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Seat belts in old car

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What are your opinions on installing seat belts in a 30s car which never had them and where to anchor them if I decide to? Thanks,Greg.

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There have been numerous threads about this subject, if you search "seat belts" and scroll through the results, you'll find them.

 

You're going to get two kinds of answers.  One set of people will say you absolutely need them, and discuss how they anchor to wood or frame of car.  The other set of people will say that the cars weren't designed for seat belts and in some cases are more dangerous than having none.

 

My favorite comment is that it's a placebo, if it makes you feel better, install them, in certain types of wrecks they'll help you, in other types of wrecks they'll injure you.

 

 

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The trouble with most 30's era cars is their poorly designed door latches which were prone to popping open in accidents, causing many to be ejected from their autos even in lighter accidents or rollovers. This fault was not corrected until Ford's introduction of the the double safety latch in the 1950's. Impaling on the rigid steering columns was also common. I believe both of these potential hazards can be greatly reduced with the addition of properly anchored seat belts.

Greg

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I certainly think it is a good thing to have seatbelt's in every vehicle. As trim suggests, there are companies that have everything required from seatbelt's of almost every color to the gussets and hardware to install them. Of course you will need to examine your vehicle to determine a suitable anchor point.

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If nothing else, seatbelts will keep you behind the wheel and passengers out of your lap during an incident. Helps to avoid making a bad situation worse.

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Here's a semi-good article from Hagerty on seat belts in old cars.

 

Note that they say attaching a seat belt to an old wooden floored car is basically useless.

 

If you do add seat belts correctly, make sure the seat they serve is anchored quite well.  The forces in an accident are incredibly high, and having a seat belt restrain you while the seat detaches with great force doesn't end well.

 

https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/Articles/2005/09/01/Seat-Belts-and-Your-Collector-Car

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I installed seat belts in the Derham bodied 1931 Franklin I had. It had wooden floors. The seat belts  in the back 25+ years ago when I did this would be there to let my son who was an infant be strapped to his child's safety seat and that then strapped to the seat belt I installed. With the wood floors ( which were 3/4 inch marine ply wood) I used heavy steel plate on both sides of the wood floor as described in the article that is attached by screws to the floor boards and then a hole in the center was were the bolt went through for the seat belts. I felt this was a secure measure, and we drove that car thousands of miles . Do it neatly and paint what you add black and it did not detract from the car. Perhaps there are those reading this out there that say or think  "yeah sure" and are skeptical, but are they also the ones that ride around in cars with plate glass still in the windows and think nothing about doing so?  or will possibly "get around to it " to replace the plate glass with safety glass?

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since I dont wear seat belts on my motorcycles, I dont want them in my old cars either.

 

hate the look and honestly, dont drive them much anyway.

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I'm in favor of seat belts in 30s cars, in large part because they help you stay in control of your car if you happen to go over uneven pavement or get in a tight turn.  Because the cars have no bucket seats or other way of keeping you fixed in front of the steering wheel, a seatbelt can help you keep control.  Unfortunately, the risks of serious injury are high in these cars with or without seatbelts if an accident occurs: Always important to keep that in mind when driving and to drive as safely as possible.

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2 hours ago, 1935Packard said:

Because the cars have no bucket seats or other way of keeping you fixed in front of the steering wheel, a seatbelt can help you keep control.

 

My 22 Cadillac actually kinda has bucket seats :D I can't think of anything in it you could easily secure to, and the seat is only connected to the car with a bunch of wood screws

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I think that seat belts just make a car more usable. Some people have little context for originality/non-originality issues; To them, putting seat belts in an otherwise original car is the same as putting a small block Chevy in an original Hudson Hornet. I truly respect their pursuit of originality, but I don't agree with regards to basic safety stuff like seat belts. I also want myself to remain "original" after an accident  - no prosthetic limbs or plates in my skull.

 

 

Edited by JamesR (see edit history)
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Seatbelts became mandatory equipment in the USA for the 1968 models

 

Despite the naysayers, and comments to the contrary,

and since all of our collectibles are driven, and frequently driven cross-country,

and regrettably as a potential target for:

texters,

speeders,

iPhone conversersationalists,

drunks,

road-rage afflicted,

and other inattentive "drivers".

All of them have properly anchored seatbelts,

and I feel better about our chances to survive the type of accidents which have the potential to occur.

When my wife's 1966 Dodge Dart GT convertible was T-Boned from the right and slammed into an abutment on her left, 

her driver-side door flew open but she was not thrown out, nor could the car pass over her.

Yes, she sustained knee and shoulder injuries, but had the belt not restrained her I'd likely have lost her.

I've seen slipshod and/or poorly designed installations, and decry those.

I've also seen inventive solutions and applaud those.

 

My preference is to stay belted, not slide across a seat while trying to hold on to a steering wheel of a Studebaker Pickup,.

It happened to me back in early 1963 when T-Boned from the right by a new Cadillac which slid through a stop sign on a snowy street.

He, the preacher driving the Cadillac, was ticketed for:

1. driving too fast for conditions,

2. running a stop sign,

3. expired drivers license,

4. no NJ State inspection

5. DWI

... and I was going to cost "his church" a fortune since he "couldn't" afford insurance

 

He demanded that I attend "His" church to atone for creating "His" new legal problems since I had no business getting in his way because he was on his way to visit a sick friend. (I declined the offer).

 

Installed in a professional manner, seatbelts do not cause a points deduction with regard to AACA judging.

