We know our readers drive their cars every chance they get, but the more miles you rack up the more it becomes evident that the stock seats are the biggest throwback to ’60s engineering and design. Ford didn’t even offer a headrest on most applications until the late 1960s (not counting dealer-installed Rotunda options). Today’s cars are a different story with “active this” and “automatic that,” and that includes the headrests on many cars today as well. However, adding headrests to your classic Mustang is now a whole lot easier thanks to the forward thinking engineers at TMI Products.
Why add headrests to your first gen Mustang’s seats? At the very top of that list is safety, of course. The early Mustang’s low-back seating offers absolutely zero head and neck protection in the case of an accident. A rear-end collision and its ensuing whiplash injury can be devastating, debilitating, and often long-term. Having a headrest installed greatly reduces the chance of injury. Just like a seatbelt though, you have to have one installed and use it for it to protect you.
Besides the obvious safety benefit, adding a bolt-on headrest solution like the TMI Products headrest kit offers driver and front seat passenger comfort on extended drives, too
Besides the obvious safety benefit, adding a bolt-on headrest solution like the TMI Products headrest kit offers driver and front seat passenger comfort on extended drives, too. The headrest kit features OE-style mechanisms to secure the headrest in multiple positions to match the passenger’s seating comfort/height and is available in all ’65-’67 Mustang OE interior colors. The headrests also feature a ratchet position adjustment that allows the user to select one of four headrest forward angle positions (similar to the ’13 Mustang OE design). Just pull the headrest forward and it will ratchet to the next position. When you get to the full forward position just pull the headrest forward again and it will ratchet and reset to the first position.
Installation requires light upholstery work (you’ll need some hog rings and hog ring pliers) and can be done in-car if you desire. Removing the seats is at the installer’s discretion for working room/cleanliness. We found it was easy to simply remove the seatbacks from our subject vehicle and transfer them to our workbench for the installation versus getting under the car for full seat removal. The choice is up to you, however, the installation is not time consuming and requires no drilling/welding; just some basic handtools and perhaps an hour of your time. Read on to see how easy the installation is.
1. The standard interior in this ’66 Mustang is clean and in good shape, but with the coupe being a driver, it’ll certainly benefit from the safety and comfort of having headrests added to the front seats.
2. As noted in the opening text, we decided to simply remove the seatback from each seat for the headrest upgrade. To do so, you’ll need to access the pivot points of the seatback. The outer beauty trim is removed first. On the ’66 it is the “hockey stick” trim held by three screws.
3. Once the trim is removed, the pivot arm retainer is accessible. We found it best to use a pair of needle-nose pliers or a hook-tipped tool remove the retainer clip.
4. For the inboard pivot, you’ll find a smaller plastic trim cover with a single Phillips-head screw that needs to be removed. Due to the proximity to the transmission tunnel hump, a stubby or right-angle screwdriver will help in removing the screw.
5. With the cover out of the way, you can access the inboard pivot arm retainer and remove it in the same manner as the outboard retainer just removed.
6. Once both pivot retainers have been removed, the seatback can be easily separated from the seat base by pulling the seatback pivot free of the pivot pin and lifting the seatback up and off the opposite pivot pin.
7. With the seatback now on a clean work surface, the seatback’s rear panel can be removed. The safest way to separate the panel from the seat frame is with a traditional door panel removal tool. Carefully locate the retaining clips and pry the panel off at these points.
8. Here’s where the hog rings and hog ring pliers will eventually come into play. You’ll need to remove the hog rings securing the seatback upholstery along the top of the seatback and along the upper sides as well.
9. Carefully pull the upper seatback upholstery over the frame and foam to expose the top of the seat frame, as shown here. This is necessary to trim away the material and install the headrest bracket for each seatback.
10. Using a razor blade or hobby knife, trim away the seat frame material found under the foam cushion. Do not trim away any of the seat foam; it’s flexible enough to move out of the way for access.
Having a headrest installed greatly reduces the chance of injury.
11. Slide the headrest bracket into place from the top of the seatback frame, ensuring it’s positioned per the instructions, and align it with the existing holes in the seatback frame. Install the Allen-head hardware through the seatback frame and through the headrest bracket, and tighten by hand until snug. This will seat the square nut to the bracket. Finish tightening the Allen-head bolts with a 3⁄16-inch Allen-head socket.
12. Once the headrest bracket is secured, the seatback material can be carefully repositioned and pulled tight to be secured by new hog rings.
13. Using a pick tool or awl from the underside of the headrest bracket carefully pass the tip of the tool through the bracket’s mounting holes for the plastic post sleeves until you pierce the upholstery. This will act as a centering point for the cuts you need to make to the material.
14. Using your razor blade or hobby knife once again, carefully cut an X pattern over the centering hole made by the pick tool or awl. Cutting away some of the foam directly under the opening will help with installing the headrest post sleeves, or you can remove the required foam over the bracket before reinstalling the upholstery.
15. After performing the necessary trimming/cutting for the headrest post sleeves, the sleeves can be pressed through the upholstery and foam and into the mounting bracket. Use a flashlight and guide the sleeves through the bracket as needed. Note the headrest post sleeve with the release tab needs to be mounted with the release to the right (passenger side) to engage the headrest post notches.
16. When inserting the headrests into the guide sleeves, double check that the guide posts have no interference with the seat springs through their course of movement. We had to bend the offending spring loop shown here downward to allow the guide post room for movement without catching on the spring. When you’ve verified the headrest moves freely you can reinstall the seatback rear panel
17. Fully seated to the top of the seatback, the vinyl used by TMI is an exact match for the existing upholstery and looks period to the car/seat and not a tacky add-on. Repeat the installation steps for the remaining seatback and you’ll be ready to reinstall the updated seatbacks.
18. Back in the ’66, you can see the new headrests blend right in with the interior and will be a bastion of comfort and safety for the owner and his passenger when taking this coupe for a drive.
19. While it’s surely a matter of preference, we like the look of the TMI Products headrest in the full-forward-tilt position (left). However, with the headrest in the first position (right), it is more parallel with the seatback. Either way, you have four positions to adjust the headrest for comfort/looks.
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