Back in the 1970’s, Ford made the Pinto with a gas tank mounted behind the axle, with a protrusion on the axle positioned to puncture the gas tank in a rear end collision. When that happens, a cloud of vaporized gasoline envelopes the vehicle, and any spark can ignite a fireball. After a number of Pinto occupants were incinerated, trial lawyers exposed Ford’s bad choices. Eventually, it became standard practice for auto manufacturers to mount fuel tanks in a protected position under the passenger compartment, guarded by the frame and axles.
Now the behind-the-axle fuel tank design is found in only one vehicle manufactured in the United States. And, yes, Ford is at it again.
The Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car are the same except for the trim. The gas tank is mounted behind the axle, with several protruding parts that can puncture the gas tank upon rear impact.
The Crown Victoria is widely used as a police interceptor. After several policemen were burned up, Ford came up with a retrofit kit to guard the parts capable of puncturing the tank. That kit has been 100% effective in preventing gas tank ruptures and fires in rear end collisions at speeds up up to 100 mph.
However, Ford has not informed non-police consumers of the hazard, and has not made the guarding retrofit kit available to customers other than law enforcement. How many more innocent consumers must die before Ford fixes the problem?
See table of fatal fire crashes, 1993-2000, and report of recent police car fire in Seattle.
The Shigley Law Firm represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a “SuperLawyer” in Atlanta Magazine and one of the “Legal Elite” in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks).