There are British Gazette readers who know that the Editor is a bit of a classic car buff. Many such buffs are very keen on restoring old cars to their original specification. This can mean going to great lengths – and expense – to source original components and to remove more modern additions fitted by previous owners of a car. Often this will involve the removal of quite sophisticated and expensive in car Hi-Fi and replacing same with remanufactured original radios which will invariably cost as much or more than the kit that has been removed and furthermore be of inferior performance.
Those readers not afflicted with the Editor’s enthusiasm will be shaking their heads in pity. However, although the Editor does like to revel in the nostalgia of cars of the 1960s and the 1970s he does not share the obsession with originality of his fellow enthusiasts. In particular the Editor draws the line and compromising his own safety and that of any passengers that may be in the car.
A prime example of this is head restraints: Many cars in the 1960s and the 1970s did not have head restraints. Examples are the Mk 2 Jaguars and many Bristols such as the 410 and 412. Such vehicles are potential death traps. If you are travelling in such a vehicle – and one need not be travelling very fast – and have to brake suddenly to avoid an impact, one is in very real danger of an inattentive driver in a vehicle behind you causing a “rear end shunt.” The likelihood of experiencing a “rear end shunt” on today’s busy and overcrowded roads is very real. Such accidents are generally caused by the driver behind “tailgating” and paying inadequate attention. If such an idiot is driving a modern car they are likely to escape form such a collision totally unscathed. Their car will have been designed to absorb the energy of the crash and will have air bags which will have been activated and thus protect the life of the idiot – all modern cars being fitted with head restraints as standard. Such however would not be the fate of the innocent victims who were the occupants of a classic car without head restraints. Assuming that the vehicle was fitted with seat belts and the said belts were being worn, the effects of the idiot behind colliding with their car could be severe indeed. Over a certain speed – still within the legal speed limits – death could very well result, the impact snapping the third and fourth vertebrae and spinal column. This is the same effect of being hanged by the late Albert Pierpoint. Those not killed could receive lesser injuries that would still result in them being paralysed from the neck down, thus loosing not only their ability to walk but also to use their arms and to perform basic bodily functions without assistance.
The Editor himself was extremely fortunate to walk away from a car crash in the M62 westbound motorway in March 1980. The Editor will be forever grateful to the negligent inattention to detail of one or more unnamed workers in the Italian factory that built the Fiat 131 he was driving at the time. Their negligent and poor workmanship caused the reclining seat mechanism to collapse when the Fiat was rammed by the drunken driver of an Alfa Romeo GTV. This drunk failed to stop in time to avoid hitting the Editor’s car that was stationery in Lane 2 (there being a static queue of traffic) just before Junction 24. The collapsed seat caused the Editor to be thrown onto the rear seat thus avoiding whiplash and saving his life. Since that time the Editor will not even get into a car that is not fitted with head restraints. It was a very lucky escape.
Another person who it seems has had a fortunate escape is Mrs Cheryl Cole who was a passenger in a Cadillac car driven by an gentleman who has the stage name, Will-i-am. It appears that both the driver and Mrs Cole suffered some whiplash but happily it was only minor. It is believed that Will-i-am is a classic car enthusiast.
The British Gazette would urge all owners of cars not fitted with head restraints to fit such restraints without delay and to pay no attention to the idea of “maintaining originality” – human life is far more important. We would also urge such as Mrs Cole not to tempt fate (again in her case) and get in a car that does not have such fitted.