10 Startlingly Dangerous Cars

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When navigating a multi-ton enclosure of metal and glass from the inside, safety is — or should be — the first priority of manufacturers and drivers alike. Unfortunately, cutting corners for cost effectiveness and poor or lack of testing sometimes leaves consumers driving what are essentially death traps, which they may not find out until it’s already too late. Car safety standards have come a long way in the past century, but dangerous cars exist today just as they did in the early 1900s. Here are 10 of the most startlingly dangerous cars of all time, in no particular order.

Note: Pictures may not match exact vehicle described.http://www.flickr.com/photos/katescars/


1. Ford Pinto

The Ford (NYSE:F) Pinto is probably the most notoriously dangerous car ever created. Manufactured from 1971 through 1980the car was especially volatile and unsafe because of its impractical construction. Because the gas tank was placed in the back of the car, near the rear bumper, the Ford Pinto had a tendency to burst into flames after even mild fender benders. Unfortunately, rear-end collision tests on the Ford Pinto didn’t begin until the car was already in production, so the eight of 11 cars that burst into flames during testing didn’t do much to change the vehicle’s safety features, because Ford simply didn’t want to spend the money.

The worst part about the Ford Pinto wasn’t its life-threatening safety flaws. It wasn’t the fact that more than 3 million units were sold over its nearly 10-year run, or that there are records of fiery explosions occurring only one year after the car went into production. The worst part about the Ford Pinto was the automaker’s negligent reaction to the knowledge that these cars were unsafe.

Instead of fixing the safety issue by reinforcing the rear end, which was calculated to cost $121 million, Ford decided to simply pay out crash and burn victims since it was “cheaper,” at an estimated $50 million, Time reports. Twenty-seven people were killed in rear-end explosions involving the Ford Pinto before 1.5 million vehicles were finally recalled, in 1978, to undergo safety upgrades.

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