11 of History’s Most Infamous Automotive Scandals

1. General Motors buries the Chrysler Airflow

Source: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Introduced in 1934, The Chrysler Airflow was one of the most aerodynamic and advanced cars ever built, and it posed a major threat to the automotive status quo. Its radical streamlined design made it stand out from anything else on the road — and General Motors was furious that the smaller Chrysler had built a more advanced car than it could.

It retaliated by buying advertisements in the Saturday Evening Post claiming that the radical Chrysler was plagiarized from a top-secret GM design (which never surfaced) and presented a danger on the roads.

Chrysler responded by releasing an amazing newsreel showing the Airflow’s advanced suspension (by shooting out a tire at high speed), its use of safety glass (by having a pitcher throw a fastball at it without shattering), rolling it over (and driving away), and finally, driving it off a 110-foot cliff, then driving it away without so much as a shattered window.

The Airflow’s uni-body construction (a method still used today) was all steel at a time when most cars still used wood in their construction, and it offered almost modern safety at a time when even low-speed accidents were life-threatening. Astonishingly, GM’s smear campaign was successful: It faced no repercussions for its actions, and the ground-breaking Airflow was discontinued in 1937.

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