That Time the British Designed a Car to Drive Into People

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Generally, when we think about automotive safety, it involves ways to not drive into people. The truth is, though, life isn’t perfect, and sometimes good people get driven into by cars. If you accept that this happens, you can then try to make a person’s car-impact experience as enjoyable as possible, and the results of that can end up looking like this 1974 Austin 1300 SRV5 safety research vehicle.

Almost every major automaker was developing experimental safety vehicles in the 1970s, but this car, based on the Austin 1300 is one of the most intensely focused on the very specific problem of driving right into people.


To accomplish its goal, the SRV5 has two very notable innovations, one much more obvious than the other. First is the dramatically and strangely drooping nose of the car, which was designed to impact the hapless pedestrian low on their legs, and send them tumbling onto the sloping hood of the car, as opposed to a higher impact and hood, which would just knock them down and position them to be immediately run over.

If you look carefully, you can see what looks like a padded lip around the front edge of the hood; that’s not just something to cushion the car’s impact into your knees, it also springs up to become a sort of restraining cage for the now unintendedly reclining pedestrian lounging on your hood.


The end result would look something like this:


I’m sure they had plans for a version that would have provided the pedestrian a magazine to read on a spring-loaded arm and perhaps a nice beverage.

I mean, with a system like this, would the driver even need to stop? Couldn’t the person lying on the hood just knock on the windshield and mouth where they’d like to be dropped off? This could have been the future of hitchhiking, people.


I also wonder how they were planning to mount actual headlights? The roof?

(Thanks to the Retro Automotive Concepts and Prototypes FB page for showing me this!)