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Seat Belts

Seat Belts

Dear friends

What about security belts in XK120? Have there been any security belts from the factory? Has somebody added some security belts to their XK120?

(No, I'm not going to ask about airbags...) - Zoran Mitrovic

I have a XK140 FHC that has suffered the ravages of a leaking windshield seal, and now that I am repairing the damage, I have removed the majority of the interior, and have replaced the damaged floorboards (enough rot to have the accelerator break off, and some rust).

NOW that everything is out of the way, I like to install seat belts. What have others used as mounting points. Has anyone installed a shoulder harness? - John Currey

I have these fitted to my 120. I used a full harness set I bought in England because they came with a clip at the end of each belt that enables you to remove the whole belt if you want - e.g. for a club display, or if you ever want to put the roof up! There is otherwise a problem with a shoulder belt on the 120 OTS - it naturally goes over the top of the hood folded up on top of the battery box, so how do you erect the hood (soft top)? You could go with simply a lap belt I guess, but not nearly so safe. - John Elmgreen

I installed seat belts on a brace of XK-140 DHCs 'way back when, using long eye bolts through the floor and chassis longitudinal members, and on the transmission tunnel in the center; 2" round plates underneath everything. Trans tunnel mounts were not satisfactory by today's standards, but "seemed like a good idea at the time." Never tested upon impact, but I did nod off one night with no serious consequences (knocked the brass trim arcs loose around the rear wheel wells when the front end came back on the ground, but I digress!

Don't install belts fastened only to the floor; they'll generally keep you in place under normal driving conditions, but probably won't be worth much in a crash; the goal is to keep you away from the steering wheel and in the car! On another occasion, some fool ran a red light (new - claimed not to have seen it; shouldn't be there, wasn't yesterday, etc.!), slammed into the right rear of my car, and spun me around 2 1/2 times; had I not a seat belt, I would have been catapulted over the guard rail into the Delaware River in February (of course, the hood (top) was down; it's a sports car, isn't it?). - Larry Schear Twin Cam, Inc.

My 120 was fitted with lap belts, possibly by the dealer, since it has not seen the road for about 25 years. There were four ladder-like brackets neatly bolted to the rear bulkhead just above the floor boards - the ends of the seat belts would have been woven through the rungs of the brackets quite securely. I imagine the strength of the rear bulkhead would not lend itself to much in the way of G-forces before giving way, but it would be decidedly better than no belts at all. If anyone would like a detailed bitmap sketch of the bracket, let me know and I'll e-mail it off to you when I get access to a scanner (next week). - Nick Saltarelli

Have been wondering about seatbelts myself. Obviously they need to be anchored someplace stout... in a 20g crash you could put about two tons of force into the anchor. I'm familiar with monocoque practice... but what is the typical approach with body-on-frame vehicles? The frame looks like the obvious place to attach... but what if the body comes adrift during a crash? It would be easy to get yourself cut in two :-0

Does anyone know the general practice for body-on-frame vehicles? Anyone have much experience with XKs in bad wrecks?

Not to be a pessimist, just better to think about these things in advance! - Ed Mellinger

Nick, My 1951 XK120 FHC had seat belts attached to the lower front edge of the battery shelf in a manner like yours. Probably keeps you inside the vehicle on a rollover, but that's about all. When I restore the interior I would like to install shoulder belts somewhere, I don't know where or how, but anything to keep my chest from getting pierced by that missile aiming at me from the center of the steering wheel! Any suggestions? - Carl Hanson

NONE of my cars except the latest (and newest) Mk IX had any provisions for even lap belts, let alone shoulder belts. List -- '53 Mk VII, '52 XK120 OTS disc-wheel, '58 Mk VIII, '55 XK140MC OTS, '54 XK120SE OTS. On all of these, I cut slots thru floor behind seats and bolted belts to holes drilled in frame members to get safe lap belts. In the '52 XK120, they saved me in '65; clobbered in driver's door by a guy who ran a red light at Hill & Washington in Pasadena CA -- impact took body off frame; injury was limited to battery acid burns because batteries behind seats broke open. In 792817 BW, my current Mk IX (built 15 December '59), there are two factory rings behind/under front seat for lap belts that bolt into frame; nothing for rear belts so again I cut thru floor to bolt rear belts to frame. NO indication whatever of places for shoulder belts; in fact, you'd have to damage original wood on insides of door pillars to put them in (which I won't do because it's an original car), but I DO use the lap belts every time, as do any passengers. - Larry Martz, Registrar, Mk VII/VIIM/VIII/IX CLASSIC JAGUAR ASSOCIATION


