Since my wife was pregnant with our first child, I thought it was about time to install seat belts in the rear seat on our ’65 LTD Hardtop. I want my family to have the same Ford experience as I did as a kid.
First task was to find suitable seat belts. This is the tricky part. Wesco Performance was recommended by my dad, so I found their homepage and used their "seat belt help" to find the right ones. I came up with the Roadster type which I found to be the closest match to my project and more than long enough for a rear seat installation on a full size Ford. On top of this I added extra installation kits.
After the purchase I spent more time making V8 sounds to the stomach of my wife than thinking about the seat belts. Actually, the seatbelts spent quite some time in a box before the project got started. At this point my wife was at the end of week 39, so it was about time to get started.
It didn’t take long time to remove seats and insulation. A quick clean up with a vacuum cleaner is a good idea as you are going to spend some time there.
First thing was to get a good overview of the project. Find the parts, good installation points, and lots of coffee.
I like to sit in the empty hole where the seat used to be and try to get an idea about where I want to mount the different parts.
The trickiest part was to make the top hole for the retractor, tight space and only a normal drilling machine created limitations.
It was however possible to move the hole closer to the middle and drill from underneath. When mounting the seat belts to the tray remember that it’s often made of some kind of "soft" material that can cause a loose bolt. I used a lock washer plus 2 bolts. I want to make sure that I don't loose anything.
The hole in the floor pan had to be done in opposite side as this gives the best belt fit. Also here I used both lock washer and 2 bolts. You can actually do all this alone. Put a wrench on the top bolt and secure it to the seat bracket for instance. Then go under your car and do the tightening.
I had my doubts if the flooring would be strong enough, but a rust free floor and wide mounting brackets that goes with my seat belts and lots of pulling my doubts were gone… I’m a fairly big guy around 270 lb and 6.4 foot and I couldn’t rip or damage this mounting in any way.
If someone should still argue about safety in the installation I will remind them that it’s a lot better than nothing.
Anyway, last bracket was quite easy to install. Remove the side panel and you are ready to go. The four mounting bolts didn’t come with the kit.
After install the bracket you will need to cut away some of the panel. Don’t worry, you can’t see the cut.
Don’t be afraid when you look at the instructions that goes with the seat belts. They are not very good. Go to their homepage and find the installation that goes with your application. In my case there weren’t really any that fitted as I made a rear seat mount. Use common sense and be sure that you do it safe. There will probably be a guy or two that want to do it different, but as I said. I have been pulling these belts until I lost my breath. They are not going anywhere.
After all the drilling and wrenching then sit down on the floor pan, take a coffee and put your new seat belt and check out if everything fits. I had to adjust the angle on the top a bit. It’s a fit between getting a straight pull in case of an accident and retracting the seat belt after use. And yes, it is possible to obtain both things at the same time.
Here is the result.
I spent a weekend doing this at a relaxed speed with coffee breaks included. I used the opportunity to clean the trunk area and install a new trunk mat and shine up the package tray now I was in the area anyway.
It's also a good idea to remove the side panels before remove the seat. It gives a little extra space. Make sure you have some quality drills. I just grabbed the cheap ones in the corner. After 5 dead drills I must admit that our US steel demands quality tools – lesson to learn… I did.
To briefly sum things up. Finding the seat belts is the difficult task here. Installing them is actually quite easy.
In the meantime my wife just gave birth 4 days after completing the project. Now I’m looking forward to pick up son and wife and go home in the Galaxie.
This is my first article so let me know if there are some things I can do better. Thanks for listening.