There is no doubt that modern cars are significantly safer than cars that are several decades old. Sometimes, however, it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself of this fact with a practical example. The ANCAP organization (the Australian equivalent of the familiar Euro NCAP) repeated the crash test of the Mitsubishi Magna from 1993. And the result is not a pretty read…

Why all this? ANCAP celebrated its 30th anniversary this year and the Magna was one of the first nine vehicles to be crash tested. At that time, individual cars were still rated with colors (red for a bad result, orange for medium danger and green for completely safe cars). The star rating as we know it today did not come into effect until six years later.

Somehow, the organization managed to turn up an almost untouched, 30-year-old, second-generation Mitsubishi Magna. This is a mid-range Japanese sedan, which after the crash test (both the car and the obstacle are traveling at 50 km/h at the time) looks like it actually did quite well. But the opposite is true.

Photo: ANCAP

No, the mannequin in the back doesn’t really wave at you. This is how it was thrown when it hit an obstacle traveling at the same speed at 50 km/h.

The sensors on the dummies warn that the driver would probably end up with a fatal skull fracture or brain injury after such a blow. The Magna doesn’t even have an airbag in the steering wheel. However, we do not end there. The person behind the wheel would probably also suffer serious injuries to the upper and lower limbs, as well as the pelvis and chest. And that’s still not all. The rear passengers would have suffered serious abdominal injuries after the impact, as the mannequins had slipped under part of the seat belt.

The ANCAP organization also shared the original crash test report as part of the annual test, and even then the verdict sounded terrifying. “The dummy’s head hit the top of the steering wheel rim and the steering column. The passenger mannequin hit the dashboard head-on and sustained high-grade head damage, in both cases a brain injury is likely,” the thirty-year-old report states.

It is not the first time that ANCAP has retrospectively returned to older cars. In 2017, for example, he organized a crash test in which he sent two Toyota Corollas against each other at a speed of 60 km/h. One from 1998, the other produced in 2015, so they are practically brand new. While the crew of a modern car would walk away with only minor injuries, for people in an older car such a collision would be fatal.

When purchasing a car, do you also consider its safety?

No, but I’ll probably start…

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