Kangol Reflex car safety belt thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Kangol Reflex car safety belt

Seatbelt
1969 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

The Kangol company was started by Jacques Spreiregen, (1894-1982). Born in Warsaw, he emigrated to France in 1910 and to England in1915 where he set up a business, selling hats and importing basque berets which proved popular. One of his most important customers was the British Army and he became the major supplier of berets to the British armed forces during World War II.

Kangol Magnet was established as a subsidiary to manufacture fibreglass safety helmets in 1954. It later expanded into seat belts. By 1969, Kangol Magnet was the largest manufacturer of seat belts in Europe. From its factory in Carlisle, it produced over 40 percent of all seat belts in the United Kingdom.

From the Design Journal:

Car safety belt The Kangol Reflex belt is designed and made by Kangol Magnet Ltd. of Carlisle. In addition to the safety features of all seat belts which meet British Standard 3254, Kangol Reflex shows a marked superiority in appearance and user convenience. It is an inertia reel belt: all such belts are more convenient to use than the cheaper static type of belt, and this probably means that they are more likely to be worn. For example, because the belt is self-tensioning it is more comfortable to wear and does not restrict the wearer from reaching for controls or other objects. Again, the problem of the untidy and sometimes dangerous loose webbing of static belts when not in use is avoided in inertia reel belts where the spare webbing is automatically retracted out of the way. While most inertia reel belts only lock in response to sudden deceleration or change of direction of the vehicle, the Reflex belt is both vehicle and body sensitive. As well as giving an extra degree of security, this dual-action locking system has the advantage that the belt can easily be proved to be working by simply giving a sharp tug on the strap, while the single action system can only be tested by braking the vehicle sharply. The Reflex is the only British car safety belt which has a totally enclosed housing for the retracted belt: this helps to keep the belt clean and protects it from damage, as well as greatly adding to the neat and tidy appearance of the installation. Reflex has a device which enables it to be mounted 15ø out of the vertical and has a horizontal tolerance of 7ø eitherway, these features allowing it to be mounted easily in the majority of cars without special brackets. The back of the housing can be removed for cleaning or to allow the belt to be drawn from the back. The instructions issued with each belt explicitly state, and illustrate, that "the buckle should always rest on the side of the wearer's hip bone," a fact which is not as widely known as it should be and one which, according to the Road Research Laboratory, could prevent some injuries in extreme accidents being caused by the buckle slicing into the stomach. (Nevertheless, a further improvement might be for such instructions to be fastened to the belt itself - or at least to the body of the car for many belts are sold already fitted to new or second-hand cars, when the printed instructions are not always handed over; in the United States a new law demands that such a label be attached to all new seat belts from next year.) Kangol also operate a scheme with the belts supplied to British Leyland where an accident report form is provided for return to the Road Research Laboratory in the event of the vehicle to which the belts are fitted being involved in a crash. Kangol's policy of producing safety belts of sophisticated design and construction has paid off, particularly with the car manufacturers to whom Kangol supply more than 50 per cent of the total number of belts fitted to British-made vehicles. Claiming to be the biggest seat belt manufacturer in Europe, Kangol sold some 22 million belts in 1968, including a large number for export either already fitted to cars or for direct sale overseas. The belts cost approximately £6 6s. The Kangol Reflex seat belt, here fitted in the new Austin Maxi, has a charcoal grey Terylene webbing strap, a diecast aluminium housing with sintered steel load-bearing components, and a patented magnetic buckle for easy fastening and quick release. Its inertia reel system, opposite, means that two independent devices can lock the belt, at other times allowing freedom of movement, as left. The belt's reel is designed so that it can be tilted 7ø either way, far left, allowing free exit and entry of the webbing. In addition to this built in tolerance, there is an installation adjustment: a screw-adjuster to control the pendulum (5) and a locking screw (6) enable the reel to be attached to a sill which slopes as much as 15ø either way. Key to Kangol's inertia reel system The belt's first locking device is strap sensitive. The strap is coiled on a central spindle (3). Any sharp tug causes the teeth of the cog to strike against the hammerhead of a pawl (1). This throws it into engagement; with release of tension a light leaf-spring disengages the cog and the pawl and the strap can move freely. The car-sensitive lock is controlled by a small pendulum (4). When it is swung out of vertical - by skidding, violent braking, cornering or impact - it causes another pawl (2) to engage and again check the strap. When the vehicle loses momentum and the pendulum returns to vertical the strap is released.

Design Journal, No.246, COID Design Awards, June 1969. pp.30-65.


Object details

Categories
Object type
Parts
This object consists of 3 parts.

