The Safest Car Ever Made During a Time When Car Safety Wasn’t Exactly a Priority

We all want to know that we are doing the best for our family. For most of us, that includes driving a car that meets all car safety requirements. What most people do not realize is that there was once a car that exceeded expectations for safety. It is now known as the safest car ever made during a time when car safety wasn’t a big priority.

The importance of car safety

A car crash safety test taking place in France
A car crash safety test | BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images

Today, we like knowing that our vehicle is safe. We want cars with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, high beam assist, lane departure warning systems, and more. We want to know that if we are driving 90 mph down the highway, our car will protect us, even though we shouldn’t be driving that fast.

This wasn’t always the case. Once upon a time, cars drove just as few miles per hour. No one thought much about wearing seat belts, using car seats, or other real car safety features. That is, no one except a man named Father Alfred Juliano.

The car safety invention that was before its time

Father Juliano began drawing vehicles when he was just a child of 13. His drawings were good enough that General Motors took notice and offered him a chance to attend a school for young designers. He passed on the opportunity in favor of the Catholic Church.

Later, he would rediscover his passion for vehicles and attempt to create a car of his own design. The car, known as the Aurora, was a 1957 automobile. It took him approximately two years to build on his own.

According to Auto Evolution, the prototype had shatterproof plastic windows, lights, a removable roof, and various other features. It could resist rust, dents, and corrosion. Where it truly excelled, though, was the many safety features it provided, which were ahead of their time. Just some of these safety features included a roll cage, seat belts, and a shock-absorbing body. All the features it provided earned it a spot in the record book for classic cars as the first model to hold the title of “World’s Safest Car.”

However, its car safety features could not make it a pretty car. The odd-looking windshield and overall body were certainly not appealing to see.

The Aurora concept today

The Aurora was a concept car that is so far unmatched. However, for all practical purposes, it was deemed a failure when people got their first look at it. It broke down several times on the way to impressing the world with all its features. Reporters were unimpressed by the way it performed and the way that it looked. Therefore, the prototype was the only car that Father Juliano ever created.

In 1993, the car’s picture in a sketchbook was discovered by a car enthusiast named Andy Saunders. He was fascinated and wanted to find the car to have for his collection. It was a search that would take several years, but ultimately, he would find it. When he did, he paid about $3,500 for it, including the purchase price, and getting it shipped to Britain.

Saunders went to work restoring it as best as he could, despite not having photographs of documentation regarding how it was built.  Father Juliano was also not available to help because he died in 1989 at 69 years old. Once the restoration was complete, it was put on display at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Now, anyone who loves historic cars will need to visit the Beaulieu Motor Museum in Hampshire, England.

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