Fitting Forward Facing Rear Seats & Belts

This seems to be a very topical issue at the moment, given the European regulations changing this month, outlawing the use of sideways facing seatbelts for children under 12 years/135cm height and bringing in other new requirements for children’s seating. There are a lot of discussions on the Land Rover forums about this, so here’s what I have done. It complies with all the new regs and is very practical.

TrakkersI used Exmoor Trim forward facing fold-up seats, aka Trakkers. As you saw in the previous update, these are mounted, in my case, at the very back of my 109, but they can be mounted in 88s, 90s, the back of 109 and 110 Station Wagons or anywhere in the back of 109 and 110 Hard Tops (you could comfortably fit four in a 109/110 Hard Top).

Trakker mount bracketTrakker buckle anchorsTrakker and beltSeatbelt shouldershoulder anchorThe photos show the mounting bracket that attaches to the wheel box. The bracket sits in direct contact with the wheel box, and its integral hinge pins overhang the floor. The hinge pins face rearward, preventing the seat sliding forwards in use. At the back of the bracket, you can see a tab (with a small unused bolt hole) also overhanging the floor. This tab prevents the seat sliding aft and off the hinge pins when in use. With the seat folded up, the seat is no longer obstructed by the tab, enabling it to be slid to the aft to remove it in seconds. The photo also shows how the edge of the tool box lid (rear of left wheel box, where fitted) had to be modified. The lid had to be moved outboard to be useable with the bracket fitted. A furniture lock from a DIY store allows the lid to be locked. To retain a reasonable size opening, the hinged side of the aperture was also cut back and extended outboard as far as possible, though this does mean that the lid cannot be opened more than 80 degrees, requiring a holding open catch on the body capping to prevent it closing unwantedly.
Some forum posters are concerned that the adjacent seats are too close together, preventing access between them from the rear door. When I had previously fitted these seats, prior to the rebuild project, I had found this a bit of a problem (the seats were permanently deployed with child seats on them). As a solution, I moved them both 5″ outboard by making a 1″ packer to sit between the bracket and wheel box, allowing the seat base frame to sit above the wheel box. This still allowed the seat to be folded out of the way as before. It also had the benefit of further improving the seatbelt geometry such that even I (as a tall man) fitted the belts perfectly. The only down side is the loss of 1″ headroom for tall passengers and the minor intrusion of the wheel box into the leg room, but both proved of little consequence.

The seatbelts are bolted, like the seat brackets, through the wheel box with spreader plates below. The buckle stalk anchors are by the rear door and also have spreaders underneath the floor and tub cross-member. I used Securon inertia reel belts, also from Exmoor Trim. These come with an assortment of brackets and spreader plates, as well as all the required fixings. Unlike Exmoor Trim, I have used anchor points that place the shoulder bolt above the gutter rail in order to have the harness’ shoulder strap lie correctly over the shoulder, rather than across the armpit like Exmoor’s setup. This was achieved by using the lower anchor points from SIII front seatbelts upside-down.

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Comments

  1. mark stephenson says:

    excellent piece, very informative, well done and thanks

    Hubber

  2. I hope it helps.

  3. Steve Ratledge says:

    Hi Nick – what size did you make the spreader plates for the seatbelts and foor mounted anchors?

  4. Hi Steve,

    The spreader plates were included in the seat belt kits. They are roughly 2×2″ squares with a central bolt hole, made from 3mm steel. I was content to use these with my toughened floor and wheel arches, but with the standard floor and wheel arches I would have gone for bigger spreaders (4×4″ of 5mm, probably).

  5. Alan Broadbent says:

    Nick, I am concerned that as you have mounted the inertia units at an angle, the locking action will be disabled. They should be mounted on the level. Great site !
    Regards,
    Alan.

  6. Normally you’d be right to be concerned, Alan, but that particular type of Securon belts (no longer stocked by Exmoor Trim) have adjustment units for two planes of mounting to allow for just this sort of scenario – that’s what the protruding nodes from the sides of the reel drums are for. The large node rotates in the same axis as the reel itself and allows the reel to be mounted on and inboard/outboard cant, even allowing the reel to be mounted horizontally or inverted, while a second smaller knob on the first node allows for the reel to be mounted with a front/rear slant as I have. These adjusters are visible to the left of the reel unit in the seat belt photo.

    The belts were tested before use and have passed numerous MoT inspections.

  7. Darrin Clark says:

    Thanks Nick… very helpful as I process my options for my 110 defender 3dr.

    Have a goodie!

  8. I’m always pleased to see my ideas used as an inspiration or spring board for others – it’s what this blog is all about. The versatility and simplicity of Land Rovers makes the sharing of ideas a great way to get your ideal vehicle, and I’m always keen to see what others have done that I can use or adapt too.

    Thanks for following the blog.

