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I think claims of hard drive failure in carPCs are vastly overstated. I'd certainly use a laptop drive on a rubber mounting to be as safe as possible, but I know people who've run carPCs for years now without having any hard drive problems. It's also worth mentioning that a lot of modern laptop drives have got inertia sensors in them and will park the head very quickly if G-forces exceed the acceptable tolerance for the unit.
In the last 9 years I've had a PC, I've only ever experienced 2 HDD failures - One because it was in very heavy usage running VM's daily, and the 2nd was purely age related.. well and it was also host to the VMplayer.
Laptop HDDs are designed to be a little more rugged as they are always on the move. Thats why they use glass platters.
Currently in delta1066's garage: