Bunhill: GM safety belt

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The Independent Online
AS General Motors slugs it out with Volkswagen over the Lopez industrial espionage affair, you may recall this is not the first time GM's lawyers have waged a very public battle. In the 1960s they suffered a drubbing from Ralph Nader, the 'consumer's crusader' who took on the whole Detroit auto industry. His controversial book Unsafe At Any Speed eventually forced GM to withdraw its Corsair model.

It was GM's lawyers who ordered investigators to probe Nader's private life and, according to Nader's account, tried to tempt him with a beautiful blonde and a brunette. He eventually won dollars 425,000 in damages from GM because of its heavy-handed intimidation.

The irony is that if GM was Nader's number one bogey, Volkswagen came a close second. Nader described the Beetle as 'the most hazardous car on the highway in significant numbers' and accused Volkswagen of causing thousands of deaths.