By Tim Palmer, Green Country Corvair Group
I am one of many Corvair owners who believe in driving my Corvair every day or almost every day. Because I drive my Corvair so much, I like to have the car as safe as I can make it. Two of the automotive advances that have been made in recent years are seat belts with shoulder belts and automatic belt retractors. I decided to install new seat belts with shoulder belts and automatic belt retractors. After market belts are available and I purchased a new set for the front of my 1962 Monza Coupe with factory AC. Since I had a coupon, I purchased them from J.C. Whitney. The belts were manufactured by Beam’s Industries, PO. Box 762 Oklahoma City, OK 73101.
Outer front floor mounts: This was the easiest mount. I removed the old belt’s bolt. An old bumper jack handle makes a good tool to remove the old style eye bolt (lots of leverage). I then screwed in the new bolt with a right angle bracket that came in the kit. The right angle bracket shouldn’t be needed for those Corvairs built after 1962 because the mounting location was moved to the side.
Inner front floor mount: I first thought I could use the factory mount. Two things stopped me. The first was when I was removing the old eye bolt from the existing mount, the floor flexed a lot more than I thought it should due to surface rust or just a weak design. The second was that the existing location simply was in the wrong place for the new seat belts to work. The new seat belt was shorter and required the mount to be moved toward the center line of the car. I decided to make a new mounting location. Since both the front seat inner floor mounts needed to be fairly close together, I decided to combine the two. As you can see in picture 2, I cut out a plate and spot welded two bolts to the plate after passing through the plate. I then mounted it in the only place it would fit in the tunnel. Be very careful. The plate is a tight fit with brake lines and other vital life lines of your Corvair in the tunnel. I suggest drilling a small hole first from the bottom so you can check the location for any problem. Measure carefully. Nuts that came with kit hold the belts with a right angle bracket.I will have to make a cover for the bolts later. In the long run I think this location is better than the original since it is stronger and is usually the last part of the floor to rust out.
Upper shoulder: This was the hardest mount to deal with since early models never had shoulder mounts of any kind. I wanted to put the mount in the post between the front and rear side window. After a day of tearing my arm up I decided the only way to put a mount in the post was to cut the top open and drop a plate down in there. I didn’t want to do that, maybe later. What I came up with was a long slender plate with a nut spot welded on, and an extra hole drilled for the headliner bow to stick through that fits in the horizontal channel above the side windows. By the way, you do have to cut a hole in the headliner. It also is best if you just remove it during installation. It will save a lot of cussing later. The plate is shoved in a hole behind the coat hanger hook. The plate size was determined by trial and error. It is the biggest thing that fit without cutting up the body. Once I got the plate in place and bolted down, I drilled holes for 2-3 pop rivets so the plate wouldn’t fall down when the bolt is removed to put the headliner back in place.
Lower shoulder retractor: This was a fairly easy mount to make. I used the big fender washers that came with the kit on both sides of the sheet metal. I mounted the retractor almost straight below the upper shoulder mount as far down as I could to hide the retractor. Fit the mount with the rear seat in place so you can see how it will clear everything.
Retrospective: How well do they work after 6 months of use? Very well. The only complaint I would make is that I would have liked the upper shoulder mount to have been lower by 6 inches or so, like I originally wanted. It digs into the neck a little bit. Since I still have don’t want to cut the roof open I’m happy with what I have.
DISCLAIMER: Neither Green Country Corvair Group, Inc. nor I assume any responsibility for what you do with this information. I have not conducted crash tests or pull tests. Nothing is guaranteed since I can not control the material or workmanship of what you do. I approached this with common sense and overkill in mind. I suggest you do the same. The seat belts mean nothing if they are not properly supported.
Picture 3: Bottom view of inner seatbelt mount.