Safety Research Vehicle programme


The Safety Research Vehicle programme was started by British Leyland in 1974, the programme set out to show consumers how British Leyland were planning to make cars safer, either by restyling vehicles to incorporate new safety features or adding a novel system designed to prevent tired, inebriated or otherwise incapacitated drivers from taking the wheel.

There were five SRV vehicles and one SSV vehicle:
SRV1 - Marina Coupe
SRV2 - Marina Saloon
SRV3 - 1800
SRV4 - Mini
SRV5 - 1300

As the 1300 was still in production (albeit very near the end of it's run!) it became an obvious choice for British Leyland to take an idea from the SRV programme drawing board and implement it. Whilst all the other vehicles received some styling changes, the 1300 seemed to undergo the biggest transformation.

The concept of the pedestrian protection system came from the Transport and Road Research Laboratory, who had been looking at ways vehicles could be designed to substantially reduce pedestrian injuries in accidents with cars. British Leyland determined that the height of the bumper on the 1300, at 18 inches, was fine if the vehicle was involved in an accident with another vehicle. If the accident involved a pedestrian, on the other hand, the bumper strikes both adults and children too high up the leg, causing initial injuries. The pedestrian is then thrown against the bonnet edge and falls forward onto the ground.

By lowering the bumper, to around 12 to 13 inches from the ground, the pedestrian's legs are hit lower down and swept from under them with the effect that they are thrown back and upwards onto the wedge shaped bonnet which minimises injury.

Above left, the standard 1300 bumper versus the revised position on the right.

The system in action:


A ball rolls into the road, chased by a child with eyes only for his bouncing toy. The child doesn't see the car bearing down on them.

On impact, the child is turned to face the same way as the car. The low bumper, carried on energy absorbing mountings, tilts the child backwards. At the same moment a sensor in the bumper triggers off the retaining bar.

The child falls back onto the smooth, wedge shaped bonnet as the bar follows up underneath the child's legs.

After hitting the bonnet, the child is prevented from slipping forward onto the ground by the bar now at its highest position.


British Leyland claimed that "the pedestrian catcher bar can be incorporated into the styling so it is virtually undectable". Do you agree?

SRV5 being put through it's paces using a crash test dummy. This particular image shows how the system has stopped the dummy from falling under the wheels - the driver appears rigid with fear!


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