Airbags In A '69 Camaro? - Team Camaro Tech
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 19th, 01, 12:54 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2001
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I am interested in buying a '69 Camaro, but I am aware that safety of older cars compared to newer ones is not the greatest. So, I was wondering if it is possible to install airbags in a '69...I guess I would have to change the steering wheel (hopefully to something that looks like it was from the era...). Does anybody know what needs to be done to install a driver-side airbag, or if they have done it themselves?

(And I know this is a very strange question...I'm just concerned about my safety on the road these days
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 19th, 01, 01:12 PM
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I'm sure that it is possible, but it would be very difficult to install it and to get it to work right. There's much more to it than just wiring up an airbag in a steering wheel. There are sensors all over the car and computer to take data from these sensors and determine if and when to deploy the airbag. You would have to consider where to place these sensors and also how many of them you need based on how the car crushes in several different kinds of impacts. You would also have to consider how the driver is positioned in relation to the steering wheel among countless other variables. There would also be the testing of the airbag. If I were to do this, I would have to know if it would work or not. Who knows how many airbags you would go through during the testing phase. In short, it could be done, I suppose, but it would be far to difficult and expensive for the average (or above average for that matter) to get to work. I'm sure Nascar teams have looked into this and with all of their money and resources, they don't think that it is feasible at this time. You are concerned about safety, that is great, but in my opinion, your money would be better spent on a roll cage and a four or five point seatbelt harness.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 19th, 01, 02:36 PM
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Awesome explanation Cameron, I also think the harness is more feasible.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 19th, 01, 03:16 PM Thread Starter
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Yep...definately a good explanation. Thanks a lot!

Now, if I put in a four-point seatbelt harness, would I get whiplash or something since all my body is restrained except for my neck? I was already considering putting in a 4-point harness, but I wasn't sure if they could be dangerous for the neck in a way.

Also, what would the rollcage do? If the older cars are as strong as I hear, wouldn't it be strong enough to hold up if flipped on its roof? Or does the rollcage also help for the weaker doors on the Camaro? I guess I could get a much would a decent one cost?


[This message has been edited by JAdamz01 (edited 07-19-2001).]
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 19th, 01, 03:16 PM
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There is an ad in the new Drive magazine where a company is making a 3 point system that bolts to the factory mounts. It's retractable and is available in several factory interior colors.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 19th, 01, 04:01 PM
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Do you have a number or website for those retactable seat belts. I remember some years ago seeing a seat belt system which had a retactable Y-harness for the shoulders. Looked great for reaching toward the radio and CD's that always end up on the floor.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 20th, 01, 08:18 AM
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Joseph, I think the company you're after is Pony Car Concepts and they are in L.A. I don't have the address and phone number at hand but if you do a search the details are on this forum in a similar thread. I bought a set for my '68 and they bolt right into the factory mounts. They dont look 100% authentic but they're close enough for me and they are safer then just lap belts.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 20th, 01, 03:34 PM
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I dont think i like the thought of hitting an airbag,or the bag hitting me, with only a lapbelt on.Sounds like major neck injury.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 23rd, 01, 06:12 AM
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If your seat has a good back rest, your chances for whiplash are greatly reduced. That is the reason car makers started putting higher backrests on cars. Back in the 50's and early 60's, cars seats with backrests that came up to the shoulder area. This caused alot of cases of whiplash which prompted the use of higher backrests to keep the head and neck from over extending during an accident. Even with a four point harness and a high backrest seat, there is the possibility of whiplash and there always will be, even with an airbag. Four point harnesses do help though. On a side note, I noticed that Volvo had a prototype at one of the big car shows of a user friendly four point harness. Volvo was the first to introduce the three point harness that cars use today. I would say that some version of a four point harness is in our future.

As for the strength of older cars, they are stronger than new cars in ways and weaker in others. New cars are built with very strong safety cages around the passenger compartment. The rest of the car is built with crush zones. This allows the car to crush easier in a crash. From the standpoint of repairing the car after an accident, this is bad. From a safety standpoint, this is very good. When the car crushes, it is absorbing energy. The more energy that the car absorbs, the lesser amount of energy that will be transferred to the driver, thus, injuring the driver less. In an older car (someone may want to correct me on this, Camaros may be exceptions), the passenger compartment is not as strong as newer cars. This is where the roll cage helps, (a roll cage also supplies a mounting point for four point harnesses) it greatly increases the strength around the passenger compartment. Because older cars use much thicker sheet metal, the crush less in an impact which is good from a repair standpoint, but bad from a safety standpoint because the car absorbs less energy. That excess energy has to be absorbed by something and it is usually the driver. Roll cages and four point harnesses also help in energy dissipation. If anyone notices errors in my explanation, feel free to correct me as I am no expert on this subject.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 23rd, 01, 09:24 AM Thread Starter
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Ok, cool. Everything you said seems to make good sense, and I'll take it into consideration if I buy a '69. Thanks again!
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old Jul 24th, 01, 11:03 AM
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I could not find Pony Car Concepts. Anyone been in contact with them? or know of someone making 3pt seatbelts for 1st gen Camaros?
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