What is a bucket seat in a truck?
What is a bucket seat in a truck?
Installing bucket seats into your pickup has to be one of the, if not the, most popular and most asked about upgrades for many 73-87 GM pickup truck owners. What many people don’t know or realize, is the fact that bucket seats were actually an option starting in 1973 and ending in the early 80’s. So, if you are looking to make the switch from a bench seat to bucket seats, please read on.
Bucket seats have always been available in Blazers (Jimmys), Suburbans, and pickup trucks. and the seats are all basically the same. GM used what are commonly referred to as «low back» bucket seats up until 1977, with «high back» seats thereafter. If your truck is a 1977 model, you could have either one, depending on your trucks build date. this was the changeover year for the different seat styles.
Bracket and mounting hardware differences
Blazers and Jimmys have a flat floor (since the gas tank is at the rear), and therefore have their own style of seat brackets. Pickups, Suburbans, and crew cabs have a contoured floor. making their seat brackets different than the Blazers/Jimmy models. Now just because these three models are different from the Blazer/Jimmy, it doesn’t make them all the same either. Pickup trucks have what I call a «rear shelf» along the rear floor of the cab, the Suburbans and crew cabs do not have this since they have a second (and sometimes third) row of seats. Since the pickup truck bucket seat mounting brackets bolt to the rear shelf, this makes the pickup truck bucket seat brackets unique to themselves and different from all the other 73-87 models. One more interesting thing I should mention, in pickups equipped with factory bucket seats, the passenger seat is stationary and non-adjustable. there are no tracks, it is just bolted to the floor via the brackets. Below is a picture of all the brackets and hardware (minus the bolts).
Pickup trucks equipped with bucket seats also came with center consoles. These center consoles were identical to the center consoles found in the Blazer, Jimmy, and Suburbans. There were two different style inserts in the consoles for the 73-80 years, one consisted of two «pockets» and an ashtray, the other came with two cup holders and a single smaller «dish» for holding coins and whatnot. The earlier version was used in pickup trucks up until 1975 or 1976, and is the same one found in the 69-72 GM trucks. Because these trucks came standard with lap belts only, the pocket was intended for the female end of the seatbelt to rest in when not in use. The later version no longer needed these pockets because three point belts were now being used and they retracted up and out of the way, unlike earlier lap belts. The 1981 and newer consoles are completely different from the older units. Below is a picture of each version (coming soon).
Here are some frequently asked questions.
Were bucket seats all that common in pickup trucks? No. From everything I have seen, read, and heard. a small percentage of pickups actually received bucket seats, thus actually finding a truck with them can be pretty difficult.
Will pickup truck bucket seat brackets bolt up to Blazer or Suburban seats? Yes, the seats themselves are all basically the same throughout the years. however, I am not too sure about the mid to late 80’s bucket seats since they changed quite a bit from previous years. You are on your own there.
What exactly do I need to put factory bucket seats in my bench seat equipped truck? You will need the seats, brackets, floor tabs, and all mounting hardware. If you choose, you might also want to consider getting a factory console as well. it makes the whole package look soo much cleaner. Here are a couple pics of the set (high backs) I am using in my ’73.
What are the bucket seat tabs? The tabs were two «A» shaped pieces of steel that were welded to the floor on pickups, Suburbans, and crew cabs. These tabs were used to mount the front inner seat brackets on both the driver and passenger side. Because they are welded in, a lot of people don’t go thru the trouble of removing them when pulling the seats/brackets out of a donor truck. These tabs are vital in mounting the bucket seats correctly, and because I hear a lot of people looking for them, I decided to make a template out of a coat hanger. so you can fabricate your own if needed. Click the image below to see the 1:1 scale template.
FYI: If you can’t locate the factory tab or if it wasn’t included when you purchased your seats,
the Suburbans and crew cabs also have this tab. and it is the same as the one used in pickups.
