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Old 02-24-2009, 03:28 PM
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Building a safer hot rod

I'm getting older. Wife wants to have some kids.

Been turning over a coupla projects in my mind and I started to think about how I would go about building something that I could share with the family without worrying about killing/maiming them in the event of an accident, or making widow/orphans out of them.

So, I thought I'd solicit your thoughts and tips on building/modifiying our cars to not only be "safe enough" for us, but also for the family, and for anyone else on the road we might encounter.

Any interest in discussing?


Some of my initial thoughts are pretty obvious - use the best materials, fasteners and welding on structural/steering components. Don't build the engine too big for the brakes.

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Old 02-24-2009, 06:21 PM
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Safe and sound

Safety is #1 with brakes being at the top of the list. The hot rod will never be as safe as the family car though with anti-lock brakes and air bags. I swear anti-lock brakes saved my life more than once. But that was driving on snow and ice.

If I had it to do over again I wouldn't put in a big block. You can make a small block put out as much or more power and reduce the weight up front my several hundred pounds. As long as you keep it so you can use pump gas, HP is your choice.

Tires are important. Performance needs to outweigh looks, but you can have both. A good all weather radial works best.

Of course fully functional windshield wipers, defroster if you have windows, and a functional heating system.

Good wiring and electrical is important. Lights, turn signal and brakes. I put a 3rd brake light on my Chevelle. I also increased brightness by going with LED's.

Finally a horn from a locomotive to scare girls into getting off the cell phone and drive! Almost got hit from a young girl on a cell phone the other day after she ran a stop sign.
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Old 02-24-2009, 08:33 PM
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of course adding seat belts is never a bad idea. you have to remember most of the cars we are playing with don't dent as easy as the new ones and are much safer in a wreck.
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Old 02-25-2009, 01:11 AM
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Amen to all the earlier posts.

Statistics show very clearly (at least here in my country) that adding seat belts still is the biggest single improvment in car safety ever.

To be able to use a 3 point belt in a roadster, you can place the highest mounts in the centre of the car. (over the drivers right shoulder and vice versa)

If you use electric fuel pump, add a cut off switch.

Make sure the hood will not come thru the windshield in a head on crash. On thirties cars the grille and radiator get very easily laid back and force the hood against the windshield.

Strengthen the vindshield posts on an open car as much as possible.
On a Duval shield for example, you can make the centre post very strong and still keep a pretty clean look on it.

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Old 02-25-2009, 08:29 AM
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Great ideas.

I've often wondered about side impact protection on a 30s/40s vehicle - especially roadsters. Those doors are awfully thin and space inside is already at a premium.

Getting t-boned seems like it would almost be a death sentence.


I seem to recall that some GM cars in the 80's/90's (don't know if this is still true) had some sort of a hood "catch" at the back of the hood. If the hood got pushed back, these catches would engage, keeping it from riding up the cowl into the windshield. I wonder if something like that could be adapted to older vehicles without too much trouble.
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Old 02-25-2009, 09:51 AM
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I just talked to several hotrod insurance companies. One will positively not insure anything with a roll bar. I deleted them immediately. Others you will have to negotiate with the underwriters. Any racing equipment 5 point seat belts, roll bars, wheelie bar ( even fake ones)possibly a fuel cell and others can negate your insurance so check it out.

If there is a co that allows rolls bars let me know. I sure would like to run one for the safety as noted above.
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Old 02-25-2009, 09:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bentwings
I just talked to several hotrod insurance companies. One will positively not insure anything with a roll bar. I deleted them immediately. Others you will have to negotiate with the underwriters. Any racing equipment 5 point seat belts, roll bars, wheelie bar ( even fake ones)possibly a fuel cell and others can negate your insurance so check it out.

If there is a co that allows rolls bars let me know. I sure would like to run one for the safety as noted above.
Boy, that sure is good info to know.

I can see why they would not want to insure for racing, but a lot of that stuff has safety benefits off the track as well as on.
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Old 02-25-2009, 10:14 AM
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I used that very same argument and just got blown off so I deleted them. There is some hope if you can convince the underwriters is is for safety only. Make sure it is written in the policy. I'm currently working on that too.

