The Ford Pinto Exploding Gas Tank
It is conventional wisdom that the evil management sorts at Ford greedily decided to cheap out on the Ford Pinto's gas tank design because it was cheaper to pay for people killed and horribly burned than it was to make the car a dollar or so more expensive to build. So I was quite surprised to read this law review article by a UCLA law professor that indicates that the Pinto really wasn't particularly dangerous compared to other subcompact cars on the road at the time. Ford's attorneys presented evidence, and apparently the plaintiff's attorneys did not dispute that the Pinto was middle of the pack on this. See p. 1029, where the article shows fatality rates by various car models in deaths per million cars in operation in 1975 and 1976.
Interesting. Thanks to We Should Live for the pointer.