Making Your Vintage Car Safe (Part 1 of 2)

Updated: Apr 8

With their striking, timeless looks and massive rumbling V8s classic American muscle cars have become legends, beckoning back to a simpler time with a pure unadulterated driving experience. So it can be easy to forget that most vintage cars came with minimal safety features or with none at all. But with the advent of modern automotive safety technology, deaths related to automobile accidents dropped significantly in past decades. With this safety technology and a little help from the aftermarket, making your classic car safer is possible.

Seatbelts

Seatbelts are something we take for granted nowadays, but on vintage automobiles, it was frequently viewed as a luxury that sometimes wasn't even offered on vehicles; but even old seatbelts can be dangerous. Most safety experts advise having seatbelts inspected and possibly replaced after 10 to 15 years of use to prevent them from tearing or outright failing in the case of a severe crash. So on classic cars that are often over 50 years old, it is defiantly time to look at replacing those old lap belts with something a little newer. Lots of aftermarket auto parts manufacturers make reproduction seatbelts, with a select few even producing modern 3 point retractable seatbelts that can be retrofitted to your classic car.


Suspension

One thing many vintage vehicles were known for was poor handling, which can only be worsened by the ever-growing age of the car. Worn-out bushings, ball joints, and other suspension components can not only make your vehicle feel hard to drive but can also pose a significant safety hazard if not properly maintained. Although it is not a particularly fun job, it is imperative to replace worn-out suspension parts; a vehicle inspection is a relatively inexpensive place to start. Classic cars are famous for having a little play in the steering wheel; this can create some problematic issues when the vehicle is traveling at highway speeds. Thankfully there are a few different options available to remedy this problem; many times, the rack and pinion from a later model of your vehicle can be retrofitted into your classic car. If you are looking to take an even more modern approach, several aftermarket companies manufacture

electric power steering systems that can significantly enhance the steering and handling of your classic car.

Tires

Replacing your tires after the tread wears down might seem like general maintenance, but many classic cars don't get driven all that often and frequently cause the tread to outlive the life of the tire itself. Old dry rotted tires can be extremely dangerous; having a tire blow out at highway speeds can spell disaster for your classic car or worse. Tire technology has come a long way over the years. Although radial tires are seen as commonplace now, some older vehicles may still be running old bias-ply tires. Bias-ply tires may be suited for some applications, such as period correct show cars and some modern-day drag slick tires. Nevertheless, if you're looking to increase the driveability of your classic car, radial tires offer far superior safety and performance with increased stopping distances, improved handling, and an overall smoother ride.

(Read Part 2)

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