There was a time when he was a pariah to the car industry. Now Automotive Hall of Fame is going to induct Ralph Nader!
His legacy is now “safe” at any speed!
Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Ralph Nader never owned or drove a car, but in the late sixties, he crashed into the automotive industry as much as the pony car. In 1965, at 31 years old, he wrote “Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile.”
Always looking like he just stumbled out of a late-nighter at the library, Nader was never the picture of liberation like Jefferson Airplane or Grateful Dead. But he helped mold the sixties culture with that book.
Industry leader General Motors went all out to discredit Nader. Real Watergate stuff. And GM got disclosed.
Ironically, the specific issues that Nader focused on in his book – the rear suspension of the first generation Chevrolet Corvair – was not corroborated after a two-year study by the NHTSA. Apparently the Corvair did not pose more risk for rollover accidents than comparable compact cars. The results of that study were announced in 1972.
Nonetheless, Ralph Nader has had indisputable influence on the development of the automobile over the last 50 years. For that influence, the Automotive Hall of Fame has selected the automotive safety advocate as a member of its class of 2016.
Other inductees into the Hall of Fame;
- Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford (2006 – 2014), who literally save Ford by betting the company – he mortgaged all of Ford’s assets in 2006 to focus again on Ford cars.
- Roy Lunn, famous engineer who was instrumental to the development of the Mustang and GT40 and the Jeep Cherokee [AMC].
- Bertha Benz, who road-tested cars created by husband Karl Benz (the “Benz” in Mercedes-Benz and patent holder for one of the first gasoline-powered cars)