Making your Classic Car Child Seat Friendly
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that if you’re reading this you love cars, just like me. I’m also gonna assume that for those of you who have a family, you love your kids too, just like me. One thing I do know for sure, is that car people like to share our hobby with others… our friends, our families, and in my case, my young children. I’ve got a 6-year old and an 18-month old, and they both like my old car, which is great! The problem is, how do you safely bring your kids along with you when you want to go for a cruise?
I have a penchant for unusual early to mid 60s Fords and GM products. In most cases, these vehicle have no seat belts at all, let alone child restraint systems and/or tether points for car seats. So what’s any self-respecting hot-rodder going to do? Well, make something of course!
Installing Rear Seat Belts
The first order of business is a good quality set of lap belts for the back seat. Autoloc makes great seatbelts in just about any colour you’d want and with two styles of latch. A standard button release and a classic chrome aircraft lift-style latch.
I opted for the button style as it’s a bit harder for prying little fingers to accidentally release. I started by finding the centerline of each rear seat and used masking tape to mark that on the back window for future reference. I then pulled the back seat out, which, for most 60s cars, involves pushing down on the leading edge of the bottom portion, while pulling forward to release the hook.
Once the bottom is out, two small bolts hold the backrest portion in. Once they are out, you simply pull the back portion up to release it from its hooks.
Now, using a marker, transfer the centerline location of each seat from the tape you put on the back window, to the floor, in approximately the location of where the upper and lower portion of the rear seat cushion meets. Time to drill some holes!
Measure out 9” on either side of the centerline marks you made and mark your spots for drilling. Before drilling, take a good look underneath your ride to make sure you’re not going to drill into the gas tank, exhaust system, or other obstruction. If something is in the way, do your best to move your mounting point into an appropriate new location.
I like to start with a ¼” pilot hole then I use my trusty step bit to increase the hole size to 7/16”. Once all four holes are complete, you can begin installing the lap belts.
I used the Autoloc anchor plate kit (PN 12186) which comes with heavy duty 7/16” bolts and great big reinforcing plates to reduce floor tear through in case of an accident.
Installing Hidden Tie Down Clamps
Now that we’ve got lap belts, we need a tether point on the package tray to secure your young one’s car seat. So, like most car guys, I looked for an option that worked well and looked good. My search led me to the truck world, and I ended up with a Bully brand (PN WTD810) pop-up stake pocket cargo tie down.
It’s rated at 1,000lbs and is nicely chrome plated. This way, when I don’t have the car seats in, all you see on the package tray is a small chrome square plate.
With the back seat still out, I removed the package tray simply by pulling it forward. I used the same centerline marks we put on the rear window earlier, to mark the mounting position of the tie downs on the package tray.
I used the supplied backing plate to mark the location of the bolt holes, as well as the hole I would have to make for the body of the hold down. I center punched the bolt hole locations and drilled ¼” holes for the mounting hardware.
I then got my cut off grinder and carefully cut the rectangular hole for the body of the hold down. A quick clean up of the cuts and holes with a rat tail file and the mounting holes were complete.
I then slid the original package tray back in place and used a sharp tip marker from underneath to mark where I would have to cut the package tray and drill holes for clearance. Some quick work with a box cutter-style knife and ¼” drill, and the whole deal was ready for a test fit.
Satisfied that everything lined up nicely, I then cut a new piece of vinyl (that I sourced from my local Fabricland) a couple of inches larger around then the package tray. I flipped it over and sprayed both the underside of the vinyl and the top of the old package tray with spray adhesive in an aerosol can. Let the adhesive set up and then carefully lay the new vinyl over the package tray and apply pressure by rubbing from the center to the outside.
Once the glue was dry, I then used my box cutter to cut the vinyl where the holes were cut in the old package tray for the tie downs to slide through.
Slide the newly recovered package tray back in and install the tie downs, making sure you tighten them properly.
Now just reverse the seat removal procedure, reinstalling the seat back and bottom. Now, you’re ready to bolt in your child car seat as per the manufacturer’s instructions. This car is my daily driver so this setup gets used every day. It looks good, works great, and my little ones can safely cruise with their car crazy daddy! •