D Special seat belts.

Buttercup

Well-known member
Hi, the newest technology (at time of marketing) in seat belts mentioned here is 40 years old (pyrotechnic tensioners MB 1981).
I have cars without belts, with lap belts, with 3 point fixed, with 3 point retractable, with 3 point retractable and pre-tensioners and one car with ADR approved 4 point harnesses: ie 2" webbing and regular style seat belt buckle. I only fitted harnesses as they were the most suitable system to work with the seats I have in that car.
Anything other than a regular 3 point belt (whether fixed or retractable) are normally used in conjunction with other safety features.
A properly fitting harness will do an admirable job of holding your body in place in a high speed head on crash, but what happens to your head and neck, hence (high speed) race cars also have some form of head and neck restraint fitted.
3 point belts although not perfect, allow the body to fold somewhat to lessen the forces exerted on the head and neck during impact. Pre-tensioners are almost always used in conjunction with airbags.
Modern road cars don't have harnesses for the same reason modern race cars don't have air bags, they don't need them.
My D Special came with retractable belts, don't ask me what they are, they're black and they pull out and reel back in, I'm happy.😁
It's your car, whack some retractables in it, if you're really worried about how much more they might stretch than a fixed 3 point belt in a crash, drive a bit slower or lose some weight.😉
ADR compliant 4 point?
About 5 years ago I wanted to fit 4 point in my raid car, because the pillar was not suitable for lap/sash.
My certifying engineer said, unfortunately there is no provision in the ADR for 4 point restraints in road cars.
Do you know it definitely complies with ADR, or is it someone's claim that does not come with documentary evidence?
 

Greenpeace

Active member
ADR compliant 4 point?
About 5 years ago I wanted to fit 4 point in my raid car, because the pillar was not suitable for lap/sash.
My certifying engineer said, unfortunately there is no provision in the ADR for 4 point restraints in road cars.
Do you know it definitely complies with ADR, or is it someone's claim that does not come with documentary evidence?
My harnesses have the equivalent E mark tags to the relevant Australian Standard. They have passed scrutiny several times by both Transport and Mr Plod. 4 point harnesses cannot be used on cars that were originally equipped with retractable belts. I believe Autotechnica for one market 4 point harnesses with the appropriate Australian tag. They can only have 2" webbing and must have a regular type buckle (no cam locks).
 

Greenpeace

Active member
ADR compliant 4 point?
About 5 years ago I wanted to fit 4 point in my raid car, because the pillar was not suitable for lap/sash.
My certifying engineer said, unfortunately there is no provision in the ADR for 4 point restraints in road cars.
Do you know it definitely complies with ADR, or is it someone's claim that does not come with documentary evidence?
I did a little more research and it would seem (although not impossible) it is more difficult to get approval for harnesses in NSW than it is in QLD.

Getting ADR compliant harnesses is a no-brainer, getting someone to approve them for road use is the stumbling block.

Incidentally there is no need for "documentary evidence" to show that a seat belt/harness is compliant, they are tagged with the relevant standard in the same vein that a motorcycle helmet only needs a sticker indicating that it is compliant with its applicable standard.

My car is a 1968 model (pre ADR), is a 2 door, 2 seater and has seats with the correct apertures for harnesses.
If the car you wanted to fit them to was an ADR compliant car (particularly for retractable belts), or if it was a 2 or 4 door with rear seating and didn't have front seats that were compatible with harnesses you would have no chance of having them approved.

I have also found that there is plenty of scope for interpretation within the rules, one engineer will say "no" and another will say "no problem". This is not only at a private level but at government level too.

I had a very lengthy conversation with a QLD Transport engineer over wanting to re-register a kit car that had a previous 25 year history of QLD registration. He insisted it would need to have beam and torsional rigidity testing among many other things before it could even be considered for registration (it had only been de-registered a couple of weeks earlier as the seller didn't want to get a RWC). I had called the Engineering Department as my RWC guy wouldn't RW it because the car had no build/approval plates whatsoever on it and no paperwork. The talk didn't go well with the Transport engineer, and it ended with him threatening to have the car seized.
Anyway I did my homework, found all the relevant legislation online (on QLD Transport web pages) that pertained to the year when the car was first approved/registered, and printed it off.
Went to a different RWC guy, showed him my paperwork, RWC no problem. Went to my local Transport office with supporting evidence in hand and registered it there and then, no problem.
Unfortunately I am finding more and more that inspection guys seem to know less and less and would rather just say no than do some research.
 

