Sunday, July 4, 2010

How many active and passive safety features do you need? Salmson GP Car

I just came across this Salmson GP car, it's named "Salmson San Sebastian GP" and stems from 1927. It's offered by VDV Grant. I love these pre war racing cars. They are so nimble. I could even imagine buying a car like this, but there's no price indicated and probably demands significant funds given history and condition. However what caught my eyes was the following sentence in the online ad: The Salmson "Grand Prix" is very easy to drive; docile at lower r.p.m, easy to start and copes well with today's traffic." Wow! Think about taking one of today's grand prix cars for a drive to your favorite downtown restaurants. Not only you need a truck with computers and a team of 10 or more people to start the car, it probably wouldn't survive many traffic lights before it either overheats or the clutch dies.
But driving a car like the Salmson in today's traffic also puts another question into the center: How many active and passive safety features do you need? To be clear, the Salmson basically has none of them. But since the 1920ies a lot has been invented to make driving more safe! Passive safety features like the collapsible steering column, crash cells, safety belts, anti lock brakes or the airbag are just examples. Modern cars can actually detect a crash before it happens, can influence brakes, steering or throttle and even the angle of the rear wheels if it's needed to prevent an accident. So, clearly, driving has become much more safe. You may mention that also the driver has an influence on whether an accident happens and he can compensate for the lack of ABS (anti lock brakes) or ESP/ETC and the likes by driving more carefully or being more skillful. That's probably true, however sometimes it's just not in the driver's hands really. And then you prefer having 3 airbags opening just in time to prevent injuries. So, what is the right classic car then do both enjoy and use in modern traffic? There's not single answer to that, but clearly, during the late 70ies and the 80ies a lot of safety has been added to the cars produced then and you certainly are better off with safety belts than without!

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