In 1985, we were treated to a pedestrian-friendly Metro – somewhat ahead of its time, we feel…
PSC1: Snub-nosed Metro
The Pedestrian Safety Car One (PSC1) had a re-designed nose, compliant in order to deform on impact with pedestrians. At speeds of up to 25mph the polyurethane front bumper, which measured eight inches high and six inches deep, would have deformed on impact with a pedestrian rather than injuring his or her legs.
The steeply raked bonnet was weakened to be ‘kind’ to any pedestrian and reduce serious head injuries, while the headlamps collapsed backwards when struck and the front edges of the wings were designed to break away on impact.
An airdam was integrated into the PSC1’s front bumper, as an accepted safety feature as well as for aerodynamic reasons. Although the bumper was larger than standard, it didn’t protrude beyond the car’s bonnet as that had been lengthened by three inches to lessen the impact. To prevent a pedestrian’s head from being pierced by windscreen wiper spindles, these were hidden when not in use.
Conceived by Transport and Road Research Laboratory
The car was the brainchild of the Transport and Road Research Laboratory’s senior scientist, Adrian Hobbs. It was purely a one-off and was jointly developed by the TRRL in conjunction with Austin Rover.
According to the designer and builder, Douglas Allan Simpson, the Managing Director of Simpson and Greenhowe Limited of Doman Road in Camberley Surrey, PSC1 was designed and built by hand.
The design was based on impact data provided by Hobbs, TRRL designed the innards of the bumper, the rest is Douglas’ work. When the final demonstration car was in final primer coat Hobbs arrived with the Chief Designer of Austin Rover, who requested the bonnet side line be curved more – Douglas never changed it.
The final prototype exceeded Hobbs’ expectations by 3000 per cent. The airdam came from the MG Metro and was incorporated by Douglas to hide the protrusion of the bumper.
It was first exhibited at the Tenth International Conference on Experimental Safety Vehicles 1-5 July 1985, which was held at Oxford. It was modified later by Douglas to become known as ESV.
Douglas Allan Simpson recalled, ‘It’s an amazing story of one man’s determination to fulfill Hobbs’ life’s work and stuff it up the nose of the International Motor Industries experts who said it could not be done’…