Buttercup

Well-known member
My car is also 2 seat, 2 door and modified with full engineering certification. The engineers were and are definitely willing to help wherever they can.
They said it wasn't s question about the car, it was a matter of harness approval.
Apparently the ADR rules for restraints does not include 4 point for road use. For sporting cars that are sometimes driven on public roads (As in transport stages of rallies) special permits allow such equipment.
 

Greenpeace

Active member
My car is also 2 seat, 2 door and modified with full engineering certification. The engineers were and are definitely willing to help wherever they can.
They said it wasn't s question about the car, it was a matter of harness approval.
Apparently the ADR rules for restraints does not include 4 point for road use. For sporting cars that are sometimes driven on public roads (As in transport stages of rallies) special permits allow such equipment.
What year is your car though, mine is pre ADRs sodoesn't have to have belts at all.
 

Greenpeace

Active member
My car is also 2 seat, 2 door and modified with full engineering certification. The engineers were and are definitely willing to help wherever they can.
They said it wasn't s question about the car, it was a matter of harness approval.
Apparently the ADR rules for restraints does not include 4 point for road use. For sporting cars that are sometimes driven on public roads (As in transport stages of rallies) special permits allow such equipment.
I've also found South Australian legislation stating ADR compliant harnesses or equivalent can be fitted/ approved to road registered cars. "Manufactured between 1/1/69 and 1/1/75 if submitted with an engineering report prepared by a Chartered Professional Engineer which demonstrates continued compliance with ADR 5A - Seat Belt Anchorages".
It also goes on to say harnesses are usually not permitted in cars built to comply with ADR 4B - Seat Belts: vehicle manufactured after 1/1/75. (This is the retractable seat belt ADR).

"The National Guidelines for the Construction of Street Rods" approves the fitting of harnesses in clause 9.5.4 as long as they "comply with ADR 4/05 - Seatbelts: or meet CAMS specifications".
No rear seats permitted unless there is an engineered exemption.
This same rule pretty well applies to anything manufactured pre ADRs.

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence online that motoring enthusiasts in every state/territory have managed to get ADR approved harnesses engineered for road use in their post 1/1/69 pre 1/1/75 vehicles. It really comes down to their signatory's interpretation of the rules and their willingness to sign off on that interpretation.

At the end of the day having harnesses in a road car sucks and I only have them fitted because the car has a fibreglass body and no upper mounting point for a lap sash belt. I fitted seats with harness apertures so I could run the top straps through and back down to the chassis. The car already had lap belt mounting points.
 
Many years ago a friend's mother obtained approval to install a 4-point harness in her car, a Valiant ute that would likely have fallen into the 1969 to 1975 bracket. She had a dodgy right collarbone and could safely use a 3-point seatbelt on the left side of a car but not the right. She said the biggest problem was cops regularly pulling her over because they could not see a sash and thought she was not wearing a seatbelt.

Roger
 

Greenpeace

Active member
Don't know what country your car was made in but it may or may not have had 3 point seat belt mounting points from new. If it didn't I presume your engineer was happy to certify 3 point mounts for you, or don't you have belts at all?

My car is British, the legislation there stipulated 3 point mounting points be provided from 1965 (not the belts though). The factory "upper" point was laughable at best being located on the back fiberglass wheelarch. The regulation 7/16" seat belt bolt held a strip of metal up underneath the wheelarch, on the other end of this metal strip was length of cable with an eye on each end secured to the metal strip and a point on the chassis next to the rear leaf spring shackle. Each end of the cable had a single 5/16" bolt securing it. The angle of the top belt strap did not fall within the angles laid out in the ADRs and clearly a 5/16" bolt isn't going to cut it. This factory engineered setup passed over the pits in both WA and QLD.
The two factory lower points are within the prescribed angles and attach directly to the chassis with 7/16" bolts as do my harnesses' new top mounts.
I've seen many pre ADR factory seat belt mounting points in various cars that do not meet all the aspects stipulated in the ADRs.
No-one cares because they are "factory" and if there's a problem it's not their fault.
It would be interesting to see if your car came with factory mounting points, if they actually do meet the requirements of the most basic seat belt ADRs.
 

