To mark its 50th anniversary and to demonstrate the improved crashworthiness of vehicles since its inception, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently conducted a crash test between a 1959 Chevrolet Bel-Air and a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu.
In a real-world collision similar to the 40-mph frontal collision test, occupants of the new model would fare much better than in the vintage Chevy, IIHS says.
"It was night and day, the difference in occupant protection," says IIHS President Adrian Lund. “What this test shows is that automakers don’t build cars like they used to. They build them better."
The crash test was conducted at an event to celebrate the contributions of auto insurers to highway safety progress over 50 years. Beginning with the Institute’s 1959 founding, insurers have maintained the resolve, articulated in the 1950s, to "conduct, sponsor and encourage programs designed to aid in the conservation and preservation of life and property from the hazards of highway accidents,” IIHS says.
Watch the crash test video