Thread Number: 44753  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
Head rest in older cars (60s to 90s)
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Post# 464944   7/30/2023 at 15:12 by fan-of-fans (USA)        

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In the older automobiles, at least American ones in the late 60s when headrests were first mandated on sedans and coupes, through the early to mid 90s, or even early 00s on some, the headrests are just short bar shaped things.

They look like theyíd be too short to do any help in a crash, much less to lean your head on. They appear to come up to just the neck or shoulders in their lowered position.

Decades ago, did people tend to adjust their head rests when driving like many do these days?

And how far up would the headrest be if it was pulled all the way up? Would it at least come to the top of the ear level or top of head?

Iím guessing until more recently people didnít consider whiplash as much as the European or Scandinavian or maybe Japanese brands.

Even in the 70s and 80s, cars like Mercedes, Saab and Volvo seemed to be putting taller headrests in their cars and even ones on the back seats.

Post# 464951 , Reply# 1   7/30/2023 at 18:06 by JustJunque (Western MA)        

In our '70s and '80s cars, with the headrests that you're talking about, I don't think any of us in my family ever kept them in a raised position.
These were mostly GM cars. The headrest had a single, flat steel piece that was long enough to bring the rest up behind your head. Of course, none of us are/were super tall.
But, like you said, it seems like most people didn't think much about the possibility of whiplash.


Post# 464953 , Reply# 2   7/30/2023 at 21:31 by fan-of-fans (USA)        

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Thank you Barry for that info. I wasnít around back in the 70s or 80s but it seemed from what Iíve seen the headrests were usually down.

I saw a website yesterday with a collection of cars from the 70s and saw most had both of the headrests pulled up, so it piqued my curiosity.

When I see cars on the Barrett Jackson auctions, the headrests always seem to be down.

Itíd be interesting to read an owners manual from those eras and see what they had to say about adjusting the headrest and if there was any safety aspect mentioned.

Post# 464962 , Reply# 3   7/31/2023 at 07:01 by JustJunque (Western MA)        

Actually, I bet I stil have a couple of my old owner's manuals, since I never throw anything away.
If I stumble across one of them, I'll take a look.
I know I have the manual for my '86 Pontiac, which is sitting in the garage. My car has bucket seats. But, I'm sure the manual covers the models that had the standard interior too.
I'll check it out later!

Post# 464964 , Reply# 4   7/31/2023 at 08:07 by rugsucker (Elizabethton TN)        
Vintage Head Rests

Head rests were required(in cars,not trucks)in 1969.There were a few that were optional before this.Two of the most interesting were a little known and rare power head rest and recliner for the 1967 Lincoln passenger seat.(The other super rare option for 67 Lincolns was a set of luggage to fit the trunk.A set sold in recent years for $25,000!)Another was built into the passenger bucket seat on the 1964 Thunderbird Landau.The top 1/3 of the seat back cushion would pull upward.When down it looked so much like the regular seat back that I showed a TBird owner at our car show who had no idea that it was there.

Post# 464967 , Reply# 5   7/31/2023 at 10:46 by JustJunque (Western MA)        

Well...I guess I lied. I went out to the garage, and, much to my surprise, the manual is not in my car.
I have no idea when I took it out, or what I did with it. I've always kept it in the glove box.
If I find it, or one from a different car, I'll let you know.

Post# 464970 , Reply# 6   7/31/2023 at 15:18 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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Headrests first came out when I was in about the first grade. For the most part, people just left them all the way down. I recall reading the owner's manual on my 1977 Buick Skylark (Nova clone) that I had in the '80s, and it suggested the headrest should be raised so that the top of it came roughly even with the tops of one's ears. I remember trying it, but I didn't like the way it looked, so I put it back down.

Post# 464982 , Reply# 7   7/31/2023 at 17:21 by JustJunque (Western MA)        

I was exactly the same way with all of my 60s/70s/80s cars.
I felt that raising the headrests messed up the aesthetics of the interior. Never crossed my mind how much a solid rear end collision could have messed ME up.

Post# 464995 , Reply# 8   8/1/2023 at 10:08 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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Indeed. Thankfully, I never found out, either. The next car I owned, a 1986 Olds Cutlass Calais, did get rear-ended, but its bucket seats came up high enough that the headrest was in the right place for me without adjusting it. I had a minor neck ache for a short time afterward, but no permanent damage.

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