The Development of Roll Cage Technology – From Tractors To Racing Cars

Today many vehicles from family saloons through to racing cars and even modern agricultural machinery are fitted with roll cages or roll bars. They’re highly engineered using T45 and CDS steel to prevent and protect vehicle occupants from the effects of an accident – specifically a vehicle roll-over. However where did they come about and how has the technology developed over the years? Let’s take a closer look.

1920 -1959

Since the 1920’s fatalities from tractor deaths were being reported throughout the world and as technology made vehicles more powerful, deaths from tractor roll-overs increased. In fact by the 1950’s it was reported that deaths from agricultural vehicle roll overs made up nearly 60% of all agricultural fatalities. In 1959, this shocking statistic was finally addressed in Sweden, where they enacted a law stating that all newly-built tractors had to be fitted with an inner cage. They were the first country to do so, with dramatic results. Roll cages cut tractor deaths by over 70% in just a few years and not long after other countries started to follow suit.

1959 -1971

Despite the fact that roll-cage technology was saving lives in the agricultural industry it’s crazy to think that in motor sport, cars weren’t fitted with any type of protection. It was initially felt that roll cages added weight and therefore hindered performance. While helmets and overalls became mandatory during that time, there really was nothing to protect the driver should the car flip over. In fact between 1959 and 1970, 22 racing drivers died as a direct result of vehicle flipping. It wasn’t until 1971 that the FIA decided to make roll cages mandatory on all racing vehicles.


With agricultural vehicles and racing cars now safer the attention turned to road vehicles. In 1976 a British company called Safety Devices created the world’s first external roll cages for Land Rover for their vehicles which were being used by the British Army


By 1990 new materials were being produced that meant that roll cages and roll bars could be made lighter yet retain their strength. Roll cages made from T45 and CDS steel for example could be placed on vehicles without hindering performance in terms of fuel consumption and as a result 4×4 vehicles manufacturers were some of the first to offer roll cage protection as an add on.

Present day

Coming right up to date and full circle, roll cage technology in the agricultural industry is some of the most advanced in the world with some vehicles being able to quickly deploy an extendible roll cage when it senses a roll-over is taking place. And moving on to cars some manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to choose to fit subtle roll cages as standard. They’re designed to add a great deal of protection while not ruining the aesthetics of the vehicle.

If you’re considering having a roll cage fitted to your vehicle, then come and talk to Metro Steel. We’ve been in the metal fabrication industry for over 20 years and have made bespoke roll cages for a wide variety of clients. Give us a call on 07 3204 1000 to find out more.

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