As with all US-market 1974 models, this Gran Torino was equipped with a federally-mandated seatbelt interlock system, which allowed the car to be started only if the drivers’ seatbelt was buckled. This attempt at forcing Americans to use this fairly basic safety feature was met with outrage, as most people didn’t bother to wear seatbelts, thinking them unnecessary, and, in some cases, unsafe (neither could be further from the truth). The problem laid less in the fact that the seatbelt had to be worn, but that the interlock didn’t always work, occasionally refusing to start the car even when the seatbelt was buckled. To bypass this fault, the driver would have to get out of the car, open up the hood, and press a “bypass button” that would allow the car to be started once each time; most people just disconnected the ignition interlock if they knew how to. The public outcry led the requirement to be repealed the next year, leaving the 1974 models to be the only ones to carry this dubious safety feature.
Mar Vista, CA
Photos by The Professor