It is not everyday I come across an erratic story that truly blows my mind, but when I do, I like to share these stories with you all. Not just for the sake of sharing, but because these are things that actually happened that should leave every single person speechless. To be completely honest, I want you all to leave this page in shock with a side of anger, so buckle up and get ready for this one.
In the 1970’s, Ford came out with a small, cheap car known as the Ford Pinto that was made specifically to compete with other small, compact cars produced by Volkswagen and Japanese Manufacterers. It’s entire design was for the sole purpose of providing an incredibly cheap and slightly smaller alternative than competitors. All in all, the car weighed less then 2,000 pounds and cost less than $2,000. Additionally, to release the car in time for the holiday season, they rushed production from a normal 43 months to only 25 months.
The consumers loved it. It was the perfect car. It sold as many as 1.5 million units in its first 6 years. However, there was a slight (and by slight I mean incredibly out-of-the world MAJOR) problem. Due it its incredibly compact design, the fuel tank was placed too close to the rear end of the car, near the rear wheel axel. It was in such a position that if the Pinto were to be rear-ended by another car going as slow as 20m/h, the tank would rupture. Unfortunately, gasoline from the tank may reach the engine of the oncoming vehicle. This could, and would, result in the Pinto catching fire (literally exploding). Now I know what you’re thinking, design flaw. To that I say, I wish.
Here’s the other problem: Ford knew. Yes. Ford, the very company that instructed its engineers to design the perfect car, knew there was a possiblity that the car would catch fire. In fact, the engineers notified Ford so that they might redesign the Pinto to remove the possiblity of exploding all together. They even came close enough to the redesign that they knew it would cost exactly $11 per Pinto to create a plastic barrier around the fuel tank. However, Ford decided that was too expensive a fix to make. That’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that Ford calculated it to be cheaper to pay off civil law suits from crash victims than to recall the already sold cars and fix the design flaw.
By the end of the Pinto’s deadly life span, a total of 27 official deaths were reported. However many speculate that the real number is above 150, and that doesn’t include the many people who were burned but not killed. Eventually there was a mass recall after the death of 3 teenage girls who were burned alive after their Pinto was hit from behind. The Ford Manufactering Company was exonerated from charges of reckless homicide.
The part that leaves me in shock is not the fact that the Ford Motor Company actively chose civil law suits from disfigurement and death over redesigning a safer car, but that the exploding cars became an accepted norm of American society. How could you say that? Society would never openly be ok wi-