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When the US Government Built Ultra-Safe Cars

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the pacer-meets-battlestar-galactica dept.

Transportation 520

Jalopnik has a piece on a mostly forgotten piece of automotive history: the US government built a fleet of ultra-safe cars in the 1970s. The "RSV" cars were designed to keep four passengers safe in a front or side collision at 50 mph (80 kph) — without seat belts — and they got 32 miles to the gallon. They had front and side airbags, anti-lock brakes, and gull-wing doors. Lorne Greene was hired to flack for the program. All this was quickly dismantled in the Reagan years, and in 1990 the mothballed cars were all destroyed, though two prototypes survived in private hands. "Then-NHTSA chief Jerry Curry [in 1990] contended the vehicles were obsolete, and that anyone who could have learned something from them had done so by then. Claybrook, the NHTSA chief who'd overseen the RSV cars through 1980, told Congress the destruction compared to the Nazis burning books. ... 'I thought they were intentionally destroying the evidence that you could do much better,' said [the manager of one of the vehicles' manufacturers]."

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I wonder what they did with the... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32378558)

...flying cars!

Gull-Wing Pacer? (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378856)

I have a '77 that I want to now fit with lambo doors!

OMG its a Pacer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32378560)

Sounds of Wayne's World ringing out....

1970s and 32MPG...? (1)

Theoboley (1226542) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378564)

Is that even real? Most cars from that era I remember hearing about got a solid 8 MPG...

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (3, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378586)

They could have combined things like fantastically expensive construction (to make them very light) and unimpressive performance.

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378920)

According to them the safety features would add $1800 to a $4000 car. I like that it used radar to keep you from hitting other cars, a feature that has re-emerged in minivans with LADAR. Popular science article from 1980:

http://books.google.com/books?id=scDqNaEhDEgC&lpg=PA89&ots=TsLWhC9CHE&dq=rsv%20minicar%20hp&pg=PA86#v=onepage&q&f=false

Disheartening (4, Insightful)

mollog (841386) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379038)

Those who have watched the movie "Who killed the Electric Car" know that industry and politics will conspire to do what's profitable, not what's good policy. It is disheartening to hear that, once again, politicians supported by industry killed an effort to do what's good for the public interest.

Re:Disheartening (4, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379156)

industry and politics will conspire to do what's profitable, not what's good policy.

Then as a member of a democracy it's your job to make sure that such behavior is not profitable, and good policy is.

30MPG was not uncommon (4, Informative)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378926)

There are dozens of cars from the late 70s with that kind of mileage:

http://www.mpgomatic.com/2007/10/08/super-cheap-high-mpg-cars-1978-1981/ [mpgomatic.com]

Not the least of which being the Toyota Corolla, the most popular car of all time. I used to have a Mazda 323 from 1980 or so that got 45 mpg at 55mph or less, which was great until I ruined it by changing the oil and not tightening the plug sufficiently.

And, given the choice between "unimpressive performance" and "living to see your children grow up," it's amazing people continue to be so shortsighted. Investment in vehicle safety could save far more lives than the war on terror.

Lifetime chance of dying in a car accident: 1 in 83
Lifetime chance of dying of terrorist acts: 1 in 45,000
Lifetime chance of dying of a lightning strike: 1 in 80,000

http://reason.com/archives/2006/08/11/dont-be-terrorized [reason.com]

Re:30MPG was not uncommon (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379016)

Modern engines almost certainly get much better fuel economy than engine in the car discussed (per horsepower of output).

Many of those improvements have been spent on dragging around safety systems, rather than discarded for better fuel economy.

So how do you translate "unimpressive performance" into "less safe"?

Re:30MPG was not uncommon (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379048)

Second paragraph should read "Many of those improvements have been spent on dragging around safety systems, rather than better fuel economy."

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (3, Informative)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378674)

Is that even real? Most cars from that era I remember hearing about got a solid 8 MPG...

That is in part because most cars from the 70s were running on tremendously inefficient engines - and were rather heavy. The car in question was quite light, and ran on a 4 cylinder Honda engine.

In other words, while many of the Detroit engineers were still looped up on dope and not concerned about terrible mileage, the government managed to find someone with the foresight to build an efficient (and safe) car.

That said, I used to drive a car that was built in Dearborn Michigan in 1978 that got a solid 20mpg. Not bad for a car with a carb.