Are there any special steps (or modifications) I should know about if I decide to install factory buckets into my truck? The seat tracks themselves are pretty much a bolt in deal. You will be able to use three of the factory four holes your bench seat was bolted down to, the rest will have to be drilled out. The three you CAN use are the two front outer holes and the rear outer drivers side hole. You will need to drill both rear passenger holes as well as the rear inside drivers hole. The front inner brackets bolt to the above mentioned tabs, which will need to be welded or bolted in. The console bolts directly to the floor, four holes will need to be drilled here as well.
Well, I hope you have found this article helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me and I will try to answer them to the best of my ability.
A bucket seat is a car seat contoured  to hold one person,  distinct from a flat bench seat designed to fit multiple people. In its simplest form it contours somewhat to the human body, but may have a deep seat and exaggerated sides that partially enclose and support the body in high-performance automobiles.
Before the World War II, the term Kübelsitzwagen (meaning bucket-seat car) became popular in Germany, for light open-topped, cross-country and military vehicles without doors, because these were typically equipped with bucket seats, to help keep occupants on board, in an era before the adoption of seat belts.  : 78, 116, 132, 136  : 22 This body style had first been developed by Karosseriefabrik N. Trutz [de] in 1923.  : 78 They are typically standard in front in fast cars to keep drivers and other passengers in place when turning at speed. Rear «bucket seats» are typically hybrids of bench and true bucket seats, being contoured generally like the latter but fixed in place, even when divided by a center console, and thus lacking a free-standing bucket seat’s front-rear and often backrest angle adjustability.
In American cars [ edit ]
Many early automobiles lacked either cabins or doors. Full-width wrap-around or individual bucket seats kept passengers in cars until designs changed. Pictured, 1909 Ford Model T race-car with minimal bodywork to save weight
An experimental «bucket seat» in a 1941 1 ⁄ 2 ‑ton Dodge WC-4
Since their inception, most all American cars were equipped with bench seats, like in carriages, which permitted multi-passenger seating. As European cars became more accessible to Americans following World War II, bucket seats became associated with sports performance and luxury. Bucket seats then spread to American manufacturers, beginning as «sporty trim packages» in the late 1950s and later appearing as a standard feature. 
The popularity of front bucket seats began to explode with the advent of sporty compact cars, pioneered by General Motors in 1960 when it produced its Chevrolet Corvair 900 series Monza Club Coupe with standard front bucket seats. By 1962, more than one million U.S. built cars were factory equipped with bucket seats; [ citation needed ] often, these were fitted with a center console containing a gear shifter and other features such as ash trays, cigarette lighter, storage compartment, and power window controls between the seats. Large luxurious front bucket seats (and contoured «bucket-style» rears) made their debut in American personal luxury cars with the debut of the 1963 Buick Riviera in late 1962 as a 1963 model. [ citation needed ] In 1964, Ford introduced the Mustang “pony car”, following the success of the sporty Corvair Monza further popularized the idea of standard front bucket seats — although a front bench seat was an available option. With the introduction of subcompact automobiles in the U.S. in the early 1970s, such as the Chevrolet Vega and Ford Pinto, bucket seats were used for the same reasons they had originally appeared: lack of seating room and floor-mounted levers for the gear shifter and parking brake.
While bucket seats continued to gain popularity among compact and sporty cars, the bench seat remained the preferred front seating arrangement in larger cars and trucks until the late 1990s. [ citation needed ] Increasingly, mid- and full-size domestic cars, as well as trucks, offered front bucket seating options for customers who wanted a sporty image or more personalized car. In the following decades this trend spread, with the last sedan to come with a standard front bench seat being the 2011 Lincoln Town Car, and the last to offer it as an option the 2013 Chevrolet Impala. SUVs spread widely during this time, universally with bucket seats in front. As of 2015, only some pickup trucks and SUVs retain the front bench seat.
Rear seating [ edit ]
Although rear seating in automobiles largely utilizes bench seats, some 2+2 cars have bucket-style seats in the rear. The first usage of rear bucket seats was in the 1960-1962 Chrysler 300 F,G & H coupes and convertibles inspired by the 1956 Chrysler Norseman concept car. Long-wheelbase variants of full-size luxury cars, such as the Lexus LS 460L have an «executive seating package» option that reduces the rear to two passengers but provides them with more amenities.  The Porsche Panamera offers only bucket seats as the rear configuration despite its large size.  
