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Manual seat belt conversion started


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#1 retrom3er

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 07:22 PM

Started this weekend. Discovered that it's pretty simple to do an install, tougher to do an authentic conversion. Short list of parts so far:
  • Carpet (without lap belt humps)
  • Center armrest(early) with coin tray
  • Early a-pillar trims (modified slightly due to a welded gusset on the later cars), The early a-pillar trims lock onto the body seam and mate with the interior kick panels, so they replace some of the flocked seal-so that will need trimming....when I get there.
  • Door cards (top two pieces, bottom one is swap-able) Actually, you can make the middle piece work, you just have to be fearless and drill precise holes in 30-year-old plastic. and have the little belt retainer doo-dad.The top piece has a special bracket, make sure you get that.
  • Complete set of manual belts (obviously) with vapor barrier.
  • Headliner-early-front section.
  • Grab handle.
One big issue is the difference in the buckles. The female end on the later cars is about 4" shorter than the early cars-must be a different mounting point. The early male tab is much narrower and will sorta lock into the later latch, but not well, it's not confidence inducing.If you use the early female end it sticks up WAY too far. Also, the electrical connector to turn off the seat belt light is different.
So options here are:
  • Get earlier seats or frames with the correct mounting points (not an option for me, I have way to much money in custom leather)
  • Find a seatbelt restoration company to swap the male tabs (shipping them tomorrow).Tabs scavenged from the 89 lap belts.
Another not-insignificant issue is the extra metal added at the top-rear of the door openings to strengthen the automatic belt track. The top piece of interior door trim will not fit through the opening (found out the hard way, luckily have some extra padded black vinyl). If you remove the metal, your interior door seal will be too short. If you leave it, you have to modify the interior trim which could be done, but would not look 100%. This situation is in the pondering stage.

Other stuff so-far:
  • Remove brackets- later A-pillar trim
  • Remove brackets- later headliner
  • remove lap belt guide from seats
  • Remove brackets for late upper door trim, replace with early brackets (after buying approximately 700 nylon body nuts of the wrong size before finding the right one-Chrysler rear license plate nut for those interested)
  • Remove entire automatic seatbelt track, motor, controller, etc.
If there's interest I'll load some photos and lessons-learned.
Fun project so far.





#2 kev

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 09:09 AM

Yes, please post photos.  This topic comes up from time to time and it would be good to have a 'how-to' on it.  

I don't recall modifying the a-pillar trim covers, but I may be forgetting.  There are three studs that run along the roof panel that use to hold the belt track that need to be cut off.  

Don't forget the upper most piece of the door panel, that goes around the upper 'buckle'.  This will interfere with the door upon closing.   There is a curved section on the door frame that was added for the automatic belt track.   If you want the trim to work, you have to cut out this piece.  


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The b-panel interior pieces (both upper and lower) are different for manual cars too.


This photo shows the frame after the curved section removed and a manual belt upper B panel cover in place

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#3 kev

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 09:23 AM

Here is how I modified the door cards.  

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#4 retrom3er

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 09:18 AM

Looks great, I did the door card inserts in perforated leather to match the seats. Not terribly difficult. Tracking down the right seat belt latches is a little more challenging.

#5 kev

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 10:29 AM

I bet that looks good.  I know that some members here were having trouble finding perforated leather that matched the original seat pattern...when it came to reupholstering the factory seats.




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