By on February 27, 2016

Ralph Nader, Black and White, Image: Sage Ross/Flickr

The author of the most famous — and controversial — book ever penned about the automotive industry turns 82 today.

Automobile safety crusader Ralph Nader probably wouldn’t have made it to this ripe old age if the industry hadn’t made design changes and undergone cultural reforms in the wake of his scathing 1965 publication “Unsafe at Any Speed.”

That book, which laid bare design flaws and the general lack of regard for safety during the then-Big Three’s heyday, ultimately sunk the innovative ‘swing axle’ Chevrolet Corvair — or as Nader called it, “The One-Car Accident.”

Chevrolet Corvair print ad

His book critiqued both interior and exterior design, industry cost cutting, and a myriad of other issues, but his pointed words turned the rear-engine Corvair, which bowed in 1960 as a car that did everything differently, into a rolling pariah. Sales plummeted after the release of the book, despite design changes that eliminated the cause of those early rollover crashes.

The Corvair was cancelled in 1969, but the car-buying public now knew the value of anti-roll bars thanks to Nader.

The notoriety that “Unsafe at Any Speed” heaped on Nader was intense. He was forced to sue General Motors after the company sent investigators to spy on him in a bid to gather reputation-destroying dirt.

Stubborn and dogged as he was — and remains to this day — Nader took his case before Congress. His concerns were integrated into the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, which passed in 1966.

Today, many younger people only remember Nader as the guy whose third-party candidacy tipped the balance in the 2000 U.S. election, though many of them wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for the safety reforms he championed.

[Image: Sage Ross/Flickr]

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141 Comments on “Ralph Nader: Unsafe at Any Age...”


  • avatar

    It must be noted that GM had decided in April 1965 to cancel Corvair, letting it perish on the vine, so to speak.

    Poor fall 1959 sales, relative to the Ford Falcon, drove GM’s decision to develop an alternative, conventional compact…the Chevy II.

    So Corvair became an outlier almost from the start. The sporty Monza package, introduced at the end of the 1960 model year, gave Corvair a new direction, and became the spark from which Ford developed the Mustang. But the bump in sales, while enough for GM to do a redesign for the 1965 MY, wasn’t enough for them to continue developing the line.

    “Unsafe At Any Speed” was merely another nail in Corvair’s coffin.

    The inherent dangers of the single-swinging rear axle were exacerbated by a number of last-minute cost-cutting decisions, like switching to cast-iron heads which added 78 lbs to the rear end.

    Aaron Severson wrote an OUTSTANDING Corvair history here.
    http://ateupwithmotor.com/model-histories/chevrolet-corvair-history/

    He correctly notes the car launched Nader’s career…but his book didn’t kill the car. That ship had already sailed.

    “Six degrees” side effect of poor Corvair sales, which resulted, as noted above, in the Chevy II: ChryCo president William Newberg, overhearing and misinterpreting a conversation about Chevy II…

    http://ateupwithmotor.com/model-histories/chrysler-downsizing-disaster-1962/

    • 0 avatar
      Ko1

      I own two Corvairs, a ’65 Corsa convertible and a ’66 Monza coupe. I can assure you the cylinder heads are aluminum.

      If anything, the release of “Unsafe” forced GM to continue building the Corvair despite falling sales. To kill it at that point would make it look like they were caving in to Nader and admitting there was a problem. They made 237,056 cars in 1965, 103,743 in 1966, 27,253 in 1967 (but remember that the Camaro was out now so who wanted a Corvair? Especially with the top level Corsa gone.), 15,399 in 1968 and just 6,000 cars in 1969.

      A bit of trivia is that the last two cars off the line were never registered, anywhere, ever. There’s theories that GM either has them hidden away somewhere or they sent them straight to the crusher.

      What REALLY killed the Corvair is that you can’t put a bigger, more powerful engine in it without changing to a mid-engine design (Crown conversion, etc.) and losing the back seat area. GM engineers did try using a rear mounted aluminum Buick V8 and an aluminum version of the 283 but both were deemed too heavy.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        the Chevy II (Nova) killed the Corvair. it was a more conventional car of similar size, and buyers preferred the familiarity.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          My first car was a Chevy II Nova and in many ways I hated it simply because it was so ‘ordinary’. But then, that little inline 6 under the hood was virtually unkillable, if you didn’t overheat it and crack the block. Mine had a cracked block when I bought it and had to buy a new engine block that cost as much as what I paid for the car.

          But then, _I_ didn’t buy the car, my father did, using MY money. I wanted a ’59 Impala for sale at a local used-car lot instead.

      • 0 avatar
        runs_on_h8raide

        “What REALLY killed the Corvair is that you can’t put a bigger, more powerful engine in it without changing to a mid-engine design (Crown conversion, etc.) and losing the back seat area.”

        Interesting. There’s a car company out of Stuttgart that didn’t seem to have this problem. Maybe they just have a better sense of humor?

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          “Interesting. There’s a car company out of Stuttgart that didn’t seem to have this problem. Maybe they just have a better sense of humor?”

          Well, true, but then again, Porsche never sold 200,000 911s a year, and the people who did buy them tended to be enthusiasts who respected the car’s unique handling traits.

          Folks who bought Corvairs were used to driving front engine / rear drive cars, and if you drive a rear-engine car quickly using the same technique you’d use on a conventional car, you’ll find yourself in trouble very quickly.

          Same phenomenon happens today – the average car has FWD, and if you drive one hard, it’ll just plow its way through corners. You use the throttle to pull it through. Use the same technique in some high-powered RWD V8 car, like a Corvette or Mustang, and without the nanny systems you’ll end up sideways VERY quickly.

          • 0 avatar
            Victor

            Also Porsche has been moving the engine towards the center of the chassis generation after generation since the 996.

          • 0 avatar
            Ol Shel

            You don’t ‘use throttle to pull it through” the corners in an understeering FWD car, you get off the throttle to transfer weight forward. Adding throttle only increases understeer in a production FWD model.

            Only when you’re in severe oversteer (likely only in a race-tuned FWD) would you be using power to reduce your slide.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            You’re half right, Ol Shel. You use enough brake to shift the balance forward and feather the gas to keep it pulling. Front-wheel-drive cars have been known to out-maneuver RWD in races because they are able to start accelerating much earlier through curves. It’s all in the skill of the driver, who admittedly isn’t always as skilled as they want to believe.

      • 0 avatar

        From what I’ve been able to find out, the Buick 215 V8 and Corvair engine both weigh right around 300 lbs, so if they rejected that for the Corvair, it wasn’t due to weight. If they used a water-cooled V8, they would have had to add a radiator somewhere, significantly reengineering the front end. The aluminum Buick V8 had a short production life at GM (it stayed in production at Rover into the 21st century) for a few reasons. Early production castings had a very high reject rate, it was relatively expensive to make and the technology for casting thin wall iron blocks was improved to the point of practicality

    • 0 avatar

      I just visited ateupwithmotor.com, and I will vouch for the fact that it is a terrific site.