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32378728)

Mine only gets liquid MPG

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (1, Insightful)

NewWorldDan (899800) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378698)

RTFA - they used a Honda 4 cylinder engine. It probably took 3 minutes to get up to 55mph. And no word on how expensive they would have been to build. I'm guessing that there are a plethora of reasons why they were never built. Remeber, Ford tried to sell a safe car back in the 60s. It didn't sell, but not because people didn't want safe cars, but because it was a really crappy car. As usual, Detroit learned the wrong lesson from that experiance.

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32378868)

Or maybe the lesson is people value style of a car over safety? It's the, "I never get into a crash" attitude that kills 15,000-20,000 people a year on american roads (half of which is caused by drinking and driving)

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379154)

Well, it looks like they slapped gull-wings on an AMC PACER!!! It looks like a FLYING TURTLE!

I wonder if they're still taking calls - it says to call 1-800-424-9393 (1 800 IBIX EXE) any time!

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (4, Informative)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378914)

The engine was from a 1977 Honda Accord. The 1976 Honda Accord had a 0-60 time of 13.8 s. source [explorerforum.com] . Not spectacular, but it's less than 8 percent of your suggestion.

Engineers shouldn't exaggerate.

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (4, Funny)

jbezorg (1263978) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379026)

Engineers shouldn't exaggerate.

Except when giving time estimates to their captain.

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (1)

mac84 (971323) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379086)

yes but Claybrook's car probably weighed three times as much as the 2400 pound Accord due to the weight of additional structural steel to make it safe, as well as the weight of additional airbags, etc. Accords of that era were smaller and lighter (and much less safe) than a current Honda civic. And it's not too hard to de-tune an engine to get good fuel economy at the expense of performance. just restrict the throttle from fully opening.

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (1)

superdave80 (1226592) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379096)

But how heavy was the Accord vs. the new car its engine was placed into? 13.8s in a 2,000 lb. card does not mean the engine will do 13.8s in a 4,000 lb. car.

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379114)

Nevertheless, what American would tolerate a car that hit 60 in nearly 14 seconds? Consider that a 2010 Honda Odyssey (a minivan of all things) hits 60mph in under 8 seconds.

When it comes to performance Americans are quite spoiled. The average HP for passenger cars in the US is nearing 250hp. The average in 1980 was above 110hp. One caveat is that cars today are actually heavier than they used to be because of safety components and other features.

Fuel efficiency has increased over the last few decades, but without question we could likely have more fuel efficient cars if power were sacrificed to some extent. But again, you do need some additional power to motivate the added weight efficiently. Either that or start using more exotic, but extremely expensive, materials to reduce weight.

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379124)

...Honda 4 cylinder engine. It probably took 3 minutes to get up to 55mph...

Is that how people justify the waste their bring, for no good reason?

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (5, Insightful)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378768)

I think you might be surprised if you look into what the economy commuter cars from the 70s and 80s actually got.

They were lighter, and had smaller/less powerful engines.

"30mpg!" has been about the average for good mileage for a long time now. Every time we hit a new development in engine technology that'll give us a more effecient engine, we either use it to make more horsepower with the same given displacement, or the government mandates some other safety/emissions technology that pulls us right back down again.

I'm not saying that we (well, the auto industry) can't do better. Of course they can. Europe has turbodeisel deathboxes that get 70+ mpg. I'm saying that we, as americans, don't WANT better gas mileage. We want the huge rwd musclecar with the 7liter V8, or the tricked out awd import pushing 21psi through what might otherwise be an effecient 4banger.

Note, My father did own one of those "8mpg" 70s cars. It was a 71 challenger with a built 440 with a radical cam and solid lifters in it. it had about 500hp BEFORE the 300hp nitrous shot, and it had 4.90 gears in back. If you know anything about cars, you know that the above is about as bad a reciepe you can have for gas mileage short of towing a boat behind it (which he also did. my dad was a crazy guy), and it took all that to get down to 8mpg.

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378844)

Europe has turbodeisel deathboxes that get 70+ mpg.

"Deathboxes"?

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379078)

Let's assume a collision:

VW lupo
-vs-
the lady in the ford expedition that she bought so she could feel "safe" on the road

=

healthy dent on the expedition and horrible crushed doom to the lupo.

Have you seen american highways lately? people who can't drive their way out of a paper bag are routinely crusing around in 3 ton tanks, and you have to be in another 3 ton tank to survive the impact with them.