  • Box of Fittings
  • Seatbelt Mechanism
  • Seatbelt
TitleKangol Reflex car safety belt (manufacturer's title)
Materials and techniques
Terylene, magnetic buckle in cast aluminium housing.
Brief description
Kangol Reflex car safety belt with magnetic buckle, designed and manufactured by Kangol Magnet Ltd. Winner of the Council of Industrial Design Award 1969.
Physical description
Kangol Reflex car safety belt, Terylene webbing strap and magnetic buckle in cast aluminium housing.
Production typeMass produced
Credit line
Gift of the manufacturer
Object history
Historical significance: Winner of the Design Centre Award in 1969.
Summary
The Kangol company was started by Jacques Spreiregen, (1894-1982). Born in Warsaw, he emigrated to France in 1910 and to England in1915 where he set up a business, selling hats and importing basque berets which proved popular. One of his most important customers was the British Army and he became the major supplier of berets to the British armed forces during World War II.

Kangol Magnet was established as a subsidiary to manufacture fibreglass safety helmets in 1954. It later expanded into seat belts. By 1969, Kangol Magnet was the largest manufacturer of seat belts in Europe. From its factory in Carlisle, it produced over 40 percent of all seat belts in the United Kingdom.

From the Design Journal:

Car safety belt The Kangol Reflex belt is designed and made by Kangol Magnet Ltd. of Carlisle. In addition to the safety features of all seat belts which meet British Standard 3254, Kangol Reflex shows a marked superiority in appearance and user convenience. It is an inertia reel belt: all such belts are more convenient to use than the cheaper static type of belt, and this probably means that they are more likely to be worn. For example, because the belt is self-tensioning it is more comfortable to wear and does not restrict the wearer from reaching for controls or other objects. Again, the problem of the untidy and sometimes dangerous loose webbing of static belts when not in use is avoided in inertia reel belts where the spare webbing is automatically retracted out of the way. While most inertia reel belts only lock in response to sudden deceleration or change of direction of the vehicle, the Reflex belt is both vehicle and body sensitive. As well as giving an extra degree of security, this dual-action locking system has the advantage that the belt can easily be proved to be working by simply giving a sharp tug on the strap, while the single action system can only be tested by braking the vehicle sharply. The Reflex is the only British car safety belt which has a totally enclosed housing for the retracted belt: this helps to keep the belt clean and protects it from damage, as well as greatly adding to the neat and tidy appearance of the installation. Reflex has a device which enables it to be mounted 15ø out of the vertical and has a horizontal tolerance of 7ø eitherway, these features allowing it to be mounted easily in the majority of cars without special brackets. The back of the housing can be removed for cleaning or to allow the belt to be drawn from the back. The instructions issued with each belt explicitly state, and illustrate, that "the buckle should always rest on the side of the wearer's hip bone," a fact which is not as widely known as it should be and one which, according to the Road Research Laboratory, could prevent some injuries in extreme accidents being caused by the buckle slicing into the stomach. (Nevertheless, a further improvement might be for such instructions to be fastened to the belt itself - or at least to the body of the car for many belts are sold already fitted to new or second-hand cars, when the printed instructions are not always handed over; in the United States a new law demands that such a label be attached to all new seat belts from next year.) Kangol also operate a scheme with the belts supplied to British Leyland where an accident report form is provided for return to the Road Research Laboratory in the event of the vehicle to which the belts are fitted being involved in a crash. Kangol's policy of producing safety belts of sophisticated design and construction has paid off, particularly with the car manufacturers to whom Kangol supply more than 50 per cent of the total number of belts fitted to British-made vehicles. Claiming to be the biggest seat belt manufacturer in Europe, Kangol sold some 22 million belts in 1968, including a large number for export either already fitted to cars or for direct sale overseas. The belts cost approximately £6 6s. The Kangol Reflex seat belt, here fitted in the new Austin Maxi, has a charcoal grey Terylene webbing strap, a diecast aluminium housing with sintered steel load-bearing components, and a patented magnetic buckle for easy fastening and quick release. Its inertia reel system, opposite, means that two independent devices can lock the belt, at other times allowing freedom of movement, as left. The belt's reel is designed so that it can be tilted 7ø either way, far left, allowing free exit and entry of the webbing. In addition to this built in tolerance, there is an installation adjustment: a screw-adjuster to control the pendulum (5) and a locking screw (6) enable the reel to be attached to a sill which slopes as much as 15ø either way. Key to Kangol's inertia reel system The belt's first locking device is strap sensitive. The strap is coiled on a central spindle (3). Any sharp tug causes the teeth of the cog to strike against the hammerhead of a pawl (1). This throws it into engagement; with release of tension a light leaf-spring disengages the cog and the pawl and the strap can move freely. The car-sensitive lock is controlled by a small pendulum (4). When it is swung out of vertical - by skidding, violent braking, cornering or impact - it causes another pawl (2) to engage and again check the strap. When the vehicle loses momentum and the pendulum returns to vertical the strap is released.

Design Journal, No.246, COID Design Awards, June 1969. pp.30-65.
Bibliographic reference
Paul Burrall in Design Journal, No.246, COID Design Awards, June 1969. pp.30-65.
Collection
Accession number
CIRC.715:1 to 3 -1969

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Record createdApril 27, 2011
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