      I often photograph classic cars, and many years ago (somewhere in the mid-latter ’90s) I shot a second generation Corvair with a license plate that said BUM RAP.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      Yup, the Corvair was launched down a dead end.

      The story of the Corvair starts with the success of the VW Beetle in the US market during the 1950s. At first car execs dismissed the popularity of the VW as a flash in the pan. They assumed that the VW was being bought by people who were poor, or stupid, or communists, or all of above. By the late 50s it became clear that the Beetle had tapped into market niche that US car companies were not exploiting. Ford’s response was to conduct a careful study of new VW buyers. What they found out was astonishing to Ford execs. The buyers of a new Beetles, on average were better off financially than the average new American car buyer. In addition, new VW buyers were better educated than the average new US car buyer.

      The study also asked VW owners why they bought their Beetles. Common answers were: Easy to drive and park. Reliable. Cheap to maintain and repair. Good on gas, etc. Ford decided to design a car that had the same attributes as the Beetle, not copy the Beetle mechanically. The car Ford designed was the Falcon.

      The Falcon utilized a conventional American car layout. Front mounted, liquid-cooled engine. Rear wheel drive, etc. Many of the bits used in the Falcon were common to other Fords. The car did not require any special assembly lines or training of dealer techs. When the Falcon went on sale, it was the best selling new design in US auto history, only to be outdone by the 65 Mustang, itself a Falcon derivative.

      Over at GM, arrogance was the order of the day. GM didn’t need no stinkin’ surveys. They winged it. They built the Murican version of the VW….mother of Beetle. What they ended up with was a car that was unlike any other built by GM, it shared almost no other components with existing GM models. Dealers needed special tools and training to service the car. Costs began to skyrocket. In desperation GM tried cut corners wherever it could. One of the places they cheaped-out was on the rear suspension. Maybe it would have made no diff on an enthusiasts car, but on a family car it was murder.

      It wasn’t Ralph who offed the Corvair, it was GM management. Sound familiar?

      • 0 avatar

        The first person I knew with a Beetle was a parental friend who was a Harvard economics professor. The common American cars in my neighborhood growing up, which was full of well-educated people, were the unusually reliable Valiants and Darts. I don’t remember any Falcons, except for a beater that my father got from his engine rebuilder friend after the Chevy II got totaled, when he just wanted a car for the next 9 months or so, until we went away on sabbatical. (There was an unusually high concentration of Peugeots as well.)

    • 0 avatar

      Considering all of the academically lightweight stuff that goes on at today’s universities, it’s a shame that Aaron Severson doesn’t have a faculty position at a college doing automotive history. I consider anything Aaron writes to be reliable – particularly because he’ll revise earlier published work if his later research demands it. I think that I do a pretty decent job but Ate Up With Motor is the gold standard for online automotive history.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Because the job prospects of automotive history majors are so overwhelmingly lucrative?

      • 0 avatar
        jimbob457

        I am serious about one thing on this subject. Driving along the interstate, you couldn’t keep the damn thing out of the neighboring field to save your life. It just happened too fast.

        Time has shown the problem was tire pressure plus adding an additional piece to the undercarriage. Nader just exposed a problem that put my college roommate into a field four different times. You can’t sell ‘unsafe at any speed’ once the word gets out.

        How GM executives covered their collective asses is interesting but unimportant.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Nice swipe, Ronnie….I’ll be sure to add that to my wall of things people say that I don’t care about. :)

        There are really two reasons: Automotive History writers tend to come from the journalist community and they tend to be considered ‘hobby historians’ which is a polite term for people who write history about pop culture.

        The second and bigger reason is that business history encompasses this kind of discussion but takes it into a far more in-depth study of the businesses themselves, Nader’s impact on them, and usually are part of the business school’s department as a faculty member, not in the History Department. Occasionally they’ll end up as an economic historian in the Economics department. In all cases they tend to have an MA in History and a PhD in the two fields that they’re primarily in.

      • 0 avatar
        olddavid

        I agree, Ronnie, and have expressed that opinion many times. I have yet to hear any negativity concerning his writing from any circle. The way he footnotes and carefully constructs his articles makes them feel ready for publication. Anywhere. Library of Congress?

  • avatar
    twotone

    I hold him responsible for letting “president Cheney” and his is little lap-dog George Bush steal the 2000 election. The lives Nader may have saved by car safety regulations are outweighed by those lost in the unjustified Bush/Cheney wars.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Waingrow

      I’m inclined to agree, though Nader pretends otherwise. He’s not convincing on this at all.

    • 0 avatar
      mr.cranky

      Gore won the popular vote. Besides, it was the Supreme Court and “hanging chads” that gave that election to Bush.

      I was expecting some Nader hatred but it’s subdued so far.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I think that most Americans know that the Electoral College elects the POTUS and Vice President. Individual voters do not elect them. That’s why there is such low participation in voter turn-out.

      • 0 avatar

        Didn’t realize that (from this side of the Atlantic). Question remains if Gore would have reacted differently on 9/11. If so, the world would have been different today.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          It would have been the exact same had Gore won, the only difference is the media and their minions would have hailed Gore a hero for saving the world from danger in the suddenly “justified” war.

          • 0 avatar

            Not exactly. Although Democratic Presidents tend to overreact, afraid of being accused of being soft on foreign threats (like Obama is blamed now).

            However, I do think that the combination of “Halliburton oil interests”Cheney, Gung Ho Rumsfeld and “finish the job dad forgot” Bush Jr. formed a deadly cocktail.

          • 0 avatar
            swester

            Or, it’s possible that Gore’s administration might not have downplayed the intelligence that was ignored by the Bush admin in the prelude to 9/11 – and the attack may have been thwarted.

            After all, Clinton tried multiple times to eliminate Bin Laden. It’s entirely possible that Gore’s team – which would have probably carried over some Clinton officials – would have tried again.

            Of course it’s all speculative and it could have just as easily still happened. Not having the Wolfowitz/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice gang of profit-driven neocons at the controls in the aftermath, though, would have assuredly made the completely unrelated Iraq invasion far less likely.

          • 0 avatar
            ect

            I believe that the immediate post-9/11 response would have been similar – perhaps with more nation-building, instead of the “blow the place up and let’s go home” approach the Bush administration took (and which we’re still paying for).

            In addition, there would not have been the fiasco that was the Iraq invasion. That was a very personal project of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld.

            Still, all we can know is that we’ll never know.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Way back in the ’80s even, one common phrase in my ears was “Nuke ’em ’til they glow!” This was about the time of the bombing raid on Tripoli that narrowly missed Muammar Gaddafi.

        • 0 avatar

          First of all, Gore probably wouild not have ignored the intelligence that something was brewing, and I think it’s very likely 9-11 would have been stopped before it happened.

          Second of all, Gore would have understood that Iraq had nothing to do with it, and would simply have gone after Bin Ladin (sp?) and brought him to justice.

          Bush wanted the war in order to outdo his father, by getting rid of Saddam, and Cheney/Halliburton wanted it in order to get hands on more oil.

