2009 Chevy Malibu vs 1959 Bel Air Crash Test | Consumer Reports

2009 Chevy Malibu vs 1959 Bel Air Crash Test | Consumer Reports

That’s the Insurance
Institute for Highway Safety’s front crash of a 2009 Chevrolet
Malibu and a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air. In slow motion, you
can see the differences in how the new and
classic cars perform in this version of the
traditional frontal offset test. The institute
conducted this test to commemorate its
50th anniversary, and it dramatically shows
how much improvement has been made in
passenger protection since the nonprofit
organization opened its doors. The two cars collide
in an explosion of metal, glass, and plastics. Where the Malibu
crumple zone absorbs much of the crash forces
ahead of the windshield, the Bel Air structure
allows the lighter car to compress the
passenger compartment. The impact is made worse
for the Bel Air driver by the lack of airbags,
head restraint, and even a seat
belt. As a result, injuries to the neck, chest,
and both legs would be likely. Consequently, the Bel Air
receives a poor rating across the board. On the other hand,
the modern Malibu provides good protection
with a dummy movement being well controlled. Measures indicate a low
risk to most body regions, though a foot injury
would be possible. Beyond the safety
gear, advancements in vehicle engineering give
the Malibu a clear advantage in this match up. While classic cars are often
considered to be rock solid, this ’59 demonstrates how
much better today’s cars are, and the IIHS has
played a key role in driving these advancements. In the past 50
years, the Institute has made a real impact. The roads today
are safer for it.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Bel air looks like there’s no frame… is this a test, to try and get old vehicles off the road.. I don’t agree with this!
    I understand there’s no crumple zones , but it doesn’t look right

  2. At the first time of this video I been concerned about of the destruction of a classic car, at the end finally understand very clear the advantages and advances at the modern cars.

  3. That was Certainly but Very Surprisingly impressive. I would have thought the Malibu would have been a coffin and the Bel Air a indestructible Tank.

  4. Am I the only one that noticed that the '59 had everything under the hood removed prior to this crash test? Including frame crossmenber / radiator / engine / engine accessory components. Sorry, I'm not falling for it.

  5. I had kind of expected the bell air to just bounce off the Malibu while the Malibu crumpled. definitely did not expect the bell air to fly apart like that

  6. Creepy old wing car has nothing compared to modern day engineering. I'll take a modern day compact that will sip the fuel, have navigation, radar cruise ctrl, auto high beams/headlights that curve around corners with wheel, heated seats… over a death trap any day.

  7. Rigged Rigged all of that weight and metal would absolutely destroy that Malibu don't believe this fake sponsored presentation

  8. Take my chances in the Bel Air than the newer safer Chevy. What a wast of a brilliant classic car as we all know modern cars are much safer anyway, they just don't have any street apeal like cars from 50s & 60s. From Alex in the UK.

  9. I know the importance of these tests, but that was just a waste of a beautiful car! And I’m talking about he Bel Air. May not be safe but sure looks a ton better than that modern Malibu. Just a terrible waste!

  10. There was never a doubt that a car designed with crumple zones would be far safer, but the old Bel Air didn't just crumple, it fell apart. I can't help but think there was more than frame rot going on there. I wonder if there weren't a bunch of fasteners removed as well for visual "impact"… Also, did the Bel Air even have an engine under the hood?

  11. you always hear "they dont make 'em like they used to" because all of the guys who would tell you the opposite died in wrecks decades ago.

  12. It's amazing. Even with glaring proof that these tired old death boxes are not safe in the slightest you still get the "muh classics" defense force rushing to defend them.

    Pretty sad, really.

  13. Yech – the restraints wouldn't have mattered in the Bel Air as the console coming back and the seats demounting and pitching forward meant you were squished. The non-collapsable steering wheel would insure that your ribs would be chewed up and your internals lacerated like a frog in a blender. Nice styling – total death-trap.

  14. 59 Bel Air was a collector's item by 2009. You don't wreck one. Therefore this 59 was probably full of structural rust and had been condemned. Not a fair test.

  15. That's not a fair test…. That 59 was almost completely rotted away to start. Watch the rust cloud coming from the frame…

  16. Another fine example of a bad Chevy commercial. The Bel Air wasn't even in nice shape internally, for all we know it was just dust inside the hood (giant rust cloud when it hits the Malibu) and no engine. There were also no such thing as crumple zones in cars back then, the front of the Bel Air would've been fine if this wasn't staged

  17. I have a 1990 vehicle and it has no air bag. However I’d rather crash in that than what we have today. The metal on it is seriously tough. It got hit by a bicycle 🚲 my basketball 🏀 goal fell on it and got into a rear end collision with it and it received little to no damage.

  18. THIS IS A BIASED DEMO. A couple points to make here…Look at 1:00 to 1:07…there is no engine in the 59 based on how the entire front end rolls. The engine would have held the front frame rails together and the front passenger wheel would not have folded the way it did. Also they never finish showing the top view which might show the hollow nose in the impala. Don't get me wrong, I would still rather be in the malibu but think about it…why do this in the first place?…to show the weaknesses of the horribly designed wishbone frame on the 59 impala or are you trying to show that cars today are safer (duh). This was an unfair set up at the expense of a classic car. BTW a side hit to the 59/60 impala with the (no support) wishbone frame was almost always a fatal crash. That frame was a very unique weak design ment to be ultra light and never made again once its weaknesses were exposed…good choice fellow engineers, if you want to show the not so real truth….how about trying a 73 Newyorker (with the engine installed) on for size 🙂

  19. Yeah yeah…and even after seeing this I'd still rather drive the 59'. We die like real men…in style. (Honestly hurt my soul to see it get smashed)

  20. The video is fake , a heavy 1950s tank could resist anything , the bel air in real life would make sh…. of that Malibu (in a collision).

  21. All this is telling is to get a new car. Although even if we have a bel air, we would be taking as much care as we can(ev not crash! Lmao)

  22. The thing is that back then cars did not need as much safety because

    1. There wasn't as many idiots on the road
    2. There weren't people just trying to get money out of you by crashing into you on purpose
    3. bikers

  23. Disliked for destroying a perfectly good pristine '59 Chevy. 50 years on this planet only to be destroyed for an unnecessary crash test. Not to mention that car obviously has no engine so this test isn't legit.

  24. But at what cost ): look at how ugly new cars are and how beautiful old classic ones are, id rather die in a piece of art than live in an ugmo

  25. I drive a classic car because if I crash. Id die happy-ish. More happy then id be in a plastic cookie cutter car.

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