The shoulder belt could be attached to the frame "dog's leg" where it rises above the rear axle - there are already two long 7/16" diameter bolts in this location securing the rear clip to the frame, accessible through the trunk. The addition of an upper securing bracket should be almost as easy as what one needs to do to install a child's carseat.

As for the lap belt, there is access to the frame on the outside of each seat into which a long, half inch diameter eye bolt could be secured by drilling a hole down through the frame. The problem is the area to the inside of the seats, near the transmission tunnel, where there is no frame member. The only way to get around this cunundrum would be to seriously beef up the rear bulkhead by making it into a box section - certainly do-able, even so it is invisible, but not something one would like to do to a finished car. Perhaps there is something that could be bolted in place?

This latter perspective might be one that Wray, as our resident XK body expert, could comment on. - Nick Saltarelli

Hi Larry -

Thanks for the note to XK-Lovers about seat belts. Wanted to clear up a question, because it was my point of concern... you appeared to say you secured the lap belts to the frame... and then that the accident took the body off the frame. THAT is my exact nightmare... seems like the belt would cut you in two like a cheese slicer! For that reason I have been thinking I'd secure the belt to *the body* with big (say 3" dia) washers, or fabricated doublers, to spread the load. That way if the body goes for a ride, I ride with it...

If I misunderstood your post please set me straight... I'm a newbie at all these prehistoric cats! - Ed Mellinger

Hi Ed Mellinger & all -- In my '65 accident with the '52 XK120 disc-wheel OTS, the red-light runner (who DID run the light; his insurance co. paid for everything) hit on the driver's door toward the back; the rear clip separated from the rather massive frame (which took the impact), which caused the batteries to break open and splash me with acid. The belts, as I recall, were slotted through the floors (wood) to a frame crossmember behind the seat locations, and bolted in with 3" metal discs to spread the load. Four mounting points -- inside next to driveshaft and outside next to main frame front/rear member X 2 for driver & passenger. The alloy door wrapped around my left leg, but not far enough to hurt me at all. Without that belt, I'd have gone flying -- toward the car that hit; door would have damaged my leg; instead, I stayed in the seat.

Ed -- not sure I like your "if body goes, I go with it" -- my accident impact wasn't hard enough to REMOVE rear clip, door, etc -- just to break loose from frame mounts. Not sure I'd like to "go with" body if really severe crash; think I'd prefer to stay in the seat.

I hope this makes things clearer -- Larry Martz


The question of retro-fitting safe seatbelts to XKs, and doing so without welding cumbersome supports on to the frame, hopefully will become a thread revisited often. With the different perspectives and methods of the list members, perhaps a simple solution can be found. My initial idea would be the use of 5/16" dia.steel cable with eyes on each end, one end attached to the seat belt end, and the other to an existing heavy bolt on the frame. - Wray Schelin

For 120 lap belts there are two ways to go for the inner two belts. first a steel bar (3/8" thick X 1 1/4" wide or so) can be bolted to the bottom of the side frame rails from one side to the other under the seats and the inner belts bolted to the bar. The bar will go under the muffler if it is a through the frame single system.

The other alternative is a setup like Bassett sells which is two pieces of square tubing that run front to back along each side of the drive shaft. The front is bolted to the crossmember and the rear bends up and bolts to the upper rear bulkhead, this can only be used with a under frame twin exhaust system. As for the outer belts it is very easy to cut a slot in the floor wood and run the belt down to attach to the front leaf spring bolt on each side, that way no holes are drilled in the frame and it is in perfect position. I have done both and they work well, bolting the belts to the rear sheet metal will do nothing but pull out in a serious situation. - JamieDFiff

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