(This article was originally published in the May/June 2000 Corvan Antics (V28, N3). The Seat Belts section was updated in February, 2005 with information from Dave Newell.)
I own a '64 Rampside. I was curious how many components on the truck were factory original items, how many were probably dealer-installed, and how many were something else. Eventually I plan to restore the truck to stock condition so knowing the status of various items is important.
To answer my questions, I dug through the 1964 Corvair FC Assembly Manual, the 1964 Chevrolet Accessory Installation Reference Manual, and the 1964 Corvair FC Standard Equipment, Tires, Options, Prices, and Colors information. I also looked through various Stock Is... articles written by Larry Claypool. Not all of my questions were answered though so I discussed details with Larry, Bob Marlow, and Jody Anderson (owner of Southside Automotive, an Impala restoration shop in Minneapolis, MN). This article summarizes the information I found regarding seat belts, speedometers, and steering wheels.
The seat belt story is fairly complicated for 1964. The information is divided below into factory and dealer installations.
1964 was a transition year for factory-installed front seat belts for passenger vehicles, including the Greenbrier.
- Only seat belts for the front driver and passenger were available for the Greenbrier in 1964. No factory installed belts were available for the front center passenger or rear seats.
- No seat belts were factory-installed in trucks during 1964, which in this discussion pertains to the Corvan and Rampside.
Larry Claypool and Dave Newell helped me map out the very complicated progression of factory front seat belt availability for passenger vehicles in 1964.
At the beginning of the production year, front seat belts were not standard. At this time:
- The only factory seat belt available was RPO A37, Custom DeLuxe front left and right seat belts. The Custom DeLuxe belt was color-keyed to the interior with matching boots on the ends. The full range of colors was black, blue, red, white with red boot, white with aqua boot, fawn, green, aqua, and saddle. The specific colors available for a particular vehicle line depended on the upholstery colors offered. For example, Greenbriers featured green, aqua, red, and fawn. The buckle was textured and featured a circular emblem with a Chevy bow tie. This same belt was available from the dealer for all FCs (see next section).
- On about October 1, 1963, Chevrolet announced availability of RPO A20, a lower-cost belt. It was available in black, blue, red, and fawn with no boots on the ends. This belt had a plain plastic buckle with no emblem.
- RPO A49, Custom DeLuxe front left and right seat belts with retractors, became available in about mid-November. This belt was identical to RPO A37 except for the retractors.
Plain black front seat belts became standard equipment on January 1, 1964. At this time:
- RPO A20 was discontinued. The plain belt sold as standard equipment came only in black.
- RPO A62 became available. This option deleted the seat belts that were now installed as standard equipment.
- RPO A37 was cancelled for order scheduling as of February 1, 1964. Any orders on hand or received at the zones as of this date with RPO A37 were changed to RPO A49. There could have been some cars built with RPO A37 after February 1, whose orders had already been scheduled and sent to the assembly plants. But after February 1, the only Custom Deluxe belts that could be ordered were RPO A49, with retractors.
Below is a summary of factory-installed front left & right seat belts for Greenbriers:
Time Period (approx.)
|Before 10/1/63||N/A||RPO A37||N/A|
|10/1/63 - 11/15/63||RPO A20||RPO A37||N/A|
|11/15/63 - 12/31/63||RPO A20||RPO A37 or A49||N/A|
|1/1/64 - 2/1/64||Standard equipment||RPO A37 or A49||RPO A62|
|Beginning 2/1/64||Standard equipment||RPO A49||RPO A62|
All Corvan & Rampside belts seat belts were dealer installed. Front center belts and rear belts in Greenbriers were too. The dealer-installed belt for all seat locations was a black belt with a textured buckle. The buckle featured a circular emblem with a Chevy bow tie. This belt was somewhat fancier than the standard belt available from the factory for the Greenbrier but was identical to the deluxe factory Greenbrier belt (RPO A37/A49). Below is a summary of dealer-installed seat belt part number applications:
Front Left or Right
|Corvan||985842||985835 if RPO A54 installed||985842|
- The part numbers for the dealer-installed units and were for complete kits (included mounting hardware). The only differences between the various dealer-installed belts were the length (fixed or adjustable) and presence/absence of boots.
- Kit 985835 included boots to cover the mounting brackets. Kit 985842 did not, because the belt was of adjustable length. A boot would have interfered with the extra belt length gathered at the bracket. Both kits differed substantially from those offered in 1963. The boots on 985835 were quite short as compared to those used in 1963 and the mounting hardware used for both kits utilized brackets and bolts instead of scissor clasps and eye bolts as seen in 1963.
- Each part number provided a belt for one person. The maximum number of belts was nine, found in a Greenbrier equipped with the optional third seat (RPO A59). (RPO A59 was not available for Corvans.)
- With all front seat belt installations, four (not six) mounting holes were used. When the center belt was installed, it shared the inboard holes for the left & right belts. In all rear seat belt applications, six mounting holes were used.
- For front seat belts in Corvans and Rampsides (and Greenbriers with RPO A62), the factory prepared the inboard belt mounting locations because they were inaccessible once the vehicle left the factory. The factory drilled holes, installed captive nuts, and inserted rubber plugs to keep water out. The outboard mounting locations were dimpled but not drilled.
- The standard front seat for Corvans was a bucket seat for the driver only. Corvans equipped with a full-width front seat (RPO A54) could have a front center seat belt installed by the dealer.
Two significant changes were made to Corvair FC speedometers in 1964:
- A 100 MPH speedometer was used in all Greenbriers (except during a period of weeks at the beginning of production; the exact changeover date is not known). This was identical to the 1964 car speedometer.
- The 80 MPH speedometer, found in Corvans and Rampsides, no longer had shift points (1-2-3) painted on the speedometer face.
In previous years, all FCs used the 80 MPH speedometer with shift points (even on those equipped with RPO M35, PowerGlide transmission).
The standard steering wheel for all 1964 Corvair FCs was 17" in diameter, had a shallow "dish", and was painted a solid white color. The steering wheel found in rigs equipped with RPO Z60 (Deluxe Body Equipment) varied depending on the model:
- Corvan and Rampside: Exactly the same wheel as standard except painted two-tone (always white and fawn)
- Greenbrier: 16" diameter, deep dish, two-tone (color keyed to interior: white/red, white/green, white/turquoise, or white/fawn) and featured chrome accent bands
The 1964 Greenbrier deluxe wheel was the same as a 1960-63 Monza steering wheel and used the 1963 Monza horn ring and button. Due to the deeper dish, this wheel sat closer to the driver. Larry Claypool said this wheel "made the driver feel like Ralph Cramden". (Jackie Gleason's character on the old TV show The Honeymooners was a bus driver.) Bob Marlow commented, "I much prefer this wheel's size and location! It's the bigger, flatter wheel that makes me feel like a bus driver." One thing's for sure: One of the two wheels for the Greenbrier is pretty much bound to make you feel like a transit system employee!