Buttercup

Well-known member
My car was made in France, it had no mounts, my engineer approved the mounts for lap belts that I designed and constructed. We agreed that there was not before nor after my modification, a suitable structure for 3 points.
I have since designed and constructed with the engineer approval a structure to suit retracting 3 point restraint, which it now has.
 

Greenpeace

Active member
My car was made in France, it had no mounts, my engineer approved the mounts for lap belts that I designed and constructed. We agreed that there was not before nor after my modification, a suitable structure for 3 points.
I have since designed and constructed with the engineer approval a structure to suit retracting 3 point restraint, which it now has.
Oh OK, some manufacturers offered factory mounting points much earlier than 1961.

I am confused however that your engineer would not approve 4 point harnesses "because the ADRs don't include a 4 point for road use" when (unless I am mistaken) there is also no ADR that approves the fitment of lap belts to the outboard front seats of a motor car, yet he certified these?
 

Buttercup

Well-known member
Oh OK, some manufacturers offered factory mounting points much earlier than 1961.

I am confused however that your engineer would not approve 4 point harnesses "because the ADRs don't include a 4 point for road use" when (unless I am mistaken) there is also no ADR that approves the fitment of lap belts to the outboard front seats of a motor car, yet he certified these?
As a pre ADR car, it was not required to have any belts.
After my mods (double the engine power over any engine that the manufacturer ever fitted to that chassis design) took it into a different category, engineered to schedule 2, with similar requirements to street rods, it could be approved with lap belts provided the mounts were compliant, and the belts were new and compliant.

My engineer agreed that a 4 point would be suitable but none were available with compliance. I fitted 2 sets time expired from a glider, which my engineer agreed was much better than just a lap, and we agreed that i would argue in court that despite lack of certified compliance it was recognised as a much safer alternative.
After 2 years with that I decided that I would design and construct a more significant upper body structure, which included suitable mounts for sash belts.
I fitted new retracting lap sash belts.
My engineer certified these as compliant.
 

Greenpeace

Active member
The laws are full of amendments and anomalies from state to state. The AS guidelines for seat belts in the 1961 version only had standards for the belts, there was no anchorage point standard until they were amended in 1965.
Period statistics (1961) for approved seat belts fitted to Australian cars lists: lap only, sash only, lap/sash and "other". To my mind the "other" could only be either a crossover double sash (which requires 4 mounting points) or a conventional harness. Either way the 1961 AS doesn't stipulate the number of mounting points.
In addition to Autotechnica, Velo also market ADR approved harnesses, you see plenty of these in road going Lotus 7 copies (Westfield, Caterham etc) up here in QLD.
 

DoubleChevron

Real cars have hydraulics
Oh, I see the problems your guys are having. You asking for approval. I figure anything is better than nothing (especially for rear restraints). So just fit some and call it job done :) drill, re-enforce ... plate for pull through if required. What else can we do in old classic cars.
 

Greenpeace

Active member
Oh, I see the problems your guys are having. You asking for approval. I figure anything is better than nothing (especially for rear restraints). So just fit some and call it job done :) drill, re-enforce ... plate for pull through if required. What else can we do in old classic cars.
I'm not having a problem, my 4 points are approved. The seat belt rules for old cars are a sea of grey with no black and white. Approval comes down to being prepared to wade through the various amendments and find someone wiliing to sign off on them. Unfortunately in this "sue for anything" world we live in, those people are getting harder to find.

It's not just old cars, a few years ago some of the Jap import people movers (Nissan Elgrand for example) couldn't be complied as 8 seaters as the Japanese "average passenger weight" used to calculate the GVM was lower than the average passenger weight used in Australia. The importers used to bring them in as vans or campers, comply/register them as 2 or 3 or 5 seaters chuck all the seats back in and sell them to the unsuspecting public as 8 seaters. No worries until you came to sell it again and the diligent RWC guy notices the number of seats in the vehicle doesn't match the number on the Australian compliance plate. For most certifiers it was just "too hard" to comply them as an 8 seater but with persistence you could find one who would go the extra mile and make it properly legal.