  9. Hi Nick My Partner has just got a 2011 defender and we are looking for some one to fit rear inward facing seat belts. We are finding it very difficult and i wonder do you fit them for other people or do you know any one else who does. (PLEASE) Ian

  10. Hi Ian,

    Congratulations on the new Land Rover!

    I’m a little perplexed by your question. Any Defender would be factory fitted with suitable restraints for the relevant seat, so I’m guessing you’re retro-fitting seats to a commercial bodied vehicle. It’s important to understand that the EU regulations on passenger seating and restraints changed in 2007, requiring that all seats face forward. The intention to fit inward facing restraints suggests inward facing seats, and if your vehicle is indeed constructed post-2007, then these would breech the regulations. If that is the case, then your insurance would also probably invalidated.

    If you are fitting inward facing seats (be they new from suppliers like Exmoor Trim or second hand from another Land Rover), and your vehicle is post-2007, then please check with VOSA to verify the legality of those seats. Don’t ever just trust the advice of vendors as they may have made mistakes in understanding your details or in interpreting the regulations.

    For all that, if you are retro-fitting seats to a commercial body, then the best option would be to acquire the genuine parts, ideally new (especially the belts themselves), or second hand (be very wary of second hand belts). Failing that, Exmoor Trim sell good alternatives, just as I used in the photos above. As I said, I don’t think much of their seat belt geometry, but it can be resolved using standard parts. The quality of their components seems satisfactory, though.

    I’d be very happy to help you fit the seats or restraints if you bring everything down to Bedford (UK), but please understand that I am an enthusiast and amateur, not a professional, so don’t hold/sell any parts and also cannot be held liable for any issues resulting from the installation (correct or otherwise), so though it would mean you get free installation, it would be very wise to spend a small amount on an inspection by someone suitably qualified such as a VOSA inspector or even just an MoT tester before using the seats. That’ll still be much cheaper than having them garage fitted (probably by an untrained mechanic or apprentice), and your insurers are very likely to insist on a certificate or letter-headed engineer’s report on the installation anyway.

    Use the email contact function on this site to send me your phone number if this fitting option suits you, or even just to talk about potential ideas.

    Nick.

  11. Ross Forster says:

    Hi Nick, great page. Perhaps you could help me out. Im looking at a 110 utility wagon new. From what i understand from what you have written above, i could only fit seats such as the exmoor forward facing seats in the back. is this a fairly straight forward thing to do? The utility vehicle suits me slightly better for the farm work but would like the flexibility of being able to occasionally put a couple of extra workers in the back to move them round the farm. Also i can claim the VAT back on the utility and have the lower road tax.

    Many thanks

    Ross

  12. Hi Ross.

    You have a wider choice than just the Exmoor Trim seats, but the crux ofthe 2007 legislation is that the seats must be forward facing with suitable mountings and restraints (belts). That means that for your multiple-purpose use, you really need seats that fold away or are quickly removed and refitted. The genuine LR Defwnder seats are pretty comfortable and very secure compared to the Exmoor “Trakkers”, but would be expensive, take more load space room when folded, can’t be easily slipped off their hinges and would require significant alteration of the interior wheel arches. I think they’re a good compromise for your situation. Just be careful about seatbelt geometry – the ET setup is poor and could leave you liable to your staff.

  13. Hi Nick,

    I agree, great informative piece. I’ve got a S3/109 Van which I’m changing to a full canvas. I’d also like to add a couple of forward facing seats (as a 2nd row behind the drivers seats) and then a couple of small benches behind those. Best of both worlds as they’ll all fold up if I need the load space.

    My only problem with this is that I can’t see how I’ll get the seatbelts fitted while replacing the hard top with a stick set & canvas. The shoulder anchor point being the problem.

    My best thought is that I can somehow is the seat frame itself for this anchor point. Either that or I’d need to fabricate some kind of post to place at the correct position and anchor that off on the chassis or tub somehow. Either way it’ll be a bugger and is the only thing putting me off at the moment.

    Don’t spose you have any clever ideas do you?

  14. The obvious solution is to fit a roll cage or the seat belt support hoop (looks like a part of a roll cage) from an MoD 90 or 110. The former will be expensive, but the latter shouldn’t cost too much if you can find one second hand. Protection and Performance sell new seat belt hoops. You would need to cut the hood sticks to fit and flatten the cut ends to bolt them to the new vertical post in the same way they bolt to the vertical hood sticks. The beauty of this is that not only will it give you strong seat belt anchorage, but it will also give a lot more roll over protection (though not as much as a full cage).

    Nick.

