safety and safety features of 1976 Eldorado Convertible?

Started by Pete, July 13, 2006, 11:18:08 PM

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Im looking to buy a 76 Eldo convertible but have been challenged on safety issues by my better half.  Yesterday I posted a request for data on, "Whats a safer convertible, 1976 Eldorado or 2006 Mustang?"  I got a mixed bag of responses back.  In my own mind 5200 pounds counts for a lot, at least in a crash with another vehicle.  Im still looking for data or statistics, but I thought that advertising literature might have some kind of info on safety features.  Can anyone tell me about this?


Craig Chally


Safety features in these cars include padded dashboards, adjustable head restraits, lap belts, energy-absorbing steering column, door side impact beams, and energy absorbing bumpers.  For a 30 year old car, I think thats pretty good.  And, its not like this is a daily driver, so I wouldnt fuss too much over it.


Bruce Reynolds # 18992

Gday Pete,

Every question has a different answer, depending on how it is answered, and what answer the asker wants to hear.

Now, if I was going to be involved in an accident, I would want to be in the newest car possible, with all the latest safety features.

But, as I dont want to be in an accident, or never want to be in one either, I try and avoid situations where I might actually have an accident.

And, surviving an accident also depends on the masses involved, and the direction of travel and the deceleration.

But, as you wont be driving the 76 as hard and as fast as a new Stang, the chances of being involved in a full frontal should, repeat should, be slight.

The chances of a new car running up the back of you in a 76 Cadillac should also be slim, as the newer car will have far superior stopping power and better handling than any 76 Caddy, and therefore you will probably be sliding int the new car in front of you.

Nobody buys a car in the full knowlege that they are going to be involved in a full-on Fatal Accident, or we would still be walking.   And, probably getting trampled on by a run-away horse.

Finally, the two cannot be compared.

The Tassie Devil(le),
60 CDV

Denise 20352

   Youre honestly going to let your wife tell you that a car isnt safe enough for you to drive?  What has become of the American male?

   If you really want to cater to her nervous condition, take her out and show her the motorcycle that youre going to buy, then she will be relieved to know that youre getting the Eldo instead.

   But seriously...if I were that wired, my hubby would bring home a bottle of scotch and a Valium(tm).  And if he let me get away with telling him that a car wasnt safe enough, I would never be able to sleep with him again.


Denise 20352

  BTW, if youre not American, I apologize profusely.  ;)


Brad Hemingson

Ive never asked my wife her opinion on any car (or boat for that matter). However, when she wants a new car I give her a budget and she can buy what she wants in that price range. Its kind of funny when we go to the dealer and the salesmen keep trying to pitch me and I tell them theyre wasting their time because shes making the decsion.


I am American, and I love your note!  Thanks for the input.  Gave me a good chuckle.

Eric Maypother CLC #15104

I always wondered this myself, is an early-mid 70s Caddy safer than a new Cadillac or other new car, the 2 1/2 tons of steel should help, heavy steel bumpers instead of plastic wrapped around styrafoam, full frame versus unibody, but the new cars are suppose to be safer, even though their lighter with thinner sheetmetal thier suppose to have crumple zones to absorb the impact, etc, I still think 70s cars are much safer than something from the 40s or 50s, even 60s. Another thing when they say a car rated xxx on a crash test are they using the same rating system they used 30 years ago or did they lower thier standards? I guess the real test would be to get 2 volunteers, 1 guy who says his Mustang is safer and a guy who says his Caddy is safer and have them hit each other head on at 50mph and see who walks away, any volunteers? :)

I feel safe driving around with all these little cars out thier today, I just worry about dump and trailer trucks. I know little cars give me the right of-way, unless thier suicidale
Eric :)
1990 Brougham.

Matt Harwood

I owned a 76 Eldo convertible and had a girlfriend who would not ride in it because she was afraid it would tip over and crush her. As if a wide, 5200-pound car would just magically flip itself over or somehow generate the cornering forces to cause it to roll. I kept the car...

Safety is mostly in the hands of the driver, not the car. Sure, sometimes the unavoidable happens, but Id wager that a vast majority of "accidents" are actually preventable. Of course, youll counter that you cant pay attention for the other guy, but again, the chances of you being the one he singles out are pretty slim, all things considered. All the safety features in the world arent any kind of guarantee of survival, nor is lack thereof a guarantee of injury.