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (1)

ffreeloader (1105115) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378942)

Yeah, I had a '78 Chevy Monza that got 35mpg out on the highway and around 25mpg in town. It was a dog, performance-wise, but other than that I liked that car. It was a 70mph cruiser out on the highway. Much over that and the mpg started dropping off pretty quickly.

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32378960)

It's the 4.90 gear that is causing the shitty mileage.

My 505 horse Chevelle gets 15 city mpg, but I run a 3.31 gear. Why is your 440 only making 500 HP? That sounds low based on your description.

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379100)

Oh I know exactly it was the 4.90 gears. I don't know why he had gears that high, I imagine the powerband on that engine was pretty damn wide.

According to my father, it was 500 hp to the wheels, and the reason it wasn't making more was because it was tuned more to survive the 300hp nitrous shot than to make top end N/A hp. Never made 100% sense to me, but it was the early 80s. maybe they don't know what they know now.

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32379120)

I had a used 78 Dodge Omni that got 35 mpg when it was out of tune and 36 to 38 mpg when it was properly tuned. Fuel economy dropped steeply in the 80s and 90s. Cars also used to be safer since they used real metal. Some are better these days due to design but on average cars didn't fall apart in a wreck like they do now.

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (1)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378832)

8 MPG, you're memory is hazy or disingeuous.

I had a 1971 Delta 88, as big a car as anyone might need, turned like a boat, it had an Oldsmobile Rocket 350 engine with a 2 barrel carb that got 11 miles to the gallon in the 1990s when I owned it. I didn't take any special care of it, and drove it like any teenager would.

After the 1973 oil crisis cars got progressively more fuel effiecient, I had a high school buddy with a 1974 Mustang 4 cylinder that still managed a reasonable amount of sportyness.

I helped another friend of mine buy a 1973 Mercury from a little old lady, it had a v-8, he drove it like it was the Interceptor from Mad Max and also got 10-11 mpg out of the thing.

The next thing I drove that got that kind of mileage (11 mpg) was a 1988 Silverado pickup with the King Cab, and a Long bed, it had a 350 v-8 engine block and leaked oil like a sieve.

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (1)

knight24k (1115643) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378870)

I remember my dad's VW routinely getting around 30 mpg during the 70s. Previous to the VW's he had from 1970 until 1978 he had a 1964 Chrysler which I think got something in the mid teens to low 20s for MPG.

I think you are thinking about the mean average for MPG in 1970 which was about 10 mpg. Pretty sad that as of 2006 the average has only risen to 18.
http://www.project.org/info.php?recordID=384 [project.org]

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378890)

VW's 1978 Diesel Rabbit got around 50 MPG.

Re:1970s and 32MPG...? (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379080)

VW isn't American

Government can do no right...when run by GOP (0, Flamebait)

JimmytheGeek (180805) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378566)

Seriously, wtf?

it's the love child (4, Funny)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378582)

of an AMC Pacer and a Delorean

Re:it's the love child (1)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378720)

By our standards, it's certainly not the most attractive car ever, but you gotta' remember: it was the 70's. Most non-luxury cars from that area, and some of the luxury ones, will set your retinas on fire they're so ugly. For their time, these look pretty good.

Re:it's the love child (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32378978)

Don't be so harsh. 70's American cars are classics. How can you not love this: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5f/1971_Ninety-Eight.jpg ? Early 80s cars on the other hand... the goggles do nothing! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ReliantKcoupe.jpg

Re:it's the love child (1)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379040)

From TFA

The result looked like an AMC Pacer worked over by the set designers of Battlestar Galactica.

I frakking want one!

Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32378654)

Keep passengers safe from a 50 MPH t-bone. Without them wearing any restraints. Give me a fucking break.

Re:Stupid (1)

Kenoli (934612) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378722)

Designed to do and actually did are different.

Re:Stupid (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378880)

No one wore the seat belts at that time anyway (something like 5% when these cars were built). The whole point was to show that it was possible (maybe not economical, but possible) to design a car with features that keep the occupants safe in a highway speed collision so putting the crash test dummies in seat belts would have defeated the purpose.

Re:Stupid (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378898)

Yeah...how intensive crash test campaign was performed? How many real world accidents? How much people inside would be stressed from the "advice" not to be in the way of opening airbags? (if they had no restraints...)

