In the 1956 model year, Ford Motor Co. made a pioneering effort to interest the motoring public in safety.
By today's standards the new features were meager - a padded instrument panel, a concave-shaped steering wheel, better door latches and optional seat belts 'in colors that harmonize.'
But the admission that cars might be inherently unsafe created consternation at other companies and jitters within Ford's management, and the campaign was soon abandoned.
Before the effort was dropped, here's how a product brochure from the period tried to sell safety:
For years, Ford safety engineers, in cooperation with universities, medical associations and safety experts, have worked to determine the causes of accident injuries ... so that a safer car could be built. They found that over half of the serious injuries were caused by the driver being thrown against the steering column, occupants striking hard surfaces inside the car, or being thrown out of the car.
For the '56 Ford, a whole new family of safety features has been developed to guard against these hazards. Ford's new Lifeguard steering wheel, door latches, seat belts and special padding for the instrument panel and sun visors (are) the integral parts of Lifeguard Design ...
Once you learn that Lifeguard Design can do for you and your family, you will truly enjoy the greater peace of mind that comes from owning a '56 Ford.