Chrysler Concept 70X
Classic American|August 2021
Safety as a marketing concept for cars? Well, Richard Heseltine reckons we have Ralph Nader to thank for that. This month Richard examines a concept vehicle that was a direct result of the sudden interest in vehicle safety after Nader’s campaigning…
Richard Heseltine

Blame Ralph Nader for the emergence of car safety as a selling point over, you know, something sexy like horsepower. It’s hard not to. His explosive book Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile exposed the motor industry’s apparent disregard for the well-being of those driving its wares; that its products crumpled like beer cans in accidents; that they didn’t handle as well as they might; that the bottom line counted for more than the lives of their customers.

The irony is that this exposé probably wouldn’t have been so widely publicised had Detroit’s Big Three not tried to smear the crusading lawyer (and so ineptly). His work directly (and indirectly) led to the implementation of improved safety standards, but only after Congress and the major US motor brands had locked horns.

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