          Nader is not the only thing that got in the way of Gore’s becoming president. The five Supreme Court justices who gave the election to Bush deserve a lot of that blame–more than Nader, I’d say, because it was legally such a p!ss poor decision. One could blame Clinton for allowing the Lewinsky scandal to happen, which led Gore to downplay Clinton in the campaign…

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            +1 David

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Agreed with David. Whether a Gore administration would have stopped 9/11 is a good question (my bet is that it wouldn’t have)…but would have they invaded Iraq? Not a chance.

            Only Bush – who was looking for payback for Iraq threatening his dad – would have been dumb enough to do that.

            But there is this: Bush definitely DID go after Bin Laden. There’s no doubt about that. If nothing else, it’d have been a huge political win for him – look at the boost it gave Obama.

          • 0 avatar
            carguy67

            Don’t forget the nearly $40B of contacts–many of them of the ‘no-bid’ variety–that went to Halliburton to supply troops with substandard services. Cheney himself made tens–perhaps hundreds, I don’t think anyone knows for sure–millions of dollars; enough to keep financing his loser daughter’s losing political campaigns for decades.

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            Al Gore??
            Really???
            The all time hypocrite of our time.
            Talk about someone who sells himself for power and money!
            The live as I tell you not as I live Libby.
            David…this is silly presumption stuff.
            That Gore would have “probably” anything is silly.
            And his predictions on global warming are embarrassing.
            This is the very same hypocrite that sold his soul to big tobacco even after his sister dies from lung cancer.
            Really…find another hero and stick to car talk.

            And this whole revision of history going on right now is stunning.
            But revision and 20/20 hindsight seems to be the entire base for this Nader feature. Isn’t that what these losers do?

            Oh, and by the way…see I didn’t think we invaded Iraq due to 9/11? I thought that was Afghanistan!
            I thought, and this shows my inability to revise history, that we invaded Iraq cause of WMDs.
            And this will set off another round of history revisions.

          • 0 avatar
            shaker

            “supply troops with substandard services”

            Like improperly grounded electrical systems in shower rooms installed by KBR (Halliburton subsidiary) that killed 12 US soldiers in Iraq?

            http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/05/28/soldier.electrocutions/

            The irony “writ large” (Thanks George Carlin) here is that the monster Cheney is kept alive to this day by an implanted defibrillator.

            You just can’t make this stuff up.

      • 0 avatar
        nrcote

        mr.cranky > I was expecting some Nader hatred but it’s subdued so far.

        Please don’t wake the dinosaurs.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          “Please don’t wake the dinosaurs.”

          The dinosaurs are awake, nrcote. I can’t tell you how much I hate all the ‘nannies’ we have on our cars today because of him.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “Gore won the popular vote. Besides, it was the Supreme Court and “hanging chads” that gave that election to Bush.”

        Leaving out the whole hanging chad question, in Florida, Gore lost by 537 votes and Nader got 97,488 votes.

        There’s your answer. Nader cost Gore the election. No doubt about it.

        • 0 avatar
          buzzyrpm

          The only person who cost Gore the election is Gore. He couldn’t even win his home state and ran a terrible campaign. Nader had every right to run for president.

          • 0 avatar
            swester

            @buzzrpm

            A “terrible” campaign yet he won the popular vote? That’s an interesting assertion.

            Let’s see: the decisive state Gore happens to “lose” in by a ludicrously thin margin also happens to be the one where there are oodles of bizarre irregularities AND where his opponent’s brother – well-known for his own legacy of corruption – is conveniently governor. Nevermind that the ultimate decision is made not by voters but by the Supreme Court.

            Nope, nothing peculiar about that. Just a terrible campaign, that’s all. Right.

          • 0 avatar
            buzzyrpm

            @swester
            No one runs a campaign to win the popular vote. Bush didn’t and neither did Gore. It’s irrelevant to the final outcome. Yes I agree Florida was stolen from Gore, but why did Gore put himself in a situation that he had to win Florida? Gore ran a boring centrist campeign and the best he could do was present himself as “Republican Light” He simply expected progressives to show up and vote for him. Instead many stayed home or voted for Nader instead.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      @twotone: There was not a single vote count – popular or electoral – in which Gore ‘won’. Bush stole nothing.

      People who despise the electoral college forget that it is patterned after the structure of Congress. If you want elections decided by popular vote only, then we should eliminate the Senate, which gives equal voice to every state.

      And if you really want only popular votes in national elections and decision making, then we should eliminate the concept of statehood. Then you’ll see how little your vote can matter.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I disagree completely, SCE.

        The whole electoral college nonsense does one thing: it suppresses votes. In red states, where the Democrat is guaranteed to lose big, lots of Democratic voters stay home. Same holds true of Republican voters in a state like California or Illinois – they might as well write in the Deez Nuts guy.

        (Come to think of it he might be better than anyone running this year…)

        And in a close election, why does Florida basically get to decide the whole race?

        Getting rid of the electoral college makes EVERY American’s vote count. As it stands, only the votes in the contested states really count. And we wonder why turnout is so low? There’s your answer.

        • 0 avatar

          @FreedMike

          +1

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          The US president serves both the people and the states. This is a byproduct of American history, which brought thirteen different entities together with some conflicting interests and unequal weight into a single union. (Keep in mind that the US began with the Articles of Confederation, and that the states had to agree to cede powers in order to switch to the current constitutional form of government.)

          Without the electoral college or something like it, we wouldn’t have a constitution in the first place, as the lower population states would never have agreed to it.

          I would suggest that you read the Federalist Papers so that you understand why the electoral college exists and why it continues to make sense today.

        • 0 avatar
          285exp

          It’s threads like this that remind me why I don’t go to an automotive site for political analysis.

      • 0 avatar
        IndigoCoyote

        “There was not a single vote count – popular or electoral – in which Gore ‘won’. Bush stole nothing.”

        I want some of what you’ve been smokin’. Gore won the popular vote by more than a half a million people. Technically, you are correct- Bush didn’t steal the election. Fast Kathy and the juror’s juror, Tony Scalia, did it for him.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          I meant in Broward County, Florida. Obviously, Gore won the popular vote nationally, but you have to win the popular vote in each district to win the electoral votes. This did not happen for Gore in any vote count in that county.

          Florida decided the national election because:
          a) The national contest was closely contested in terms of total electoral votes,
          b) The Florida contest was closely contested,
          c) Florida’s 25 electoral votes mattered in the national count. A smaller state’s electoral votes wouldn’t have made a difference that year, and bigger states’ votes weren’t that close.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2000#Florida_recount

          Popular vote counting is ‘popular’, but unconstitutional because it degrades the value of statehood and local interests. Read up on the value of the bicameral legislature, which dates back to the 17th century:

          http://www.britannica.com/topic/bicameral-system

          It’s a good system, but those who want to get rid of it don’t realize how marginalized they will become if that happens. You’d end up with the population centers around the country dictating your local policies.

