How To Install Late Model Mustang Seats Into a 1965-66 Mustang
My butt cannot make up its' mind when it comes to seats. My 1965 coupe originally came with bucket seats that needed to be reupholstered. It did not take long for me to install a reupholstered bench seat up front. Now, several years later, with no actual drive time on the bench seat, I changed my mind once again during a trip to the junkyard where I found two black, leather bucket seats from a 2002 Mustang. They were transplanted into a junky 1997 Mustang and barely bolted in. For about $80 I got both seats, including the driver side power seat track assembly with three motors.
Unfortunately, this write-up does not include the installation of the power seat track assembly due to the height of the assembly. It uncomfortably put my head into the headliner, and at 5' 8", I realize that it poses a significant problem for most drivers. I will include more thoughts on this later.
Here are the seats after coming out of the junkyard. They were pretty dirty and the passenger seat had rust stains. The driver side has a good amount of cracks and wear, but I plan to fix that later.
The first step was to clean the seats several times. To clean the loose dust and dirt, I started with a light solution of dishwashing soap and water and a soft cloth (t-shirt). After going over both seats twice, I used a solution of Simple Green and water. For the tougher spots, such as the rust stains, I used a green scrub pad. I also used my brother's toothbrush to clean between the piping and stitching. I then polished the seats with a leather polisher. After doing that, I thought that I should have first used a leather conditioner (which I will do eventually).
Still hoping to use the power seat track, I began with the installation with the non-power passenger seat. The stock 2002 seat tracks would be of no use, as the brackets used to mount the seat were much too narrow.
Interestingly, the width of the mounting holes for the seat tracks were a perfect match for the early Mustang seat platform, so adapting the 1965 seat tracks to the 2002 seat was the best choice:
First, bolt the seat track to the seat frame using the front bolt hole.
Next, you will see that there are four holes in the frame, but the seat track will not reach these holes:
No problem, because you will get to add two weight saving holes per seat!
The area where you drill the hole is thick enough to tap, just like the other holes, so tap it and bolt the track in:
Since the seat track rests on the edge of the leather cover, you may have to file down the seat track as shown, in order to provide more room when bolting it down. You can also lay down some rubber material to protect the seat cover:
You may need to file down the plastic clip to allow this lever to work:
I needed to file a good bit away to allow free operation.
Moving on to the track with the release lever, you will notice that the curved handle will not clear the seat:
To remedy this, grab a small propane torch, a mini-anvil and a hammer. Cover the seat track adjuster knob with tape to protect it (from fire, what am I thinking? It was past midnight).
Heat the handle and then smash it flat:
Notice the partially melted knob. I didn't think about the heated metal melting the knob. Once again, it was late...I won't make that mistake on the next seat.
Drill the rear hole (haha...that's a good one) and bolt the seat track down. Now you are ready to hook up the adjusting hardware,
Next, you need to hook the end of the return spring to something. Time for another weight saving hole:
Now you are ready to bolt the passenger seat in.
Big deal, what is the driver going to use? It's not going to be a power seat this time, so get ready for a slightly different procedure:
Because of the power seat track, the seat frame is a little different on the driver side. Note that there is just one hole in the rear and a depressed area where the seat track lines up because the middle is raised.
You will need to rip your hair out trying to find simple steel spacers. I went to Home Depot (horrible hardware section), Ace Hardware (I liked their selection better but they lacked spacers), a local lumber and home hardware store (small hardware section, no spacers), an auto shop (no spacers), then, finally, I went to Lowes just to cross them off the list. Well, I was surprised at their hardware section. Much bigger than the others, and they actually had hardware that an automotive enthusiast could appreciate, and near the end of the aisle were the spacers I had envisioned all along.
However, the 1 1/2" spacers provide unnecessary height and clearance, so I will grind them down by 1/8" - 1/4."
The depressed area still has plenty of metal to drill and tap:
The release lever will need to be flattened again, since it will interfere with the seat and the power controls.
This time, working by daylight, I devised a plan on how to cool your knob while heating your shaft:
Your wife or girlfriend may want to take notes.