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32378664)

Right up there with the water burning carburetor.

Re:Anonymous Coward (3, Informative)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378892)

You jest, but while "water burning carburetors" are up there with "magnetic ley-line energy", water injection is actually real and practical especially in forced-induction engines [wikipedia.org] . It essentially converts your car engine partially into a steam engine, using the latent heat of vaporisation to cool the high-pressure intake air (increasing thermodynamic efficiency) without lowering the pressure (increasing overall boost and forced induction mechanical efficiency).

Not the first time either (5, Insightful)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378676)

Just look at the near fanatical destruction of the blueprints and prototypes of the canadian supersonic Avro Arrow combat jet back in the 50's. This car design getting buried is clearly another case of someone not wanting anyone to manufacture a competing model that could shake the current makers out of their lowest common denominator complacency.

Re:Not the first time either (0, Troll)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378794)

Nobody in the 1970s was all that interested in a "safe" car except maybe a very small minority. And while these cars might have been safe, nobody is talking about what they cost or what sort of performance they had.

The "right" thing probably would have been for the US Government to nationalize the Big Three automakers and mandate that nobody could buy anything except an official US Government produced car. They could have then made the cars safe and high mileage. Nobody would have anything to compare them to and if they cost $50,000 each that would have just further reduced the dependence on automobiles. The could have used the highways right-of-way for rail lines and torn up most of the concrete.

All we really need is a truely benvolent dictator to tell us what the right way is and shove it down everyone's throats. We might actually be on the road to that, especially if the carbon tax goes through. We won't have to worry about consumer choice anymore - all of those complex decisions will be made for us.

Be careful what you wish for, in a Progressive/Liberal government world you just might get it.

Re:Not the first time either (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32378866)

Be careful what you wish for, in a Progressive/Liberal government world you just might get it.

That's why I'm voting republican/tea party. I don't want to have to serve niggers..

Re:Not the first time either (5, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378872)

Nobody in the 1970s was all that interested in a "safe" car except maybe a very small minority. And while these cars might have been safe, nobody is talking about what they cost or what sort of performance they had.

The "right" thing probably would have been for the US Government to nationalize the Big Three automakers and mandate that nobody could buy anything except an official US Government produced car. They could have then made the cars safe and high mileage. Nobody would have anything to compare them to and if they cost $50,000 each that would have just further reduced the dependence on automobiles. The could have used the highways right-of-way for rail lines and torn up most of the concrete.

All we really need is a truely benvolent dictator to tell us what the right way is and shove it down everyone's throats. We might actually be on the road to that, especially if the carbon tax goes through. We won't have to worry about consumer choice anymore - all of those complex decisions will be made for us.

Be careful what you wish for, in a Progressive/Liberal government world you just might get it.

Oh gimme a fucking break. A couple of safety or mileage regulations do not equate to a government takeover of all of society and dictatorship installed in place of elected government. You people have been listening to too much Glenn Beck. Knock it off!

Re:Not the first time either (2, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379006)

The Volkswagon Beetle was a mandated car, developed by a conservative benevolent dictator government, and it didn't turn out so bad - the car, that is.

Re:Not the first time either (2, Insightful)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379140)

I wouldn't exactly call him either conservative (he was a radical corporatist) or harmless. He and Josef Stalin decimated the population of Europe between them.

Re:Not the first time either (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379052)

Every GM is a government produced car, as the US owns 60% of GM right now. That is scheduled to be sold off, but as of today, it is still a true fact.

And while my Libertarian self doesn't like what is going on in DC right now, your last sentence is just pure FUD. It isn't like the GOP is any better than the Dems when it comes to trying to find ways to interfere with your life, they just try to interfere with different aspects.

Re:Not the first time either (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379082)

"Be careful what you wish for, in a Progressive/Liberal government world you just might get it."

As if the conservative free market and it's gigantic oil spills and lowest common denominator and cut corners thinking is any bettter! Conservative mindset: find the absolute baseline cheapest materials to build complex oil drilling rigs with. and staff them with the lowest qualified people and materials for cheapest amount of money... for maximum profit and don't worry about those oil spills or ecological damage to the environment that is priceless and cannot be calculated by dumbass business men.

