Can Classic Cars Be Ergonomic?
Written by Julie Lant on April 18, 2018
For those of us who have spent time driving a classic vehicle, we know that it’s more about how we fit into the driver’s seat of the car than how the car fits us.
Car designs and manufacturing have come a long way in the past few decades, namely in technological advances, but also in their ability to cater different levels of comfort to the driver.
The ability to adjust the driver’s seat closer or further from the steering wheel was the first real acknowledgment of accommodating the driver. Only later came the ability to adjust the steering column position as well as multi-directional seating adjustments.
These are small luxuries that are simply absent in the classics.
Some older models of classic cars even lacked the feature to adjust the position of the driver’s forwards and backwards in case their height didn’t work with the vehicle. Or in the case of Hot Rods, the 1920's or 1930's era vehicles with their small and narrow seats, aren't exactly comfortable by today's standard. And if you happen to be driving these with a passenger beside you - constant touch is guaranteed. However, this is often a sacrifice most are willing to make, as these vehicles suit their personalities and style.
But...does it have to be a sacrifice? As it turns out, the answer is no. You change change/update your classic or collector car's seats or the steering position to render the ride a little more comfortable.
If you’re looking to reupholster your seats, the first and most important thing to keep in mind is that this is not an easy fix. There are multiple components, from framing, to springs, cushioning and ultimately the seat covering material. We’ve found that unless we’re really good (really patient), this type of job is often best left to professionals.
If, on the other hand, if you’re looking to modify the seat position, by either lengthening the track or moving the track itself, that is possible and relatively easy.
First, you must ensure the integrity of the car’s flooring. If it seems robust, proceed in removing the seat, and then the existing track. After that is done, line the old hole position to your new track position, simply mark, drill new holes and secure the track.
The Steering Column
The steering column in classics can be adjusted and tightened. Lucky for us, it tends to be a relatively easy job - assuming that you have some mechanical and electrical skills.
With that being said, if your steering is loose, you can tighten up the steering box by gaining access to it in the engine and work at inspecting the column and tightening its bolts. This should tighten up the feel of the steering wheel.
With respect to the position tilt itself, know that it is also possible to adjust, but this takes more manipulation of the column, which subsequently increases the chances for something to go awry. We recommend that for tilt position, perform the research and feasibility for your classic before giving it a go. Like with all other manipulations of your vehicle, should you have doubts, seek out your classic car professional for advice or help.