By on March 31, 2016

Ralph Nader and Flaming Pinto Shirt, Image: © 2016 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

The Chevrolet Corvair and Ford Pinto have long been derided as death traps — one for its tendency to crash into stuff backwards, and the other for roasting its occupants alive. They also share something else in common: you can see both at Ralph Nader’s museum (though, in the Pinto’s case, it will be in the form of a t-shirt).

Ralph Nader, who’s famously known as the guy who mercilessly destroyed the reputation of an innocent air-cooled Chevrolet or a hero who made big corporations think about their customers’ lives at least a little bit, is apparently a man with a sense of humor.

The evidence is found, of all places, on the website of Nader’s American Museum of Tort Law, an institution founded by the famous lawyer last year in Winsted, CT. The museum invites visitors to its grand “re-awakening” on April 2 and promises to show them some truly interesting things. Like what, you probably didn’t ask? How about an exhibit on Jackie O., dangerous toys for the kids, and the most precious exhibit of them all, a non-crashed Chevrolet Corvair.

Funny, eh? If you’re laughing now, you’re probably a potential customer for the AMTL’s finest piece of merchandise. A Flaming Pinto T-Shirt commemorates the famous case of the Ford Pinto where the Ford Motor Company got caught red-handed after deciding that it’s cheaper to just pay off families of the people who burned to death than spend $11 per car to change exploding fuel tanks.

Quite a dark sense of humor, one has to say …

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22 Comments on “Nader’s Museum Will Show You a Non-Crashed Corvair, Sell You a Flaming Pinto T-Shirt...”

  • avatar

    Is April 1st early this year?

  • avatar

    I lost my sense of humor about Nader after the 2000 election…

    • 0 avatar

      In fairness to Nader, that election was Gore’s to lose. Blaming him would be letting Gore off the hook for the second-worst campaign in modern history.

      Kerry’s being the worst.

      • 0 avatar

        Sorry, I still blame Nader. He knew he wouldn’t win, and would do nothing but siphon off support for Gore in the process. He ran anyway. Similarly, I’d blame Ross Perot for blowing the election twice for the Republicans. And if Trump or Sanders runs as a third party candidate – I wouldn’t bet against either outcome – it’ll blow the chances for the Republican candidate (whoever that turns out to be) or Hillary Clinton.

        Nader is a “burn down the house to save it” moron. Well, he almost succeeded.

      • 0 avatar

        In fairness to Nader? Look, math is fair. Nader flipped the election.

        He should have a coffee table book with everybody who died in the Iraq war, and be required to examine the photos every day.

    • 0 avatar

      The problem I had with Nader is that he could have accomplished everything he said he wanted to by dropping out at the last minute, or even suspending his campaign in a few key states. He didn’t, either because he was so utterly full of himself that he couldn’t take responsibility for his own actions, or because he genuinely wanted to see Gore lose in order to f*ck up the country as a “that’ll show them for not supporting the REAL left” move.

      Nader’s actions were petty, craven, and dishonorable no matter what side of the aisle you view them from.

      Anyway, we’re here for cars. I’m a hypocrite; I don’t like it when other people bring politics up here. But damn, I really *do* revile Nader.

  • avatar
    Steve Lynch

    Good grief. What is next? The American Museum of Used Car Salesmen?

  • avatar

    Vojta, you no doubt agree that Ford’s small cars have come a long way in crash worthiness since the Pinto.

  • avatar

    I prefer Andrew J. White’s book, “Assassination of the Corvair”. I read it back in the ’70s, after reading Nader’s book. Of course, the Corvair only takes up one chapter of Nader’s book.

  • avatar

    I get the flaming pinto shirt, but what’s the flaming rat shirt signify?

    • 0 avatar

      From the New Yorker (

      “In nineteen-forties Mississippi, William Daniels, an employee of the United Novelty Company, was cleaning a piece of his employer’s machinery. Daniels was using gasoline as a cleaning agent even though the company had repeatedly told its employees not to clean with gasoline. As he cleaned, the gasoline leaked through the machine and soaked a rat hiding underneath it. The rat ran under another machine for cover—a gas heater. The gas heater’s open flame lit the rat’s gasoline-soaked coat on fire, sending the flaming rat scrambling back toward the machine that Daniels was cleaning. Another drop of gasoline may have fallen on the rat. The resulting explosion killed them both. Daniels was nineteen.

      Daniels’s estate sued the United Novelty Company for wrongful death. In 1949, the Supreme Court of Mississippi upheld a jury’s finding that the company was liable for his death. The court suggested that the company’s repeated warnings against cleaning with gasoline proved that the company knew that its employees were using gasoline to clean its machinery and that it was dangerous. The company hadn’t presented any evidence that Daniels himself had heard the warnings against using gasoline, but this was beside the point—it was the company’s responsibility, not the nineteen-year-old’s, to make sure its employees were not blown up while they worked.”

  • avatar

    For a counterpoint to the idea that Ford was a bunch of evil pennypinchers who wanted people to die for the sake of a few dollars, I recommend this paper:

  • avatar

    Reminds me of the 1990 movie Spirit of 76 in which time travelers from the 2176 attempt to reach 1776 and end up in 1976 instead . A Pinto in the movie explodes into flames merely by a car getting close to it’s rear bumper .

  • avatar

    The museum opened last year but the launch was a little under promoted so they are now trying a proper roll out. I haven’t been yet but I kind of want to go. It’s only about 35 minutes from my office. Ralph was on a local radio program I actually kind of like the guy he’s interesting to listen to at least. And he does make Tort law seem interesting and more valuable then you would think.

  • avatar

    That’ll be me wearing that shirt as soon as I get one ordered. Freakin’ hilarious, as it plays right into my contempt of all things Pinto. Will combine with a Trump trucker cap for max lulz.

  • avatar

    That was one helluvva smack ~ how fast was the Chevy going ? .


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