Re:Not the first time either (4, Interesting)

Aquitaine (102097) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378842)

How does that make sense? The conspiracy required for the type of scheme you're describing would mean that the Japanese, American, Korean, and European automakers would all have to be colluding to keep this stuff out of their vehicles. It's also why imports have been routing American cars for so many years -- they've had a lot more of this kind of stuff than American cars. Though one possible reason for that is that they have more money to throw around, since it costs a lot more to design and build a car in the US, thanks to the UAW.

This may finally be changing thanks to Ford, whose new Focus and Mustang are both noteworthy accomplishments in terms of features, performance, and safety, but I don't buy the argument that 'the government should've been in the car business all along and a Reagan/Republican/Auto company conspiracy is the only reason they weren't.'

There have been (and still are) a lot of government-run car companies over the years. You won't see many of the cars they produce today because they're typically totalitarian and/or socialist regimes that make them, and they're usually rubbish. The auto industry in the US (and in most of the industrialized world) is very heavily regulated, with a couple thousand dollars added to the cost of most cars to pay for all the stuff we're requiring the auto companies to do over the next few years. That's not a bad trade-off for a lot of people.

I bought my first real car in 2002, sold it in 2004 to move to NYC, and just bought a new car a couple months ago after leaving the city. It's amazing how much has changed just in that time. Up until very recently, I would never have thought of buying an American car (I never have) but hopefully that will change, though I suspect it'll be Ford and not GM driving that change.

Re:Not the first time either (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378864)

clearly another case of someone not wanting anyone to manufacture a competing model that could shake the current makers out of their lowest common denominator complacency.

Not necessarily. It could be that the materials are too expensive to mass-production. Or the economics of the day (cheaper gas, lower average travel speeds, etc.) that put it's price-point too high. But as a rule of thumb even schematics that don't work are kept for future analysis and possible use... I can understand discontinuing development, but destroying the documents suggests another motive. It doesn't prove it -- but it definately suggests it.

Re:Not the first time either (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378916)

Because if you had blueprints to a car from the '70s that blows modern cars away in even one or two respects, you'd totally burn them "to protect the status quo" instead of using them to give you a massive commercial advantage and let you retire on a fat mattress stuffed with hundred-dollar bills.

Re:Not the first time either (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379070)

We are still bitter about that.

I believe it is part of school curriculum to watch a movie about how awesome it was and how retarded it was that it was destroyed. Followed by a bit of anti-america/conservative stuff (arrow wasn't needed since the states said NORAD and SAGE would protect us all, who needs fast planes. Diefenbaker was just Eisenhower's bitch.). And ends with a statement on how NASA was founded by avro engineers that were pissed at having their program axed.

Re:Not the first time either (5, Informative)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379122)

If you look into the history of the Arrow, you'll find that the soviets had infiltrated Avro pretty heavily and the secrets they stole including specific Titanium parts appeared in the MiG-25.

So if you want to talk conspiracy theory at least get the right one.

If you want to talk about shaking folks out of complacency and need a plane analogy try Burt Rutan's Starship, first plane to be built with Carbon Fiber, All Glass cockpit, typical Rutan Wings, Winglets, Pusher Props and Canards... FAA wouldn't certify the plane for years, and now everybody uses some or all of these technologies.

For Car analogies try all the Big 3 and other car companies that told Elon Musk of Tesla motors he couldn't build a full electric vehicle, because they couldn't do it. Toyota (Prius and Electric RAV4) just gave Tesla $50 million to help Toyota with their new electric vehicles.

Impossible (2, Funny)

weston (16146) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379130)

another case of someone not wanting anyone to manufacture a competing model that could shake the current makers out of their lowest common denominator complacency.

If it's not straight out fiction.

Maybe you've heard this one, folks, but I think it's time to tell it again:

If Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, An Efficient Government, and a Private Corporation are at a four way intersection, and in the center, there is a nice crisp 100 dollar bill, who will get to the money first?

The Private Corporation, of course, because the first three are figments of your imagination! Ha!

It's just good common sense. Everybody knows it. It's been scientifically, irrefutably proven, so anybody who tells you differently has an agenda: there is no such thing as a government ever producing anything better than private industry, and the sooner we learn that, the sooner we'll be free of all the problems we've got here in modern socialist America -- and particularly free to ignore or simply be amused by obvious fictions like this article.

woo (0, Troll)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378692)

Thank you, libertarians.

Re:woo (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32379036)

Fuck you. This has nothing to do libertarians. As others have stated the car got good performance because it was super light. It sound like it is comparable to modern cars which is reasonable pick up time for technology on this scale.

