RAC Cars News


How Safe Are Classic Cars?

By raccars Published

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The safety of classic cars has been the subject of sensational headlines this year, after a London cabbie killed the owner of a 1963 MGB in a crash in stationary traffic. The cab driver was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving and jailed for nine months, but as witnesses claim the MGB crumpled alarmingly upon impact, are classic car drivers risking their safety?

Investigations revealed that the cab driver involved in the fatal crash with the 1963 MGB had been speeding at the time and failed an eye test when asked to read a number plate by police. He had also worked 90 hours in the last week and was overtired. The MGB was at a standstill in heavy traffic on west London's A40 Westway when it was hit behind by the Peugeot 5008, being used as a minicab. The MGB was shunted forward on collision, with four cars ending up involved in the incident.

There is no question over the guilt of the convicted driver who caused the crash but the resilience and resistance to damage of classic cars has been thrown into the spotlight.

The Daily Telegraph was among the media outlets to discuss the apparently dubious safety of classics, pointing out the lack of safety features, such as crumple zones or even seatbelts in some models. Even more modern classics, such as the Ford Capri or the Mini, were criticised as potentially unsafe in the event of an accident.

There was another incident involving the death of a classic car passenger last year, when a Ford Anglia 105E on the way to a classic vehicle meet at Gaydon suffered a collision with a Scania truck. The Anglia did not have any seatbelts and both the driver and her passenger were thrown out of the car. The passenger was killed.

Modern EU legislation relating to vehicle safety has seen some manufacturers forced to withdraw models from the market. The iconic VW camper van and the Land Rover Defender, for example, have both been discontinued as their manufacturers claim it is too complicated and not cost effective to re-engineer the vehicles to include items such as airbags, which are mandatory in new cars. However, there are a number of older, classic cars driving around without modern safety features. Motoring organisations are suggesting that classic car owners should not panic but should be realistic about the limits of their vehicles and conscious that driving them can involve some extra risk.

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