One of the cons of driving a classic car daily is outdated safety equipment, particularly when you’re regularly transporting your family in the car. Since my kids will be frequently riding in my 1968 Mustang I decided to install three point rear seat belts in the car.
There are a number of three point rear seat belt kits available from reputable manufacturers for classic Mustangs that closely match the original interior and hardware. If you’re looking to update the belts in a less popular model classic, there are universal kits available as well. Having completed this installation in several vehicles, I assure you the procedure is very similar.
Start by removing your rear seat. The bottom seat comes out first by pushing the bottom of the seat frame back and up on each side, releasing the lower frame wire from its bracket. The seat will then slide out. The seat back should come out easily by simply sliding it up out of its retaining groove. On some cars there may also be two bolts at the bottom of the seat back tying it into the body of the car. Remove those first.
Next, unbolt the original lap belts from their anchors, paying attention to the orientation of the belts. You’ll reuse the original seat belt bolts in the factory anchor points. If your car does not have factory lap belts you’ll need to determine where your anchor points should be and carefully drill holes for the anchors. Check the underside of the car first to ensure you don’t drill into fuel lines, electrical wires, or exhaust pipes. Also be sure to use quality grade 8 bolts with a locking nut and wide, heavy washers on both sides of the car’s sheetmetal to ensure the seat belts don’t rip out of the car in the event of a collision.
Now position the retractable portion of the belt on the rear package shelf of the car. Check the position to ensure the belt can slide in and out freely and that the shoulder strap crosses the chest of a seated passenger. Mark the package shelf where the mounting hole needs to be drilled, drill a pilot hole, and then open the hole up with a larger bit wide enough for your mounting bolts. In my 68 Mustang the rear window is so close to where I needed to drill the hole that I couldn’t even get in there with a right angle close quarter drill. I opted to punch a dimple where the hole needed to be drilled with a hammer and punch so I could see the center point from inside the trunk and drilled the hole from the bottom.
Bolt the lower belts into the original anchor points, with the belts laying the same way as the originals. If you get this backwards the seats won’t fit properly over the new belts. Then bolt the upper retractor to the package shelf with a wide, thick washer and lock washer or locking nut on the underside of the tray.
Repeat on the other side, reinstall your seats, and you’re ready to ride.
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For this post we installed three point rear seat belts on our 1968 Mustang coupe. The same or similar installation would be expected for 1964-1973 Mustangs and many other vintage vehicles. We have also installed matching three point front seat belts.