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[T3] The safety FAQ

<x-charset iso-8859-1>While were talking safety and seatbelts... I thought Id post the safety FAQ.
Our old cars arent as safe as many of the modern ones so its really a good
idea to wear our seatbelts and make sure they are in good shape!


Safety and your T3
A guide as to what to consider when choosing a year or particular car.

By Keith Park with the help of John Jaranson.

  This article is written to familiarize you with the safety upgrades of the
T3 US spec cars and some things that can ether be upgraded on the earlier
cars or avoided during a restoration.  In other foreign markets the same
rules apply but the year of introduction of safety equipment may be
different and some may never have been implemented.
What year did the T3 become a safe car?  Well. compared to today's US spec
cars never but in general with the cars of their day a general rule is 1968
for the US spec cars.
Why this year? Well, 3 things really, first off the fuel filler neck, it was
moved to the RF fender and attached to the tank with a flexible hose so in
an accident it will bend and not break.  The earlier design at the front of
the Tank was REALLY boneheaded as with no flex strip it will tear from the
tank during a moderate front end collision and easily if you rear-end a
high-bumpered vehicle.  You will probably then burn to death unless you can
get out quickly.  Secondly in 68 the US got the safety collapse steering
column, without it a moderate to severe front-end collision resulted in your
face being permanently and perhaps fatally altered by the steering column.
Lastly. the high-back seats.  Whiplash is greatly reduced by supporting the
 Early cars can be fitted with late seats as a direct swap.  Steering
columns can be retrofitted too with some changes in the wiring and some loss
of original look.  The fuel tank will swap out but requires putting a late
RF fender on the car and cutting a hole in the inner fender well for the
filler neck.   Some early cars already have the stamping for this hole.
Seat belts!  There were mounts for the 3 point front and rear belts as far
back as 65 at least and if they are not in your car this is the first
upgrade you should do.  Inertia reel belts came out in 72 and are an easy
bolt in to the early cars and much easier to use and use properly than any
of the early belts.  This makes for a very desireable conversion.
Lastly, never retrofit belts by bolting to anything else but the factory
mounts and make sure they're in good condition.  Anything else hasn't been
crash tested and such and makes for some dangerous possibilities.
 Other safety features as they were introduced.  Not much happened till 66
when the disk brakes came out on the front end.  This improved stopping
ability notably. They can be swapped to early cars by changing out the
spindles and everything on them as well as the master cylinder.  In 67 the
Dual circuit brakes came out. BIG  plus for safety. Now you don't lose all
your brakes if there is a hydraulic leak somewhere.  They can be retrofitted
to early cars by changing the master cylinder, using a 67 fluid reservoir,
and upgrading to disk brakes.  67 saw hazard lamps installed.  68 saw the
above mentioned improvements and a front bumper brace bar which added
rigidity.  The automatics this year also received the new IRS rear
suspension and 69 it was introduced on the standards.  This made for much
safer handling characteristics and less oversteer.  1970 introduced the
redesign with much stronger bumpers and a sturdier front end and body
assembly.  Stiffening plates were added to the inner fender wells in front
(most of which have rusted off by now) and an extra layer of metal to the
door pillars and rockers.   72 got the new steering wheel and column which
has better collapsing features and starting in May of 1972 new front seats.
These seats had a new front mount and strengthened pan that prevented them
from tearing out of their tracks in a rear-end collision, a rather important
feature.  The unfortunate part is they are not swapable with the early ones
and the mounts are too different to modify.  The newer seats, while more
comfortable, are of poorer quality and tended to deteriorate faster.  1973
got the side impact protection in the doors so if your upgrading your
earlier car you may want to consider these.  They are bolt on back to 66 on
the Square and Fast and 70 in the Notch but the inner door panel and armrest
mounts differ from the earlier cars.
 With this all said there are other things to consider.  Outside of
structural rust the things to avoid list contains the fiberglass pans.
There are NO suitable replacement fiberglass pan sections on the market that
can hold the seat mounts of the 5/72 and later T3 3 point seats firmly
enough to survive even a minor rear end collision.  You will be ejected
backward and into the roof, not good!  Earlier cars must be carefully
examined for rigidity of the runners that mount the seat.  Chances are that
if your fitting new pan halves that the outer seat rail is no longer
structurally sound as the rocker is probably rusted too.   Carefully check
 Fiberglass bumpers, not so much the early ones as they were so flimsy as
steel  anyway but the late ones with the reinforcement.  A fiberglass
replacement, especially if the stiffener bar is left out, will have some
reduction on impact absorption.
 Safety glass, make sure your car has it. Its Illegal not to in the US as we
've had laminated windshields since the 30's but a few might have slipped in
with the gray market cars.  It's marked on the windshield.
 Aftermarket seats, if they are just bolted in to a flat portion of the pan,
be it fiberglass or steel they will rip out on impact.  Make sure any
aftermarket seat uses the factory mounts or the system has been really
engineered properly or you'll come loose in an accident.
 Lowered cars, this seriously affects high-speed stability if not done right
and 99% of them aren't.  You lose your caster and emergency maneuvers on the
highway are no longer possible.  Skinney, low profile tires also make
handling dangerous and stopping ability greatly reduced.  Be prepared to be
Sued or not covered by your insurance in the US if these type of
modifications are discovered after an accident.  This is starting to become
an issue.
 Full-length rag tops.  Yea these are a blast in the summer but they should
really have a roll bar to go with them. The real support in rollover comes
the a,b,c, and d pillars and there connection to the upper rails(front to
 back) and the front and rear header, however there are several stiffening
bars screwed into the sides of the roof that run across the roof to provide
support and protect you in the case of a rollover or partial rollover,
especially in a Squareback, you lose these with the full length rag and the
side windows and windshield will fold over more easily.
The rag tops do reduce safety in a couple of other areas too.  One is
retention in a rollover.  It would be far easier for an unbelted occupant to
be ejected from the vehicle in a rollover, especially if the top is open.
You are also more likely to get intrusion into the passenger compartment
from things like branches, fire hydrants, stumps, rocks, etc. in a roll
The full-length rag top will also reduce the overall body stiffness of the
vehicle which will add to additional stress on joints and poorer handling.

 How do you use your car?  Is it a daily commute vehicle for you in
Washington DC traffic or do you just go to the store on Sunday in a quiet
Vermont town?  Are you an experienced driver or just starting out?   If you
have little exposure to risk then there is little to worry about driving
even the early cars in stock form.  However. if your 16 year old son is
commuting to work daily in Washington DC traffic in his 62 Squareback with
the fiberglass panhalves and a full length rag then he should really be
blasting "Suicidal Tendencies" from the stereo as well.

 Another last thing that we should carry in ALL our cars is a fire
extinguisher, this can prevent a little mishap from becoming a total loss.
OR it can save someone else's car or LIFE when you stumble into an accident
on the road.

Too much? Digest! mailto:type3-d-request@vwtype3.org Subj=subscribe


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