No, for the most part, the NHTSA crash test is the great equalizer. No matter how grandiose your car is, no matter how fast, expensive, or rare, one example will have inevitably met its demise at the end of a concrete wall. For science. The DeLorean is famous for many things—stainless steel sleekness, silver screen stardom, some snorted substances—but we can tell you one thing: It was not known for its safety.
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
So that’s why one of the most iconic cars of the Eighties, shown above, sacrificed for science. How did it fare? Well, history might have forgotten that John Z. DeLorean, wonder-boy engineer that he was, incorporated crumple zones and energy-absorbing structures—so obsessed with safety he was that an early name for the car was the “DeLorean Safety Vehicle.” It was a different time for a car to be called a “safety vehicle,” that’s for sure. Once this baby hits 40 miles per hour, it’s gonna get gnarly.
According to the DeLorean Museum, the carmaker donated four production cars to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, which then used the cars to test whether then-nascent airbags could be fitted to existing production cars, without having to redesign them.
According to the exhaustive NHTSA report, of which you can download a PDF here, at 40 miles per hour “the compartment interior dimensions following the crash were still quite generous so that most of the original compartment volume was maintained.”
From another angle:
So, looks can be deceiving. But either way, the result made one DeLorean fan very angry on the Internet.
Road & Track