          Don’t like red light cameras? Too bad. Maybe the voters in the big cities do, and so your little town gets them. Or perhaps the voters in flyover country decide they’re not interested in public transportation investment; then the big cities suffer.

          Local interests matter; the bicameral system exists to protect them, while honoring common interests as well.

          I think the 2000 election showed how valuable every vote really is – or can be, not the opposite.

          • 0 avatar
            Master Baiter

            That’s a good argument for states, and why we have a Senate, but it has nothing to do with the electoral college. Small states carry few electoral votes, so they don’t matter much anyway.

            The problem with the electoral college is that, as it is, only the few swing states seem to matter. The candidates don’t even bother campaigning in states where they are behind on the polls. I moved from Georgia, a heavily red state, to CA, a heavily blue state. I have not seen single television ad for president in about the last 20 years.

            And if we did use the popular vote, no one can say Gore would have won vs. Bush, as that assumes voter turnout is not influenced by the rules of the game.
            .
            .

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “you have to win the popular vote in each district to win the electoral votes.”

            Not exactly. 48 states and DC are winner-take-all, so it makes no difference who wins at the county and local level.

            Nebraska and Maine are exceptions, with each congressional district getting one electoral vote, with the remaining two going to the winner.

            In effect, the US has 51 presidential elections (each state, plus DC), or 54 if you consider that Maine has its two districts and Nebraska has its three.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      well…then equally maddening to other folks is the winning of Clinton over Bush due to that whiny smart little twit from Texas.

      Remember that win?????

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        I certainly do. I’m probably the only person in the country to have voted for Jesse Jackson, Ross Perot, and George W. Bush in various primaries and elections.

        The US could possibly end up with a 3-way contest this year, too. Part of me hopes for that; all of me fears it.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        maddening to me is that 20-some-odd years after I gained the right to vote, there was a non-zero chance that I would again be faced with the choice between Clinton and Bush (until he quit.)

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Reading this thread, I have to wonder if there is anyone here who would in 20-20 hindsight, vote for Mr. Bush over Mr. Gore. I have this unsettling feeling the answer is yes.

      • 0 avatar
        jimmyy

        I would vote for Bush again. He was a great president.

        Personally, I am looking forward to the Trump victory in November. The victory is certain since Trump will have no problem prosecuting the case against Hillary and her predator husband Bill. For Hillary, she had better hope she wins the election else Trump will make sure Hillary and Bill are prosecuted after the FBI indites.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Fine about the article, but what’s with the “unsafe at any age” thing? Is it meant to be ironic?

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “Ralph Nader probably wouldn’t have made it to this ripe old age if the industry hadn’t made design changes…”

    Doubtful, as Nader doesn’t own a car. You’re essentially saying that it’s more likely than not that you would be killed behind the wheel if you drove a 1960 model car until age 82. I don’t think a statistical analysis would support such a conclusion.
    .
    .

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      I believe the writer intended to suggest that Nader would have been pierced by some other driver’s pointy tailfin tip, like those on the 1959-60 Cadillac. Or plowed under by a car with a slanted-forward front end like that of the 1963-65 Riviera. Both types of potentially dangerous design were mentioned in Nader’s book.

      • 0 avatar
        SilverCoupe

        Hey, you can say what ever you want about ’64 Corvairs, but leave the ’64 Rivieras out of this!
        Interesting, we had the Riviera for over 30 years, and I had never heard that said about one before. My father, who bought the car, did like the fact that “it looks like it’s speeding while it’s standing still,” though.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I was about to quote the same paragraph, it doesn’t even make sense, how did this mans book save his life?

  • avatar
    Joss

    Right industry Ralph. NRA would’ve JFKayed ya..

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Sure, because the car industry never resists reform, and the NRA has its opponents shot to death.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Whatever the reason, the climate for gun sales these days is phenomenal.

        • 0 avatar

          Maybe Yahoo should start selling high tech, Silicon Valley posh, 3D-printed firearms.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I’m reasonably certain that 3D-printed components are already available on the market. I prefer the genuine article should I need it.

            But the Receiver assembly of the AR-15 is what worries BATF. That’s normally where the serial number is engraved. A Receiver without a serial number is untraceable.

            All the other components are already available through mail-order. You can order everything mail order except the receiver assembly to customize your original weapons. HUGE market.

            The Clint Eastwood movie, “In The Line Of Fire” featured a functional plastic gun that could easily be made using a 3D printer.

            News sources have also featured stories and live demonstrations on 3D-printed gun components.

            Unintended consequences of technical advances in the printer industry.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “The Clint Eastwood movie, “In The Line Of Fire” featured a functional plastic gun that could easily be made using a 3D printer.”

            Yes, and in Die Hard 2 they said a “Glock 7” (which doesn’t exist) was ceramic and couldn’t be seen by metal detectors.

            If Hollywood is telling you something about firearms, it’s safe to assume it’s wrong.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            The 3D printed gun thing is real:

            http://gizmodo.com/3d-printed-guns-are-only-getting-better-and-scarier-1677747439

            They’re still evolving. I think they require special ammunition to keep from blowing apart, but the technology is evolving quickly. I wouldn’t want to shoot one. One little hidden flaw in the barrel and boom.

          • 0 avatar
            shaker

            “I wouldn’t want to shoot one. One little hidden flaw in the barrel and boom.”

            Not a big issue for jihadists, though.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Look at the plastic gun as the Derringer of this age or the modern Saturday Night Special – only good for short range work, easily concealed, and cheap enough to throw away after one use.

            And like Shaker wrote, Jihadists and assassins don’t care.

            As far as the plastic guns blowing up? Unlikely since there is no gas pressure built-up except in the chamber holding the shell and the “barrel” has no rifling.

            People used to make guns out of hand-held metal tubing and history shows us that they were successfully fired. Not accurate but effective enough to to wound, maim and kill.

        • 0 avatar
          TomHend

          Getting ammo (at least here in the People’s Republic on New Jersey) is another story.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            TomHend, that’s why so many gun fans do their own reloading. Or, if they get too old and impatient, they get people like me who have the equipment to do it for them.

        • 0 avatar
          TomHend

          Getting powder here (NJ) is almost impossible.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Ditto in California where people bring it in from surrounding states, along with hard-to-get ammo. And that’s just the legal way.

            The illegal transactions are too numerous to detail here.

            Criminals do not have any problem getting guns and ammo they want, only the law-abiding gun fans do.

            To wit the San Berdoo shootings recently. No way of knowing how many of those people killed or wounded would have carried a gun, if they only had been allowed to do so.

            That’s what happens when people live in a state where only criminals and terrorists are allowed to have guns.

            I suppose they could always move away – and many have.

            Guns and ammo are only a fraction of the underground economy where the illegal trade in tobacco products dominate. State Commerce Law Enforcement works harder to intercept the tobacco traders than they do the guns and ammo traders.

            To me that seems odd. But loss of taxes on clandestine tobacco products are the driving force behind that rationale.

