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Early GM airbag systems update


Logan

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Interesting stuff on Google..... if you hunt long enough. Anyways...

"1973-General Motors manufactures 1,000 Chevrolets equipped with experimental air bags and provides them to fleet customers for testing.

Infant, unrestrained on passenger seat of one of the experimental Chevrolets, is killed when a passenger bag deploys in a wreck. GM considers that the first air-bag fatality.

An Oldsmobile Toronado, first car with a passenger air bag intended for sale, rolls off assembly line."

The system is called ACRS. For...air cushion restraint system.

1077266619806_airb1.jpg

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Ironically, General Motors Corp. produced and sold approximately 10,000 airbag-equipped cars in 1973-76 (as a $235 option). Many have been in severe collisions, and the airbags inflated as intended... and many lives were thus saved. (Byron Bloch owns a 1973 Chevrolet equipped by GM in 1973 with airbags for the driver and front seat passengers, as shown here. This was one of GM's original production fleet of 1,000 such Chevy Impala sedans.)

impala.gif

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"Supplemental Restraint System: yes AIR BAGS! Beginning in 1974 Cadillac offered both driver and passenger side airbags. The system while an early design still offered the safety of today. It's ironic how people then didn't take safety seriously yet today, buyers actually make buying decisions based on the presence and quality of these systems. The one offered in the Cadillac's required a substantial redesign. The engineers didn't want the accident to destroy the car so they added enough structure behind the dash and girth to the steering column that it could withstand an accident bad enough to deploy the system and still be put back together. Today, an accident bad enough to blow the air bags will probably total the car. The extra stout column lacked the tilt-telescopic features of the standard models. The picture shows the only virgin airbag wheel I ever found. The car it came out of had already deployed the passenger side restraint: probably an electrical mistake while servicing the car since the car was otherwise undamaged. "

airbag.gif

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Wow -- that packaging in the wheel looks remarkably familiar to today's steering wheels. Logan, I can't tell from the pics, but maybe you know... Did they have separate horn buttons on the wheels back then? On my mom's old '92 Crown Vic, Ford apparently hadn't figured out how to package the horn contacts AND the airbag all in the same place, so the air bag was behind the center "meat" of the wheel and there were two horn buttons on the spokes of the wheel. If you were driving with your hands at anywhere but "10 and 2", they were clumsy to find, especially in an emergency situation. It doesn't appear that the GMs from the '70s had separate horn buttons -- maybe they were integrated right into the center of the wheel like they are today?

Jason(2001 STS, White Diamond)

"When you turn your car on...does it return the favor?"

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I remember maybe sitting in 1 or 2 of the early airbag Oldsmobiles.....long time ago.

It looks like the horns are a pad at each spoke of the wheel. Or.....for you real old timers....does anyone remember the GM horn rings? If you pushed on any of the thin chrome ring on the wheel...the horn would blow. The pictures show the chrome ring......dont know.

As for the styling of the early bags...to me they look better then some of the 'new' systems that came out in the early '90s.

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On the 1969 Cadillacs, to honk the horn, the driver just squeezed the steering wheel - neat feature and was only on the 1969 Cadillacs.

The 1970 had four buttons - one on each of the three spokes plus the center of the steering hub was also a horn button - similar to today's models.

Kevin
'93 Fleetwood Brougham
'05 Deville
'04 Deville
2013 Silverado Z71

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Thats what I was trying to describe. The chrome trim on the actual wheel. It may have been Cadillac only in '69.....but later GM models also had it.

Whats the 'GM' name for that? Honkamatic....steernhorn....

airbag.gif

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Yea, I'm old enough to remember those old chrome horn rings inside of the wheel if those are what you are talking about. Kinda liked them. I also seem to recall having the flexable rubber ring in the wheel itself in a Buick Centurion. 1970 model I think it was. Then again it could have been a '69 Deville.

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Talking about the actual steering wheel one....you would just press the molded trim ring anywhere. And the horn would sound.

" to honk the horn, the driver just squeezed the steering wheel "

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"New 1969 Instrument Panel groups all controls within easy and convenient reach of the driver. Note the Cruise Control, Rear Defogger, Front Seat Warmer, and AM-FM Stereo Radio on this example. The steering wheel rim sounds the horns whenever pressure is applied to the inner side of any part of the wheel. "

eldo1969instrumentpanel.jpg

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On the 1969 Cadillacs, to honk the horn, the driver just squeezed the steering wheel - neat feature and was only on the 1969 Cadillacs.

I had that on my '71 MK III; a nice feature indeed, except on a cold winter morning. The "flexible" inner ring was rock hard in sub-zero weather . . . you, me and King Kong together couldn't squeeze that ring to sound the horn ('course it WAS a Ford, albeit a fondly remembered one).

Regards,

Warren

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