Welcome to 365 Days of Motoring

An Everyday Journey Through Motoring History, Facts & Trivia

Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.

On This Day

Friday 11th February 2005

14 years ago

Samuel W. Alderson (90), inventor of crash test dummies, used by car manufacturers to test the reliability of seat belts and other safety protocols, died in Marina Del Rey, California. Information gleaned from cadaver research and animal studies had already been put to some use in the construction of human simulacra as early as 1949, when "Sierra Sam" was created by Samuel W. Alderson at his Alderson Research Labs (ARL) and Sierra Engineering Co. to test aircraft ejection seats, aviation helmets and pilot restraint harnesses. This testing involved the use of high acceleration to 1000 km/h (600 mph) rocket sleds, beyond the capability of human volunteers to tolerate. In the early 1950s, Alderson and Grumman produced a dummy which was used to conduct crash tests in both motor vehicles and aircraft. Alderson went on to produce what it called the VIP-50 series, built specifically for General Motors and Ford, but which was also adopted by the National Bureau of Standards. Sierra followed up with a competitor dummy, a model it called "Sierra Stan," but GM, who had taken over the impetus in developing a reliable and durable dummy, found neither model satisfied its needs. GM engineers decided to combine the best features of the VIP series and Sierra Stan, and so in 1971 Hybrid I was born. Hybrid I was what is known as a "50th percentile male" dummy. That is to say, it modeled an average male in height, mass, and proportion. The original "Sierra Sam" was a 95th percentile male dummy (heavier and taller than 95% of human males). In cooperation with the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), GM shared this design, and a subsequent 5th percentile female dummy, with its competitors.

'Sierra Sam' test crash dummy

'Sierra Sam' test crash dummy