  • avatar
    tedward

    I really don’t care that much about figures like mr. Nader. Even when the cause is righteous (and they all are presented as such) I find myself with a limited supply of respect for outrage merchants of any stripe.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    My complaint about Nader is his contribution to the idea that, if an idiot can hurt himself by misusing a product, the solution is to idiot proof the product, restrict its use to a level the idiot can handle, or ban the product entirely rather than hold the idiot responsible for his folly and let him suffer the consequences.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      The solution to all of these so-called “problems” is to let the majority suffer for the sake of the minority that can’t figure out how to get out of the path of a train.

      • 0 avatar
        gottacook

        One-piece steering columns were among safety issues mentioned in Unsafe at Any Speed. How does the “majority suffer” when steering columns are required to be collapsible upon impact? Surely whatever expense was undergone by the carmakers in switching to an energy-absorbing design (such as GM did for all its 1967 cars) was amortized in a very short time, and many people lived who otherwise would have been skewered on steering columns during the past 50 years. You object even to this? If not, where do you draw the line?

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          My biggest complaints are ABS and ESC. They may work excellently most of the time, but when you really need them is when they fail to work properly and when you DON’T want them to work, they work too well.

        • 0 avatar
          Kendahl

          gottacook, it all depends on how well the safety devices work and on whether they compromise other features.

          In the case of energy absorbing steering columns, how long was it before steering designs recovered the sensitivity of a solid shaft? We have seen the same with power steering. Nothing is as good as unassisted steering. Hydraulic assist, which has had decades of development, is better than electric.

          Despite Vulpine’s objection, I like ABS and ESC overall. However, there are some conditions in which non-ABS braking works better. The first Audis with ABS had a switch to disable it at the driver’s discretion. That’s long gone. When added to a well designed suspension system, ESC can save you when you finally exceed the car’s limits. However, it can also be a crutch for a lazy engineering team. They can dial down the ESC threshold to make up for poor suspension design.

          Some systems, like automatic braking and lane departure control, can actually be dangerous. If the car’s solution to an emergency is different from the driver’s, they will end up fighting each other. The last thing I want is a car that decides to brake hard when I tell it to accelerate and steer around an obstacle. Roofs have been strengthened to support the entire weight of a vehicle during roll over accidents. The price for this is thicker A pillars wide enough to hide and entire vehicle on a cross street. This safety “improvement” merely trades roll overs for side impacts.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “Despite Vulpine’s objection, I like ABS and ESC overall.”

            As I said, they work great under “ideal” conditions. Through personal experience I have had…

            A) Anti-lock brakes assume I was at a dead stop while sliding down the road at 15mph on ice on a downhill curve. Let off the brakes and I’d have enough control to steer. The instant I touched the brakes… not even enough to feel their effect on a dry road, I was sliding again. The old style of gently ‘pumping’ the brakes manually wasn’t even an option for me.

            B) ESC assumed I was putting down too much torque because one wheel spun slightly as I was punching through an ice barrier trying to drive my JEEP, of all vehicles, out of my own driveway through the wall put up by a snow plow. killing power so much that momentum alone managed to roll me through far enough for my front tires to find traction. No, I had not turned off ESC on that occasion because I had never, EVER felt it kick on prior to that time… not even off road at Rousch Creek in Pennsylvania. There’s a reason for limited-slip differentials and the JKU carries two of them. (Optional at the time.)

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “In the case of energy absorbing steering columns, how long was it before steering designs recovered the sensitivity of a solid shaft?”

            did anyone really care about that? We’re talking about cars which had 4+ turns lock-to-lock and recirculating-ball steering gears (which loosen up right away) connected to the wheel via a rag joint.

          • 0 avatar
            gottacook

            With respect to the steering column: I drove a 1966 Pontiac Bonneville for many years and its steering was barge-like. Likewise my grandparents’ 1967 Bonneville with the redesigned steering column. In that case at least – with only slight other differences such as 400 versus 389 motor – if there was any difference, it was negligible.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      That is the principle applied in Ontario which is a ‘no fault’ system and to occupational health and safety accident investigations. Why the worker did it does not matter. What counts is how they were able to do it. And that should then be engineered out.

      So it is a system that works, to the benefit of the majority, as we all make mistakes.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “…that should then be engineered out.”

        In late summer of 1965, a sweet young thing let me drive her Corvair Monza Spyder to do some errands while she finished her shift at the Hi-D-Ho Drive-In.

        That was one tail-happy car. It just had too much power and driving it felt like the tail wagging the dog if you pushed the go-pedal a bit too much.

        VW’s Bug never had that problem because it was underpowered. But Porsches did because they also had too much power. Driving a Porsche requires special driving skills. Ditto the Corvair.

        Most Americans were incapable of handling the Corvair. Something that could not be engineered out.

        • 0 avatar
          ExPatBrit

          Agreed, the Beetle and Corvair were “mass market” cars.

          A Porsche 911/912 even then was considered an enthusiasts sports car. Expectations were different.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            My mom’s brother, a German-born American like my mom, was a Porsche fan. But even he, a long-time Porsche owner, respected the car.

            At the time of the Corvair most Americans were used to the handling characteristics of the heavy metal American Yank Tanks then on the market.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “… if an idiot can hurt himself by misusing a product, the solution is to idiot proof the product…”

      Now you know why the AK-47 was invented, even though the M-16 is a better-engineered weapon, and a soldier must be able to understand how to properly care for it!

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I heard on the news that the AK-47 will be made in America now too. But I missed where.

        No news on the AK-74 though.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Found it:

          http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/kalashnikov-plans-ak-47-factory-florida-article-1.2513439

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            You really crack me up, HDC. Just yesterday you wrote:
            “And why are other commenters allowed to advocate their political, environmental, pro-union and/or homosexual agenda without repercussions or fear of being banned for life when such blatant activism rubs other commenters the wrong way and elicits commentary retorts risking being banned for life?”

            And the very next day, you wade into discussions on guns and politics. And while today you haven’t written anything too extreme, controversial or offensive today, you often do.

            To turn around and act all innocent and complain that others foist their pro-union and homosexual agendas on you is truly rich.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            VoGo, I did not initiate the discussion.

            FYI, you’re lucky that I just happened to catch your comment. Normally I just skip over them.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Yeah, that’s what we need…more AK-47s.

            (eyes roll)

            There’s a big difference between having the right to do something and that something being the right thing to do. That’s what I think people don’t get about the whole gun debate – lost in all this discussion of rights is the whole question of whether having these many firearms around helps or hurts the country overall. Clearly, it ain’t helping.

            We could cut down on the number of guns that get into the hands of crooks quite simply: stop buying so many of them. That’d work without tinkering with the Bill of Rights. But as it is, we as a nation buy so many firearms that it’s no mystery why so many get into the hands of criminals. It’s no mystery why gun control legislation mainly fails – the sheer volume of them is impossible to fully regulate. This is the same reason the “war on drugs” failed.

