Who knew there were so many odd things to know about airbags?
1.) The first ever crash between two cars, both equipped with airbags, was between TWO Chrysler Lebarons! Both drivers survived. One’s last name was Woody and the other’s last name was Van Steelant, and I didn’t make those names up.
2.) The first car to offer dual airbags as standard was the Porsche 944 Turbo, in 1987.
3.) The first car to offer the option of a passenger airbag was the 1972 Mercury Monterey.
4.) General Motors flirted with airbags in the 1970s as well. GM’s 1970s airbags were so durable that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported testing the airbags on old derelict Impalas decades later, and while the rest of the cars were falling apart, the airbags worked “perfectly.”
New airbags are probably durable, too. I hope.
5.) Speaking of Ford and GM, not a a ton of cars equipped with optional airbags were sold back in the 1970s, so GM stopped them in 1977. The New York Times reported that GM and Ford then went on to impotently lobby the government against making airbags mandatory for years, the argument being that “airbags were not practicable or appropriate.”
That was lies, as we all now know.
6.) GM’s record with airbags has been somewhat spotty over the years (considering that they wouldn’t deploy during the ignition switch crisis) but we will give some credit that the company at least has them now. It has also since introduced something called a “front center airbag” which stops you from getting smushed up against your armrest in a side impact. It looks like this:
7.) The first-generation Citroen C4 has this neat little steering wheel where the only thing that moves on it is the rim, but the hub in the middle stays in place. Citroens are cool like that. Anyway, because the hub always stayed fixed in one spot, the airbag itself could be shaped for the human body a bit better. After all, your head is not as wide as your shoulders, I hope. So the 2004 Citroen C4 was the first car to have a shaped airbag.
This is the best picture of it I can find that we could use after like only three minutes of searching:
You can see the driver’s side airbag is shaped a bit like an upside-down egg.
8.) The first American patent issued for automotive airbags was granted to a John W. Hetrick in 1952. You can still see that original patent here. It took damn near 20 years for the invention to actually end up in cars.
9.) Wanna know why airbags deploy so quickly, and with such force? Well, if they’re even slightly late, it could be very bad. Like, you’re-going-to-need-some-new-facial-bits bad. Here’s video of how bad:
Oof. That’s bad. Here’s another video that is definitely more dramatic, though I am not sure how applicable it is because most people I know don’t have watermelon heads:
10.) But airbags do deploy extremely quickly, and for good reason. Here’s footage from an actual crash, helpfully filmed by a bunch of mad British lads:
They’re rattled, but unhurt. Hooray airbags.
OK that’s all the airbag facts I want to write about for now. There are certainly more airbag facts available, out there, in the world. Please comment with your favourite true airbag facts.
If your airbag facts are not true, and are really made up, please do make that clear. I want to read more airbag facts.