Bela Barenyi

Inducted 1994

Created the field of passive safety, acquiring more than 2,500 patents in many classifications including sleds, ships, airplanes and automobiles

Developed many vital safety innovations including the collapsible steering column and the non-deformable passenger cell

Conceived the basic design for the Volkswagen “Beetle” in 1925

Bela Barenyi is regarded as the “Father of Passive Safety.” As a child, Barenyi suffered an inflammation of the hip that resulted in permanent body stiffness. He later noted that this limitation shaped his career as he responded to the problem by redirecting his leisure time to reading advanced technical literature. After studying mechanical and electrical engineering at college, Barenyi was employed by Austria-Fiat, Steyr and Adler automobile companies before joining Daimler-Benz in 1939. At Daimler-Benz, Barenyi developed the world’s first comprehensive vehicle safety program geared to the prevention of human injury during an automobile accident. He identified risks and invented safety features that reduced injury to both passengers and pedestrians. He also developed innovations in energy absorption that improved ride quality. A 1993 Mercedes-Benz advertisement featuring Barenyi’s image proudly stated: “No one in the world has given more thought to car safety than this man”.

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