You are an idiot to belive that the government as a result of it's size can wish things into existence.

I've heard of that car before... (2, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378696)

It's the one that also got 100mpg due to the fuel vaporizing carburetor. :)

I'd buy one today... (1)

Endophage (1685212) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378704)

... if they put them into production. I bet they could make them for a pretty cheap price now as well. Maybe the Obama administration should start manufacturing them to help pay the national debt!

Maybe it's the pin striping... (1)

rotide (1015173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378708)

Maybe it's the pin striping and white/gray color or maybe I'm just crazy, but I see a lot of Star Trek in that car. Especially TNG style.

I wonder if they got any inspiration for the designs used in the show from it.

Re:Maybe it's the pin striping... (1)

Chrutil (732561) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379110)

but I see a lot of Star Trek in that car. Especially TNG style.

Indeed it does. Amusingly, the logo on the front fender looks kind of like the Klingon logo...

Delorean Similarities (1)

LightningTH (151451) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378710)

Gullwing doors are great. I own a delorean and here are a few things I've noticed.
One, I don't have to worry about how close someone parks, I only need 11 inches to open the door.
Two, if it is raining, the door tends to keep my seat more dry and myself as there is less movement out of the way of the door to get around and in as you would do with a normal door.

With the engine being mounted in the mid to rear end, you have a firewall that would get pushed into the flat of your back if you are against it assuming hit from behind. Having a head on collision the delorean's front will crumple as it is just empty storage space. Current cars the engine get's shoved into the firewall which then has a chance to crumple the footwell area that your feet are in.

It is sad that two cars, both with designs to benefit people, have either been destroyed or had their reputation destroyed so no-one would contemplate building anything that even looks like it or has safety features.

I'm sure others can point out even more similarities and benefits.

Re:Delorean Similarities (1)

djdavetrouble (442175) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378790)

They both also sport the flux capacitor requiring 1.21 gigawatts.

Re:Delorean Similarities (5, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378802)

"Current cars the engine get's shoved into the firewall which then has a chance to crumple the footwell area that your feet are in."

The engines are up-front to absorb impact energy and function as part of the overall structure. This IMO works very well (I do lots of vehicle salvage and get to cut up wrecks using a Sawzall) and I'd rather have a drivetrain up front than a "trunk". Some engine mounts incorporate aluminum members whose controlled failure absorbs energy while guiding the drivetrain where it should go.

Have a look at large salvage yards if you get the chance. The WAY vehicles behave in crashes is interesting.

Re:Delorean Similarities (4, Informative)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378852)

Generally agreeing, but... in current cars, the firewall is designed to hold the engine when it gets pushed back in a frontal crash. It is an essential part of a force path leading into the tunnel structure and, via the firewall cross-beams, into the frame side members, thereby keeping the passenger cell intact. If the intrusion goes further than that, the engine is to be deflected at a downward angle, keeping the footwells mostly intakt. There is no real problem there. In fact, conversions from gas to electric, which are missing the front engine, have the problem that this force path is not there any more. That said, I am gray with envy for that Delorean!

Re:Delorean Similarities (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379050)

Seems like a simple solution is to mount either the electric motor or a block of batteries in an aluminum case were the engine should be.

Re:Delorean Similarities (1)

szark (1066530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379094)

"It is sad that two cars, both with designs to benefit people, have either been destroyed or had their reputation destroyed so no-one would contemplate building anything that even looks like it or has safety features."

Make that three cars - don't forget the GM EV1 model destruction.

But... (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378724)

Could it fly?

Re:But... (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378746)

I think you misspelled "blend".

32MPG - old rating or new? (4, Interesting)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378750)

People consistently rant that newer cars don't seem to be getting significantly better mileage ratings than older vehicles.

Problem is you can't make an apples-to-apples comparison because in the late 1990s or early 2000s, the EPA changed the standards for the mileage test to be more realistic (more stringent).

For example, in the old EPA tests, you could run your test without the air conditioner running even if the car had it. New EPA tests require that the AC is run for a certain portion of the test unless the car doesn't have any AC unit.

Also, in general, engine power outputs have gone up significantly since the 1980s and mid-1990s while keeping the same gas mileage.

So a vehicle that scored 32MPG in the 1970s might only be able to score 20-25 MPG on the new EPA tests.

