1983 Two-Door Uno Crashed Into BMW at 55 MPH to Signal 30 Years of Car Safety

A team of Swiss car safety experts rear-ended a BMW with a Fiat at 55 miles per hour.
Brad Bergan

A group of safety experts from Switzerland's Dynamic Test Center (DTC) rammed a 1983 Fiat Uno into the rear-end of a BMW 525d police car at 56 mph (90 kmh) to watch for visible proof that car safety has improved in the last 30 years, according to a YouTube video from DTC.


Two-door Uno crashes into BMW 525d police wagon

This test included three belted passengers, with a BMW fully loaded with gear. Experts wondered whether the 0.26-gallon (1-liter) F.I.R.E. engine and gearbox could absorb enough energy to save the driver's legs, or if the BMW's rear crash structure would slice through the Uno like a hot knife through butter.

While the test was officially carried out to evaluate officer safety in police cars loaded with equipment, the Fiat Uno's 100% frontal collision into a much larger parked car went much better than an earlier model of the Italian hatchback may have gone, reports The Drive. Ditto a 2010 Seicento.


Fiat 1983 120 Anniversary
The 1983 Fiat, parked in a European town. Source: Fiat

History of the Fiat Uno, car safety

For a long time, cars were not well known for their safety records. 30 years ago, a car called the Fiat Cinquecento Sporting was a cheap and fun hatchback built for adrenaline-addled teens, budget-constrained families, or even elderly getting by in rural areas.

The 1983 European version saw Girogetto Giugiaro at the helm of Fiat's design. He used features from his 1978 Lancia Megagamma MPV concept to create a spacious hatchback with a comparatively small footprint. Called the Uno, it won European Car of the Year like a birthright, shoving Peugeot's commendable 205 car down to second place.

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Three decades later, Switzerland's independent safety experts stationed at the DTC took a look at what happens when a two-door Uno rear-ends a stationary BMW 525d police wagon at roughly 56 mph (90 kmh).

Car safety has advanced in 30 years

In addition to the Fiat Uno's comparative success, the BMW also did very well. The bumper took most of the shock of the impact, absorbing enough of the energy to prevent the rear glass from breaking. Most importantly, every one of the dummies inside, including the gear, was perfectly safe.

However, since a 55 mile-per-hour collision is obviously dangerous — remember the Fiat Uno — it's interesting to note how well the BMW's performance serves to show us how far car safety has come in the last three decades.

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