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I have a 6 point cage in this car to stiffen another unibody. For subframe connectors it uses 1" X 3" tubing laying flat,stitch welded to the rocker panel pinch weld then tied to the rear spring mount and front subframe. It also had straight bar swing outs but for convenience I swapped them for this friendlier style. I know the bend weakens the structure but the cage is 1 3/4",not 1 5/8",so it seems to do the trick. With no door bars installed car has a noticeable pull to the left when you punch it but with these it eliminates that and I didn't want a repeat of the all the Nova failures so this was the compromise. I don't think they would be legal at the track but I can swap in the straight bars for that. They sure are nice for daily use and they save the edge of the seat by supporting my butt cheeks as I slide in and out. One bolt at the footwell and and the pin at the hoop so they're easy to remove if you need to get right in there and lay on the floor for under dash work. I like them so much I'm going to do a set for the Nova.

Vehicle Motor vehicle Car Automotive design Vehicle door
 

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The structural shortcomings of these early Chevy II鈥檚 has been one of my major concerns with these early models. I love the style and size of them but they really are not very sturdy.. The bolt-on suspension stuff that is available today can easily flex the body and buckle the quarter panels and that鈥檚 not damage caused by an accident. That鈥檚 just installing some new suspension which changes the point load distribution.. I鈥檝e been working on this with my cars as they are under construction and want the suspension to behave predictably and chassis flex eliminated. I primarily want to do the majority of the structural fortification from the underside so that mean a full frame. Also, I want to 鈥淣OT鈥 have to cut out the whole floor and firewall to accommodate the frame. A cage is not out of the question but I鈥檇 prefer to not have one if I choose but I know the roof structure is not really strong so maybe a high and tight fitting cage system will be part of the final solution..
please keep us posted.

-Rusty
 

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I have a 6 point cage in this car to stiffen another unibody. For subframe connectors it uses 1" X 3" tubing laying flat,stitch welded to the rocker panel pinch weld then tied to the rear spring mount and front subframe. It also had straight bar swing outs but for convenience I swapped them for this friendlier style. I know the bend weakens the structure but the cage is 1 3/4",not 1 5/8",so it seems to do the trick. With no door bars installed car has a noticeable pull to the left when you punch it but with these it eliminates that and I didn't want a repeat of the all the Nova failures so this was the compromise. I don't think they would be legal at the track but I can swap in the straight bars for that. They sure are nice for daily use and they save the edge of the seat by supporting my butt cheeks as I slide in and out. One bolt at the footwell and and the pin at the hoop so they're easy to remove if you need to get right in there and lay on the floor for under dash work. I like them so much I'm going to do a set for the Nova.

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does anyone perform crash testing on this stuff? as in how do we know these cages are truly functional, especially some of the one-offs people are making..?

the only "testing" i have seen is cars on the strip that are rolling/ hitting walls, etc. i am ingnorant of how specs are determined. hopefully some of you knowledgeable guys will pipe up. a local guy builds his own cages, too, but man, they always come out different, so then how safe are they, really? is there really that much leeway on the cert. cage?

-Rusty
 

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I am by no means building a race car but I still find the NHRA rule book a great reference, gives you a great idea of how safety needs (for drag racing at least) really jump up as speed increases and times drop

I like the NHRA rule book as a reference to safety as on book covers everything from 14 second and slower cars to top fuel

plus you can see how there is less and less leeway as you get faster

just one example of the effects of forces is what speed/ET you need a drive shaft loop, and how that changes for slicks and/or a manual tranny

NHRA, Indy, F1, Nascar, etc members have been crash testing cars for years

look at some old footage too, 1964 NASCAR was essentially the cars we love with roll cage doing 150 mph, compare those safety wise to todays NASCAR

take all that with a grain of salt though as seat, harness, helmet, cage around driver are not practical for a street car
the best cage out there is not going to do much and most likely a hazard for occupants with shoulder belts and no helmets
 

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And as far as safety goes,I think you'll also find all,or at least most,race harnesses are technically not legal for street use unless certified by the NHTSA in the US or Transport Canada up here. I got pinched for speeding and was wearing the lap belt from my 5 point harness. Cop tagged me for the speeding but gave me a warning for the belt. He could have fed me a second ticket for not wearing an "approved" seat belt. Since they were an option in my 65,not mandated yet,I can run without a belt and be legal but the Racequip harness is a no go. Only an idiot doesn't wear a belt at all so I use the lap belt anyway but flip it off if I get stopped. Same certification rules apply to a lot of aftermarket stuff and it's a costly/lengthy process so most companies don't bother.
 

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doerf, that video is spot on. Even 25 years ago, major wrecks I responded to resulted in a lot of major injuries. Today, most injuries are minor, unless of course there is high speed involved. A few months ago, we pulled up on a pickup that fell off the freeway overpass onto its roof. I knew it would be a body recovery, but to my surprise, we pulled out a woman with only a fractured ankle.

