marcapra

When did cars get adjustable front seats?

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I was wanting to buy an early car to add to my collection.  My idea of early is anything up to 1933.  I looked at some 1929 and 1930 DeSoto sixes and was disappointed with the tight space in the front seat.  I also tried Ford Model A and had the same problem.  I'm only 5'10", but I am also over 200 lbs.  The steering wheels went about half way into the seat area.  For me to be comfortable, I like the steering wheel bottom to be at the front part of the seat.  I read in an ad for 1930 DeSoto Eights, that they had adjustable front seats.  When did other cars start to get adjustable seats?  Does a 32 or 33 DeSoto have an adjustable front seat?

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I can't find it at the moment, but someplace I have some literature from the 1970s with a list of items that Chrysler claimed to be first with. If I recall correctly, an adjustable driver's seat sometime in the 1920s was on the list. I know my 1933 Plymouth has an adjustable driver's seat which I need to have adjusted all the way back.

 

I am surprised that a '29 and/or '30 DeSoto doesn't have an adjustable seat.

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If the seat is not adjustable it may be possible to unbolt it and relocate it farther back. I know there is not room for this on some models but others have room.

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My '32 Chevy has an adjustable driver seat.

I don't know when Chevrolet started with that.

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I asked the expert owner of five or six 29 Desotos if I could drill some new holes in the floor and relocate the front seat of a 4 door sedan.  He said no because unlike later cars, the front seat curves into the sides of the car's body and is bolted to the sides. 

thumbnail_DSCN1065.jpg

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Franklin had adjustable front seats on some of their Series 9 sedans back in the later teens.  Needed a wrench to loosen the seat bolts to slide them in slots in the seat pedestal casting.

 

Paul

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The  1929 Hupmobile Model  A  was  the  first  Hupp  to  have  a  adjustable front  seat. After  I  restored it  , it  was  a great  selling  point.

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Graham-Paige had adjustable seats starting around 1930 models.  The early cars had adjustable pedals and steering column.

 

Marcapra is correct most of the pre 1930 cars used the "B" pillar to bolt the seat backs for support, the seat frames were wood construction.  By 1930 they started using steel seat frames to support the seat backs.  My guess would be look for a car the seat back is not connected to the "B" pillar, a tell tale sign.

 

I am 6-2, my problem is getting my feet in my 1928 Graham.  The space between the seat and door opening is pretty small about 11 inches.

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I don't know exactly when different cars got adjustable front seats, but there is a lot more front seat room in a 1930 or 1931 Ford Model A than there is in a 1928 or 1929 Ford Model A. 

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I checked out a 1927 Stutz, and there was plenty

of room in front, even though the seat, I'm quite sure,

was fixed.  On the other hand, a Ford Model T

was very uncomfortable.

 

Could it be that, among 1920's cars, the larger

cars provided more room?

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I thought that the seats on the coupes and roadsters fixed and the adjustable seats were offered on the sedans?

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John,  I agree my 1929 Graham-Paige 827 (322cid eight 127' wheelbase) is enormous compared to my 1928 Graham-Paige 610 (175cid six 110" wheelbase) and the eight also is a lot faster.  The 827 will cruse at 60mph all day long, the 610 likes 45mph both cars have hydraulic brakes and stop great.

 

The Graham coupes got adjustable seats at the same time as the sedans (steel seat frames).

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You have my sympathies.  I am 6'3", 285# and, thankfully,  my 34 PE Plymouth has an adjustable seat.  When I installed it, I 'cheated' it back about 1".  Also, the seat frame has multiple holes in which to install the seat tracks so it can be adjusted backwards and forwards.  I suppose the alternative is what is somewhat bluntly known as a 'fatman' steering wheel... .

FatManWheel2[1].jpg

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17 hours ago, marcapra said:

I was wanting to buy an early car to add to my collection.  My idea of early is anything up to 1933.  I looked at some 1929 and 1930 DeSoto sixes and was disappointed with the tight space in the front seat.  I also tried Ford Model A and had the same problem.  I'm only 5'10", but I am also over 200 lbs.  The steering wheels went about half way into the seat area.  For me to be comfortable, I like the steering wheel bottom to be at the front part of the seat.  I read in an ad for 1930 DeSoto Eights, that they had adjustable front seats.  When did other cars start to get adjustable seats?  Does a 32 or 33 DeSoto have an adjustable front seat?

 

 

Some Model A Fords have adjustable seats.  There are exceptions depending on year and/or body style but in general I think open cars, commercials and most 28 - 29 did not.  On some, the seat support brackets can be reversed to gain a couple inches.  Adjusters are more common on the 30 - 31 cars.  I'm about your size, maybe a couple inches taller.  I used to own a 30 coupe with adjustable seat - plenty of room when it was all the way back.  In fact, it was a bit of a stretch to reach the pedals.  Depending on body style, sometimes the problem is more having room to get in and out than having room once you're in.

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All,

Kissel Model 6-38 Cars from 1916 to 1919 had front seats which were adjustable with a wrench. My 1918 Kissel has these fittings

My 1921 Kissel Model 6-45 Tourster has front seats which slide front and back on tracks with nickel levers.

My Kissel cars with fixed “bench” front seats have “fat man” steering wheels which allow easy entry and elevate the steering wheel from the seat.

thanks, Ron Hausmann P.E.

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19 hours ago, ply33 said:

I can't find it at the moment, but someplace I have some literature from the 1970s with a list of items that Chrysler claimed to be first with. If I recall correctly, an adjustable driver's seat sometime in the 1920s was on the list. I know my 1933 Plymouth has an adjustable driver's seat which I need to have adjusted all the way back.

 

I am surprised that a '29 and/or '30 DeSoto doesn't have an adjustable seat.

I found a  1914 Maxwell advertisement on Google listing adjustable front seat and bet that's the "first" Chrysler was bragging about in the 1970's.

 

Howard Dennis

Edited by hddennis (see edit history)

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One other thing to look at it moving the steering column up. Depending on how the box is mounted in the frame you can potentially tilt the box up and this will give you alot more room in your lap area. Some cars actually have adjustable column mounts. Some have spacers which you can remove and make thiner ones. Lots of custom bodied cars you see the holes in the frame slotted for this purpose. Most early cars in the 20's and earlier were fixed with no adjustment. But in our shop we have a lot of tall car owners so we try our best to move the box as high up as we can. Biggest thing to remember is you do not won't stress on the column so if you do move it only move it as far as the holes will allow in the frame. Also less padding in the seat backs can help give you a inch or two.

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I had an advanced Ford model T had the bottom of the seat back that could be kind of adjusted to slide your bottom side forward.

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21 hours ago, marcapra said:

I asked the expert owner of five or six 29 Desotos if I could drill some new holes in the floor and relocate the front seat of a 4 door sedan.  He said no because unlike later cars, the front seat curves into the sides of the car's body and is bolted to the sides. 

thumbnail_DSCN1065.jpg

Years ago we did a Model A four door just like this for a tall owner and since it was a complete restoration we added extensions on the seat back sides and moved the bottom back before sending it to Lebaron Bonney for upholstery. It worked out great and only difference was a narrower opening for rear seat entrance  but once upholstered it looked like it had always been that way.

 

Howard Dennis

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