            Ban weapons that some nutcase could use to shoot 70 people in a theater in a minute and a half, make all firearm sales subject to a background check, and decide as a nation to stop buying so many of the legal weapons, and you’ll see a drop in gun violence. With fewer weapons floating around out there, the authorities would be better able to actually go after people who sell them illegally. None of this is unconstitutional. It just takes common sense.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Arsenal in LV and Definitive Arms out of FL already manufacture 74s. The ammunition is the issue as it is only made in Russia and the round isn’t popular enough to be made here.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Thanks. Learned something from you today.

            I don’t do AK ammo.

            I’ve been keeping busy custom reloading 30.06, .308, .223, 9mm, .45ACP, .44 S&W AutoMag, .44Mag, .38 and .357, the latter three in Slug as well as Copperclad and Hollow Point.

            And this in spite of these calibers being dirt cheap OTC, the demand for Brass and reloads is insane.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            and most of that Russian stuff is steel, and indoor ranges won’t allow it.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @HDC

            All fine calibers but truthfully I’d really like to shoot the 5.45×39 as opposed to the .223/5.56 but its just too limited to make the financial investment. I wanted a .308 battle rifle in the worst way in the fall but after much research I ended up not pulling the trigger. I also wouldn’t mind a .300 blackout AR but by the time you build it right (NFA stamp x 2 + suppressor) you’re in the rifle 2K and only get similar ballistics to 7.62×39 with the nice bonus of suppressed fire. Then I was thinking 6.8 Grendel and then its expensive/rare ammunition in a 1K-1500 rifle with the main feature being longer punch than 5.56 x 45 and .300 blackout in a reusable AR-15 chassis. See the thing is there are just too many good calibers and you just want to collect them all.

            @Jim

            That’s a good point but it varies from range to range. The one I belong to is building an indoor rifle range and when I asked there wasn’t going to be an issue with steel.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            28 – I understand. And it is exactly that personal-preference demand, like yours, that has set the market on fire. Too much demand, not enough readily available supply.

            I got to shoot a Barrett .50 BMG sniper rifle at the shooting meet in Texas I attended last month. $5 per reloaded shot. Nearly wrecked my right shoulder. Would love to own one as an investment to pass down to my kids, but at $20K a pop, sans ammo, too rich for me.

            But if you’re really interested to go after what you want, go to ttag.com and let it be known that you’re looking.

            I helped my friend with a Gun Show in ABQ Valentine’s Day weekend, and there are some real jewels on the market – anything you want, just bring money.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        This is a highly debatable argument.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Yes…social saviors like this and then there are the modern comedians hell bent on being cynical for the sake of humor, they never really create or do anything themselves.
      Comedians make a living making fun of other’s who put themselves out front and these do-gooders destroy the buildings and creations others tried to put forth.
      They never fail cause they never do anything.
      They just make a living at pointing out other’s fallibilities and errors.
      They are the KINGS of hindsite. The 20/20 generals of history.
      They couldn’t give direction to anybody on what to do when building…just tell you what you built wrong.

      Losers.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      FreedMike, over the past twenty to thirty years, the number of firearms in private hands has doubled. Concealed carry has been legalized in most states. A few states require no permit at all. During that time, the violent crime rate has dropped in half. While correlation doesn’t imply causation, you can’t have causation without correlation. Your claim that more guns leads to more crime isn’t supported by the data.

      Many years ago, a study attempted to show that crime was higher in Seattle, Washington, which had loose gun control, than in Vancouver, Canada, which had much tighter gun control. When the data were re-analyzed, with controls for differences in demographics, the crime rate was found to be the same in both cities.

      Cities with high crime rates (e.g. Chicago, Baltimore and Washington, DC) blame their problems on black market guns imported illegally from places with loose gun control. They fail to mention that crime rates are far lower in the source areas. That’s easier than dealing with their own violent criminals.

      One of the mothers of the Columbine shooters argues that the event might not have occurred had it been more difficult for the two boys to obtain firearms. Actually, it already was impossible for them to obtain firearms legally. They did so through illegal “straw purchases” made by friends on their behalf. She conveniently fails to mention that their principal weapons were intended to be bombs. The guns were just a backup in case the bombs failed. Had they been competent bomb builders, the body count would have been in the hundreds.

      It all goes back to the same nanny-state philosophy: dumb down the world to suit the lowest, or worst, common denominator.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Ralph Nader, patron saint of the mother hen with a badge and a gun.

    One person chits and they will not rest until they have all of the rest of us in diapers.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      [Citation needed]

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Blah blah blah blah…government nannies…yadda yadda yadda…

      Like you really trust large corporations to look out for our safety without the government keeping them in line. Right.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        You may not like my arguments, FreedMike, but that’s Ok. But there are other ways to force a company to fix their problems than by siccing the government onto them. A lot of recalls have been triggered simply by class-action lawsuits against the auto companies themselves without the benefit of government intervention. Hitting a manufacturer in its pocket is a much bigger inhibitor of reckless endangerment than the government adding expensive technologies that drive car prices sky high. I bought my ’75 Cutlass Supreme for a mere $5700; the equivalent car today runs well over $30K. Inflation alone can not and will not account for why cars cost 6x more when a $2000 desktop computer at the same time (ok, five years later) costs $2000 or less today. I’ll grant some of the costs due to materials, but most of those added costs are in the governmentally-mandated gewgaws we’re forced to put up with in modern automobiles because of one lousy book.

        • 0 avatar
          IHateCars

          “But there are other ways to force a company to fix their problems than by siccing the government onto them. A lot of recalls have been triggered simply by class-action lawsuits against the auto companies themselves without the benefit of government intervention.”

          Not if those pushing for Tort reform have their way. Then any of those pesky & “frivolous” lawsuits will be settled via binding arbitration that is usually overseen by a representative on the payroll of the offending company.
          Hate to say it, but sometime government oversight and intervention can be a good thing. *gasp*

  • avatar
    probert

    The Ford Falcon and Mustang sank the Corvair. For years after the book it sold in the millions.

    The problem that people scoff at killed a lot of people: they removed a stabilizer bar to save money – no doubt doing a cost benefit analysis of the part versus death law suits – death paid off.

    If your air pressure was off by a few pounds, this coupled with jacking and the rear engine, resulted in a flipped car. They knew this, they didn’t care. Cost benefit.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Perhaps, since this article will be archived for the ages, some things should be cleared up a bit.

    “car-buying public now knew the value of anti-roll bars thanks to Nader.”

    Hardly, the ’64 and ’65 Corvairs had a “camber compensator” attached to the center bottom of the differential. Anti-roll bars they were not. Fancy name camber compensator aside, camber which they were incapable of compensating for, because no suspension geometry was affected, they merely prevented the rear wheels from drooping so far that dangerous levels of positive camber could occur that might cause jacking. EMPI sold them before GM offered them because they had used them to tame the Beetle and early Corvairs – price $19.99 plus shipping. They still sell them, better made and more expensive.