I don't believe our cars can ever be made to be as safe as modern cars so like Bobs65 said, we need to be careful of who is around us and when we decide to step on the GO pedal.

I am still wrestling with the "stiffening" issue because I want to elminate/reduce sheet metal flex before it gets painted. It will suck to do all this work and money spent only to have "wrinkles or bowing" in painted quarters.

BTW Tree man, that is a great idea for entry and looks great doing it.
 

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I'm not crazy about the lap belt only. The steering column and wheel in both my cars is real steel and I'd prefer to not pile my chest into any of it at 40mph so my plan is to install an old,OE style,non-retractable shoulder harness this winter. I'll anchor the shoulder belt to the main hoop and put a clip up at the roof line A pillar to stow it when not in use,just like the manufacturers did in the 60's/70's. I want to keep it kinda period correct so I think this will be decent compromise for safety and keep me legal.
 

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look what youtube decided I needed to see

58-64 full-size Chevrolets are on an X frame chassis. They were known to be very problematic in collisions. An offset head on collision is the worst type of scenario to be put in in any vehicle. An X frame chassis will definitely fail and a side impact will also cause a tremendous amount of damage and intrusion into the passenger compartment..
 

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I'm intrigued by the X frame. If you added it to a gen I gen II nova where the unibody is supposed to be sufficient anyway, I could see where it might add just the right amount of stiffness. It would also hang all of the suspension.....
 

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SNS veterans posting above know that there's inherent flex to these cars. They were cheap and built to early 1960's build standards, and those standards didn't address this well enough for today. Crash test standards weren't in place, manufacturers didn't have to answer to much litigation in this regard, but we all know how that changed before the decade was out.

What to do? There's no free lunch. Guys love these cars because a small block is a drop in, but these bodies end up cracking, flexing, breaking and handling poorly when there's a lot of power under the hood and traction upgrades are made to go faster in a straight line. Addressing the problems adds weight. Sub frame connectors are a start. A cage integrated with the front and rear subframes is another good step, but probably not enough. There's a huge call for body 'drop-on' subframes that will be able to hold all of the suspension and driveline, but now you're adding significant weight and there's no test data that that added frame or roll cage will make the cars significantly safer to occupants in a collision, though they should. Any of these upgrades should be accompanied by safer seating, seat to body attachment, restraints and other improvements as well if that's the goal of the modification.

Guys upgrading Novas are asking a lot out of early '60's practice of the art car building design, especially from a model designed to be light and cheap with no waste. GM wasn't trying to compete in today's market or even today's hobbyist market with this car.
 

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My ride is a lil odd, well cause I built it. Its a 62 Nova (400 series).

Art Morrison rear frame that I fully welded to the floor pan and my removeable front clip, the original is also fully welded to the firewall and inner fender panels.

It is basically a flat pan that does not twist. And with that I put my I/C where I wanted it. The giant three piece roll bars helped with that as does my home grown watts link.

Its not a heavy HP car, she is a corner carver. JR
 

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Only problem with a cage is it puts steel pipes right by your unprotected cabbage. No bid deal at the track with a helmet on but street driving with no lid creates a problem. They really should have the roll bar padding installed but it's not very attractive and I'm guilty of not putting any on mine for vanity sake.
i forgot to ask: if the bar is properly covered with high-density foam, why would the "cabbage" get injured?

-Rusty
 

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i forgot to ask: if the bar is properly covered with high-density foam, why would the "cabbage" get injured?

-Rusty
Let me take a baseball bat, cover it with high-density foam, how hard do you think I would have to swing to replicate your cabbage being injured?
 

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Let me take a baseball bat, cover it with high-density foam, how hard do you think I would have to swing to replicate your cabbage being injured?
obviously much, much harder than without the foam, ya know? it's the reason they changed the concrete barriers in some of the racing leagues, in my understanding.

rather take a hard hit than potentially die without the cage.

-Rusty
 

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Sometimes I feel like this point is taken a little too far. A roll bar/ cage in and of itself is not a bad thing in a daily driver aside from the inconvience. Heck, my Jeep came from the factory with a roll bar and it only had 3 point seatbelts and crap bucket seats. So long as an effort is made to provide good driver/ passenger retention (seat/ belts) a roll bar/cage makes the car much safer, it's why competitions require them. A poorly designed/ laid out roll bar/ cage with factory bench seats and belts can definitely be more dangerous than nothing. I think if you're putting a funny car cage in a car you need a full containment racing seat to protect your melon from the cage around you.
 

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I guess I could see that had I not spent many hours racing in circle track and road race formula cars. My last wreck wearing a five point harness allowed me to hit my head on the steering wheel even though at rest it was almost twenty inches away. That was leaning forward to check for closness. Not a single section of tubing was not compromised. Roll bars should always be protected with high energy foam but this design also includes the wearing of a helmet. I have no use for a street car with a roll cage. If you've ever had your bell rung you would get it......
 
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