Re:32MPG - old rating or new? (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378878)

Unfortunately, so much can affect the actual mileage that such ratings are even still somewhat meaningless. They're really best for comparing cars, not for gauging actual mileage. Changing the estimates only clouds the issue in the way that you describe--making it difficult or impossible to compare current cars to cars prior to the change.

Anecdotally, the old may be accurate... (1)

weston (16146) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378994)

I'd assumed that the old MPG ratings were gamed by manufacturers to reflect higher-than-real-world performance myself. But I've recently been measuring the MPG of my '97 Geo Prizm (set the mileage counter when I fill up, record gallons-to-top at the next fill up, divide first figure by second) and I've been seeing numbers that range from 29 to 37 mpg. If you look at the fueleconomy.gov ratings [fueleconomy.gov] , that's not only closer to old rating system, it exceeds it.

I suppose there may be factors from vehicle maintenance to how it's driven to what's kept inside, but it's an old car at this point (200k+), I don't think I've done anything special with it, I probably have more than the usual amount of stuff in the thing, and doubt I drive much more conservatively or efficiently than the average.

So what? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378754)

What's its zero to sixty time? Top speed? How fast would this car get you laid?

I don't care about gull-wings or any other kind of wings unless the damned car is going to fly with them.

Re:So what? (1)

nyctopterus (717502) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378958)

Gull wing doors will get you laid, man. Okay, probably with a weird subset of pimply Back to the Future geeks, but still!

St Reagan Scuttled Success? Shocking. (5, Insightful)

coaxial (28297) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378786)

When you elect people that axiomatically believe that government can't do anything right, you get people that intentionally do government badly. Whether it's automobile safety, maintaining an a healthy and stable economy, or maintaining worker and environmental safety standards.

You wouldn't hire a janitor that said he was morally opposed to cleanliness and didn't believe that brooms worked. Why would you be shocked when everything goes to hell when you hire someone that says they don't believe government?

Re:St Reagan Scuttled Success? Shocking. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32379062)

Well said.

Sounds like the prequel... (1)

lsmo (1106631) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378792)

This sounds like the prequel to "Who killed the electric car?" Where Big Oil = Gov't.

Re:Sounds like the prequel... (1)

lsmo (1106631) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378888)

Make that ... Except Big Oil = Gov't. Either way Big Oil still owns the world... Anyone up for a nice lobster bisque with nice sweet crude sauce :-D

act of treason (2, Insightful)

zugedneb (601299) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378796)

If government develops things, then it is tax payer money.

If what was developed gets distroyed, or hidden for no apparent reason, other than lobby or corporate pressure than that is TREASON.
TREASON is punishable by death...

Since one can not become politician on "competence" only, but on slimyness mostly, one has to accept he fact that the governors are not thinking like sane and technical minded people do... We have to accept this, and then find ways to live with it by regulating it :-) (i love that word)

To regulate this, I propose the introduction of death penalty for incompetence at political missions and corruption...

Re:act of treason (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378950)

Man, I know this is just railing at the wind, but I still gotta say it:

I hate when people try to apply a word by basically redefining it. Maybe it sucks that the government decided to scrap the program, but the government cannot commit treason against itself.

If the government decides to design and build a prototype of some new technology and *you* destroy it, IN AN ATTEMPT to undermine or weaken the government, *that's* treason.

If the government decides to design and build a prototype of some new technology, and the *government* decides to scrap the project because of either technological, economical, or even political reasons, that is NOT treason, by any commonly accepted definition of the word.

Stop trying to redefine the language.

Re: act of treason (3, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378954)

If what was developed gets distroyed, or hidden for no apparent reason, other than lobby or corporate pressure than that is TREASON.

The Reagan campaign committed treason with Iran in order to get him elected. You can hardly expect a baseline of good government after that.

Go buy a Passat (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378798)

Really, if you want all this stuff, you can go buy a Passat, or an Accord with a bit lower mileage. That rig from the 70's wouldn't pass emissions tests today, so it would have to get heavier and the mileage would go down. A 70's Honda engine isn't exactly what people are looking for when they need to get on an Interstate, so you couldn't sell them easily either. Giant bumpers are nice until you need to parallel park in Chinatown.

I totally want a Delorean, emotionally, but I'm not actually going to buy one for daily driving - I was in a roll-over accident once; side-opening doors are nice.

