Video: 30-year-old car put through modern crash test

3 minutes, 14 seconds Read

If you think an old car is going to protect you just as well as any new vehicle currently sold in Australian showrooms, ‘please consider’ watching this video of a Mitsubishi Magna being put to the modern test.

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The Australasian New-Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) – the organisation responsible for independent safety testing of new cars in Australia and New Zealand – has celebrated its 30th anniversary in a unique way, by putting a new car from 1993 through its 2023 crash test protocols.

Last week, ANCAP commemorated 30 years since its establishment by inviting a number of owners of cars which were the first to be tested by the organisation in 1993 – such as a Holden Commodore, Ford Falcon, Volvo 940, Subaru Liberty and Honda Accord.

However it was a 1993 Mitsubishi Magna – of the ‘TR’ generation in Executive trim, a similar example of which was also among the first cars ANCAP crash tested – which was selected to meet its unfortunate end, with the crash test being conducted to 2023 standards.

Despite being regarded as one of the safest vehicles in its class in the early 1990s, the Magna’s lack of front airbags and relatively primitive approach to safety meant it was unable to protect its occupants from serious injury when subjected to a modern crash test. 

ANCAP noted the Mitsubishi’s driver would have risked a serious or even fatal skull fracture and brain injury due to their head hitting the steering wheel – experiencing a momentary force of 107g (or 107 times its own weight) which is approximately double the standard found in new cars sold with a 2023 five-star safety rating.

The driver would have also suffered significant leg and pelvis injuries, while rear passengers risked serious abdomen injuries due to partially slipping under the rear seatbelt.

While cars have become safer since 1993, ANCAP’s test protocols have also changed, with speeds of the frontal offset test – such as the one demonstrated by the Magna – ramping up from 56km/h to 64km/h.

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ANCAP did not introduce its star rating system until 1999, six years after it was established, and its criteria for the scores it assesses changes approximately every three years – with the latest 2023-2025 protocols recently coming into effect.

Since 2020, just 11 of the 97 new cars which have been rated by ANCAP have failed to achieve a five-star result – with all examples (bar the zero-star Mitsubishi Express van) scoring four stars or higher.

It’s not the first time ANCAP has tested an older car to its modern standards – in 2017 a 1998 Toyota Corolla was crashed into its modern counterpart at 64km/h, with devastating damage to the older hatchback.

“Back then, the cars we drove were just regular cars.  We didn’t think twice about what safety they offered, or didn’t offer,” ANCAP CEO Carla Hoorweg said in a media statement.  

“Today, the Australian consumer is well-informed and empowered with the tools to make safer vehicle choices, and the age of your vehicle can make all the difference.”

Our previous coverage of ANCAP’s crash test and policies can be found here.

Jordan Mulach is Canberra/Ngunnawal born, currently residing in Brisbane/Turrbal. Joining the Drive team in 2022, Jordan has previously worked for Auto Action, MotorsportM8, The Supercars Collective and TouringCarTimes, WhichCar, Wheels, Motor and Street Machine. Jordan is a self-described iRacing addict and can be found on weekends either behind the wheel of his Octavia RS or swearing at his ZH Fairlane.

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