The other problem comes (as with Buttercup) when you want to make significant modifications to an old car but maintain full rego.
I had a 1949 Morris J van that I wanted to put a 13B rotary in a number of years ago. The additional requirements I can remember were: disc brakes, dual circuit master cylinder, lap/sash seat belts with ADR compliant anchor points, collapsible steering column, laminated windscreens, 2 speed wipers and washers, heater/demister, ADR approved bucket seats with headrests and ADR approved seat mounts, two stage anti-burst door locks etc, etc. If you don't do all these things you don't get the bit you really want, "more power".
I just said "f#ck that" and didn't bother.

How many people buy an old car (pre seat belt era) that has had seat belts fitted during its life and get under it to see how well they were installed? I've owned hundreds of cars and bike's and just when you think you've seen it all in bodgyness you buy yet another eye opener.

Bucket seat mounts made out of Bunnings slotted shelf angle held together with and held into the car with 6mm bolts anyone?
Full set of brand new brake lines attached to the chassis with blobs of silastic?
Rubber fuel line zip tied to the diff so it couldn't touch the adjacent exhaust, safety first?
Live main battery cable too short, use 2 with the eyes bolted together to make it long enough and "insulate" the join with masking tape where it's rattling on the chassis?
Windscreen made out of house window glass?
Redrill the wheels without worrying about the tapered seat for the wheel nuts?
A seperate chassis car where ALL the body mounting bolts were 1/4" hardware bolts and mudguard washers instead of 1/2" grade 8 bolts?
An electrically very basic small car (lights/wipers/horn) with just over 10kg (I weighed it) of unnecessary wiring/switches/fuse boxes etc added, and none of the extra wiring taped together or in any sort of a loom?
Don't know how to reset the camchain tensioner on a MB twin cam 6? Just add some links off the old chain to the new one till it's long enough to fit and then wonder where the power went?
Ahhh yes, seat belts bolted through 16g sheet metal with 3/8" mild steel bolts, with no re-enforcing plates and just a nut and spring washer to stop them pulling through?

Maybe I'm just too fussy?
Maybe this subject (bodgyness) would make an interesting seperate thread?
 

Buttercup

Well-known member
I did all the things you listed to meet schedule 2........ on 2 cars!
A couple were easy, others took a bit more design cleverness.
2 stage antiburst door catches on suicide 2cv front doors was interesting, but once I'd worked out how, it was easy.
 

Greenpeace

Active member
I did all the things you listed to meet schedule 2........ on 2 cars!
A couple were easy, others took a bit more design cleverness.
2 stage antiburst door catches on suicide 2cv front doors was interesting, but once I'd worked out how, it was easy.
The main reason I didn't bother going ahead with the Morris engine swap was the loss of character to the base vehicle that I felt the ancillary mods would cause.
Polished wood floors and tin sliding door covers don't make good seat belt mounting points. I loved the barebones cabin, the little binnacle on the steering column housing the speedo was about the sum of it. The whole column was exposed, I think a collapsible one out of a Daihatsu van or some such would have looked a bit retarded in there. Same for fitting a heater/demister, there was nowhere to hide it, no dash, no bulkhead.
I ended up fabricating a supercharger kit for the existing engine and gained the extra performance I was after. The only extra mod required was the addition a remote VH40 booster to meet the braking test.
 

Big Frog

Member
Thanks for all the comments!
I am considering a retractable belt for the driver only because I can't reach the hand brake on my ID20 to do hill starts. Finding I need to undo the fixed belt when stopped on hills (at lights). Open to suggestions.
Mick
(new Citroen owner)
Hi Mick,
This was my experience in my DS as well. I was motivated to add retracts for the same reason, not reaching the handbrake on leaving.
My work around developed as follows.
Get in and let out the adjustment on the lap strap, and latch belt. So you have the belt on but loose. Pull away or hill start whatever, then just one hand to tighten belt.
Once you get the habit it becomes a no brainer.
For Hill starts whilst driving, you can one handed loosen belt without un latching and proceed the same way
Steve
 

faulksy

Active member
Ignoring the retractable/fixed seatbelt argument, the fixing points are already in the frame for 3 point belts. Fitting a retractable one is as simple as purchasing a the appropriate belt, removing the old one and bolting the new one in. I got mine from seat safe who are based in Brisbane.
 
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