Third row seating [ edit ]
Individual bucket-style seats are also used in passenger vans and minivans, although they are not always referred to as such. Unlike those in cars, bucket seats in vans can be configured in different ways or even removed for more cargo storage.  In the typical minivan configuration, the front and middle rows have two bucket seats each, while the third-row seat has a three-person bench, for a total of seven passengers. Honda Odyssey 2005-2010 models (except for the base trim) adds a stowable «PlusOneSeat» between the middle row bucket seats. The Australian Mazda MPV has three seats in the middle and two in the last row.
The Chrysler Pacifica was a luxury crossover SUV where all three rows were bucket seats. [ citation needed ]
Sport seats [ edit ]
Extreme racing seats sacrifice being adjustable, instead enveloping the rider in a single shell design
Bucket seat with Schroth six-point harness in a 2010 Porsche 997 GT3 RS 3.8
A sport seat is an improved version of a bucket seat with advanced lateral support and ability to accommodate racing harnesses. Sport seats are designed according to the shape of a human body to provide advanced lateral support and weight distribution, which helps the driver withstand g-force while cornering. Sport seats come with special openings for 3-point, 4-point, or 5-point racing harnesses to increase safety in extreme driving conditions. These seats often are lighter in weight compared to stock bucket seats, which is vital for any sport car. They are universal and technically can be installed in any vehicle using model specific or universal bolt-on seat mounting brackets. [ citation needed ]
Suspension seats [ edit ]
A suspension seat is a variation of a sport bucket seat designed for off-road vehicles. Unlike seats for sports cars, it is equipped with additional springs or suspension components that give extra shock absorption for bumps and jumps, making it softer and relatively more comfortable for the driver. While suspension seats provide more comfort for passengers, they are not considered safer than the static bucket seats used in motorsports.  
References [ edit ]
- ^«bucket seats». TheFreeDictionary.com . Retrieved 2017-03-30 .
- «bucket seat Definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary». dictionary.cambridge.org . Retrieved 2017-03-30 .
- ^ ab
- Ludvigsen, Karl (2018). Professor Porsche’s Wars. UK: Pen & Sword Books, Ltd. ISBN9781526726797 . Retrieved 14 February 2019 .
- Mayer-Stein, Dr. Hans-Georg (1993). Volkswagen Militärfahrzeuge 1938–1948 (PDF) (in German). Karl Müller Verlag. ISBN3860708619 . Retrieved 7 August 2021 .
- Huffman, John Pearley (2012-08-24). «Three’s a Crowd: The Bench Seat Is Benched». The New York Times. ISSN0362-4331 . Retrieved 2017-03-30 .
- Lorio, Joe (2011-07-07). «2007 Lexus LS460L — Four Seasons Wrap-up». Automotive.com. Archived from the original on July 7, 2011 . Retrieved 2017-02-27 .
- «2016 Porsche Panamera 4dr HB Specs and Features | U.S. News & World Report». cars.usnews.com . Retrieved 2017-02-27 .
- «2013 Porsche Panamera — Our Review | Cars.com». Cars.com . Retrieved 2017-02-27 .
- «2017 Ford® Transit Connect Passenger Van & Wagon | Versatile & Productive Features | Ford.com». www.ford.com . Retrieved 2017-03-30 .
- «Off Road Race Seats and Harnesses».
- «Car Seat Zone».
Part of a series of articles on cars
- Automotive navigation system
- Automotive night vision
- Backup camera
- Blind spot monitor
- Boost gauge
- Check engine light
- Electronic instrument cluster
- Fuel gauge
- Head-up display
- Parking sensor
- Radar detector
- Trip computer
- Bowden cable
- Cruise control
- Electronic throttle control
- Gear stick
- Manettino dial
- Parking brake
- Power steering
- Steering wheel
- Automatic vehicle location
- Power door locks
- Remote keyless system
- Smart key
- VIN etching
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