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'H' point [his hip joint) shall make an angle with the horizontal as near as practicable to 45 degrees (italics CU's] with the seat at the midpoint of its adjustment range.” On the GM intermediates, the outboard mountings are located so far forward that with the seat at midpoint, the line from the anchorage to the “H” point is nearer to 90° than to 45° (see photo). The belt then comes almost flat across your upper legs instead of embracing your pelvic area. In that position it may do little more than strap you down upon the seat, applying less restraint to your midsection, if you're suddenly flung forward in a crash, than a correctly anchored seat belt would. If the standard's wording of “as near as practicable to 45 degrees" permits this much variance, then obviously a new standard is needed, one that spells out more precisely the permissible variance and the reasons for it.
As for the shoulder belts, mandatory equipment since January 1, only our Montego came equipped with them this fall. It may well be that the Montego's shoulder belts meet the Federal standards. If they do, the standards need revision, in our opinion. The Montego's shoulder belts were mounted high and to the rear, where they tended to ride up on our drivers' necks instead of staying on their shoulders. And even when the shoulder belt is worn with reasonable slack, operating controls are difficult to reach.
All five tested intermediates had new instrument panels this year, and protection to the occupants had obviously been one of the design criteria. All fire panels had heavily padded upper edges to cushion head impact. The Coronet also padded the lower parts of the panel, where your knee might strike. The others relied on smoothly contoured sheet metal. We could find almost no hostile projections in any of these cars' interiors, except perhaps for the glovebox door, which has been known to fly open in a crash, presenting a knife-like edge to an occupant pitched into it. However, one the Coronet even this potential hazard has been eliminated: The heavily padded glovebox door offers no protruding edge. And the Coronet's ashtray is the safest imaginable for anyone but a driver who is actually smoking. A padded sliding door covers the ashtray completels, but a smoking driver may find that small cavity in the instrument panel mighty hard to locate without taking his eyes from the road.
In our April automotive issue, we'll comment in greater detail both on the current standards and on the 10 proposed additional ones to take effect next January 1. One of the new proposed standards covers hood-latch systems for preventing inadvertent opening of the hood. Our Chevelle's hood popped up against its single safety latch countless times during our tests—and more than once at turnpike speeds. If the latch had failed, our drivers might have found themselves with a windshield full of hood. For several years now Ford and GM have economized in most of their makes by neglecting to provide a second, independently operating hood safety catch to back up the first. CU urges that the new standard specify an independent second safety catch. One experience like ours with the Chevelle is enough.
A BELVEDERE BY ANY OTHER NAME ... The 24 models of intermediate-sized cars listed at right represent nine different makes, ranging in price from about $2500 to about $3000. But those nine makes boil down to four basically similar body shells, one for each manufacturer. The General Motors makes do not, generally speaking, share power trains and suspensions each make has its own—though they often do use similar GM engines.
But the six cars in the Ford/Mercury group of intermediates are essentially the same car. They share engines, power train, suspension and body shell and differ only in options, passenger-compartment materials and body trim and other matters of styling. You get all the basic qualities of the Montego MX if you buy a Fairlane for $200 less. The same is true of the five cars in the Plymouth/Dodge group.
Detroit offers another set of basic bodies for intermediates the two-door hardtops. CU concentrates on the types of car judged best for all-around famils use, and the two-door hardtop is not among them. But if rear-seating capacity
and comfort, luggage space, and a tendency to structural rattles and squeaks are not important to you, and if you're interested in a somewhat jazzierlooking car, you may find the hardtops of interest. They also come in souped-up "muscle" or "alphabet-soup" versions, usually with a more powerful V8 engine and heavy-duty suspension included in the sticker price. Here are the names of these "special" intermediate two-door hardtops, matched with those of their more sedate counterparts as given in the make/model line-up: SST=AMC Rebel: GS 350 and GS 400=Buick Special: SS 396=Chevrolet Chevelle ; R/T and Charger=Dodge Coronet; Torino GT=Ford Fairline; Cyclone GT=Mercury Montego; 4-4-2=Oldmosbile F-85; Road Runner and GTX=Plymouth Belvedere; GTO=Pontiac Tempest.
To permit more styling flexibility in its two-door hardtops GM has cut the wheelbase on all its intermediate offerings in this class from 116 to 112 inches. For this manufacturer, at least, the hardtop is becoming the most important body style about half of all of all the intermediates GM has made so far this year are two-door hardtops.
Prices given at right are manufacturers' suggested retail prices for four-door sedans without options or accessories.
