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Casey

Aftermarket Fiberglass Racing Style Bucket Seats?

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When did aftermarket fiberglass racing style bucket seats hit the scene? Were they sold to the masses via the Honest Charley catalog or similar back in the '60s?

I found a small article mentioning Steve McQueen's patent application for (what I would think of as) a 'typical' racing bucket seat with an integral headrest in 1969, the type you'd find in Pro Stock cars at least, but i didn't find much these regarding when these types of seats first appeared:

https://www.core77.com/posts/22771/Steve-McQueens-Bucket-Seat-Design

Edited by Casey

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Resin-infused molded fiberglass parts came into fairly widespread use on military aircraft in the early 1940s. After the end of the war, the technology spread rapidly throughout the consumer goods sector

You'd possibly be surprised, but some of the very early fiberglass bucket seats were low-end furniture adapted to race car use because of their very light weight. These most often show up on old amateur-built rail dragsters.

Mid 1950s would be my best guess for purpose-built f'glass racing seats being marketed.

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Those particular seats weren't fiberglass, they were some sort of solid, lightweight plastic, molded around some steel inserts here and there for mounting purposes.  Those were first used by the dune buggy crowd, with drag racers later picking up on them.  I remember first seeing them in Pro Stockers early on.

Those were really light.  A guy I worked with bought a '58 Corvette with a pair of those seats in it.  The seats were mounted without tracks and couldn't be adjusted, so he decided to replace them with stock seats.  I bought those for my brother, who was putting together a Ford Prefect at the time: rectangular tube chassis, aluminum interior floor, the whole bit.  I hauled those over to his house in my hatchback, and remember those things were really light even with the upholstery on them.  If I remember right, the upholstery was pretty easy to remove, but I don't remember how it attached.

Fiberglass seats for drag race cars came in in the early Sixties, around the time 'glass bodies and body panels came into widespread use.  (There were T-bucket bodies and other parts in the mid-Fifties, Dee Wescott started making early Ford fenders in the late Fifties, but IMHO it was Cal Automotive that really got the ball rolling around 1960.)  Cal Automotive made fiberglass seat shells; if you have any of the Revell parts pack body kits, all of those include at least one.    

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Good info, thanks.

What I'm trying to do is find replacement seats for various '64-5-ish era cars, and though there are a plethora of vintage looking seats available in kits (especially the Revell Anglia, Willys etc. kits), some in my stash appear to be from '70s Pro Stock kits (MPC, most likely), so probably too new for a '64-5 era car.  I did find this image in a samba.com forum discussion regarding Myers Manx seats from '69 or so, and they appear close to what Revell included in the above mentioned kits:

vwseat.thumb.jpg.5e1207309baab45e13ecc94ded51b9a5.jpg

660673.jpg.85af4d6dbc6789c2f6e8e3518b38cb49.jpg

1109704.jpg.61c7bc855c5293e855e71b14ea98c00c.jpg

Edited by Casey

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The Revell Willys pickup, Austin, and Henry J kits have the fiberglass seats as pictured (though the upholstery pattern is probably different).  The new-tool Willys coupe has one seat.  (The old, opening-everything Stone, Woods, & Cook coupe kit has different seats altogether.) 

The Revell Anglia and Thames panel truck have what look like 'glass seats, with headrests molded in.  Their '53-'54 Chevy kits have similar seats, but those look like crude copies.  Other kits I can think of would include the AMT '33 Willys, and MPC '69 Mustang (those seats are a lot smaller than the others).

I've got a set of MPC seats that look a lot like the "Ted's Aircraft Interiors" units pictured.  I think they are from the '73-'74 Challenger and Barracuda annual kits with the gasser version included.  Not positive about that, not that you'll trip over one of those kits anytime soon...

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3 hours ago, Casey said:

Good info, thanks.

What I'm trying to do is find replacement seats for various '64-5-ish era cars, and though there are a plethora of vintage looking seats available in kits (especially the Revell Anglia, Willys etc. kits), some in my stash appear to be from '70s Pro Stock kits (MPC, most likely), so probably too new for a '64-5 era car.  I did find this image in a samba.com forum discussion regarding Myers Manx seats from '69 or so, and they appear close to what Revell included in the above mentioned kits:

 

660673.jpg.85af4d6dbc6789c2f6e8e3518b38cb49.jpg

 

1963 Revell parts pack bodies included a seat almost identical to what's shown above. And trust me, they'd been around a while already.

IMG 3443

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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Comp Resins has these. 

