Born: 1 March 1907, Hiertenberg near Vienna
Died: 30 May 1997, Böblingen
"I have always assumed that nothing is perfect and that is why I have constantly looked for new ways and solutions."
Béla Barényi's inventions resulted in more than 2,500 patents, almost all of them concerning aspects of car safety. As early as in the 1930s, Barényi began, as one of the first, to concern himself with questions of passive safety. Passive safety means equipment intended to reduce the effects of an impact inside and outside the vehicle when an accident occurs. The lives of thousands of people have probably been saved thanks to Barényi's work.
Even during his years of studies, Barényi designed the concept of the Volkswagen.
Between 1939 and 1972, he worked at Daimler-Benz where he was project and research engineer, heading the pre-development department. During that time, patents were granted, for example, for the non-splintering steering wheel, safety steering, side impact-protection in doors and roll-over bars - to name just a few.
Some of his visions were far ahead of his time and went into series production only many years after the patent application.
The patent 854157, granted in 1952, describes the decisive feature of passive safety. The application title "motor vehicle especially passenger motor vehicle" conceals the principle of the crumple zone. Barényi questioned the opinion prevailing till then that a safe car had to be rigid. He divided the car body into three sections: the rigid non-deforming passenger compartment and the crumple zones in the front and the rear. They are designed to absorb the energy of an impact (kinetic energy) by deformation during collision.
To find out more about Béla Barényi's patents, go to DEPATISnet
Patent document DE-854157
(PDF - 84 KB)