Homer LaGassey at Ford is featured twice in the video starting at 10:05.

An inside look circa 1973 at Ford Design as they grapple with government mandated safety guidelines including, seat belts, air bags, crash tests, and crumple zones in vehicles.

Homer LaGassey is featured in two scenes starting at 10:05.

This video is of particular interest to me. I started GM in 1973 and was immediately thrust into the struggle to integrate these restrictions into designs with similarly unsuccessful results. The days of great looking GTOs, TransAms, Corvettes, and Camaros were over.

While I would like to lay the blame at the feet of Ralph Nader and those that followed in his wake, the fact of the matter is that the automobile industry was negligent in keeping up with the world changing around it. Had the big three been better at policing themselves, perhaps the dark ages of automobile design (’70s and ’80s) wouldn’t have been quite so bleak.

Too view video from the beginning, drag the progress bar all the way to the left.

  1. Steve

    This was really interesting. The gov. wrote standards and gave the manufacturers almost no time to implement them read the book on the Chrysler Turbine project. Makes me wonder how bad it is now with all the automation filtering into the cars. It’s a wonder the auto manufacturers have any say so in their products with all the regulations.

  2. Jason Houston

    Fascinating clip! Best answers the age-old question, ‘How did the government manage to screw up the auto industry?’ It was, literally, an overnight transformation. In 1972, manufacturers still designed their own cars. In 1973, the government began doing it. And, sadly, that’s the way it remains today.

  3. Walter Gomez

    This video is actually about the safety car “competition” the government put on in I believe 1971/1972. GM submitted a vehicle that looked a lot like the 1973 Chevelle/Malibu, as did AMF. The cars had to crash into a barrier at 50 MPH, but as I recall none of the vehicles passed; the AMF car air bags failed to deploy “killing” all of the passengers.

    What got the Feds into writing 5 MPH bumper standards was the insurance industry, particularly Allstate. They were tired of paying claims for low-speed collisions.

  4. OldCarMan

    The nanny government crowd hit their stride at that time. Autos are THE most regulated product in the world. If food was half as regulated, there wouldn’t be any food-borne illnesses or deaths! As proven time & again, Federal incompetence makes the rules, with no regard or understanding of engineering or manufacturing. This is made worse by the eco-fascists that want to “save” the planet & then you get the special interest lobbyists forcing ethanol into cars. For what good? Next are the self-driving, autonomous cars, regulated & controlled by the Feds, that have proven countless times how incompetent they are! Can’t wait! They can tell you when, how, or where you can drive. Already capable with OBD II. Just biding their time…

    Can’t argue with any of this. Gary

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