 

image.png

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I have quite a variety of seats, and can always make copies in resin if I have a decent seat to use as a master, so sourcing them isn't a concern. Deciding which seats are period correct and proportionate is the main issue now, so with that in mind, here are all of the seats I have on hand. Hopefully these can all be identified for future reference purposes:

bucketseats.thumb.jpg.741659f977a2edfa319151880804c923.jpg

  1. Revell '56 Chevy
  2. MPC '69 Mustang
  3. Revell Henry J, Willys pickup, Austin
  4. AMT '70s Chevy Camaro kits
  5. AMT Competition T-Body Parts Pack
  6. .
  7. AMT '69 Corvair
  8. AMT '69 Chevelle SS 396
  9. MPC '67 GTO
  10. .
  11. AMT '55 Nomad
  12. MPC Mustang II
  13. AMT Wynn's Jammer
  14. MPC Pro Stock Chevy Vega
  15. .
  16. .
  17. Revell Parts Pack, '31 Woody/Tudor/Sedan Delivery

 

IMG_20181206_185313.thumb.jpg.2891a216f5b71516df54efa455ecaf30.jpg

IMG_20181206_185324.thumb.jpg.409bbe1b53f6f5bec62af69c3b187dba.jpg

IMG_20181206_185331.thumb.jpg.be57066d4dc723c4326a49bafc04f2ac.jpg

IMG_20181206_185339.thumb.jpg.f6ee456361e54cab76e9731eee1bbd67.jpg

IMG_20181206_185345.thumb.jpg.ca8b5a759611098e43ea53900412c67e.jpg

 

AMT 770 - Ohio George '33 Willys seats:

amt33willysseats.thumb.jpg.d682e143624dc1ad3b3c68c88f7f9b66.jpg

Edited by Casey

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I think #9 is from the '80s reissue of the MPC '67 GTO. 

#8 looks like the ones in the glue bomb '69 Chevelle I rescued not long ago, but I'm not 100% certain they were original to that kit (a reissue). 

#7 might be from an AMT '65-'69 Corvair.

Edited by Snake45

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26 minutes ago, Snake45 said:

I think #9 is from the '80s reissue of the MPC '67 GTO. 

#8 looks like the ones in the glue bomb '69 Chevelle I rescued not long ago, but I'm not 100% certain they were original to that kit (a reissue). 

#7 might be from an AMT '65-'69 Corvair.

Thanks, updated the list.

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More than a few chair shells like these made it into race cars in the '50s and '60s too. Note the similarity to several of the designs of kit seats you have lined up above.

Image result for 1950s fiberglass chair    Image result for 1950s fiberglass chair

                                  Image result for 1950s fiberglass chair

 

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17 appears to be the 1963-issue Revell parts-pack seat, as I noted above.

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11 hours ago, Casey said:

I have quite a variety of seats, and can always make copies in resin if I have a decent seat to use as a master, so sourcing them isn't a concern. Deciding which seats are period correct and proportionate is the main issue now, so with that in mind, here are all of the seats I have on hand. Hopefully these can all be identified for future reference purposes:

bucketseats.thumb.jpg.741659f977a2edfa319151880804c923.jpg

  1. .
  2. .
  3. .
  4. .
  5. .
  6. .
  7. AMT '69 Corvair
  8. AMT '69 Chevelle SS 396
  9. MPC '67 GTO
  10. .
  11. .
  12. .
  13. .
  14. .
  15. .
  16. .
  17. Revell Parts Pack

 

IMG_20181206_185313.thumb.jpg.2891a216f5b71516df54efa455ecaf30.jpg

IMG_20181206_185324.thumb.jpg.409bbe1b53f6f5bec62af69c3b187dba.jpg

IMG_20181206_185331.thumb.jpg.be57066d4dc723c4326a49bafc04f2ac.jpg

IMG_20181206_185339.thumb.jpg.f6ee456361e54cab76e9731eee1bbd67.jpg

IMG_20181206_185345.thumb.jpg.ca8b5a759611098e43ea53900412c67e.jpg

 

Are these the Revell seats you mentioned, Mark?:

IMG_20181206_184804.thumb.jpg.65336d630e8c9076507cc86f2813952b.jpgIMG_20181206_184800.thumb.jpg.85d2b765fce3db381315dc1f31136a5d.jpg

 

 

 

Yes.  In addition, #1 is from the Revell '56 Chevy, #2 MPC '69 Mustang, #3 appears to be the Revell Henry J/Willys pickup/Austin seat, #4 AMT seventies Camaros, #11 AMT '55 Nomad, #12 MPC Mustang II, #14 MPC Vega pro stocks (Jenkins, Larson).  The upside down seat might be from the Monogram Hurst Hairy Olds.

