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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Harness vs seatbelt

For a car with bucket seats but no cage.
As no midget has airbags, substantial padding etc surely (in a 20-30mph crash) it is better to be constrained by a harness than hit the steering wheel.
At 60-70 you probably aren't going to walk away.
So which is safer?

Sorry for bringing a slightly morbid tone to the forum.
BH Harvey

Sorry i do not understand the question?!

Are you asking wether a full (4 or 6) point harnass is safer than a windup or fixed 3 point?

Well what do you think!

Of course a full harnass is safer but since it is a balance between safe and street usable the 3 point usualy is favorable.

I am using an FIA approved 4 point harnass but usualy only wear the lap belt.
When i do some spirited driving/rally/track i add the 2 upper belts.

Would a 3 point be safer than the lap belt? yes most likely.

It all is a balance between cost usability and what is available.
Onno Könemann

"This car has no airbags; I will die like a man"

One of the best bumperstickers I've heard of.
Alex G Matla

I was thinking of three point harnesses. However in a roll these have no give. They really should be used with head restraints as well, however that requires a helmet.
They are roughly the same price as inertia reel belts from Moss.
BH Harvey

The more restrained you are, the safer you will be in any impact. The more points your correctly adjusted harness has, the safer you will be. But the harder it is to use, and getting properly into a 5-6 point harness is a major faff. Especially when just popping to the shops. As Onno says, may folk with harnesses would be better off with a 3 point belt the majority of the time.

Also, just how solidly mounted are your seats? If they can flex at all, the harnesses will go loose as the seat moves and cause more problems than they solve. For a road car, having had both options in previous cars, I would go for a decent set of inertia reel seatbelts. If you drive as though your road car is on fire (and I do have a habit of doing just this), then harnesses begin to make more sense to me. At the end of the day, Ferrari/Lambourghini et all have 3 point belts.
S Overy

Any belt is an improvement
The tighter you are the better
Any head protection is good

Is it ever going to make our cars safe?!

The safest you can be is in a full cage in a full bucket with a helmet 6point harnass and HANS system.

Fixed or inertia reel is mostley a case of preference and practicality.

Remember the tighter you are the more you feel what the car is doing.
And that is a big part of the best sort of safety you can have preventive!
Onno Könemann

personally, in my opinion and style driving and use of my car

taking my comments as a whole

I think a harness makes you drive faster so you are in effect less safe because of the higher speed

the more safety devices the more chances you take

on the road you can roll a car but it does take a bit to get there

what about side impacts, what about other drivers and vehicles

in a classic you will learn to think ahead but other drivers might not

put on whatever safety features make you comfortable to drive the Midget but the Midget in itself is a very unsafe car to be in by modern car standards

be as morbid as you like ultimately it's yours and your passenger's lives

when this discussion came up on PH someone posted a photo of a show standard Cortina 1600E that a vehicle had pulled out of a side road on to and it was cut in half by that
Nigel Atkins

Head hitting windscreen or dash at 15mph might mean the car has more brains than you do, at least afterwards. You can roll a car at very low speed (10-15mph) under the right conditions, and those are not rare - just drop a wheel in a ditch. I found a pickup truck upside down in front of my house one night that had done just that. I lost a customer who drove his XKE down a bank; he was thrown out and hit a tree - dead -, car ran into some bushes, had a few scratches. In a rollover, half way out is the worst possible thing. Getting bounced out of the seat by some incident means you have no control for the rest of the ride, I have a formerly perfectly good crashed Rover to prove it. 3 pt inertia reel is the best alternative that is likely to actually get used all the time and be reasonably tight when needed.
You don't want "give", and there is plenty in a crash, look up some crash test movies. Head restraints are primarily for getting hit from behind. They could be good on rebound from a frontal crash, but if you've already smashed your face you really don't care.

FR Millmore

My personal opinion-------

Having lost a good friend years ago in a rollover--
He had a full harness and no rollover bar - a dangerous combination, as in the event you end up upside down with your head pushed into your chest there is no chance of survival -- At least with a lap/sash or lap only belt there is the chance of being thrown sideways a bit to eliminate this nasty end.

Choose wisely
-Rollbar -- harness ok
NO Rollbar -- 3 point lap/sash max.

You only get one chance - Willy
William Revit

Being trapped under the car is my main concern. However the mgoc roll bar doesn't look particuarly substantial, does anyone know of a better make?
I assume that in a roll the windscreen frame collapses, unlike on modern convertibles.
BH Harvey

I rolled a MK-I Midget in July 1974... ended up-side down, car resting on front & rear bulkheads. I survived because I wasn't wearing a seatbelt... I was under the car with the passenger seat frame above my head. A bunch of people lifted the car slightly and I crawled out and became unconscious again.

Any kind of seatbelt would have been a hindrance in these circumstances.

My parents were so pleased when I turned up at their home some week or so later (no mobile phones in those days... left the hospital in my 'accident clothes' and caught a train home) that my mum leant me her car for the rest of the summer.

