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What is the 'death rate' on older and classic cars?

On the review of the Volkswagen Polo MkII, it says that the car has a '9 point death rate'. Would you be able to explain what this means and, if possible, where I can found out more about the safety of old cars?

Asked on 14 September 2017 by Dan

Answered by Keith Moody
The 'death rate points' were based on some Government statistics released around the year 2000 which looked at deaths per vehicle registered. From memory, the figures were short lived and the EuroNCAP crash tests seemed to take over. If you're looking for safety data, EuroNCAP has all the historical data on their site (www.euroncap.com/en) going back to around 1999. Any further back than that and the safety of a car is dependent on the condition it's been kept in as much as it is the manufacturer's original design. For example, the 1950s Austin Westminster is legendary for its sturdiness, robustness, and occupant protection - but if it's completely full of rust and filler it will fold like a paper cup in a crash. Should the MoT test pick that up? Not necessarily. For a start, cars built before 1960 no longer require an MoT test - but a tester can only fail a car for rust if he can see it (and if it's in a certain place such as a load bearing structure or within 30cm of a seatbelt point), which can be hard to see if a shoddy repair has been slapped over with underseal.
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