In this case, older and solid is not necessarily better on the street. The biggest problem with a low-slung, full framed car is that in an offset head on impact, another vehicle is likely to ride up on top of the frame rail and sheer off everything attached to said frame rail. Those ol cars weren’t designed to absorb energy in a crash so the energy released in a collision is transferred into the passenger compartment, whereas crumple zones, and other designed in areas either absorb the impact energy or re-direct it around the passenger compartment.
Let’s compare the vehicle’s interiors. Newer vehicles have collapsible steering columns, padded steering wheels, padded dashboards that are designed to give under an impact, large, padded “A” pillars, windshields designed to be an integral stressed member in an impact, ergonomically designed seating all designed to absorb or re-direct energy along with a three point restrain system and airbags. The older vehicles (pre ’70) feature a solidly mounted one piece steel steering column attached to a skinny, plastic over metal steering wheel, an unmovable steel dashboard, skinny, unpadded “A” pillars, windshields that would pop out of their mounting brackets, a bench seat that offered a lap belt and secured with only four bolts along with lots of exposed metal trim.
I don’t know about you, but I have been in collisions (both over 50mph) in both newer and older vehicles. The difference was an ambulance ride to the emergency room, lots of stitches and some liberally applied plaster along with a bruised pelvis courtesy of the 1968 AMC Ambassador (a full sized, full framed car) that I was driving verses a pair of broken glasses, a cut across the bridge of my nose, a nice bruise on the outside of my right knee, some friction burns on my face and forehead from the airbag and a really spectacular multicolored bruise that stretched across my shoulder and chest from the self-tightening shoulder harness.
The collision in the ’68 AMC was from hitting a patch of black ice on bias-ply tires, losing control and kissing a tree head on…I mean dead center of the grill head on when I was a teenager. The other collision was in an ’04 BMW a few years ago when a speeding (70+ in a 55 zone by police estimates) drunk lost control and crossed the center line of a two lane road in the middle of a curve and we met almost head on in a textbook offset head on crash.
The skinned up face, sore knee, shoulder, chest, a shallow cut across my nose and a rattled constitution was a small price to pay in order to be able to walk away from what would have been a fatal wreck 20 or 30 years earlier.
Here's a better video of that test. Pay special attention to what happens inside of the passenger compartment from the 30 second mark on...scary stuff!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joMK1WZjP7g
I will agree with you about using those 'ol tanks for demo derbies though, they take a licking and keep on ticking...until the radiator gets a few good sized holes in it