It's a personal choice... roll bar in open cars for me!

Anthony Cutler

Safety devices make the best looking and fia approved rollbar.
But it all comes down to how it it is fixed to the car and in what state the car is!
Onno Könemann

I think you’re probably more likely to roll a car in America purely because of having more open space, in the UK you’re more likely to run into a house built on an infill area that used to have ditches and banking - but having benefited from a roll bar I can’t dispute having them on an open car, just not my preference

The thing about not wearing a seat to come out of an accident is just a matter of statistics

One of the biggest safety devises that most people forget is driving training - and as Onno points out all vehicles on the road being needing to be in good condition

The story I posted before - sorry my faulty memory again, I got the story wrong:

the car was a MK2 Cortina but not a 1600E (the guy that posted had an E), a Shogun 4x4 came out of a junction on the left and then ploughed straight into the car, the car wasn’t cut in half but reduced in width with the whole car bent out of shape and the n/s front wing and engine bay destroyed, the driver had both his legs broken and lucky not to have his right leg amputated at the shin

the story was promoting the fact he and his passenger were both wearing their seat belts otherwise they would more than likely be dead (show car so no harnesses)

the point is put on your car whatever makes you comfortable with it but bear in mind you're not protected to modern standards

and 70s style protection - the steering wheel centre (sometimes) horn push on 70s Midgets is sprung and softer material to protect the drivers’ head
Nigel Atkins

Just out of interest Nigel, why do you not have a roll bar if you have previously benefited from one, surely that is illogical?
I have a metal and leather Mountney wheel, the only springing is the horn push.
BH Harvey

- people aren't logical are they, think of some beliefs, fears, worries, I have as many illogical as most

absolutely no disrespect to you but your concerned about being trapped under a car yet you own a car that IF it ever rolled as a standard car wouldn't be the safest to be in, will you not drive your car until a full roll cage is fitted or will you illogically risk it until then?

I'm not picking on you, as you rightly point out my response is illogical

I believe part of the reason I crashed was because I switch off a little, not concentrating, too comfortable with my environment

Having bent one roll bar, it sticks in my mind so I'll do my very best not to be in a situation where another rollover bar would get bent and to enhance that attitude and maintain it what better than not to have a roll bar

I can do little about the driving of others, other than posts like the last, but I can keep very aware of my driving

Some think a spike on the steering wheel would improve safety no end (you suffering for your bad driving) and I believe that has a bit of merit hypothetically but doesn't allow for genuine accidents caused by others

I think there's more chance of an accident because of poor driving and/or vehicle not fully and properly maintained (e.g. old tyres on a classic) than a Spridget rolling on UK roads - but it could and does happen, just not that often but you only need once

I get anxious watching people at heights on TV even though I know it's totally illogical, yet I can be very logical in other matters so even I am human - a bit

ETA: re steering wheel and horn push - you also have a seat belt, in the '70s you didn't have to wear a seat belt
Nigel Atkins

I sort of understand... but what if you are carrying a passenger, or someone else is driving the car? At least I'm an organ donor.
Along with needing to mount headrests to something this is my main reason for trying to fit a bar.
However the mgoc bar looks woefully under engineered, no diagonal cross bracing at all and the tubing is so thin, I doubt if it could hold my weight let alone the car.
Is it ironic that I hope to run a drag bike this season?
BH Harvey

well unless you kidnap passengers (you don't do you?) or force someone with threats to drive your car (you don't do you?) then it's their choice

Drag bike (I used to spectate at Santa Pod about 15-30 years ago!) relatively safe

The bike will be prepared for each run, only one other vehicle at most, safety marshalls all around, you'll be in full fire suit, ear plugs, crash helmet, body suit, gloves, boots, crash barriers, medical team (well one ambulance and a first aider at least)

Yeah, relatively safe

Some bars say for decorative puposes only, I don't know if they're what you mean
Nigel Atkins

As said safety devices do a good one!

Our swedish fellow Ole can confirm that
Onno Könemann

Familiar discussion, ive been having it in my head for a long time (always diffecult to get all my split personalities on one line on something) :)

Ive had retractable 3 point-harnasses made(see photo) but havent fitted them yet as I still have no rollbar and realise that I would end up in the samething as Ant has I would be strapped to the seat and end with a "bad hairday".

Now im thinking of fitting some standard 3point seatbelts untill I have the rollbar sorted...

Arie de Best

Without a roll bar with a belt bar behind the seats you wouldn't have any safe place to attach the upper straps of a 4 or 5 point harness so IMHO you're left with only one option, the three point as fitted by the factory on the later models. As Arie shows in his photo, the upper straps have to be attached near shoulder level or you risk spinal compression in the event of a crash and the only suitable structure at that level on our cars would be a belt bar attached to the roll bar.
B Young

I was thinking of buying a second hand aleybar and getting avertical diagonal welded in, If it is made of good quality mandrel drawn tubing of the same diameter as the rollcage it should support a harness bar.
Has anyone got a roll bar for sale?
BH Harvey

Aleybar has been taken over by SAFETY DEVICES!!!!!

