UpFront: Pack Your (Air) Bags


From the July/August 2023 situation of Automotive and Driver.

John W. Hetrick, an engineer from Pennsylvania, patented the airbag again in 1953. Whereas suppliers and automakers experimented with airbags within the ’60s and ’70s, they did not turn out to be extensively obtainable till the ’80s and weren’t federally mandated till 1998. Nowadays, one may discover 10 or extra airbags in a automotive, from aspect curtain to knee bolster, however nearly all early baggage had been housed within the steering wheel. Packaging these first baggage necessitated chunky “lunchbox” middle sections, devoid of the chrome and wooden discovered on nonbagged wheels. One can safely guess a automotive’s period simply by the look of these rubbery, boxy steering wheels.

Over time, the {hardware} received smaller, the programs grew to become safer, and steering wheels regained some fashion with nicer supplies and symbols that do not pop off throughout airbag deployment. Extra subtle for positive, though a few of us get a bit nostalgic for lunchboxes.

2023 BMW 5-Sequence

Half Numbers: 32-30-8-008-186 (wheel), 32-30-8-097-022 (airbag)
Diameter: 14.5 inches
Options: Adjustable rake and attain; controls for audio, Bluetooth, and driver-assistance programs; elective warmth
Price (wheel plus airbag): $3300

1990 BMW 5-Sequence

Half Numbers: 32-34-1-159-786 (wheel), 32-34-1-161-756 (airbag)
Diameter: 15.5 inches
Options: It turns and tilts; there’s additionally a horn
Price (wheel plus airbag): $320 on eBay

Illustration by Pete Sucheski|Automotive and Driver

1989–95 BMW 5-Sequence

The E34 was extremely regarded for its good-looking design and impressed dealing with, the M5 particularly so. This era launched to the 5-series lineup a wagon physique fashion, all-wheel drive (in Europe), and a V-8 engine. The E34 5-series was additionally one of many first BMWs to have a regular driver’s airbag.

upfront pack your bags

Illustration by Pete Sucheski|Automotive and Driver

2017–23 BMW 5-Sequence

Bigger than its predecessor however rife with creature comforts, the G30 5-series has a formidable checklist of superior driver-assistance programs. Underneath the fitting situations, the automotive may even speed up, steer, and brake by itself. Customary entrance, aspect, and curtain air-bags supply supplemental safety for all occupants.


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