TOCHIGI, Japan – First comes the countdown. Then, to the sound of an alarming buzzer, two cars emerge from opposing doorways, 284 yds. (260 m) apart. And they’re headed straight toward one another. Watching the vehicles on their course of doom is enough to cause all but the most intent of safety engineers to cringe, hands lifted up to eyes as if the anticipation is too much to bear. The actual crash seems to occur in slow motion, as trim flies into the air and trunks twist to ...

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