    The ’65 to ’69 Corvairs had a very sophisticated rear suspension, what one could well argue was the first multilink type as we would characterize them today. Certainly in advance of the Mercedes swing axle in say a 250SL, and not by a little.

    Had a fair amount of experience in a 1960, crazy weird with its 15psi front/26 psi rear tire pressure, 6 turns lock-lock steering, and in college student duty (argh), and a 1967 – a really handsome and pleasant vehicle hampered only by a 2 speed automatic.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    The arguments, pro and con, about Nader will never end. What is interesting, even from these comments, is people’s refusal to accept the proposition that every product is engineered to a price point. The problem is when the tradeoffs are managed poorly. I don’t recall a large number of Corvairs rolling over. That would be VW Beetles of the same vintage, which had a high center of gravity.. What Corvairs would do is go into a spin. Like all rear-engined cars of their era, including the “legendary ” 911, they had lots of trailing throttle oversteer. American drivers in particular were not accustomed to this since most front-engine, RWD cars of the time under steered massively. Making the problem worse was the fact that the bias-ply tires of that era had abrupt breakaway characteristics. Interestingly, when BMW introduced the 1600 and 2002 sedan to the US market in the early 1970s, one of their selling points was that, unlike the single-jointed swing axle of the Mercedes-Benz, the BMW rear axle was double-jointed, mitigating rear wheel camber changes. If memory serves, VW went to a similar design for all of its rear engine products at about the same time. I know from personal experience that the first generation Corvairs could be quite a handful in the rain, even driven carefully.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “every product is engineered to a price point”

      Finally, somebody here makes sense today. Although I think we’d agree that not all engineering is created equal – even for the same price point – and sometimes a few dollars more can make a huge improvement in a product.

  • avatar
    gmialumnus

    I was a passenger in a ’64 or ’65. The driver lost control on a left hand 45deg turn, over-corrected right, jumping the curb and heading straight at a power pole. We were lucky! There was a guy wire for the pole directly in our path centerline to the car and we slid up it to the pole top. I remember looking at the sky wondering what the heck was going on. The car tipped and fell. We landed shiny side down, all paws in the air. The greenhouse was mostly crushed. Our seatbelts (lap only) suspended us and we were uninjured. Was Ralph involved with seat belts? If so, thanks Ralph, and happy birthday.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      The seat belts were just your standard issue GM lap belts, AFAIK. But you were actually wearing them, which is more than could be said of a majority of passengers at the time.

  • avatar

    Ralph Nader didn’t invent or improve a single automotive safety feature. While he undoubtedly had a role in focusing awareness on car safety, I believe that more credit should be given to Bela Barenyi, who invented crush zones and passenger safety cells for Mercedes-Benz, Nils Bohlin, who invented the three point seat and shoulder belt for Volvo – which gave away the patent, and William Carey and Charles Simon who were responsible for developing the first practical airbags at Eaton. Gabriel Voisin should be mentioned as well. His company made both airplanes and cars, and he invented anti-lock brakes in 1929 for aviation use.

    Many of the features that Nader championed, like safer dashboards and breakaway steering wheels were in concept and show cars of the 1950s. The industry should have gone to collapsible steering columns earlier, as they’d been invented in the 1930s. GM was working on their own in the late 1950s. Even Lotus put slip joints in their steering shafts by the early 1960s (some wag said they were surprised Colin Chapman didn’t just tell drivers to wear a flak jacket).

    So while Ralph Nader deserves some level of credit, I think the people who actually made cars safer were the engineers, most of whom will never be known to the public.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      “some wag {sic} said they were surprised Colin Chapman didn’t just tell drivers to wear a flak jacket”

      No flak jacket for you. Flak jackets too heavy.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      True, Ronnie…Detroit knew about these safety features long before they became mandated. But as Lee Iacocca pointed out in his book, back in the day “safety didn’t sell.” I don’t think many drivers wanted to be reminded of just how dangerous driving could be, and Detroit was all too happy to let them live under that delusion.

      Leaving these features out of their cars was a cost-cutting AND marketing decision.

      Nader did two things:
      1) He made it abundantly clear that some carmakers were fully capable of producing unsafe products. This awareness created a far greater demand for safer cars.

      2) This demand wasn’t met initially by carmakers, and then it became a government problem, as usually is the case in instances like this. Nader was instrumental in pushing for new safety regulations.

      Eventually I think “the market” would have come around to the idea that cars should be safer, but how many lives would have been extinguished before that happened?

      • 0 avatar

        Regarding “You can’t sell safety”. At best that’s taken out of context from what Iacocca said and at worst, it’s an attitude attributed to Detroit execs going back to the 1950s, without much in the way of actual quotes. I found it in a Popular Mechanics from 1956. Iacocca’s sentiment might have been based on the fact that Ford offered seat belts in 1956 and they were not well received.

        Of course the automakers wanted thier customers to think their cars were safe. I’ve seen crash and rollover tests in promotional films going back to the 1930s. There is even a promotional film for the Corvair that, if my memory serves me well, included rolling the car over and showing that the doors still open.

        It’s clear from Barenyi, Bohlin, the Eaton/Ford airbags and other safety tech that there has undoubtedly been interest in safety from within the auto industry.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        ” but how many lives would have been extinguished before that happened?”

        Who knows? But this is another straw man argument. Nobody can answer and so we are lead to believe that lots were and the monies spent had to be worth it.
        This same argument was made to save the To Big To Fail banks and auto manufacturers.
        We never will know now, will we?

        But then again…he never made anything. He made a living out of criticising the creations of others.
        That is no great feat.
        It is the art of 20/20 rear view history.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          it’s not a “strawman.” We can make a ballpark guess. there are four times as many cars and light trucks on the road as there were in the 1960s, yet the on-road fatality rate today is less than half. the worst year of the ’60s was 1969, with a fatality rate of 26.4 per 100,000 people. The worst year so far this decade was 2012 with 10.7 per 100,000.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          In 2013, the vehicle fatality rate was 1.09 per 100 million miles, or about 32,700 dead.

          In 1963, the vehicle fatality rate was 5.18 per 100 million miles, or about five times higher than it was in 2013.

          If the fatality rate in 2013 had been the same as it had been in 1963, then there would have been over 155,000 dead. Thanks to improvements in automotive safety, about 122,000 lives were saved just in that one year.

          Of course, this is the sort of stuff that uneducated people can’t figure out, even though they benefit from it.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            To be fair, the improvement is split somewhere between better cars, better medical treatment and the simple fact that seatbelt use has gone from nearly zero to the vast majority using them. Ultimately, I’m glad for all of it.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      Nader deserves credit for writing a book that raised the issue with the public. What really got the auto industry’s attention was the case of Larsen v GM in 1968. This was a landmark case where the industry’s “intended use” defense [“we build cars to drive, not to crash”] was shot down, and car makers were put on notice that they were responsible for testing their product for reasonably foreseeable crashes.