I think our faith in airbags and ABS and traction control makes many drivers willing to push the envelope just that much farther knowing that the car will save them. In an older car, youll be virtually eliminating yourself from the equation--youll probably drive more carefully, be more aware of traffic around you and by virtue of driving a 5200-pound, 18-foot-long convertible, make other people more aware of you. You probably wont drive in those situations where most accidents take place: bad weather, late at night, while impaired or in rush-hour traffic.

Will you be talking on your cell phone, checking your E-mail, drinking your Cafe Latte in the middle of a snowstorm while at the helm of your Eldo? If not, you just increased your chances of surviving or avoiding an accident more than airbags, ABS and traction control ever could.

Get the car and enjoy it. No matter what you buy, statistically speaking, itll be just as dangerous. At least youll be having fun worrying about the unthinkable.
Matt Harwood
Cleveland, OH
My 1941 Buick Century Restoration: TARGET=_blank>

Craig Chally clc21190

I was once broadsided in a 1977 SDV I owned, by a full-sized early-90s Chevy pickup.  He plowed into me at about 50, hitting me square on the rear passenger door and quarter panel, spun me a clean 360 degrees.  The upshot?  Badly dented door and quarter panel, and the rear axle was slightly damaged, as he hit the rear wheel.  But, from inside the car, you couldnt tell anything had happend, unless you tried to open the affected door.  Even the window in the affected door still lowered!  My Caddy drove away under her own steam, and proceeded to make the 120 mile cruise back to LA, on the freeway, at full speed.  The Chevy required a flatbed, as his front end, including the radiator, was toast.  Given the choice between the Eldo and the Stang, guess which one Id take? ;)


Rhino 21150

A post 1990 car is designed to absorb all the energy of an impact. In order to do that the car must be totaled after any accident above fifteen miles per hour. Trust me, I know! It was an Escort and I hit a pickup in the rear while hydroplaning. At about twenty the airbags went off, injuring me and the passenger. My thumbs still hurt four years later. The cost of replacing the airbags raised the repairs above the value of the car!
When I hydroplaned in my 1976 Delta (4,800 pounds) the Hondas and Toyotas vanished! I wasnt worried. I have heard from many sources that the mid seventies GM full size cars have the least deformable frame of any American car. Heck, the drivers door on the Delta weighs more than some Kias.

Jim Skelly, CLC#15958

Id take my Eldorados over the Mustang or any new car.  The crush zone is much larger in the footwell area, as well as between the door and seat.  However, Id take a body-on-frame SUV over the Eldorados in an accident.  Front and side airbags in a Mustang offer some protection, but if in a collision with a much larger vehicle, guess who loses?  You cant alter physics.

Denise 20352

  One of these days Im going to get around to gathering some uncooked statistics, but I do not believe that todays cars are safer, and they are definitely not as safe as they could be. Yes, they have air bags and ABS, and crash tests may show that they are less likely to cause death to the occupants inside when the car is rammed into a wall in a certain way; however...

  Visibility is extremely poor.  The windshield comes down at a very flat angle, a person of average or better height will have his head above the top of the windshield, near the sun visors, A-pillars are very wide, and mirrors are large.  This makes a 10-degree blind spot to pedestrians and perpendicular traffic, and promotes tunnelvision.

  New cars are extremely uncomfortable, which encourages aggressive driving.

  Many new cars are overpowered, which makes the aggressive driver even more dangerous.

  There are some cars out there that are just too small.  Bigger cars and trucks are going to run right over the top of them and flatten them, and they will run underneath semi trailers.

  The steering is underboosted, ratio is too low, and steering wheel is too small.  The slightest loss of concentration can send the car careening across the road.  Its a fine arrangement for racing, but not safe for normal driving.

  Some people can argue that air bags save lives, but they have caused deaths and serious injuries.  There are also tested only when the car is brand new, and not after five or ten years, when the system is likely to fail or go off prematurely.

  Because cars are so small and uncomfortable, people who want a better ride and a decent amount of room have to buy SUVs and trucks.   These vehicles have a different bumper height than cars, theyre heavy, they block other drivers visibility, and they have different handling characteristics than cars, so they often go out of control and roll.


