1969 Dodge Dart Custom Sedan Slant Six, Father-Son Project

Interior Complete
Sometimes it’s word-of-mouth that serves as the best advertising. After hearing our struggles with non-existent off-the-shelf upholstery options, and sticker-shock from local top-shelf custom shops, a neighbor (who owns a 1966 Dart Custom sedan) recommended a guy in north Seattle who works out of his home shop/garage.

He semi-retired from the upholstery business, and was happy to hook us up. His work was very professional, and it looks and feels great. At less than half the cost! We dropped off the seat frames, a partially-fitting upholstery kit, and some foam we’d bought (plus the seat heater kit), and after a visit or two to consult us on material and style options, he got it done.

The rear seat back frames were modified to include added internal structure and mounting sleeves for head rests, too (why protect only front occupants from whiplash?)

Also, the trunk was quite frankly a disaster that required numerous hours to clean, re-seam-seal, prime, and spatter-paint. It turned out looking 900% better.

Next up were the seat belts.
Modern vehicles have self-retracting / lock-up 3-point belts for an incredibly good reason, and there was no way this car was going to go without those, at least for four of the occupants. Being a transportation safety engineer, I have seen a lot of crash damage in my day. Yes, the front and rear middle spots have lap belts, but there’s no way around that. I suspect the car will seldom be driven with its full capacity of six people anyway – but the option is there. In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re not aiming for a show-car/authentic/stock-only restoration ;-) (In case you’re wondering, yes, I have even looked into what it would take to have airbags installed)

Retrofitting 3-point modern belts required research and a little bit engineering. Luckily there are DOT-approved seat belt kits you can buy. The tricky part is the attachment points.

Starting in 1969, lucky for us, it came stock with front seat (manually-adjustable) 3-point belts. Clunky, but effective. Something of an ordeal to harness yourself in and pull in all the slack, which then kind of pins you to the seatback. We vetoed the primitive stock design.

Ever heard of “Rivet Nuts”? What a cool design! and they come in big ½” diameter size even, which is what was used to create the lower attachment point for the seat belt retractors for the front seat. YouTube taught us how to make our own rivet nut installation tool for $8.

The retractor mechanism is fairly bulky, and would not fit in the factory hole down by the floor, so a rivet-nut went in the proper spot a few inches aft, on each side (photo below). The chosen spot still allows the front seat to slide fully aft, and doesn’t get in the way of a rear passenger’s footwell, either.

Rear seat belts used the stock holes behind the lower bench, but the retractor mechanism and upper pivot points needed new anchor points created. For those we used DOT-approved nut plates and grade-8 fasteners.