Adding Rear Seatbelts to Our 1964 Chevelle Project Car

By Tommy Lee Byrd   –   Photography by the Author

There was once a time when no one wore seatbelts, and there was no such thing as a child seat. Kids had free reign, whether it was standing in the rear floorboard and holding onto the front seats or laying down in the package tray. These days, the laws are stricter, and we realize the dangers of driving amongst the general public. If you have kids, then it’s important for them to ride along in your vintage Chevy (in hopes of passing along your love of old cars). For this, seatbelts are a must, and proper installation is key to keeping your family safe in the event of an accident.

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002 Our ’64 Chevelle came with two seatbelts up front but it was not originally equipped with rear seatbelts
Our ’64 Chevelle came with two seatbelts up front, but it was not originally equipped with rear seatbelts. The front belts are looking a little rough, so we’ll order enough belts to safely secure six passengers.

Read More: Back to Basics

Our subject is a ’64 Chevelle sedan, which is already family friendly because it has two extra doors in the back that are practically designed for children. However, our car did not come equipped with rear seatbelts. A single rear seatbelt was installed several years ago, but it was time to complete the package and install a new set of belts and hardware throughout.

003 The rear seat frame snaps into two brackets in the floorpan
The rear seat frame snaps into two brackets in the floorpan. Typically, you can push the seat bottom rearward and then lift to get it past the tabs, but they can sometimes be stubborn. Some gentle prybar action is sometimes necessary.

We ordered six Powder Blue aviation-style seatbelts from Retro Belt, and then ordered three Autoloc seatbelt anchor kits (two anchors each) from Summit Racing to secure the rear belts. The anchors help spread the load, so the bolt or washer doesn’t pull through the sheetmetal in an impact. The anchors are affordable and come with big 5/8-inch bolts and washers. The install requires a drill, and we used a step bit to open up the holes to 5/8 inch. The rest of the install requires simple hand tools to remove the seat, install the belt hardware, and then reassemble the rear seat. We spent an evening in the shop to add the rear seatbelts and freshen up the front belts as well. It was well worth the effort to make sure the kids can ride along to car shows and get the full experience, while also being safe.

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004 Most GM rear seats have two bolts at the bottom of the seat back which are revealed when the seat bottom is out of the way
Most GM rear seats have two bolts at the bottom of the seat back, which are revealed when the seat bottom is out of the way. After the bolts are removed, lift up on the seat back to remove.
005 This car had a single rear seatbelt added several years ago but the holes were drilled at random
This car had a single rear seatbelt added several years ago, but the holes were drilled at random. The correct way to add rear seatbelts is to drill holes in the original dimples in the floor kick-up area.
006 We found all six holes in the rear floor area and sanded the area to make them visible
We found all six holes in the rear floor area and sanded the area to make them visible. Since the two existing holes are somewhat congruent with one set of factory dimples, we decided to use them instead of drilling new holes.
007 There are many seatbelts on the market but we liked the aviation look and color options with Retro Belt
There are many seatbelts on the market, but we liked the aviation look and color options with Retro Belt. We went with 60-inch belts in the Powder Blue color to match our interior. We ordered a set of anchors from Summit Racing.

 

008 We used a ¼ inch bit to drill the pilot holes
We used a ¼-inch bit to drill the pilot holes, and then stepped our way up to 5/8 inch to work with the large bolts with Summit Racing’s seatbelt anchor kit.
009 Duct tape allowed us to hold the anchor to the back side of the floor after aligning with the new holes
Duct tape allowed us to hold the anchor to the back side of the floor after aligning with the new holes. These heavy steel plates help spread the load and feature a welded nut to provide a safe and secure seatbelt attachment.
010 The Summit Racing anchors have a 58 inch bolt and washer and we carefully thread it into place
The Summit Racing anchors have a 5/8-inch bolt and washer, and we carefully thread it into place. The seatbelt should be positioned so the metal mounting bracket is pointing upward.
011 With three kids in tow we installed three seatbelts out back
With three kids in tow, we installed three seatbelts out back. After the bolts are started, a ½-inch ratchet helps us put some muscle behind the big bolts as they tighten into the anchors, sandwiching the floorpan.

 

012 We put the seat back into position and then taped the seatbelts to the back while we wrestled the seat bottom into position
We put the seat back into position and then taped the seatbelts to the back while we wrestled the seat bottom into position. Taping the belts keeps them from getting stuck beneath the seat bottom during installation.
013 The front seatbelt install is a simple matter of removing the original seatbelts and installing the new ones from Retro Belt
The front seatbelt install is a simple matter of removing the original seatbelts and installing the new ones from Retro Belt. The car’s factory boltholes do not require anchors, but we bought new bolts just to be safe.
014 Originally the seatbelts had a rubber cover over the brackets and bolts but the new ones do not have any type of cover
Originally, the seatbelts had a rubber cover over the brackets and bolts, but the new ones do not have any type of cover. The brackets bolt to the floor and use large washers to spread the load.
015 Our kids are still little so child seats are part of the equation
Our kids are still little, so child seats are part of the equation. Each child seat is different, but there is usually a clearly marked belt path. Pass the belt through the path and press down on the seat to compress the springs, while pulling the belt tight.
016 The result is a happy 3 year old who can safely ride along with dear old dad
The result is a happy 3-year-old who can safely ride along with dear old dad. There is still plenty of room for two more kids in the back and two more passengers up front. Now, the whole family can ride along safely.

Sources:

Summit Racing
(800) 230-3030
summitracing.com

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Click on this issue’s cover to see the enhanced digital version of Adding Rear Seatbelts to Our 1964 Chevelle Project Car.

acp february 2024

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