Snuggle Up With Your Valentine on a Retro Bench Seat

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With more and more feature-rich cars packed with heated and cooled seats, backup cameras and refrigerated glove boxes, it's hard not to reminisce about some features that have fallen by the wayside. As a newlywed, this Valentine's Day I'm fond of the bench seat. I know, "Aww ... yuck!"

My family and I recently borrowed a 1972 Dodge pickup for a couple of weeks to help with our move into our new home. My husband loved it since it fit in perfectly with his retro John Deere baseball cap and work pants look (don't ask), but I could find few redeeming qualities. It was loud, unsafe, had no heating or cooling, used an unbelievable amount of gas and had dodgy brakes. There also were no cupholders, and the Ram's manual gearshift was temperamental -- to say the least. To add insult to injury, I wasn't tall enough to see over the steering wheel (no adjustable seats!).

There was, however, one feature I loved: the bench seat. What was once the traditional seat installed in the front row of almost all American automobiles is now practically nonexistent. In the truck we borrowed, this expanse of cracked, worn vinyl was oddly inviting. Whether it was the memory of sitting up front "safely" between my mom and dad as a child or more recently being able to snuggle up to my hubby to stay warm when driving a load of furniture to our new home, it gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Today, the front bench seat is on the endangered-species list. It's available on only one 2012 model, the Chevrolet Impala.

It seems that if I want to enjoy the benefits of the bench seat combined with the creature comforts and safety features of 2012, I'm nearly out of options. For the moment, I'll have to reminisce about getting cozy on the bench seat at the drive-in ... good luck finding one of those, as well!

By Kristin Varela | February 14, 2012 | Comments (5)

Comments 

Derrick G

Uhm, there was no Ram truck in 1972. Let's not go back and rewrite history. Dodge trucks then were D-series trucks. Mostly likely it was a D-100 or maybe a D-150. The Ram name didn't appear on a truck until MY 1981, though the Ramcharger came in 1974 and a Ram hood ornament was on their cars in the 1930's. Or perhaps you meant to type 1982?

fwtex

This is my third recent post (rant?) about my beloved bench seats. Look at all that wonderful leg room in the photo above! Why have the automakers given up on the bench? Too many center consoles are way confining and serve no real purpose. My Deville and my LeSabre before had great split bench seats with a perfect armrest (w/storage and fold-out cup-holders) that folded up for the extra passenger/girlfriend/wife to sit next to me. All was good.

Derrick G,
Thanks for the note. We fixed that. We're not sure on the exact truck so hopefully the generic "Dodge" will be ok.

Market Researcher

How about every truck still to this day is available with some type of bench/split seat.

Available in these truck brands:
Ram
Ford
Toyota
GMC
Chevy
Nissan

Figured I would list these since you were talking about a pick-up truck.
Please look into things further before listing next time.

65Chrysler300

My '89 Mercury Sable has a split bench, and like fwtex said, it has leg room to spare and a perfect armrest. Too bad they don't do that anymore.

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