Monday 3rd June 1974
The Mercedes-Benz ESF24, the last of five experimental cars built to test safety features, was introduced to the public. Based on the S-Class, the car was entirely conventional in appearance, yet could withstand a frontal barrier impact crash at 65 KPH (40.3 MPH). Its passenger restraint systems mirrored those of the ESF 22, and the car once again demonstrated the capabilities of anti-lock brakes. Despite the longer-travel front bumper and associated structures (which still added 10.4 inches to the overall length of the car), the weight gain of the ESF 24 was now down to 422 pounds. With the ESF 24, Mercedes-Benz had demonstrated that a car focused on safety need not sacrifice style or performance. Many of the experimental systems previewed in Mercedes-Benz’s ESF vehicles ultimately made it into production models, including anti-lock braking (which debuted as an option for the 1978 S-Class); airbags (include passenger airbags and side airbags); reinforced seatbacks with integrated and motion reducing headrests; automated seat belts (thankfully eliminated by the mid-1990s); seat belt pretensioners and force limiters; improved side impact protection; and even pictogram-labeled controls, designed to minimize driver distraction.