For example; how can I install shoulder belts into a wood B post.?? Would you like to trust your safety or others to a 2x2 oak board with at best a thru bolt??

How about the fiberglass floor mounts.?? Yes I can make that sturdy enough for seat belts but it would be a lot simpler to use part of the 6 or 8 pt roll bar I had planned.
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Old 02-25-2009, 10:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bentwings
I just talked to several hotrod insurance companies. One will positively not insure anything with a roll bar. I deleted them immediately. Others you will have to negotiate with the underwriters. Any racing equipment 5 point seat belts, roll bars, wheelie bar ( even fake ones)possibly a fuel cell and others can negate your insurance so check it out.

If there is a co that allows rolls bars let me know. I sure would like to run one for the safety as noted above.
Clearly these are idiots who are not paid to think (an unfortunately common occurence in life today). So does that mean that factory built convertibles with roll bars are also uninsurable?

I had a similar problem about 25 years ago. I tried to get an insurance quote from Gieco. They asked me if the car had "mag wheels and wide tires". I said yes and they declined to even provide a quote. Needless to say, they have never been on my preferred list of insurers.
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Old 02-25-2009, 11:02 AM
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I did a little googling about roll bars.

Apparently, one potentially valid consideration is that roll bars are designed to work with a harness system and helmet so you don't hit your head on the bars. Roll bars mounted in a "regular" car with normal seats and belts could be very dangerous, depending on the installation of course.

I suppose they figure that if you have a bar, proper restraint, and wear a helmet, then you're actually driving a race car on the street, rather than driving a street car that might occassionally see the track. If you have just the bars, but not the restraints and helmets, then a minor accident might put you out cold or seriously injure you.

I think it would be better if they made some accomodation for the specifics of the installation, but I'd guess there are so few vehicles that would be covered that it's easier to just say no to them all.
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Old 02-25-2009, 11:42 AM
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First of all keep in mind these co specifically cover specialty cars. Forget about standard ins co for the time being.

I'd take issue with the additional roll bar. I've been in at least 6 crashes on the highway over the years. In each case I was wearing seat belts. One car the rear floorboards buckeled where the seat belts were attached far enough for me to hit the steering wheel and bend it over almost to the dash. I got just a lot of brusies. 60 mph

I was in a car that was rear ended hard. Broke the front bench seat loose then the car traveled across the road and hit a tree throwing me and the driver forward. seat belts saved the day as both doors were thrown wide open. We both had seat belts and hit the dash and were left hanging out the doors.

The other 4 crashes were in various hot rod cars 2 with roll bars and we did not hit the roll bars.

Several race car crashes and fires and I have not hit the roll bars either including the funny car and dragster crashes. No scratches on the hemet. But there were very secure seat belts and arm restraints.

I would say that in a street rod with properly done roll bars designed to prevent intrusion, crushing of the body and to provide sturdy seat belt mounts would be best. Forget about race legal, you're not going racing anyway ....are you??
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Old 02-25-2009, 04:49 PM
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That really floored me about the insurance co's that won't accept roll bars. I would think that would be a big plus, especially in a family ride. But I definitely understand about hitting your head....done that.

Good harnesses are a must; but you've got to make sure the kids' harnesses are hooked up for thieir size. That can cause problems.

Tying belts into a fiberglass floor can be overcome by running a length of 1" - 1 and 1/2" square tubing (1/4" wall )across the floor, just underneath, and tying into the frame, thru the floor.

Another thing to think about.....if you don't already have the car. Choose one that has good visibility, especially out the rear quarters. Be able to see where you are.....precious cargo.

On the side impacts to rods...some of us used to do four-wheeling, in the woods. Side impacts were always a consideration. We made some bars, like a very wide U-shape, that would attach to the frame, come out to the inside of the body (sides). Saved many of us from a tree, whatever. Maybe something like this could be adapted to a rod.
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