GM to offer bags on some '74s
Louis Lundstrom, GM director of automotive safety engineering, said the action depends on favorable results with its fleet of 1,000 airbagged 1973 Chevrolets now in operation.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration originally mandated passive restraint systems on 1974 cars but later extended the deadline to the 1976 model year. Last year, the standard was set aside by a federal court until test procedures can be clarified and until test dummies can be defined in objective terms.
GM's move on airbags is an about-face from general Detroit policy, which has been opposition - if not to airbags themselves, at least to the time schedule and the lack of sufficient lead time.
The safety establishment gave GM an A for effort; car buyers gave GM a U for unnecessary. Only 10,000 airbagged cars were sold in the three years they were offered, which was just 0.70 percent of the 1.4 million sales of the Buick, Oldsmobile and Cadillac models involved.
NHTSA's 1970 goal wasn't met; neither were its 1974 or 1976 deadlines.