Chevrolet Corvette Seatbelts - All Strapped In

The Evolution Of Corvette Seatbelts

Alan L Colvin Dec 1, 2005 0 Comment(s)

In late 1966 and through 1967, another seatbelt-buckle design was used. These new buckles had a satin stainless steel finish with a recessed button. Again, a blue Bowtie was centered in the button with the word "Chevrolet" inscribed. The rest of the button was semigloss black. Early production cars up through VIN 100 might have the Fisher Body Carriage logo in the center of the release button. All seatbelt colors were coordinated with the carpet color of the car. This seatbelt webbing matches the multi-latitudinal webbing from 1965. There was also a new seatbelt tag that provided the date of manufacture such as "19 E 67" which decoded as the 19th week of 1967. Model C-10 denotes lap belts, while C-20 denotes a shoulder harness. From all indications, Hamill was the sole manufacturer of the seatbelts in 1967.

The shoulder-belt option continued for 1967, and 1,426 cars were ordered with the option. The buckle portion of the shoulder harness was attached to a plate riveted to each rear wheelwell. All cars with the shoulder-harness option have this special plate. As in 1966, some cars could have the plate but not the shoulder-harness option.

In 1968, the seatbelts again changed: The receiver side of the lap belt buckle had an adjustable design. It had a buffed, stainless steel receiver that used a square pushbutton release that now carried a chrome GM logo with a black background. While looking for the white manufacturer's label, it should be near the plastic protector at the base of the stitched seam. The date code only appears on the outboard label. The model number is either C11 or C12. The '68 shoulder belt was fully adjustable, anchored over the wheelwell. The manufacturer's label on the shoulder belt was near the anchor end of the belt and displayed the model number C20.

In 1969, the lap-belt-buckle receiver was surprisingly nonadjustable and was encased in a vinyl protector cover color-matched to the interior. For early '69 cars, the receiver had a square plastic cover with a round pushbutton release in the center of the receiver. The pushbutton had a GM logo with a turquoise background. In later '69 cars, the receiver was a stainless steel assembly with a square pushbutton release. This square release button also used a GM logo with a turquoise background. The shoulder belt for '69 was attached to a retractor, which was encased in a color-matched plastic cover that was bolted to the rear wheelwell. The date-code label and position are similar to the '68 cars. For both '68 and '69, shoulder belts were standard equipment on coupes and optional on convertibles. Also, '68 and '69 cars used a three-bar-pattern belt for both years

For '70-'82 Corvettes, the three-bar-pattern Hamill-manufactured belts were used for the '70-'74 model years, while Firestone provided the belts from '75 through '82. In fact, Hamill was purchased by Firestone, explaining the switch of manufacturers. Sometime during the '77 or '78 model year, the belt designs changed to a four-bar belt design, with the '78 through '82 model years using the four-bar design exclusively. In these cars, the receiver was a stainless steel assembly with a square pushbutton release. This square release button also used a GM logo with a black background.

While there was no retractor for the '70-'71 cars, the '72 and '73 cars used a spring-loaded retractor with a warning buzzer. In 1974, an ignition interlock connected to each retractor case. The shoulder belt for these cars was attached to a retractor. Beginning in 1974, the lap and shoulder belts were integrated for the first time and were used on the Corvette from that point forward. Shoulder belts remained optional on convertibles and, if so equipped, were separate from the lap belt. Also, the belt-locking system was changed from a pull-rate type to a swinging-weight type activated by the car's deceleration.

The date code label and position on the '70-'75 cars were similar to earlier cars. The lap-belt model code was C13 for '70-'71, C15 for '72-'73, and C30 for the '74 coupe and C35 for the '74 convertible. The shoulder-belt model code is C23 for '70, C24 for '71, C25 for '72-'73, and C40 for the '74 cars. In 1975, the new lap and shoulder belts carried a C45 model code, with '76 carrying a C65 model code. Beginning in 1978 and continuing through 1982, the model number code was C75. The '77 model code is unverified at this time. As in earlier cars, the shoulder belts were standard equipment on coupes and optional on convertible cars.

Now you have all the information you need to correctly identify or purchase your Corvette seatbelts. First, if the original seatbelts are still in your car, you can have them restored. Most seatbelt rebuilders have the capability to remove and replace the worn belt webbing, repair, replace, or re-chrome the buckle components, and replace the date code tags if necessary. Some of the belt fabric is not exactly correct in appearance to the original belt material and some clubs take points away when judging your car if the incorrect material is used. While this service doesn't come cheap, you can't leave worn-out and rusty seatbelts in a nicely restored car, can you?

Another option is to restore the seatbelts yourself. The major problem with this option is finding the correct belt material and locating the correct stitching machine to properly attach the material to the buckles.

You may also want to add seatbelts to a car that never came with them. Sometimes, parts dealers have N.O.S. seatbelts that were designed as dealer-installed accessories. But many times these belts were not the same as factory-installed equipment. If it's a daily driver, you probably don't want to invest thousands of dollars to restore the seatbelts as a first project. Many Corvette retailers, such as Paragon Reproductions, also carry reproduction seatbelt kits that are ready to install. These kits usually include all the attachment hardware, so the job is a virtual bolt-in on a Saturday afternoon. Either way, you can get a set of seatbelts that look correct. You can also buy an aftermarket set for added safety. If you go this route, use the original attaching points when installing the seatbelts. You don't want to drill unnecessary holes in the floorboards of your Corvette.

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