  • avatar
    manu06

    Here we are not 10 years from the start of the financial crisis and less than a year from the Volkswagen
    emissions scandal and people are arguing corporations don’t need to be regulated. Ideology
    over common sense.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      regulated?
      nobody is completely against regulations. but suggesting the holy government would save us from the evil corporations is naive.
      afterall…it was government that forced the housing bubble upon us.
      it was the government that forced banks to give home loans to those who would normally never have been approved.
      this evil works both ways.
      me?
      i am just suggesting losers like this guy make a living off other’s heavy lifting.

      • 0 avatar
        carguy67

        Turn off Fox News, go to an obscure little website called Google.com and type ‘who caused the housing bubble’ in the rectangular box. An excerpt from Wikipedia (arguably the most trustworthy site for impartial and substantiated info):

        “pretty much all the evidence on the housing crisis shows” that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the (CRA) and their affordability goals were not a major reason for the bubble and crash.[18][20][29]

        Law professor David Min argues that view (blaming GSE’s and CRA) “is clearly contradicted by the facts”, namely that

        – Parallel bubble-bust cycles occurred outside of the residential housing markets (for example, in commercial real estate and consumer credit).
        – Parallel financial crises struck other countries, which did not have analogous affordable housing policies
        – The U.S. government’s market share of home mortgages was actually declining precipitously during the housing bubble of the 2000s.[30]”

        There’s more–much more–of these things called ‘facts,’ and some opinions, usually supported by citations–those are those funny numbers inside square brackets ‘[]’–and reasoned arguments. But they might make your head hurt.

        • 0 avatar
          05lgt

          Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

        • 0 avatar
          TrailerTrash

          Carguy…
          your reply is snobbish and condescending. Typical of your liberal bent. You read only your rags and think others who study more are just “fox News”.

          I think YOU should concentrate more on cars and not the government.
          You should stay away from Slate and your other liberal sites.

          The government DIDS play the major hand in the housing bubble.
          And those politicians like Dodd got way with it.

          The better off were able, are still able, to ride it out and hold onto the home until this cleans itself up.
          But the poor…those who were used by your slimy political hack friends, they suffered and lost everything.

          And how dare you pretend you know how I educate myself with current events.
          You are a libby hater.

          http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/02/02/what_caused_the_housing_bubble_125463.html

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            You’re really earning your name today, TrailerTrash.

            Just FYI, here is wikipedia’s description of your source:

            “RealClearPolitics (RCP) is a Chicago-based political news and polling data aggregator formed in 2000[2] by former options trader John McIntyre and former advertising agency account executive Tom Bevan.[3][4][5] The site’s founders say their goal is to give readers “ideological diversity”.[6] However, this claim been disputed by observations of a conservative bias in the content it displays.”

            “Patrick Stack of Time magazine has described the site’s commentary section as “right-leaning”. The site has been described as being run by conservatives, and containing “opinion pieces from multiple media sources”. In 2009 RealClearPolitics was described as a weblog “in the conservative pantheon” by Richard Davis”

      • 0 avatar
        manu06

        It was banking deregulation that was the root of the financial crisis. Remember Glass Stegal ?

        • 0 avatar
          TrailerTrash

          certainly I do.
          I hated Clinton for doing it.
          And I hate white collar criminals that get away with murder.
          I wanted Wall Street to fail and see where it landed.
          I hate corp welfare.
          I hate welfare.
          I wanted to NOT save the auto industry…at least not until I saw any Wall Street or Auto execs hauled to jail.
          Nobody is to big to fail or go to jail.
          The system doesn’t work if failure is not allowed.Cleansing is needed.
          But this does not change my point of view…that government caused the housing bubble and many, man other crisis from their planning and regulations.

          I was just saying…don’t trust govn to be your nanny and savior.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Our problem now is not so much one of regulation but of “the Best Government money can buy.” Food industry lobbies against labels that will inform the consumer as to what is in their food and vitamin supplements. If a food is genetically engineered then let the consumer know about that so that they can make their own choice. In the case of safety regulations it is the industry that has for the most part not taken the iniative until forced to by the Government.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      so, if I understand you, it is only the regulations you like that are good regulations???
      Only the good, your, lobbyist are OK.
      Tax breaks that favor your politics are OK.
      Teacher and Labor lobbying is OK…just not that of agriculture or guns.
      I see how this works.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    No,lobbyist should not be part of law making or regulations. Most of the problems with our elected officials are with lobbyists and the funding of campaigns. Industry needs to be a part of the regulation process but the funding of political campaigns corrupts the process. Do you favor funding of campaigns by big corporate interests? Do you think that a corporation has the same rights as an individual? There has to be a balance between too much Government and no Government and lobbyist calling the shots. Regulations and laws should protect citizens but it should not stifle business nor should it allow a free for all for corporate interests to do anything they want if it harms citizens safety and health. Having a balance between Government and Corporations is better for all of us.

    I didn’t mention the Government regulating guns, it was you that made this into a discussion of guns. It sounds like you are in favor of no regulation and just allowing Corporations to make their own rules. A balance between Government and Business is better for all of us. The discussion of gun regulations along with abortion, gay rights, and unions are to blame for everything is used to distract people away from the real issues that effect most people. Rather than having an intelligent discussion it is much easier to use the argument that those who do not agree with you must be those who want to take away your guns. It takes less thought and intelligence to use that argument .

    The demise of the Corvair was less about Nader and more about the market place. The Corvair was losing market share before Nader and would have been discontinued without Nader and his book. Why do you think Chevrolet released the Chevy II for MY 1962? Do you really think that Chevrolet need 2 compact models? GM should have conducted its own survey before planning the Corvair. Also as others have stated it was cost cutting that made Corvair more dangerous but it is also a car that the typical driver could not safely drive. Corvair was not a bad car but it was not the right car for Chevrolet. A market survey would have given GM this information.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Never do I trust Government to be out nanny and I do not trust Corporate American to self regulate. As for the auto bailout it did save the industry but it is still not a good idea to have the Government bailout industry. Too big to fail was a total disgrace. Just to focus on Government bureaucrats is to see just the tip of the ice burg. Wall Street benefited from the financial bailout as well and Wall Street contributed their fair share of financial resources to political campaigns. Wall Street got a nice return on their investment.

    I also agree with President Eisenhower’s last televised speech about the Military and Industrial complex that profits from wars. It is one thing to defend our country and it is another thing to become involved in every global conflict. President Eisenhower’s last speech originally included the Military, Industrial, and Political complex but the last part was edited out of his speech.

  • avatar
    mor2bz

    Love Nader. First book I bought with my own money.
    Gore? The one who preaches global warming whilst having a 1300 electric bill? The lawyer who could not
    muster the nerve or energy to have the vote recalled in a stolen election from a crooked Jeb Bush? Not so much.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    The death rate has fallen-from a variety of factors, including safety features, improved tires/brakes and crashworthiness.

    Also, roads have improved dramatically–MANY more divided highways have reduced head-on collisions. The interstates took a lot of traffic off more dangerous roads. This is huge, but hard to quantify.

    The war on drunk driving has helped too (though the zealous persecution of social drinkers has a minimal impact).


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