Seat Belt Options to Keep Your Corvette Safe and Legal

Posted by Neal on 2/28/2014 to About Corvettes
If your Corvette pre-dates 1958, the first year seat belts were a standard factory installation from Chevrolet, you might wish to forgo adding seat belts to retain authenticity of your classic car. Later cars led way to a variety of belt systems and designs, as federal regulations mandated seat belts in all domestic cars after 1966. Find out what options exist to simultaneously keep you and your passengers safe and keep your Corvette "classic."

Legally, federal regulations only require safety standards that were in place at the time your vehicle was manufactured. Statistically, use of a seat belt during a collision greatly decreases the chances of injury or death, so many classic car owners install seat belts for the sake of safety.

Though not required or provided as a standard option until 1958, seat belts were available as a dealer-installed accessory in 1956 and 1957. You might be able to find original-style seat belts stocked by dealers that were designed for use with your vehicle's existing anchor points. If unable to locate original belts, many restoration parts suppliers produce reproductions that look similar to original equipment. As an added bonus, these suppliers often sell seat belt replacement kits that include all necessary hardware for a complete installation. These replacement kits make seat belt installation much easier, and it spares you from having to search for and acquire all the accessory parts.

Shoulder harnesses were not available in Corvettes until 1966. Retrofitting your vehicle to allow installation of a shoulder belt is possible, though, and since use of both lap and shoulder belts increases your protection during a collision, such a retrofit is recommended for all except perhaps those whose cars are judged in competition.

You painstakingly build or rebuild your classic Corvette to specifications for a specific year's model, taking great care to install original equipment or authentic replicas. However, for safety reasons, consider installing seat belts even if the installation deviates from historical accuracy. After all, there is little point to retrofitting your Corvette if a car accident leaves you unable to enjoy your work.
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