Shoulder restraints for '65 Barracuda

My dad and my son have been rebuilding a 65" Barracuda for my son to use as his first car. He just got his license today and the car should be ready in about two weeks. I would really like to have shoulder restraints installed before he drives it. It has lap belts already though I’m guessing they could use replacement. Any ideas on where I would go to have that done?

That’s a tough one, hard to find someone that would know how to do this. Problem is finding the belts, then finding a good place to attach them.

Here’s info on a Valiant web site (very similar car), but it offers little real description. This is not a simple task.

The more I check, the more I’m convinced there is no simple, or even moderately hard, way to do this. It would require welding a bracket onto the roof/window frame of the car, which would require lots of work, repainting, etc. If it was a '68 it might have one already, but not a '65.

Not to mention finding someone willing to assume liability in the event of a crash. Good luck finding any professional willing to assume that risk. The grandfather and grandson are rebuilding the car, this is likely to be one more DIY task for them- assuming they share your (the OP) concerns…

It’s actually my son who really wants them. So, if we have to do it on our own, do you have any recommendations for where to get the parts?

Thanks for trying to help!

What about going for trying to have an air bag system installed instead? I suspected this was total pie in the sky, but might as well throw it out there.

No, the only option I’d consider compared to the stock lap belt would be a 4-point racing harness, but that requires a roll cage, not something your son’s putting in, I bet.

He’s correct to be interested in a shoulder belt, lap belts do little.

Nope, airbag’s not an option. You’re facing the reality of a '65 car. Next to no safety equipment.

Installing airbags in a '65 Barracuda?
Surely you have to be kidding.
This is absolutely not practical from any standpoint.

In addition to the incredible expense of fabricating a new dashboard to contain the passenger airbag mechanism, adapting a new steering wheel hub to contain the driver’s airbag mechanism, and installing the electronic equipment and related wiring for the system, there is no guarantee whatsoever that it would actually work properly. A SRS that does not work properly is itself a danger to the occupants.

When a car company designs a SRS, they crash-test numerous cars so that they can calculate the exact positioning of all of the sensors as well as the exact sensitivity settings for each of the sensors.

How many '65 Barracudas do you think that the OP’s family should purchase in order to complete the necessary crash testing? Do you really have any idea of how much engineering expertise and financial support it takes in order to design a properly-functioning SRS?

Regarding the installation of shoulder harnesses, the big problem with that idea is that the roof structure on a '65 Barracuda is not strong enough to withstand the inertial forces that would be imposed on it in when the passengers have to be restrained by the belts. More than likely, the roof would collapse when the driver’s and passenger’s combined weights (multiplied MANY times by the inertial forces) exert stress on the mountings for the belts.

Unfortunately, there is really no way to make a car of this era as safe for its occupants as even a cheap subcompact car made in the last 10 years or so.

Uh, NO…that’s why I asked the question with the caveat of “pie in the sky”…

If you have a B pillar this might be possible. But, you would have to put in an anchor. As others have said it is going to difficult to fabricate an anchor that can stand up to the forces generated in a collision. If you can faabricate the anchors, you should be able to find a three point, aftermarket lap/shoulder belt. Barring that, a belt out of the recycling yard might be considered. I am wondering if an automotive upholstry shop could renew the welting of the three point recycled belt hardware.

Also, look at the steering shaft and steering wheel. I think the steering shaft on a 65 is not collapsible and the steering wheel is not dished. With the steering box so far forward, a front end collision on the left will force the steering wheel back into the driver’s chest. Therefore, another reason to have a solid shoulder belt to keep the drivers chest back.

The 64-68 muscle cars were not very safe starter cars.

No B pillar, here’s a '65:

Shoulder belt and/or airbags in a 45 year old vehicle?
If safety is a major concern(is he 16?), then you need to get him a much newer car with the above safety devices installed already

Perhaps the manufacture is “holding back” the engineering data that they have for independant garages too do this, they want the Dealers too get all the work, up to no good again.

SRS is out for sure I think the shoulder belts could be feasible with a bit of home engineering and custom work.

What about shoulder belts out of a 2nd or 3rd generation Chevrolet Camaro? They’re lengthy and mount back on the lower roofline.
I hate to defile a Mopar by suggesting Chevy parts be installed but a shoulder belt is a great safety feature.

As to who will do it, it’s doubtful any generic repair shop would do it but a shop that specializes in customs might take a stab at it.
My late brother in law (paint/body man and custom painter) put shoulder belts in the chopped and channeled '50 Mercury he built and if that car can have a 3-harness then surely the Barracuda can.

You could try Summit Racing or Jegs Summit has generic lap belts and shoulder belts (for Chevrolet). You may want to replace the front drums with a disk brake conversion kit if possible.

My first car, a 1969 Buick Skylark, had 4 wheel manual drum brakes. It couldn’t stop worth a darn, I have the herniated disc in my neck to prove it. Make sure your son knows that there is nothing to protect him and his passengers in an accident.

Ed B.

Yeah, I was thinking about those 4-point harnesses, but the shoulder straps have to be attached near shoulder level, otherwise if they’re attached low (like the floor) in a crash you’ll compress/break your back. Ouch…

I’d be searching salvage yards for the type that mount to the bottom of the B pillar with a control loop near the middle of the B piller or top of the seat. Those would be easiest to mount and reinforce without affecting external paint.

texases, my first thoughts exactly! I was thinking 5 point harness and roll cage but that would be very uncomfortable and a pain to put on. This is not going to be the safest ride for a first car but heck, I lived through my adolescent years in these vintage cars so…of course, we didn’t have the option back then!