Deadly cars

Cars can be very dangerous machines!

The Suzuki Samurai

Suzuki Samurai Image

SUV's can roll over from time to time. This is almost always because of bad driving practice; some drivers take them over completely unsuitable terrain, where they drive them too fast, or corner too quickly. The Suzuki Samurai however allegedly tended to fall over because of its inherent design.

This was not a vehicle which was created from scratch by Suzuki. In 1968 they bought out a small Japanese car manufacturer called the Hope Manufacturing Company and they inherited this vehicle as a result. A few changes were made before the Samurai made its debut in 1985. Problems began to surface almost immediately.

In 1988 a magazine called Consumer Reports alleged that it turned over too easily if there was a quick change of direction, such as when the driver had to swerve to avoid an obstacle. This was very damaging to Suzuki's reputation and they sued. The suit dragged on for eight years but Suzuki's case wasn't helped when an internal memo appeared, in which an executive had stated that it was inevitable that this sort of accident would occur because of the car's relatively high centre of gravity, and narrow wheelbase.

Although Suzuki were looking for US$60 million compensation the matter was eventually settled out of court and no money changed hands. Consumer Reports stated that perhaps they had used the word 'easily' unfairly but the damage had been done. Sales had plummeted and by 1995 it had been pulled out of the American market completely.

Court documents showed that Suzuki allegedly knew of more than 200 deaths and more than 8000 injuries which were caused as a result of rollover.

To be fair to Suzuki, a sudden change of direction isn't something that an SUV normally experiences; and those that take a car off road perhaps should be aware that sometimes even the best designed vehicle can have stability problems if it's taken over totally unsuitable ground. Suzuki have also pointed out the fact that other vehicles such as motorhomes, pickup trucks, and even ambulances can have higher centres of gravity and therefore run a greater risk of toppling over under certain conditions. Then again these vehicles are not designed to be used off-road! The vehicle is still manufactured and many of it's owners feel that the company was unfairly treated in the USA, where they are no longer sold.

Next - the Pontiac Fiero

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