Rear View Mirror

The History of the Automobile in America,

it’s mechanical and auto body technology and development, the people who drive them, the laws they are subject to, the evolution of the roads they drive on, and almost inevitably, the technology required to recover a collision-damaged vehicle and return it to drivable condition, are all intertwined. The history of the collision repair industry, most specifically, the many companies that support the industry, have a long and interestingly varied past.

These items are offered as informational only, and do not necessarily represent the position or opinion of American Honda.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Many believe that the concept of air bags in cars to mitigate collision injury to vehicle occupants is a product of the late 1980’s.  Not so.  In 1951, German Walter Linderer and American John Hedrik applied for patents for early airbags.  The bags were largely ineffectual because they could deploy fast enough.  To deploy the bag, the driver had to have the presence of mind to anticipate the accident, and then flip a switch, not unlike turning on the car’s headlights or adjusting the radio, to deploy the bag.  Needless to say, it was not a very practical system.  A good system to trigger the deployment of the air bag did not yet exist – but they had the concept right.  An acceptable triggering system would have to wait until Allen Breed submitted for a patent for his invention, the first electro-mechanical air bag triggering system.  The first airbags sold commercially on a passenger car appeared on the 1973 Oldsmobile Tornado.  Wide use would need to wait until the mid-1980’s.

(Source:  Mary Bellis The History of Air Bags New York Times online)

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