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One of my favorite racing seats is from Revell, included in thier 60s era racing Corvette kit as well as the Shelby GT350R.  It is more of a road racing in lieu of a drag racing seat.

DSCN4752

However It can be reshaped to reduce the side bolstering like I have done here.

DSCN3004

Edited by afx

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Thanks Bill and Mark, the list has been updated.

Mark, I thought the overturned seat was the same as the black seat behind it when I photographed them, but you're right-- they're definitely different:

IMG_20181207_095253.thumb.jpg.0ca74bd2c575809739a5e5216030efce.jpg

IMG_20181207_095219.thumb.jpg.26d1d13f872d1e6690cf56928a5da2bb.jpg

IMG_20181207_095230.thumb.jpg.a5a8994d670a3f13a542ac0002eaa92d.jpg

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I think 10 is from the AMT '49 Merc.  Number 17 can also be found in the Beatnik Bandit, and a slightly smaller pair of the same pattern is in the Revell '31 Woody/Tudor/Sedan Delivery.

L - R '31 original issue, '31 latest reissue, Beatnik Bandit:

IMG_20180801_111802153-vi.jpg

Edited by dodgefever

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#5 appears to be from the old AMT T-bucket parts pack. I have one here that looks to be identical. No time for a photo right now though.

Image result for AMT t-bucket parts pack

 

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2 hours ago, dodgefever said:

I think 10 is from the AMT '49 Merc.  Number 17 can also be found in the Beatnik Bandit, and a slightly smaller pair of the same pattern is in the Revell '31 Woody/Tudor/Sedan Delivery.

Thanks, Stu. I think I have the smaller size Revell seat, and the plastic looks like the '60s era Revell plastic, too.

As for seat #10, it's very close to the AMT '49 Mercury seat, bu a bit more squared off, so I'm not sure it's a match. The seat I have has button head detail in the creases, and appears to have piping around the pleated insert, too, if that helps. The kit I have pics of is long gone, so if anyone has a kit in hand and wants to confirm or refute the seats are a match, please do. Here's seat #10, and the last image is of the seats from the '90s reissue:

IMG_20181207_134334.thumb.jpg.3a84ae8efec7d8863776dabe7392756e.jpg

IMG_20181207_134338.thumb.jpg.02642f4e4022700969f3743a93a47e11.jpg

amt49mercseats.jpg.e22a14f56c41329048b363ee1bcb249d.jpg

 

Edited by Casey

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2 hours ago, Ace-Garageguy said:

#5 appears to be from the old AMT T-bucket parts pack. I have one here that looks to be identical. No time for a photo right now though.

That's it, thanks. Sprue attachment point matches, too.

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25 minutes ago, Casey said:

Thanks, Stu. I think I have the smaller size Revell seat, and the plastic looks like the '60s era Revell plastic, too.

As for seat #10, it's very close to the AMT '49 Mercury seat, bu a bit more squared off, so I'm not sure it's a match. The seat I have has button head detail in the creases, and appears to have piping around the pleated insert, too, if that helps. The kit I have pics of is long gone, so if anyone has a kit in hand and wants to confirm or refute the seats are a match, please do. Here's seat #10, and the last image is of the seats from the '90s reissue:

Yeah, I see.  I was going from memory, but obviously not on the money this time.

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When all the slots are filled in, this will be quite a valuable little reference.

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Casey, are any of these seats "soft"? I have a vague memory of the MPC '68 and/or '69 Camaro and/or Firebird coming with custom buckets molded in flexible vinyl. :unsure:

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8 hours ago, dodgefever said:

Yeah, I see.  I was going from memory, but obviously not on the money this time.

They are extremely close, so that was a very good guess. I just looked at an eBay listing, and the AMT '49 Mercury seats have a round tube/sleeve on the bottom, and this seat doesn't, so it must be from another kit. 

3 hours ago, Snake45 said:

Casey, are any of these seats "soft"? I have a vague memory of the MPC '68 and/or '69 Camaro and/or Firebird coming with custom buckets molded in flexible vinyl. :unsure:

No, all are solid styrene.

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Casey, I have a handful of other random racing seats that you don't have pictured, would you like me to post a photo?

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6 hours ago, afx said:

Casey, I have a handful of other random racing seats that you don't have pictured, would you like me to post a photo?

Please, do. The more the merrier, as long as we limit things to aftermarket racing style bucket seats. 

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