Bruce Reynolds # 18992

What everyone seems to forget is that even though a 76 Cadillac is a very robust vehicle, and doesnt distort much in a prang, the soft, pliable human bodies inside said Cadillac are taking up ALL the inertia and suffering for it.

The latest cars are collapsing as the crash occurs and is wiping off a lot of energy as the bodywork is crumbling.

My philosophy is that it is easier to replace a car, than to repair a human body.

Too many times I have seen the effects of a human body and limbs distorting the steel dashboards and windscreens of cars.  And, guess what, the cr is repairable, but the poor occupnts spent a long time at the Hospital and recovery and rehabilitation centres.

I found it funny when showing a person in a wheelchair their car in the impound yard, and they are only concerned that it wont take long to fix, then they can start driving again.

Me?   Less pain is far better than having a repaired car and not being able to drive it.

The Tassie Devil(le),
60 CDV

Eric Maypother CLC #15104

Hi again,
I was thinking, yes crumple zones help obsorb the impact rather than your body, but I guess it also depends on what you hit to, in crash test your hitting a fixed wall, in real life youd most likely be hitting a smaller vehicle, you could use the anology as a block of steel has no crumple zones, but the block of steel will survive a head-on collision with an empty soda can that has crumple zones.

Now if cars are equal size and weight Im sure crumple zones will help you walk away from some collitions. But with more and more small cars out thier I fell safer with my big RWD 1990 Brougham. Even if I eventualy get a newer front wheel drive Caddy with crumple zones it will still be bigger than almost all the other newer cars. You could even say if a small new car hits your older Caddy head-on the other car itself will be your crumple zone.
Eric :)

Denise 20352

  I think so too.  If I had run into another old truck with my truck, I think I would have been injured more than I was by turning a Corsica into an Accordian.  If it hadnt been for the shoulder belt, I might not have been injured at all.


  His crumple zones became my crumple zones, and my truck is  still driveable.



Thanks for all the good discussion.  A few more comments:

Theres no need for the humans in the car to hit the windscreen or metal dashboard; we have seat belts nowadays.  (I have offered to replace the lap belts with lap/shoulder belts if I buy the Eldo, but thats not enough, at least yet.) If one assumes 3 feet of active shoulder/lap seat belt length x 2 inches wide, thats 72 square inches to spread out the deceleration force, on strong body structures, compared to maybe, what, a tenth of that if your forehead hits the windshield?  And nylon belts stretch slightly to reduce how quickly that force is applied.

Theres a graph posted on a website TARGET=_blank>  (in section II), made with data from a 2003 300+ page report about vehicle weight and safety by the NHTSA TARGET=_blank>

It shows a fatality correlation with vehicle weight in 2-vehicle crashes.  Its very impressive, showing that an increase in weight from the average 3300 lb car to 5200 lb correlates to a 60percent (!) reduction in fatalities.  I dont believe theres a safety device made today that even comes close to this level of improved safety, except seatbelts, and theyre 40 to 50percent effective for front passengers only.  This is not strictly applicable to my exact question, since the data are for 1999 - 2002 vehicles, but the point is still impressively made.  The big report referenced above lists 4 pages of various reasons (section 1.2) why heavier vehicles have usually had lower fatality rates.

It seems its just not politically correct these days to tell people about how big a difference the weight factor is (its usually buried in some small footnote or one sentence, if mentioned at all, in a discussion of crash test data, for instance), maybe because 1.) more weight usually means worse gas mileage and thus more greenhouse gas emissions (people dont want to seem environmentally insensitive), and 2.) the passengers in the tin cans will suffer at the expense of the large car passengers.  (Selfish parents want their kids to live more than they care about other peoples kids or society in general.  Yes, I admit Im guilty as charged.)

Denise 20352

> in a head-on collision a 1 percent weight advantage corresponds to more than a 5 percent reduction in the driver’s fatality risk, relative to the driver of the lighter vehicle.[12]

    Wow!  Thats enough to make me drive the hearse every day.  Even my NYB is 5500#, enough to give me quite an advantage over most of the junk that is on the road.

    Its good to know that you get something for your gas money, aside from just the smooth ride and the legroom.