Well, the ’63 Comet didn’t come with seat belts. Back in 1963, seat belts were still optional. So, one of the easiest things a person can do to improve safety is to add seat belts. For our Comet, seat belts are the first safety improvement we will be making. The second will be installing headrests (you can survive a broken nose, but not so easily a broken neck and surviving the latter still might mean serious lifetime incapacity). Both of these improvements are in addition to the brake rebuild we did and the suspension renewal we’re in the process of (as evidenced in the last post on replacing an outer tie rod). Recently, Micah and I installed the front seat belts. The installation of the rear seat belts will happen in the next 2-3 weeks. For those interested in what it took for Micah and I to do this, especially if you’re considering doing this to a car of your own, read on. For our Comet, we used lap belts from RetrobeltUSA, including their hardware kits.
The first thing we did was find the position we wanted behind the front seats. Make sure you space your anchors at least 15 inches apart. In our case, it was easy, due to going with the width of the bucket seats. Also, makes sure you install the short end of the belt on the inside of the car. Once you have your places marked, use a carpet knife to cut a crosswise pattern that can then be peeled back:
You’ll also notice the beginning of the second step, here–drilling the hole. To do that, use a metal punch and mark/indent a spot in the center of the carpet cut. That prevents the drill bit from “wandering” or sliding across the floorboard. Start with a small bit and slowly work your way up to the 1/2 inch bit, in order to prevent the bit from binding.
Once the hole is drilled, place the buckle mount and bolt through the top, while the large washer, lock washer, and nut fasten from underneath. The large washer acts as a backing plate so that the bolt (and belt) won’t pull out in the case of an accident. Here’s Micah tightening one on the driver’s side:
Once installed, it should look something like this:
As you can see, it is a very clean installation. I forgot to remove the loose strands of carpet there in the picture. It looked even cleaner once I’d done that. This is a project that anyone with a classic car can easily do and there’s no reason to hire this out to a body shop. Save yourself the $ and put it toward some other modification. In our case, I just ordered some new shocks for the front 😉