Reserved Seating

The driver’s seat in the Thunderbird is designed for a different age with upright seating high off the floor. They did not have tall people in mind. I’m well over six feet, so I was not only cramped in the driver’s seat, my head was firmly jammed against the headliner when I sat in the car.

Looks like most of the sound insulation behind the rear seats is just plain gond.
Looks like most of the sound insulation under the rear bench is just plain gone.

One of the first things I did when I got the car was unbolt the seat, remove the slider assembly and move it back as far as I could. It was a crude job meant to get me on the road. It worked tolerably well, but I have basically been sitting with the seat on the floor. Comfortable for driving, not so great for getting in and out of the car.

The rear seat backs I bought have been taking up space in my garage for a few months now, mostly because all the seats need to come out to install them. This weekend I had the time and energy, so I pull both front seats, the rear bench and the old rear seat backs.

The final rear seat installation.
The final rear seat installation.

The rear bench comes out easily with a tug once the arm rests are out. The backs are installed with two small screws through tabs on the bottom. The passenger side seat back was in rough shape. The vinyl on top was dried, flaky and cracked. I had to drill one new mounting hole to install the replacement, but it went together nicely. On the driver’s side, the replacement seat back wasn’t a good fit at all. The mounting tabs didn’t line up with the existing holes and the curve of the seat back didn’t nest into the frame. Since the original on this side was still decent (and a good color match with the other side), I reinstalled it.

Reinstallation was relatively simple, except for lining up the screws in the deep recesses of the armrests, which took some doing, and a little creativity.

Inside the seat sliding mechanism.
Inside the seat sliding mechanism.

For the driver’s seat, I removed the four inch riser from the slider assembly, then took the sliders apart to clean and re-grease them. With the sliders back together, I flipped them over (to allow clearance for the seat locking mechanism) and bolted them directly to the seat frame.

I did a test sit with the seat in this configuration and the sliders don’t add a lot of hight, but the seat is in a more upright configuration. It’s not easy to get to the seat latch, which is very close to the floor, but the new set up will allow for some seat movement forward.

To install the new set up in the car, I’ll be running bolts up from underneath into blind nuts glued to the seat rails. Yesterday, I clamped and glued the nuts in place, letting the glue set over night. Today, I expect to have time to get the seat back into the car.