Listed in order of estimated overall quality primarily as family transportation, For dimensions, weights, additional specifications and test data, see facing page. All models are 4-door sedans with regular-fuel engines, automatic transmissions and power steering. Ratings may be applied to the other price lines listed and to 2-door sedans and hardtop models equipped with the same major mechanical components.
Dodge Coronet 400 V8, $2984 ; Coronet DeLuxe V8, $2894 ; Coronet 500 V8, $3167. Accommodations: Seating space, average for group in front, above average in rear. Comfort, fair-to-good in front, fair in rear. Driving position, good. Ride: With light load, fair-to-good. Mostly small-to-medium-sized, well-controlled motions, occasionally abrupt, With full load. fair. Frequent suspension bottoming at rear; motions larger and more abrupt, but no contact to road surface. Fairly noisy; road noise high over coarse road surfaces. Handling and Steering: Fair; slight understeer changed quickly and smoothly to controllable oversteer, but transition was difficult to anticipate. Steering response, quick and fairly unpre
dictable. Power steering effort, too low. Nonpower Brakes: Fair-to-good. Pedal effort, moderate; fade performance, fair-to-good. Engine and Performance: Smooth and fairly quiet; highway acceleration reserve, ample. Automatic Transmission : 3-speed; smooth-shifting and versatile. Frequency-of-Repair Record: Has been better than average.
Mercury Montego V8, $2877; Montego MX V8, $3030; Montego MX Brougham 18, $3108. Accommodations : Seating space, above average for group in front and rear. Comfort, fair in front and rear. Driving position, good. Ride: With light load, good. Mostly medium- or large-sized fairly soft, well-controlled motions. With full load, poor. Frequent hard suspension bottoming at rear; uncontrolled tossing motions, abrupt at ends of travel. Fairly quiet. Handling and Steering: Fair-to-good; considerable understeer changed slowly to neutral. Steering re: sponse, fairly slow and fairly predictable, Power steering effort, low. Nonpower Brakes: Fair-to-good. Pedal effort, moderate-to-high; fade performance, fair-togood. Engine and Performance: Fairly smooth and fairly quiet; highway acceleration reserve, ample. Automatic Transmission : 3-speed; smooth-shifting and very versatile. 2nd gear starts possible. Frequency-of-Repair Record: Has been average.
Buick Skylark V8, $3048; Special DeLuxe V8, $2946; Skylark Custom V'S, $3201. Accommodations: Seating space, average for group in front and rear. Comfort, fair in front and rear. Driving position, good. Ride: With light load, fair-to-good. Mostly soft, medium-sized motions with some bottoming of rear suspension. With full load, poor. Frequent hard suspension bottoming at rear; large motions, very abrupt at ends of travel. Quiet. Handling and Steering: Fair-topoor; considerable understeer changed suddenly and uncertainly to oversteer. Steering response, fairly slow and fairly unpredictable. Power steering effort, very low. Nonpower Brakes: Good. Pedal effort, low-to-moderate; fade performance, good. Engine and Performance: Smooth and quiet; highway acceleration reserve, ample. Automatic Transmission : 2-speed; smooth-shifting but lacks versatility. Frequency-of-Repair Record : Has dropped to worse than average.
Pontiac Tempest Custom V8, $2975; Tempest V8, $2881; Le Mans V8, $3289. Accommodations: Seating space, average for group in front and rear. Comfort, fair in front and rear. Driving position, fair-to-good. Ride: With light load, fair. Mostly small-to-medium-sized abrupt motions, frequent bottoming of suspension on medium-to-large bumps; contacted road surface. With full load, poor. Almost continuous suspension bottoming; frequent contact with road surface; very abrupt, snapping motions. Inadequate ground clearance. Fairly quiet. Handling and Steering: Fair-to-good; moderate understeer changed smoothly to oversteer. Steering response, fairly quick and fairly predictable. Power steering effort, low. Nonpower Brakes: Fair. Pedal effort, high ; fade performance, fair-to-good. Engine and Performance: Smooth and quiet ; highway acceleration reserve, ample. Automatic Transmission: 2-speed; smooth-shifting but lacks versatility, Frequency-of-Repair Record: Has been worse than average.
The following model was judged Not Acceptable because of braking deficiencies (see story).
Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu V8, $2897; Chevelle 300 DeLuxe V8. $2818. Accommodations: Seating space average for group in front and rear. Comfort, fair in front and rear. Driving position, fair. Ride: With light load, fair-to-good. Mostly sniall, somewhat abrupt motions with good control on larger bumps. With full load, poor. Frequent suspension bottoming; contacted road surface over large bumps, with large snapping motions. Fairly quiet. Handling and Steering: Fairto-good. Moderate understeer changed fairly slowly to oversteer. Steering response, fairly quick and fairly predictable. Power steering effort, low. Nonpower Brakes: Not Acceptable (see story). Engine and Performance: Smooth and quiet; highway acceleration reserve, ample. Automatic Transmission : 2-speed; smoothshifting but lacks versatility. Frequency-of-Repair Record: Has been worse than average.
