4 Safety Measures You Need to Take If You Own a Classic Car

We all love classic cars.  They’ve got stories and characters that new cars just can’t manage, but they aren’t as safe as modern models. Airbags, crumple zones, and even seatbelts are all modern inventions that you likely won’t find in your favorite classic or antique model. What safety measures do you need to take if you own a classic car?

Double Check Your Seatbelts

Today, most of us don’t drive a car unless we’re belted in, but it wasn’t always that way.  The three-pointed seatbelt that we use today wasn’t patented until 1958 and they weren’t standard equipment until the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration passed Title 49 in 1968. If you own a classic car that’s older than 1958, chances are high that it doesn’t have the three-point seatbelt required for your vehicle to be street legal.

Thankfully, you can easily install the necessary three-pointed seatbelts into nearly any car with a couple of tools and a bit of elbow grease. If you don’t have seatbelts, or you don’t have the three-pointed version, this should be your first upgrade.

Upgrade the Brakes

The old drum brakes in your classic car aren’t as efficient or safe as modern disc brakes, so if you’re going to be using your classic car as a daily driver, consider upgrading the brakes to something a little bit newer.  Changing the brakes does require a bit of skill and an afternoon, but it doesn’t require a trip to the mechanic unless you’re missing one or both of these things.

Make sure all your bolts are torqued and that everything is connected before you start driving it after the replacement.  The brake system is one that you don’t want to mess around with.

Install New Headlights

Classic cars tend to use old sealed-beam headlight bulbs.  While you can get replacements at your local auto part’s store, they aren’t as bright as modern halogens, making it more difficult for you to see and safely navigate. You can even upgrade them to LEDs if you feel so inclined without interfering with the look of your car’s front end.

This is a necessary upgrade if you plan to drive your classic car at night or in the rain.  Not only will you make it easier for people to see you, but you’ll make navigating in the dark easier.

Replace the Keys and Ignition

There’s a reason that classic cars are a popular target for car thieves — they don’t have the security features that modern models are equipped with. You could turn the locks and start the engine of many classic models with nothing more than a screwdriver. While it might be nostalgic to utilize the classic keys and ignition that came with your favorite antique vehicle, it makes it more difficult to keep your investment safe.

Consider upgrading your locks and ignition to protect your classic car from thieves.

Stay Safe and Have Fun

Classic cars have a spirit that modern models are missing, but if you want to use one daily it’s a good idea to upgrade your safety features to make sure that it will keep you safe in the event of an accident. Ideally, you’ll never get into an accident and you won’t need any of these extra safety features.

It’s definitely a case of ‘better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.’ Enjoy your classic car, stay safe and above all, have fun.  There’s nothing quite like the roar of the engine and the wind in your hair as you take one of these pieces of automotive history out for a spin.

Scott Huntington is an automotive writer from central Pennsylvania. Check out his work at Off The Throttle or follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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One Response to “4 Safety Measures You Need to Take If You Own a Classic Car”

  1. Mikhael says:

    While the seatbelts are a good idea, there is no requirement for a vehicle not originally produced with certain safety equipment to be retrofitted to remain street legal.