick offered an option called MaxTrax in it's full sized Electra models in the early 70's that was the predecessor to todays traction control.

  7. #21
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    Re: 1973 Chevy with airbags...

    I worked at Roger Penske's Chevy dealership in Southfield Michigan in '73
    and we serviced those cars. Impala 4 dr sedans as memory serves me. There were labels on the left door shell, in the glove box and possibly on the sunshade with a 24 hour collect call telephone number to contact if the car was in a accident. Eaton Research I think was the vendor.


    IIRC the dash panel looked like a '71-71 Oldsmobile as the radio was up and to the right of the steering column, unlike the Chevrolet which was lower and centered on the panel.

    We had one that came on the hook, front end collision, deployed the bags. One of the porters decided that he wanted a AM-FM radio, so he destroyed the dash to get it. Obviously he was looking for new employment quickly when management found out who took it. And Eaton wasn't very happy either.

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    Re: 1973 Chevy with airbags...

    Quote Originally Posted by mdliver1 View Post
    I thought that this was a great "whaddya know" article.
    *****

    What's this ’73 Chevrolet Impala doing at a classic car auction?

    At the Bonhams collector-car auction in Greenwich, Connecticut in early June, there were many highly regarded classic cars for which the well-heeled bidders might raise their paddles: a 1931 Chrysler Imperial LeBaron CG Sport Phaeton, a ’32 Cord convertible, a ’34 Bugatti Type 57, an early Maserati, a smattering of shapely Jaguars, several impressive Packards (including Clark Gable’s), an Auburn boattail Speedster, a selection of Rolls Royce cars (one of which had appeared in the motion picture “The Great Gatsby”), and a pea-green ’73 Chevy Impala.

    You might think that last one would more likely be found at a police impound auction rather than a “sale of collectors’ motorcars,” but this Impala had a rare option that, to its consignor at least, allowed it to hang with the automotive swells. That option? Factory air bags.

    In 1973, air bags—or “air cushion restraints,” in GM parlance—were fitted to about 1000 Impala fleet cars as a real-world test of their effectiveness. The air bags were rather sophisticated, two-stage units, and they covered all three front seating positions. By all accounts, these early passive restraints worked well, and the option became available on full-size Oldsmobiles, Buicks, and Cadillacs. But the take rate was abysmal, and the option soon was dropped.

    The Impala was offered for sale by one Byron Bloch, who works as an automotive safety expert, testifying for plaintiff’s lawyers in personal injury lawsuits. It was represented as being perhaps the earliest surviving air-bag-equipped automobile, and was offered with a set of spare air bag components and period sales materials. Bonham’s pre-auction estimate was $70,000 to $90,000 (at least 20 times the price of a ’73 Impala without the $235 air bag option), but that proved optimistic. The bidders at Greenwich judged the “air bag Impala” to be not quite the classic its seller thought it was, and the car failed to meet its reserve.

    Picture of car and article at the following URL:
    [http://blogs.automobilemag.com/65216...on/index.html]
    Very interesting. Here's another link.

    http://www.vimeo.com/1553230

  9. #23
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    Re: 1973 Chevy with airbags...

    My question would be, why didn't GM use Cadillac as the forefront of innovations? Perhaps, people looking to buy a Chevy were not interested in spending big bucks on unproven and almost unheard of safety technology. Whereas, a perspective Cadillac buyer would have the funds and not be as against spending it on something very new.

    Most automobile manufacturers showcase their newest, cutting edge, most expensive technologies on their most expensive cars FIRST. That way, they have a better chance at recouping the investment and costs, and it also gives them a platform to showcase the technologies more prominently, and it serves as a better gauge as to whether it will be vested for the consumer or not.

    Cars equivalent to today's Kias would have never had power windows or a CD player 20 years ago, but today they are standard across the board. Same goes for ABS and yes, airbags...... do you know WHY Mercedes is generally and incorrectly thought to be the airbag innovators? Because they were the first to make them standard, but only on the late 1970's S-Class, their most expensive linuep. An airbag in a Mercedes made people go "oooohhh" and "aaaahhhhh"...... an airbag in an Impala didn't.

    Plus, Mercedes was indeed the first to develop a complete safety testing facility with crash test dummies, and that was even before the airbag.

    If GM had developed safety testing in the late 1960's, and used usefull information derrived from those tests into actual, practical engineering applications on their cars, GM might be considered the global safety innovator of cars, and they might have had dual airbags in all of their cars by the early 1980's, beating Mercedes to the punch.

    But, that didn't happen, so as much as the fact remains that GM was the first to offer airbags in any car, they are not seen as that by the public.

  10. #24
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    Re: 1973 Chevy with airbags...

    I think the Chevys were used as they were the cheapest car that GM built in that time frame. It was just a "mule" to use and abuse. Disposable so to speak. And if it worked as designed, it would be further designed and refined.

    Now why a Olds dash? Perhaps it oringinally was designed for Olds, but the higher cost of a Delta made it a better fit for a Impala. And the basic body shells were alike, just different sheet metal.

    The first GM cars to use the air bags were on Buick and Oldsmobiles. 1975 IIRC. And with Cadillac, GM at the time was probably reluctant to use unproven technology and alienate the conservative base that would purchase that product. Unfortunately that philosophy didn't hold true later.

  11. #25
    2.4 Liter SIDI ECOTEC Byron's Avatar
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    Re: 1973 Chevy with airbags...

    I remember while working at the old Fisher Body #1 plant in Flint michigan in the early 70's painting the weld fixtures and equipment on the Air Bag line. The line was there for a short period of time and then as I recall it was shipped out to another factory. We all joked about it at the time and thought it would never work or sell to the auto buyers. I wonder where the rest of those early Air bag cars are hiding or at least the ones that are'nt scrap metal coming back to us as a junk products from China.

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    Re: 1973 Chevy with airbags...

    I had a teacher that owned a 75 Delta 88 with airbags. Those cars were so big that you didn't need them.

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    Re: 1973 Chevy with airbags...

    Anyone have any pics of the steering wheel or dashboard for these models?

  14. #28
    b4z
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    Re: 1973 Chevy with airbags...

    I doubt that there are more than a handful left. Impalas were rustbuckets.
    The rocker panels turned under so much on all of the GM fullsizers from '71-76 that many would have perforated panels after just 2 years.
    That and the fact that GM decided 1 year('72?) not to primer the cars first........

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    4.4 Liter Supercharged Northstar rsbaker's Avatar
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    Re: 1973 Chevy with airbags...

    Here a photo of a 1974 Buick from the era with the Airbag Option:



    Here's an Oldsmobile 98 with airbags in a crash test.



    Here's A Cadillac Brochure advertaising "Air Cushion Restraint"....Available ONLY from General Motors. Of course!!!

    Last edited by rsbaker; 06-17-2009 at 06:14 PM.

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    Re: 1973 Chevy with airbags...

    Found this after a quick Google serach . . .

    About 11,000 GM cars in the 1973-76 era did in fact have airbags (as a $235 option) for the driver and front seat passengers, and they've performed extremely well in actual accidents over the years. The 1973 Chevrolet Impala sedan shown here was one of GM's original fleet of airbag production cars... all of which were equipped in 1973 with airbags for the driver and both front passengers. The passenger airbag inflated "softer" in crashes from 12-to-18 MPH, and inflated "firmer" in crashes above 18 MPH, in order to reduce the airbag inflation hazard to small children who might be on the front seat.


    LINK

    I guess you can learn something new every day. . . .
    Last edited by Simon says; 06-17-2009 at 02:33 PM.

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