By on April 20, 2010

Chevrolet made some interesting choices when it introduced the Camaro. The base model had an interior more worthy of a taxi cab, especially the steering wheel, to ensure buyers would more likely check of the Custom Interior package. But where the Camaro really deviated from the Mustang interior formula was with its column shifter for the Powerglide automatic, and an available “Strato-Back” bench front seat. Why? Did you have to ask?

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28 Comments on “Order Your 1967 Camaro With A Bench Front Seat To Go With The Column Shifter...”


  • avatar
    educatordan

    Just think how snazzy Gramp’s Impala would have been with that bench seat! And it’s a non-split bench too! Just the thing for your old Chevy truck resto.

  • avatar
    BDB

    I miss the bench seat/column shifter setup, at least the split 60/40 kind.

    Now of courese a bench seat in a pony car is ridiculous, but in a mid-size sedan, or especially full-size sedan? Sure, you’re not going to carry a third person upfront very often in a sedan but it’d be nice to know you COULD legally do it if you had to. With fuel prices going up you think we’d start making some six-passenger sedans again. Especially in FWD cars since of the advantages of FWD is a nice, big, flat floor. Why eliminate all that space with a console shift?

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Benches are still available, although Ford’s 50/50 split bench in the Grand Marquis and even the old Taurus made little sense to me from a passenger carrying perspective. I liked the bench in my old 87 Oldsmobile. It was possible to make whoopee in that car because of that.

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      “It was possible to make whoopee in that car because of that.”

      Was there ever another functionality to front bench seats?

    • 0 avatar
      BDB

      They’re available but only a full-size cars, and even then the Panthers use RWD where a bench seat makes less sense because of the aforementioned lack of a flat floor.

      They should at least still have a bench as an option on FWD mid-sizers. I blame the Germans for the near-death of the bench seat, everybody wanted to have their bland FWD family sedans be “sporty” and “teutonic”, so we end up with a choice of three interior colors (black, grey, tan) and mandatory console shifters. It’s so bad even car makers can’t bring themselves to put true column shifters on minivans. Nobody is going to think your Sienna is a 3-series because it doesn’t have a column shifter, folks!

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      @porschespeed Now you made my mind drift off to my 2004 F150 XL and the bench seat that helped end my first marriage. “Old enough to know better, but still to young to care.”

    • 0 avatar
      Slow_Joe_Crow

      I can’t speak for cars but split bench/column shift setups are still common in pickup trucks. Our 93 Ranger had it and so did the 08 F150 we rented for a family vacation in Washington DC (a long and complex tale involving my wife’s bicycle obsession). Getting a third person into that is a little tight but they are very comfortable for for two.

    • 0 avatar

      @ BDB – the Teutonic tan, gray and black interiors are rather drab and depressing. I miss the old color keyed interiors. Granted some of these interiors were rather lurid, but most were more appealing than tan, gray or black.

      This switch to three basic interior colors may have had as much to do with cost cutting as with fashion. It is simpler and cheaper to only have three colors than to have a unique interior color for each exterior color.

    • 0 avatar
      Christy Garwood

      @porschespeed, “Was there ever another functionality to front bench seats?”

      Yes, seven kids ages 1 thru 16 going to church in one car with mom and dad. No one was belted and the two youngest sat on laps of the four in the back seat. Our family also drove that way from Indy to Chicago for grandparents’ funerals…

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      @Christy,

      Thanks for once again proving the world worked just fine without SUVs.

  • avatar
    LectroByte

    I had a ’65 Mustang that had a similar option. I am told it would now be a very collectible car, as it was incredibly rare, but it is 20 years gone.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      Yup, Ford offered a front bench seat option for the Mustang — probably the same one they bolted into the Falcon. If you have a first gen Stang, with an original bench seat, you’ve got something rare, and valuable, for sure.

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    What, a how-to for this? You gotta be kidding, I think this is something that you learn on your own pretty soon after you get your license.

  • avatar

    In ’64, I think, when I was still prepubescent, one of the car mags ran a spoof about bucket seats (as a plot by the church ladies or something to that effect), which I totally didn’t get.

  • avatar
    plee

    I special ordered a 69 Javelin SST with center armrest/column shift automatic. It also had 343 4 barrel, dual exhausts, limited slip rear, factory tach, magnum 500 wheels, red line tires and easily beat 350 Camaros, even a 69 Chevelle SS 396. It was a trophy winner at
    Atco Dragway in H/Strictly Stock. It ran as low as 15.08/92mph trap speed at the drags. On top speed runs it would go to the 5000 rpm redline in high which was 125 mph on the speedo. Wish I had it now.