I would use the bar as is and not weld to it
It was designed to work as it

For the belts use belt eyes with the FIA approved fastening plates below the plate behind the wheels(if still unsure use a 4mm thick angle iron from side to side)
Onno Könemann

Alternatively get a 'Roll-Centre' bar which a harness bar built in.
Deborah Evans

BH, the diagonal bar is great, but for belts you really need a horizontal bar running within about 2" or less to your shoulder height when you're in the seat. Since I didn't plan on using a 5 point harness for my passenger side and retained the 3 point there, I used a horizontal bar off the diagonal to the upright section of the main roll hoop. Onno, welding in such a bar shouldn't cause any problem for a good bar, just serves to reinforce it.

B Young

Surely if the bar is modified correctly then it will not make it worse.
Do these bars have to be crash/strength tested or does the FIA approval only apply to the materials used?
Is the MGOC bar just a "show bar" or is it really worthwhile in a roll, do these things have to be tested in any way?

BH Harvey

My 2c - In 90+% of accidents you will not roll the car. In all these accidents you will be better off with harnesses even if you don't have a roll bar. In addition, you will theoretically be better off in these accidents WITHOUT a roll bar, assuming you are on the street, as it is one less thing to hit your head on. So I have no qualms about being in a car with harnesses and no roll bar. Having said that, as soon as I can I will be fitting a rollbar to my car, having seen how easily a friend rolled an MGA coupe at a trackday (while wearing my helmet!). It can happen very easily, in his case it was a rear wheel dropping off the edge of the track in a reasonably high speed corner that he entered too quickly. Normally would have resulted in a harmless spin, but there was a ~2 inch drop off from the edge of the track, and the wheel dug in when it dropped. The car barrel rolled, turning over 6 or 7 times. It was only by pure luck that he wasn't badly hurt, as each time the car landed on the roof was on the passenger side, which ended up totally crushed in to the passenger seat.

Onno, I didn't know you was a shareholder in Safety devices? ;)

How's the logging coming along, hoist any good?
Alex G Matla

Hoist was perfect!
The childrens playground is almost finished.
We are kind of finished with the hoist so if you want you can pick it up or just say when i can drop it off
Onno Könemann

I have a safety devices rear roll bar in the Frogeye, safety harness and a strong racing seat (which in theory should act as a bit of extra roll bar too). I don't like the way the car looks now plus it is also more difficult to put on the soft top. But the way I drive coupled to the fact that I have an unhealthy lack of fear especially in speed events, makes it a no brainer.
I can't imagine changing it back unless I completlychange my driving style but as I mentioned, I liked the way that the car looked before the safety additions.
Gary & Gaps

BH's original question was do I fit a harness to a car that has no rollbar

The answer if it is a fourpoint or more will always be --- NO

In the event of a headon crash yeah OK but unfortunatley you can't order in what sort of crash you are going to have

The posting I made earlier was about a crash in town at an intersection at probably 30kph max. hit from the side and simply plopped over -- no second chance
William Revit

I'm with Nigel,
Drive a motorbike naked and see how fast you go lol. If ou are worried get a rollbar and some harnesses, but bear in mind harnesses are meant for race events where there tend to be folk about to get you out, so pick ones that you can get out of quickly. Also a clued up MOT man will fail your car for harnesses, you are supposed to be able to do up the belt single handed if i recall.
All the best
Neil Williams

I would echo...Don't fit four point harnesses without a roll bar!! I've got the harnesses fitted and once you are in them, you certainly couldn't lie down if the world sat on your head! Personally, the roll bar ruins the lines of the car a bit, but with a mortage and family to look after, it's a no brainer.
Robin Cohen

"it's a no brainer"

It literly is if your in a harnass without a rollbar and the midget ends up upside-down. LOL!!!
Arie de Best

I'm very much in the no roll bar no harnesses camp, the though of a "gentle" roll in such circumstances makes me shudder. Last time I drove a midget with a roll bar, I couldn't get the seat far enough back to get enough elbow room to steer, so I think I would need new seats too.
Its quite informative to look at what the historic open top racers do. Most single seaters early enough not to have some form of roll hoop have no belts at all or perhaps simply a lap belt and I believe it was/ is not unknown for the sharper drivers to bail out at the point they realisd their spin was about to become terminal!
I also remember reading of a 1950's Ferrari driver in a historic race who stuffed his car into the armco and was luck enough to claim that his only injury was a prancing horse imprint on his chest from the steering wheel. The riposte from some wag was "I hope it (the horse) was upside down, otherwise you weren'r really trying!"
Matt1275 Bucks

This thread was discussed between 07/05/2011 and 13/05/2011

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