April 9: NHTSA issues the big bumper rule on this date in 1971
Courtesy aldenjewell / Flickr
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued its first passenger car bumper standard 42 years ago today. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 215, "Exterior Protection," which went into effect in September of 1972, called for all passenger cars to withstand 5 mph front and 2 mph rear impacts against a perpendicular barrier without suffering headlight or fuel system damage. As a result, many 1973 models resembled up-armored tanks. General Motors marketers made it look like adding giant bumpers was their brilliant idea in the Riviera commercial below (check out the 5-minute mark), but now you know better.