There will be a hole, but you won't really be able to see it once the seats are in, however, since I have some black vinyl material handy, I plan to fill in the hole and cover it with the black vinyl.
Hook up your adjusting hardware again. Now you are ready to bolt your driver seat in, stand back and admire your work:
I forgot to reinstall the plastic cover that goes on the driver side seat back adjusting lever before the photoshoot. The seats will probably come out one more time so I can clean and condition them.
Yes, I will refurbish the rusty seats tracks when I damn well please. Yes, I will replace the worn out carpet someday, but it is a case of the "while-I'm-at-its." I also need to replace the rusty toe pan. Once I do that, I will also install torque boxes, then I will install sound deadening, new carpet and then refurbish the seat tracks. So, the carpet won't quite match the, uh, seats...
My thoughts on the power motor assembly:
I want to keep the seat platforms original, so that I can switch between the 1965 buckets and bench seat, and the late model buckets. I don't plan to do it very often, but in a few years I may want to change it up.
I think the seat platform really needs to be modified for anyone to use the power seat. At 5' 8", it's still too high for me. You tall freaks who have already removed the seat platform may find it quite simple to install the power seat.
I got some 2" wide - 1/8" thick flat steel along with some 90* 2" angled steel. I was going to use the angled steel as brackets. I would have welded them to the seat tracks and then bolted them to the flat steel. A similar setup would work well with the removed seat platform.
This shot actually shows the power seat assembly upside down. I cut each piece of flat steel down to about 16." They are shown at 24" long. I will still try to figure out a way to use the power seat track, but I am happy for now.
Please, post any compliments, criticisms, suggestions and tips.
When I put 93 Mustang seats in mine I got non powered seats and just cut the risers off of the longer travel 93 rails. I then welded a couple of short 1/4" x1" brackets and bolts with the O/E rail mounting dimensions onto them and set them back onother 1 1/2 inchs for more leg room.. The 93 and 68 seats had virtually the same mounting width so whole process was a snap.
If you cheat the bracket another 1.5 inches forward and drill a hole in the front of the seat so that the nut it literally pressed right up against the metal where it curves up....it moves the seat back and lower enough to mitigate alot of the concerns people have with the seat height and a 15 inch or larger wheel
Nice write up.
I cut the seat risers out altogether, welded 1/8 plates to the top and bottom of the floor for reinforcement and bolted the seats to that. Solved the head to headliner clearance. I agree with you, having the seat as low as possible makes the car feel much more sporty.
Nice job! I've been tossing around the idea of using those same seats too. I had leather seats just like that in an '03 GT 'Vert I had. Pretty decent seats.
Thanks for the write up. You have just taken away alot of my work when I install my 03 Mach1 seats.
Let me give you a little tip about using that power seat bracket. They fail all the time. And a dealer replacement is now upwards of, if not, above $600 now. You got a great deal on the part from the yard, if it works. Have you tested it yet?
I have found that adjusting the seat to the drivers position before sitting in the seat helps it last longer.
BTW, Great write up! Now go do one on Fox body seats. I'm thinking about installing a set in mine and want someone else to do all the work!
I have 2004 seats in my '65. I removed the seat platform (riser) completely, fortified the floor and installed the power/seat assembly. At 6'3", I was able to sit in the seat BUT, I felt that I was still too high -my head was very close to the headliner AND my left leg would hit the driver side door handle (cup).
Now as I sit, I used the original seat tracks with the seat platform (riser) removed. I have sufficient headroom and my left leg now clears the door cup.
I tested all three motors and they work. I'll probably store it for a while. I might use it eventually.
I've got to get these in it's tough driving in and out of the garage with no seats lol
I did this install on sunday. It came out great. The only thing I did different is I used a 3/4 inch spacer on the passenger seat to clear the seat frame. They sit great and have plenty of leg room.
The drivers seat is fully forward, and the passenger seat is fully back.
I also cut the seat platforms out of my car, much too high otherwise. You can see what I did at,
Restomod Front Seats
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