  • avatar

    You can also blame safety regulations. The mandatory front driver and passenger airbags put an end to front bench seats. There was a dual airbag setup for Cadillacs with bench seats in the 1990s, but I suspect the airbag wasn’t as effective for the front center passenger.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      I had a Cadillac brochure that showed the old square bodied Fleetwood Brougham with the huge passenger side airbag that was supposed to protect a middle occupant. I wonder if that’s even possible with the new “lower speed” inflating bags?

    • 0 avatar
      rpol35

      No really! We bought a used 2006 Impala that has a bench seat and a column-shift. They’re not real common as it was an extra cost option over the standard bucket seats and console but they still exist.

    • 0 avatar

      Ford’s also managed to make front bench seats with reduced-force airbags work since 1998 (I think) in the Crown Vic, Marquis and Town Car.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Any six-footer who has had to ride scrunched up against the instrument panel because his 5-foot-tall friend was driving will know why bench front seats went away.

    Incidentally, I don’t remember if either A-body or F-body cars could be had with bench seats, but I know that A-body cars could be had with bench seats and 4-speed transmissions; my 69 Valiant was equipped that way.

  • avatar
    CyCarConsulting

    Hey, you forgot to mention the one and only year for the wind wing vent window, a true loss to the consumer. God I miss those. My 68′s Astro Ventilation doesn’t cut it.

  • avatar
    r129

    I saw a ’67 Camaro equipped with a bench seat at a classic car event last year. It was the first (and probably last) time I had seen one in person.

    Nowadays if you want a car with a bench, your choices are limited to the Chevy Impala, Buick Lucerne, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car.

  • avatar
    86er

    This sums up how I feel on the matter:

    Stickshifts and Safety Belts

    by Cake

    stickshifts and safetybelts,
    bucket seats have all got to go.
    when we’re driving in the car,
    it makes my baby seem so far.
    i need you here with me,
    not way over in a bucket seat.
    i need you to be here with me,
    not way over in a bucket seat.
    i need you to be here with me,
    not way over in a bucket seat.

    but when we’re driving in my malibu,
    it’s easy to get right next to you.
    i say, “baby, scoot over, please.”
    and then she’s right there next to me.
    i need you here with me,
    not way over in a bucket seat.
    i need you to be here with me,
    not way over in a bucket seat.

    well a lot of good cars are japanese.
    but when we’re driving far,
    i need my baby,
    i need my baby next to me.

    well, stickshifts and safetybelts,
    bucket seats have all got to go.
    when we’re driving in the car,
    it makes my baby seem so far.
    i need you here with me,
    not way over in a bucket seat.
    i need you to be here with me,
    not way over in a bucket seat.
    i need you to be here with me,
    not way over in a bucket seat.

  • avatar

    The last car I owned with a front bench seat and column shifter was a 1985 Dodge Aries. I traded this car for a new 1996 Chevy Cavalier which had front buckets and a console mounted floor shifter.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    Front bucket seats are portrayed as a cool, sexy design yet are about as daring as twin beds in that they just keep a couple physically separated.

    A man and woman sitting snuggled up next to each other on a bench seat in a pick-up truck have more personal contact than the couple strapped down in the low bucket seats of any Italian sports cars.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    I love the idea of a front bench seat for the practicality and perception of room. However, the government sometime ago determined that shoulder belts would not be required for the middle front seat because there is a low probability of death and injury (maybe 100 cases per year). Knowing what a lapbelt-only seatbelt can do to a person (e.g., paralysis) in an accident, there’s no way I would ever buy such a car/truck. Interestingly, it seems all makes of large pickups with bench-only seating have a 3-point belt for the middle passenger. However, only Toyota equips their crew cab models with a 3-point belt for the front middle passenger. And some wonder why big business cannot be trusted to regulate itself…

  • avatar
    A is A

    In Europe we have a car with 3 bucket seats in the first row: The Honda FRV

    http://www.google.es/images?hl=es&q=%22Honda+FRV%22&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=TRHOS_XnNImYmAPJw7kT&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=4&ved=0CB8QsAQwAw

    …for sex we have the rear seat. It is “usable” for this purpose even in a small econobox like the Peugeot 205 (yes, I know), because you can pull forward all the way the 2 aft seats. Et voilá!. Limousine-grade space in a humble 205.

    But -frankly- with the benefit of hindsight I concluded that if you are not on the mood to pay for a hotel room to spend a night with her, maybe you are not having sex with the correct lady. My 2 EuroCents.

    “A man and woman sitting snuggled up next to each other on a bench seat in a pick-up truck have more personal contact than the couple strapped down in the low bucket seats of any Italian sports cars.”

    Sure, and they also can get more “personal contact” with their heads against the windshield in case of a crash.

    Cars are not bedrooms, love motels of romantic places. Cars are dangerous machines. Treat them with respect and have your mortal body “strapped” to the car all times.

  • avatar
    obbop

    I believe I may name my first born “Strato.”


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