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Seat Belts in a 50's vehicle (56 Century)


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Anybody have any good or bad experience with installing aftermarket seat belts in a 50?s (56 Century) vehicle. I know there are a lot of vendors so I would like to learn from someone else?s mistakes of positive experiences. What were the length of the front and rear? Were they retractable? Are they still working? How would you do it differently?<P> Buick_nailhead@hotmail.com

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If you have a post coupe then installing seat belts is fairly simple. The post can be cut open and a thick steel insert can be installed with a threaded hole in it. After it is welded back up a modern style 3-point seatbelt can be anchored from that point. The retracting mechanism can be mounted to a hardened point on the floor or at the base of the post. The hardest part is making it blend with your interior. With a little creativity you can have a safe old car.

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Unfortunatly the vehicle does not have a post so it looks like I'm stuck with lap belts. I hope someone has a good source for belts and info.

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Guest AWBE

I got some good looking belts tha matched the interior of my 55-76R from Kanter. They are not retractable.

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I obtained lap belts for my '59 Buick 4-door hardtop from Classic Buicks in Chino, California. Classic Buicks offered a wide range of colors, and I found a color that was a perfect match for my grey interior. The belts have nice chrome buckles, and look as though they could have been original equipment for my car. The belts are not retractable.<P>While I am very satisfied with these belts, I should mention that this topic has come up before on this forum. I wish I had had the benefit of the collective wisdom from this forum, because one individual -- Bill Stoneberg, if I'm not mistaken -- shared that he had attached the mounting points for a race car belt harness in his vintage Buicks. This allowed him and his wife to be securely belted not just at the lap but across the upper body as well. He mentioned that the belts could easily be detached and removed at a car show, so he felt that he had found an optimal solution. Perhaps Bill will weigh in on this discussion and give us the information again.

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Here is my reply from before, it is still valid.<BR><I><BR>One other way that I have used for many years is to use the 4 or 5 point saftey harnesses they sell for racing.<BR>Before you all laugh and claim it is overkill ask how much you are worth.<BR>They mount only to the floor so they are able to be used in convertibles or pillarless cars, they come over both shoulders so they keep you away from the metal dash and spearlike steering column, they have clips to remove them from the car to show and the hold up well. <BR>I have personally tested them in numerous crashes in my little H production Bugeyed Sprite. The bug eye is no bigger then a MG Midget and has been run into by Corvettes and run into a wall by a Jaguar. I was sore but not hurt. <BR>I have them in my 47 Buick and will put them in my 50 Buick when finished. I have not tested them yet in these cars and have no plans to. But if I ever have an accident, I feel confident that me and my wife wont face dance into the dash.<BR>The floor need reinforcing, I have used 1/4" steel plate to spread the load out.</I><P>I am a firm believer in belts in old cars. Lap belts just wont cut it with metal dashes.<BR>Juliano's makes a nice set that you can put into a car with a pillar, but the 4 point safety harness will work in any car.<BR>You may feel silly strapping yourself in, but you will protect yourself.

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I have been looking into retrofitting modern seats into an old car. Some modern cars such as Chrysler Sebrings and some Mercedes have seatbelts integrated into the seats. This would be a very involved swap, but it would be the easiest to live with on a daily driver.

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I saw a Chrysler 300C convertable with 3-point harnesses. The builder used late-model retractors, and mounted the retractor down in the quarter panel, right behind the door jamb. Then the top part of the harness came through a slot in the panel, into the interior of the car. This puts the shoulder mount low, but it's about where it would be on a late-model convert. The interiopr panel was then built with a slot in it, and the opening was dressed with a bezel.<BR>Look at the back seats in modern cars, too--they now have 3-point harnesses that come through the package tray behind the passenger's heads/shoulders. Something like this could easily be modified to mount in the quarter panel area.<BR>I'll see if I can get a photo of the harness I saw.<BR>-Brad

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