Byron Bloch’s Ford Pinto model, 1970s

Beginning in the 1960s, safety expert Byron Bloch exposed dangerous automobile designs and recommended safer designs through courtroom testimony, government depositions, investigative reporting, journal articles, and lectures. Bloch documented fuel tank fires, crushed roofs, and other hazards caused by vulnerable parts that failed during collisions or rollovers. He advocated tougher federal standards and designs that promised to reduce the number of injuries, disabilities, and fatalities. In 1978, an Indiana family's 1973 Ford Pinto was struck from behind, and the rear-mounted fuel tank ruptured and burst into flames. An expert witness in State of Indiana v. Ford Motor Company (1980), Bloch showed the prosecution team a safer fuel tank location forward of the car's rear axle. He also hand-painted the chassis parts on this model to make his point to the prosecution team and jury. Ford was acquitted, but media attention focused on the Ulrich trial and similar trials helped to bring about change at auto manufacturing companies. By the 1980s, fuel tanks on many new cars were located forward of the rear axle, preventing fires and saving lives.
Object Name
car model
date made
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
overall: 2 in x 7 in x 3 in; 5.08 cm x 17.78 cm x 7.62 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Road Transportation
American Enterprise
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
American Enterprise
Road Transportation
American Enterprise
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Byron Bloch
Additional Media

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