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In a forum like this and among fellow classic car enthusiasts, there will always be a suitable appreciation of all which is old and nostalgic. We prefer old technology over the new and traditional design over cutting-edge. Yet every so often, even we need to acknowledge that there are certain aspects where new undeniably is better in every respect. Now before you scoff and turn your eyes up at me, how about when it has to do with safety – and not just that, but the safety of the ones you love and hold dearest in your life?

We at ViaRETRO always advocate driving and using our classic cars as they were intended all those years ago when they were first introduced to the road. But in doing so, we still need to stay safe, and acknowledge that both passive and active safety has come a long way since the cars we enjoy were first manufactured. Now we’re clearly not going to re-engineer a MG Midget with highly advanced crash zones or retrofit all sorts high-tech active stability and traction controls into a Porsche 356. But what we can do, is at least ensure that we’re held safely in place in our seat, in the unlikely event that things actually go really wrong. And terrible as it is to think about, sometimes it does – as I witnessed just last year behind the wheel of my Green Devil.

Well, less than two months ago I purchased my 1978 Reliant Scimitar with the intention of using it as my all-year-round daily driver. Needless to say, as a daily the Scimitar will be making school runs and all sorts of trips with the whole family aboard. In fact, as you’re reading this, my 41 year old fibreglass Brit should have hopefully succeeded in transporting my two daughters, my wife and myself on an 800 mile drive back to see family in Denmark, and should soon enough be taking on the return trip as well. So clearly, the two factory-installed static lap belts in the rear seat were never going to suffice.

My Scimitar paying Quickfit’s workshop a visit…

I suppose I could have bought two cheap three-point seatbelts off eBay and attempted installing them myself. It would have no doubt been better than the old lap belts. But it’s the safety of my two daughters which is at stake, so I quickly decided that this wasn’t the time to go cheap. Instead I contacted the pros for help.

Quickfit Safety Belt Service are located in Stanmore just northwest of London. And yes, if we’re talking quality retro-fitting of seatbelts, they are indeed the pro’s! The company was established as far back as the very early 1960s, and the family owned company has been fitting seatbelts in cars and commercial vehicles ever since. During the 1980s they started getting involved with producing seatbelts which looked authentic for classic cars, and especially for the past 15 years or so this has evolved into being their main expertise. Now Quickfit has well in excess of 100 classic cars through their workshop every year, being kitted out with retro-looking seatbelts which comply fully with modern standards. They’ll do anything from merely rewebbing your old seatbelts to installing brand new ones with all fittings made to suit a classic car. This was precisely what I wanted for my Scimitar – and for not least for my daughters.

A complex and seemingly over-engineered frame to attach the rear seatbelts to.

So I left my Scimitar with Quickfit for a handful of days, and I must say their workmanship left me rather impressed. On a SE6 Scimitar there is in fact anchor points built into the C-pillar for a three-point rear seatbelt, so this was obviously used as the top mounting point. But it’s a 41 year old fibreglass shell, and who actually knows just how strong that top anchor point really is? After all, a brand new three-point seatbelt won’t do you much good if it’s merely ripped out of its sockets when the going gets tough. Furthermore, a Scimitar was never intended to have inertia reels for the rear seat, so suitable fixtures needed to be created for them too. To solve all of this, the chaps at Quickfit fabricated a heavy-duty steel frame for either side, which both span much of the boot floor where the body attaches to the chassis, but then also works its way up the C-pillar thus reinforcing that factory top anchor point. The lower portion of the frame then holds the actual inertia reel which is neatly tucked away within the original cubbyholes either side of the boot floor. It’s quite a piece of work and, at least to my eye, it appears hugely over-engineered. But that is of course a good thing!

Framework fitted to the Scimitar and rear seatbelts ready to install.

Together with Pawel from Quickfit the decision was made to use a light beige webbing for the belts which would nicely complement the two-tone tan interior. The icing on the cake are the discrete chromed fittings which make the whole set-up look as if it’s a factory-fitted job. Finally, we also agreed that the 41 year old webbing of the front seatbelts might not be as strong any longer as one would like it to be. So Quickfit treated my front seatbelts to new webbing which was then obviously made in the same light beige to suit the new rear belts. Not only am I now confident that rear seat passengers can now travel with me safely, but it even looks amazing too. You can learn more about Quickfit Safety Belt Service on their website: www.quickfitsbs.com

The final result adds both safety and style.

The whole shooting brake concept is all about making a low and wide GT car a little more practical and functional. Well, now that my Scimitar has proper seatbelts for all four occupants, I can fully access all that practicality and functionality. I now own not just a classic car which can use every day, but one which all of my family can use. Bring on the many joys of a family-friendly classic…

 

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8 Responses

  1. Paul Hill
    Nice to see those smiling faces and keeping them safe number one priority. Beautifully executed fit looks perfect.
    Reply
  2. Niels V
    Quite an interesting article.
    I have actually considered selling my Imp due to the lack of seatbelts and therefor the inability to bring my families along. It’s a fun car but not enough to justify it as an additional Dad only car. Furthermore do I not find cars later than 65ish interesting so it proving difficult to find any with belts.

    Installing belts here is a bit more difficult, as it requires 3rd party strength calculations, for them to be legal if a car was not fitted from the factory.

    Reply
  3. Anders Bilidt
    @paul-hill, with a treasure like that, I would be insane not to prioritise their safety… ;-)

    , I feel your pain. The amount of red tape we sometimes have to make our way through in Denmark can sometimes be quite exhausting. But don’t let them win over you Niels! Don’t sell your Imp…
    I sold mine about 15 years ago, and still regret it sorely to this day!

    Reply
  4. Niels v
    yes I would instantly regret it if I sold my IMP.
    But I am also saddened by it not being used more.
    It’s real first world problems, but I do really love my cars.
    Reply
  5. Anders Bilidt
    ,
    I do genuinely feel your pain. As you know, I too am a massive advocate for driving our classics on every given occasion – or for that matter, with out any occasion at all.
    But even so, don’t make the same mistake I did some 15 years ago…
    Reply
  6. Niels V
    well I have also been very hesitant to move forward why any sale plans, even thought I know some is interested in it.
    I think the best solution would be to expands my garage so I can keep more than two cars at home.
    Reply
  7. Niels
    , Yes it will be a nice solution, the additional parking space will though be more storage, than easy drive in and out.
    Then comes the next luxury problem, I currently have one roadster and one coupe, in the size as the IMP parked, but they are up and significantly up on power compared with the IMP. Would one still then chose the IMP to drive, or has power corrupted.
    Reply

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