Klayfish Reader
June 2, 2011 2:51 p.m.

OK, so if I had an old car that didn’t come with seatbelts from the factory (or just lap belts), how hard is it to install a proper 3 point belt? I'm not talking about my Fiat, but a coupe or sedan with a solid roof. Safety is a priority to me. Especially working in the auto insurance claims business. I’ve seen waaaaay too many nasty things from accidents where belts weren’t worn.

I found these belts at Wescoperformance. Here are the instructions. Is it really that simple to install them? Being a car repair novice, I’d be concerned with making sure I did it right (guess I’d take it to a street rod or racing shop to make sure I did it right). But it really doesn’t look too hard. Anyone ever done it?

Here’s the link to instructions to add a shoulder mounting point for cars that didn’t have one.

http://www.wescoperformance.com/retrofit-seat-belts-shoulder-mt-door.html

Linky for the rest of the installation.

http://www.wescoperformance.com/non-retractable-install.html

BoxheadTim SuperDork
June 2, 2011 2:57 p.m.

I'd be mainly concerned if the door post would be strong enough or not. Strengthening it is most likely not that simple and the last thing you'd want to happen is the top mounting pulling away from the door post.

I'm still thinking about putting 3 point belts into my CJ, but that one already has the later style roll bar that comes with the upper mount.

ppddppdd Reader
June 2, 2011 3:35 p.m.

Harness or roll bar available for said coupe?

Hal Dork
June 2, 2011 3:37 p.m.

Their reinforcing plate looks like it would do a good job. Of course, you could always make a larger one to fit your particular vehicle using their idea.

stuart in mn SuperDork
June 2, 2011 4:11 p.m.

For reference here are a couple other sources for aftermarket 3 point belts: http://www.julianos.com/ http://www.ssnake-oyl.com/ I've installed lap belts in old cars before and it was pretty simple (although I haven't installed 3 point belts.) It will depend on the particular vehicle but i think it can be done safely, as long as you use appropriate hardware and reinforcing plates.

Klayfish Reader
June 2, 2011 4:24 p.m.

There are a few cars I've looked at, so I haven't narrowed it down to one. Most are mid-60's sedans...Ford, Chevy, Olds. They mostly have full benches up front and in back. I need to install 5 belts...me, wife, 3 kids.

I agree I'd have a bit of a concern if the pillar is strong enough for the shoulder mount. Not sure how you'd know. One other option would be a 4 point belt. They mount to the floor completely. The back of the belt has one bolt in the middle of where you sit. Belt comes up then splits into a "Y" going over each shoulder.

SVreX SuperDork
June 2, 2011 4:59 p.m.

I have installed 4 and 5 point belts in older daily drivers. Easy installation, but annoying for daily use (especially for a family).

I believe I'd consider having a pro reinforce the door post for a 3-point.

If you are coming from the perspective of an auto claims business, your stats are no good for consideration regarding your kids and after market belts. The death rates stats that you have access to of people who were not wearing seatbelts are unfortunately also (generally) in newer vehicles that had other safety components designed in (like crumple zones, collapsible steering columns, submarine motor mounts, air bags, anti-locks, side impact bars, padded dashes, etc. etc.). Your older car will be missing a LOT more than seatbelts when it comes to safety.

You may want to think about a mini van.

I have a 1960 El Camino with 4 points. I love taking my kids for short weekend trips when we can. But our daily driver is a modern mini van.

I wouldn't have my wife and kids driving every day in an older car.

SVreX SuperDork
June 2, 2011 5:00 p.m.

If you use the seats with the integrated belts, remember the safety of these belts is reliant on the seat mount to the floorpan of the car.

Klayfish Reader
June 2, 2011 7:12 p.m.
SVreX wrote: I have installed 4 and 5 point belts in older daily drivers. Easy installation, but annoying for daily use (especially for a family). I believe I'd consider having a pro reinforce the door post for a 3-point. If you are coming from the perspective of an auto claims business, your stats are no good for consideration regarding your kids and after market belts. The death rates stats that you have access to of people who were not wearing seatbelts are unfortunately also (generally) in newer vehicles that had other safety components designed in (like crumple zones, collapsible steering columns, submarine motor mounts, air bags, anti-locks, side impact bars, padded dashes, etc. etc.). Your older car will be missing a LOT more than seatbelts when it comes to safety. You may want to think about a mini van. I have a 1960 El Camino with 4 points. I love taking my kids for short weekend trips when we can. But our daily driver is a modern mini van. I wouldn't have my wife and kids driving every day in an older car.

Agree with you completely. This car would not be a daily driver. We have a Kia Sedona for child hauling duty (plus my Volvo 850 wagon). I'll tell ya, no matter what people say about a minivan stigma, I love our van. Perfect family hauler.

This car would only be used on warm summer nights for taking the kids to a nearby cruise night, the local McDonalds, or a parade. Nothing more. You're right, I'd say a 4 or 5 point harness in a daily driver would get old fast, but I can't see us using this car more than 3 or 4 times per month.

I also completely agree about the crumple zones, etc...you can't compare a modern car to these old cars. What I was saying about coming from an insurance perspective is that I've seen first hand (as an appraiser) the results of not wearing seatbelts...regardless of crumple zones and such. Not pretty. So while I could never make a 40+ year old car as safe as a modern one, belts certainly make a huge difference.

So mounting the 4 points in the El Camino wasn't hard? The directions look fairly easy, as it mounts everything in the floor. And yes, you'd definitely want to be extra sure the mount to the floor is secure.

SVreX SuperDork
June 2, 2011 7:54 p.m.

It was simple. IIRC I used mounting plates on the bottom of the pan/ mounting points.

Don't rule out a 2 seater (or other smaller car). Used correctly, it makes for great dedicated Daddy time.

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