Really, though, somebody should FOIA the plans and build a factory and see what happens, any patents have expired. Prove that Reagan's goons were wrong...

Re:Go buy a Passat (4, Insightful)

haruchai (17472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379046)

You're missing the point. By destroying this or not letting it be produced in the US, it allowed for innovation to be almost entirely to go
to the European or Japanese manufacturers
Notice that the options you provided didn't include any from a US manufacturer.
Which "rig from the '70s" would pass any modern emissions test?

And the giant bumpers quip is also a red herring - there were a dozens of wide, long and difficult to park cars back in the '70s.
Did none of their owners eat Chinese restaurant food?

Re:Go buy a Passat (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379116)

As for the side-opening doors being better in a rollover, that seems like a valid point. I suppose that could be addressed by having
those large windows be detachable. Although, with the massive increase in size of the average American since the '70s, that
probably wouldn't be enough.

Re:Go buy a Passat (2, Informative)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379180)

On a recent job I got some insight into current designs on handling gull-wing doors in rollovers. There are loads of concepts to handle the situation now, some of them fascinating exercises in overengineering. I have seen concepts up to explosive bolts to detach the doors...

'Nuf said (1)

laughing rabbit (216615) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378800)

Thanks, Ronnie.

Godwin (3, Funny)

tygt (792974) | more than 4 years ago | (#32378838)

told Congress the destruction compared to the Nazis burning books

I've heard of threads getting Godwin'd..... but this one had it in the summary.

Doesn't that, by itself, mean that no further replies are necessary?

Re:Godwin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32378938)

OMG I won the thread by mentioning Godwin.

Progress, by any other name ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32378882)

I'd argue it is in our interest to control progress. If we advance too rapidly, control by the state is compromised and order can not be maintained.

As an example: the Internet of the late 90's was a terrible time for control! You could pretty much post whatever you wanted wherever you wanted without retribution from rights holder. Now that we have appropriate laws in place, we can circumvent such things almost as fast as they are posted.

To think that the destruction of efficient motoring and safety designs, factor efficient energy sources, or wide-scale utility broadband was anything other than purposeful, is ludicrous. The people must be governed, poorly mind you, but governed none-the-less. Progress of any kind outside of a controlled rate would be disaster. You all should know this by now.

/tongue firmly planted .... where?

And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32378912)

Godwin strikes right in the summary. This thing never even had a chance.

What's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32378928)

So what are we supposed to take from this article? That the Federal government and the automakers colluded to suppress this technology? What could they possibly have to gain? In the 70's Volvo proved that safety sells cars. Since then every car manufacturer knows that you can't sell a car with a reputation for being unsafe.

For similar outrage... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32378962)

Watch the movie: "Who Killed the Electric Car". The original EV1 made by GM in the 1990's had a brilliant design and several very advanced (for it's time) features. not only did they take them all back, they destroyed every one. i, for one, believe the conspiracy. they just don't want us to know how awesome cars can actually be.

No page on wikipedia! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32379012)

They really did a hatchet job on this car - I find _nothing_ about it on wikipedia.

The Experimental Safety Vehicle [wikipedia.org] is close. The comparison to book burning seems to be pretty close to the mark...

Hi, I'm from the Republicans... (-1, Flamebait)

Lendrick (314723) | more than 4 years ago | (#32379018)

...and I'm here to deliberately sabotage the government's work and claim it can't do anything right.

Conspiracy Theories... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32379084)

are always wrong. Why? Simple: that many people just can't keep a secret. This is a complete load of crap, or at least such a stretch of the truth as to be no different from said load. This is just another excuse for poor losers to make groundless accusations against Reagan and other winners. "They made a car that ran on water, man, but the government shut it down!"

Here's the truth... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32379134)

Ronald Reagan was a senile old coot they propped up to look good on TV but otherwise he did nothing for the United States.

You think I'm kidding? The current debt crisis starting hitting us under his watch. Nixon may have been a crook, but at least he was parsimonious. Reagan never saw a military spending bill he didn't like...except ones that were too small. Tax cuts? He had plenty. Spending Cuts? I remember what the BRAC was. People protested it.

It's true. People will protest spending cuts. They will protest higher taxes.

Accordingly, people are stupid.

You know.. it looks like the gadget mobile. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32379168)

Seriously--

Well, at least when it transforms into the 4-door sedan mode anyway.

Check it out, around 1 minute [youtube.com]

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