 

You, of course, are free to follow your preference,

but I frequently think back to the comment of a State Trooper, made to me while serving the Governor's Office,

noting that with regard to all of the motor vehicle wrecks he had investigated,

he had never had to unbuckle a corpse.

 

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10 hours ago, mercer09 said:

since I dont wear seat belts on my motorcycles, I dont want them in my old cars either.

 

hate the look and honestly, dont drive them much anyway.

Natural selection.

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all for that Greg.................!

 

ps knew four kids from HS riding in an open jeep and it flipped many years ago. The guy wo the seatbelt flew out immed and lived. The other 3 were crushed...........

Edited by mercer09 (see edit history)

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40 minutes ago, mercer09 said:

all for that Greg.................!

 

ps knew four kids from HS riding in an open jeep and it flipped many years ago. The guy wo the seatbelt flew out immed and lived. The other 3 were crushed...........

 

That would be a very rare occurrence, you are generally by far better to be wearing a seat belt than not

 

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I agree hidden, but those are the odds........... it happens.

 

A great debate.......... better to not wear a helmet on a motorcycle or to wear one and remain comatose for the rest of your life?

 

personally Ill take death wo the helmet.

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this is a none winnable discussion, but my wife works in emergency room in Upstate NY. They save everyone, but she states many times they just shouldnt.

 

years ago familys took in Mom and Pop when they werent able to fend for themselves, or even uncle Ned or Aunt Betty. Society is too busy for that these days and the costs are incomprehensible to live in assisted living for many..........

 

I wouldnt even consider burdening my children with taking care of me. I want them to have complete and enjoyable lives. Not taking care of an old coot 24/7.

 

this is what our society has become. dont let anyone pass on, but no, Im too busy with my job and family to be bothered otherwise..........

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Every wreck is different, and that's why there's no cut and dried answer to the seat belt in old car question.

 

New cars are designed such that a seat belt will, in all probability, save your life.  Almost every fatal accident report will state that victim was not wearing a seat belt.

 

In an old car, not designed for seat belts, it's a toss up.

 

My friend Greg reminded me of the recent wreck at a Monterey event, slow speed roll over in an early Packard modified race car.  These cars must have seat belts to run, but advice is to unbuckle them once you're underway.  

 

Mechanic unbuckled, driver did not.  Mechanic thrown out of car, broken pelvis and ribs, is at home recuperating.  Driver had critical injuries as car rolled on him, and is still in hospital being fed through a tube and having breathing assisted.

 

Every wreck different......in a closed car, seat belts probably a good thing...in an open car, with the threat of a rollover, it's questionable....

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I grew up before seat belts were required and then when they were required.  I am going to put them in my 23 Moon touring to make sure that my grand children stay put.  I am putting an extra cross member in to hold the belts.  I realize that they are not perfect but I feel they are better then nothing.  I am not putting them in my 1916 T or 1923 Dodge because you are sitting on fuel tanks.

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Those of you retrofitting prewar cars with seat belts - unless you are properly anchoring them to something other than the wooden floor and you are using 3 point belts, you're not really doing yourself a lot of good.

Lap belts do not provide a whole lot of protection and it's even worse if they are not properly secured.

But hey, at leas the coroner will have an easier time identifying the body.

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2 hours ago, zepher said:

 

But hey, at leas the coroner will have an easier time identifying the body.

I don't want to get too morbid but..

 a good friend of mine is a crash investigator for Boeing and he told me years ago, " If you're in an airliner and you know it's going down, unclip your seatbelt before impact. You'll be the only body not cut in half."

ugh!

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On 9/18/2019 at 5:22 PM, hidden_hunter said:

 

My 22 Cadillac actually kinda has bucket seats :D I can't think of anything in it you could easily secure to, and the seat is only connected to the car with a bunch of wood screws

 

 I would bet my life on the fact that I could find a safe way to install seat belts in your car. (But definitely not to the cars frame, such a car could easily have the body torn off of the frame, leaving you looking rather stupid sitting on the frame when you were torn thru the body.)

 

 I have installed AND/or used seat belts into every car that I have owned for the last 61 years.

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+1 on and used in every car driven since got my license. Autocross and race cars had a full harness pulled as tight as possible. That said my screwy driving position (head behind B pillar in Corvette) did save me when wrapped a frame rail and steering back with a non-collapsible column, whole wheel came back 18" but my chest was two feet away.

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Every morning I get in my truck and put on my seat belt. I am sure some person thinks it is a wonderful thing that I will be safe and protected by taking this mandatory step.

 

My thought is "I better put this on so I don't get my wallet pilfered for 100 bucks because I wasn't wearing it. And getting whacked with and 100 dollar surcharge because it happened within the borders of the state."

 

Every regulation comes with a monetary penalty.

 

When I was a kid I read that a true chauffeur could drive with a full glass of water on the dash without spilling a drop. I drive that way. (I have a friend who drives his RR Silver Shadow aggressively. After a ride out to dinner, my wife commented "Your Buicks ride a lot smoother than a Rolls-Royce".

 

I also drive watching and planning well ahead and expecting the unexpected, trusting no one, a bit like playing pool, calculated. But mostly distrustful of all other cars on the road.

 

Bottom line, too many drivers perceive they have the right of way and refuse to yield even if another driver is in the wrong. I consider myself to not have the right of way when encountering a foolish driver.

 

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I have daughters, I cringe every time I ride with one of the as they seem to be racing up to the red light or stop signs.

Ironic that I just got a text from one of them that is concerned about her front brakes.

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