Adjusting Packard Seating to Modern Drivers

PAC is dedicated to the preservation or authentic restoration and use of Packards; if you must consider non-stock modifications, here's the place.
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PACKARDAPL
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Adjusting Packard Seating to Modern Drivers

Post by PACKARDAPL » Sat Feb 25, 2012 12:58 pm

A couple weeks ago, I got to set behind the wheel into a nice early 30s model, that I hadnt tried before
--it was a very cozy fit. Like the many of us where growing older means both gray hair and a wider
middle--I found the distance allowed between the steering wheel and the seat back no longer adequate.
The average driver of 1930 was smaller,shorter, and weighed much less. Since not everyone of the
period was a 120#, or less--there must have been a Packard protocol for adjusting the seating/steering
wheel clearance for "larger" drivers. Since,I know that most Packard models of the period had a flat wood
floor & in many models the whole seat/ seat frame could be fairly easily moved back a couple of inches
just by drilling new bolt holes. Easy enough this way, BUT------

My question here:In Packards with a divider window & other models that do not have any room to move
the seat back--what about repositioning the steering column? or shortening some portion of the sector
that would make a couple inches available?? Perhaps Packard had other solutions? Can anyone shed
some light on this? Or perhaps offer a practical solution to remedy this <dieting excepted> situation??
I suspect many have had my experience on these early cars and might be one reason for their lack of
use today. Comments??.............

Dave Czirr
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Re: Adjusting Packard Seating to Modern Drivers

Post by Dave Czirr » Sat Feb 25, 2012 1:07 pm

Good observations. I'm 70 years old, and now a bit over 200 lbs at 5'10" and have owned my 34 Eight sedan for 48 years. As the years have gone by, the space between the steering wheel and my gut has gotten closer and closer, yet still enough room though as you say, cozy. In that era Packard offered 3 different lengths of the bracket that fastens the steering column to the dashboard so you could raise or lower the column (and of course then the wheel) a couple of inches, I believe this is covered in the 11th series Service Letters. Corresponding provision for swiveling the column at the steering box/frame allowed this movement.

My front seat is in a fixed position to the floor and also has a fixed back as in a car with a divider, yet it is adjustable to an extent, 4 inches fore or aft. There is a very small release button at the side which allows the seat bottom to slide in and out on it's fixed base, and then at the same time the back pivots at the rear of the seat bottom and also at the top, so as the seat cushion is pushed rearwards, the seat back becomes more vertical. The same system which is also covered briefly in the 11th series Sales Information booklet was used for quite few years on all the closed cars, and perhaps the open cars though I can't say for certain w/o browsing the parts book.

PACKARDAPL
Posts: 193
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Location: SE Missouri

Re: Adjusting Packard Seating to Modern Drivers

Post by PACKARDAPL » Sat Feb 25, 2012 5:44 pm

Thanks for your comments. I also got back into a later 30s Super 8 and noticed much the same problem.
The back cushion on it is pretty well fixed (divider window model) and the bottom really doesnt make much
difference in clearance.(It might be different in the Jr series). The notion of bracket adjustment seems
most promising in this situation. I may look at this in my older Packards. Even the gaining of 2 inches
between wheel & cushion would be beneficial to my stomach. I took a quick viewing pass at similar
1930/42 era Buicks, Caddies & Chryslers; which suggests that everyone was using the same body stats.
{Cozy--make that tight--for us fat people}. Even with a cushion removal; many older cars feel cramped to me.
I'm 6'1" and have long legs--just a bit longer than Packard allowed for and it makes for an awkward position
for extended driving. Seat repositioning helps some, but this again isnt for all years and models. Note that
<I will not shorten my legs!> This problem only seems to have been addressed as the steering wheels started
to get smaller in the early 60s--(power steering!). What modifications in this line have you done? -or seen?

Dave Czirr
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Re: Adjusting Packard Seating to Modern Drivers

Post by Dave Czirr » Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:54 pm

The 34 is mostly a "survivor" in quite outstanding condition and I'm a unabashed purist - I wouldn't consider a modification of any type unless there was no choice. In the case of the seating, over 45+ years of ownership I've become accustomed to it and as long as I keep a days driving to 150 or so miles I find it quite relaxing to drive. More than that gets a bit tiring, not because of the effort of drving the car, it really handles extremely well, it's the constant coping with other drivers that commands so much attention that fatigues me.

Packardbarry
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Re: Adjusting Packard Seating to Modern Drivers

Post by Packardbarry » Sun Feb 26, 2012 7:02 am

Ive shimmed the seat cushion up to the point where my head is just touching the headliner. If ur bald u have the advantage of gaining a little more. Vision does get a little limited. Gives u a little leg room but its just not my FORD F250.

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