A small 2009 car demolishes a 1959 Chevy in a crash test JAN 22 2016
In 2009, The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a crash test between a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air and a 2009 Chevy Malibu. The video plainly shows how much progress has been made in passenger safety in those 50 years. Even though the Malibu is much lighter, its crumple zone absorbs much of the impact while the Bel Air lets the newer car's front end slam right into the driver.1
Even though I've seen crash test footage before, I was shocked at how quickly the airbag deployed in the newer car...it's fully inflated before the rest of the car and its occupants even realize that inertia is about to do some bad things.