Senator RIBICOFF. Mr. Abersfeller.
STATEMENT OF HEINZ A. ABERSFELLER, COMMISSIONER, FEDERAL SUPPLY SERVICE, GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION, ACCOMPANIED BY GEORGE W. RITTER, ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER FOR STANDARDS AND QUALITY CONTROL; AND PETER M. MOLLICA, ASSISTANT GENERAL COUNSEL FOR PROCUREMENT
Mr. ABERSFELLER. Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee, I am Heinz A. Abersfeller, Commissioner of the Federal Supply Service, General Services Administration.
On behalf of the Administrator of General Services, Lawson B. Knott, Jr., who asked me to represent him at this hearing, I wish to express our appreciation for this opportunity to appear before your subcommittee and state our views on S. 2865 and to report to you on the activities of the General Services Administration in the field of automotive vehicle safety since we appeared before your subcommittee on March 22, 1965.
SAFETY STANDARDS FOR FEDERAL VEHICLES As you know, pursuant to Public Law 88–515, approved August 30, 1964, the General Services Administration developed and publislied on June 30, 1965, Federal Standard No. 515, which consisted of 17 detailed safety standards applicable to vehicles purchased for use by the Federal Government. This standard became effective on September 28, 1966. Federal Property Management Regulation 101-29,303 which promulgated Federal Standard No. 515, required that automotive vehicles manufactured on or after the effective date of the Standard and purchased by the Federal Government for use by the Federal Goyernment be equipped with safety devices conforming to the Standard.
ENGINEERING FIRMS CONSULTED
To assist use in insuring that the manufacturers of automobiles which we purchased for Federal Government use complied fully with the provisions of the Standard, we employed a competent engineering firm, the Electrical Testing Laboratories, New York, N.Y., in August 1966. Arrangements were made with the automobile manufacturers to permit representatives of the Electrical Testing Laboratories to observe the performance of tests or to make test data available for analyses to determine compliance. Only after reports from the Electrical Testing Laboratories indicated compliance with the standard did we accept delivery of vehicles. This method of determining compliance proved to be highly satisfactory and was employed throughout the entire 1967 model year.
EXAMINATION TO DEVELOP NEW STANDARDS
Immediately following the issuance on June 30, 1965, of Federal Standard No. 515 and concurrently with its implementation, we proceeded to review the detailed standards published and to examine
other areas for the development of new standards. This effort resulted in the revision and upgrading of 11 of the original detailed standards and the development of nine new ones. These detailed standards which were published as Federal Standard No. 515a on July 15, 1966, to become effective on October 13, 1967, superseded the original issue of Federal Standard No. 515.
Following the enactment of The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1965, Public Law 89–563, signed by the President on September 9, 1966, which assigned the responsibility to the Secretary of Commerce for the establishment of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, the General Services Administration discontinued the development of new safety standards. Subsequently the Department of Transportation was created and the responsibilities of the Department of Commerce for Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards were transferred to that Department. On March 3, 1967, the Secretary of Transportation and the Administrator of General Services signed an inter-agency agreement which provided for a coordinated effort in the development of vehicle safety standards and recognized the primary responsibility of the Department of Transportation for standards of general application.
DIFFERENCES IN STANDARD APPLICATION
The initial vehicle safety standards were issued by the Department of Commerce on January 31, 1967, to become effective on January 1, 1968. A comparison of those standards with Federal Standard No. 515a revealed that while there were no basic conflicts, there were differences in the application to types of vehicles and in certain technical requirements. Since both of these standards would apply to 1968 model vehicles the differences were considered sufficiently significant that the industry would be placed in the position of either not offering vehicles to the Government after October 13, 1967, or of complying with dual standards required by the Government. To prevent this situation, the Administrator of General Services revoked Federal Standard No. 515a, effective September 29, 1967.
Immediately following the revocation of Federal Standard No. 515, the provisions of the detailed safety standards were incorporated in purchase specifications for the vehicles which we buy. In recognition of the fact that the automobile manufacturers had possibly engineered their 1968 models to comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, we provided in our procurement documents an option that the vehicles which we purchased prior to January 1, 1968, would comply with either the safety requirements of our purchase specifications or with the applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
This option was removed from our procurement documents for sedans and station wagons which were required to comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards as of January 1, 1968. However, in the case of trucks (up to 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight), we have 10 detailed safety specifications, only two of which are