  15. George says:

    Hi Nick.
    Very useful and interesting. Thanks. I’m trying to fit 2nd row seat belts to my 109 Station Wagon. I’ve had a look at the 4-point inertia belts from Exmoor Trim. Is that what you used? Do they come with a spreader plate for under the floor? Would I be able to mount the inertia reel on the top mounting bracket (EXT001MB) which I already have fitted, or does it need to be mounted horizontally? I read your response to question about horizontal mounting but you mentioned securon belts- no longer available from Exmoor Trim.
    Also, if I can’t fit an inertia reel to the top mounting bracket, do you know where I can buy static 3-point belts? The back seats don’t get much use, and they’d look more original too. Thanks for the blog. George

  16. Hi George,

    Sorry to be so slow replying.

    The Securon kits did come with spreader plates. Most inertia reels need to be mounted so that the bolt and reel axis are horizontal, otherwise the mechanisms don’t work. Securon do a universal reel with adjusters to account for angle mounting. Exmoor Trim may have an equivalent system with their new supplier, but I really don’t know. However, there are other Securon retailers on line, and an internet search will bring them up – that’s how I got some for the Lightweight.

    Nick.

  17. Nick,

    Hi! Your most recent post might answer a question that I was going to ask: Will two Exmoor Trim ‘Trakker’ seats (and inertia seat belts with a universal reel with adjusters) fit in the rear of a Lightweight Hardtop? Or are you referring to the front seat belts on the Lightweight?

    Thanks for a very informative and helpful website.

    John

  18. Sorry about he late reply, John – my “admin” approved your comment without telling me!

    I used the universal reels on the front belts so that they could be inclined at an angle to pass over the shoulder. The rear seats just used lap belts which didn’t have the same sensitivity as the full seat belts. Anyway, yes, all the Defender sideways facing seats, including ET’s after-market improved versions, will fit a Lightweight.

    Nick.

  19. Hi Nick

    I cant seem to find a definitive answer to this anywhere so thought I may ask you. I have a 1990 defender station wagon that has had the rear seats removed. Although the V5 says utility so I suspect it may have started life as a panel van.

    I now wish to put forward facing seats back in or in for the first time?!

    Will this cause me problems with MOT and will this require me to have a SVA test or equivalent.

    I will be using ET forward facing seats and belts.

    Thank you for your assistance.

    Regards

    Jason

  20. Hi Jason,

    Rear seats will not cause you any MoT problems, as long as the installation is done properly. You will, however, have to notify the DVLA for a new V5 with the updated seating capacity and your insurers. Experience has shown great inconsistency between insurers towards modified vehicles – some are fine and charge only a small premium increase, while other run screaming to the hills. If your insurers won’t cover it or are unreasonable about premium charges, then try Adrian Flux, NFU Mutual and Sureterm, who are all LR specialists and understand modifications.

    While not all insurers will request an engineering inspection of the seat and restrain installation, from a legal and safety perspective, I’d strongly recommend it; in these increasingly litigious and authoritarian times, covering your backside with an inspection and report on headed paper could save a lot of time, money and heart ache later, and could even save lives if there was anything wrong with your initial installation.

    Hope that helps.

    Nick.

  21. N ick
    Thanks for the article. Could you recomend anywhere in the Bedfordshire / Hertfordshire area to get second row forward facing seats fitted to a 90. thanks in advance.

    Ross

  22. Hi Ross,

    If you’re looking for sourcing the seats and belt kits, then a call to Exmoor Trim would probably be the best way to find your most local supplier. I’m sure that supplier would also be able to fit them – it’s not a difficult or terribly time consuming job. Just check what they do for the shoulder mounting points, as the Exmoor ads show them using front seat anchor braces in their standard orientation which are much too low for rear seats.

  23. Hi Nick

    Great site most information i have found on the internet.

    I have a station wagon 90 2003 with inward facing rear seats. My girlfriend is pregnant do you have the updates info on legalities? Do i need to change to froward facing seats or should i no matter what obviously safety of the baby will be priority.

    Is it easy to change the seats?

    Thanks in Advance

    Aaron

  24. Hi Aaron, and thank you.

    It is illegal to have a child under 10 years old or 120cm, whichever ends first, in a side facing seat or without a booster or child seat except in exceptional circumstances (taxis, recovery vehicle and so on). So legally you have to fit a forward or rearward facing seat and make sure that the baby seat can be correctly attached to it. From a practical point of view, it’s much the same – there is no way to attach a baby or child seat to a sideways facing seat, and even if you could, a crash would break their neck with the side forces on their head.

    There are all sorts of alternatives. I fitted Defender front seats as a second row in my 109 and Trakkers folding seats from Exmoor Trim in the third row, and baby seats worked with both types. I also used Exmoor Trim sideways facing fold up seats facing aft in the Lightweight with lap straps very successfully, though you’d need a full seat belt system to secure a child seat even facing aft. The seat posts in the “interior” and “lightweight” sections will show you how I did it. I found they worked well in practice and close inspection by experienced MoT testers (well beyond MoT test norms) passed muster, but if you have any doubts at all, ask your local specialists and tester for their opinions, and get it checked over very thoroughly after installation, getting a written engineers report on headed paper to confirm they’re safe and sending a copy to your insurers. You will find that many insurers will refuse cover for such a mod, but Adrian Flux, Sureterm and NFU Mutual will cover it, along with some others.

  25. Andy humm says:

    Hi nick
    Great helpful advice, I’m just fitting forward facing sests in my defender 90 (1992) . The seats do seem very close together! Do I need them spaced apart or is it personal choice?

  26. Personal choice, Andy. The worst bit about the seats being so close together is trying to get to the leg locks, so you could consider some other locking mechanism. I did mount hem further apart when I had them as second row seats prior to the rebuild, but to do so the hinges need raising on plinths and the wheel arch top should be stiffened to prevent sagging. An “I” shaped mount of 2×1″ box section to support the hinge with 1×1″ steel angle laterals at each end to have three bolts along each strip of angle would work well.

  27. Hi Nick
    I am thinking of buying an ex Australian army 2 door LWB 110 soft top.Will I be able to fit forward facing seats in this vehicle? Has anybody done this as far as you know ?

    cheers, Pete.

  28. Hi pete,

    Fitting seats to that vehicle would be exactly as I did to mine, save for the soft top not providing anchor points for seat belts. You could ft he roll-over hoops as fitted to MoD LR 90s and 110s, which merely bolt to the tub cappings in place of the front hood sticks, and mount a second hoop and even a third for rear seat belt shoulder anchors, or go full out and fit a roll cage that supports the seat belts and hood.

    The big issue is to check with the Aussie authorities and insurers if they’d accept the mod. Some UK insurers won’t, but the authorities do if it meets legal specs. I have no idea what would happen in Oz, though.

    Exmoor Trim do a folding seat with incorporated seat belt anchors that work inside a regular set of hood sticks, not needing the later hoops, but they’re expensive and I didn’t like their aesthetic. they looked pretty uncomfortable too, but they were fully UK and CE certified, so it’s the easiest and quickest method. You could also look at various minibus or van front seats from scrap yards which have shoulder points, as they’d get around the shoulder point issue cheaply – one Maltese friend did exactly that and had a two-seat bench with incorporated belts mounted on quick release fittings to the load bed so he could retain load carrying/camping ability with regular family use. Look for Gremlin on LR4x4.

    Nick.

  29. Hi Nick

    I have a 110 passenger wagon ’00, the second row of seats have the original low back, these are two low when
    Fitting a booster seat for the kids, I was going to try and replace these with rear seats from a freelander with
    Head rests OR try and fit head rests to the original low seats ? what would your advice be on this? or what other
    type of seats could one retro fit?

    Thanks in advance !

  30. Hi Cyril,

    Exmoor Trim do taller replacement rear seats, or you could use the rear seats from a 2007+ model (TDCI/Puma – the ones with the humped bonnets), as I think their frames will fit the same mountings as you have. They both would give an easy and smart update with taller backs and should be straightforward when dealing with insurance and won’t raise eyebrows at MoT. They should also retain the folding ability.

    Nick.

  31. Thanks for your help Nick, much appreciated.

    Pete.

  32. Hi Nick

    Thanks for the prompt reply, i will try and pick up a Puma set and see how this works out.

    Best Regards

    Cyril

  33. This is the most informative thread I have read . Thanks to all the contributors . Can anyone recommend a company that could fit my exmoor forward facing seats in the High Wycombe area . Thanks a million

  34. John, they’re sold as DIY installations and are really pretty simple, so you only need basic tools and a second pair of hands to do it yourself. You’d save a lot of money that way, too.

    Nick.

  35. Hi Nick

    Your post inspired me to fit two lock/fold seats in the back of my 110. I used the same upside-down SIII anchor points for fitting the shoulder bolts as you did – this was an ingenious idea, well done. But I wonder now if this approach is OK to pass an MOT (mainly given that the gutter does bend a fair bit when the belt is yanked). What has your experience of this been – any problems with an MOT?

    Tim

  36. Hi Tim,

    I didn’t get any movement on my gutter, but perhaps the steel gutters of Series vehicles were more rigid than the aluminium gutters of Defenders. I really don’t know the answer. I did use M8 bolts with heavy washers to spread the loads, and that may help. The anchors are also mounted right in the rear corners and up against the roof’s middle rib, so the rib bracket and the rear edge of the gutter may make those positions more rigid than a mid span position. I did give them a damned good tug about, though, as those seats were for use by my kids.

    Where along the gutter did you fit the anchors in your 110? Are they in similar positions to mine or in the middle of a span? It’d be good shared knowledge!

    Nick

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