As a parent, there’s a lot of pressure to, you know, not kill your kid. Overall, I’d say this is a good thing, as that’s pretty much the worst nightmare for any parent. Our vigilance about this is fairly recent, though, and if anyone doubts that, I’d just like to point them to this 1958 or so ‘child’s seat’ for an old Bugeye Sprite.
I suspect that even having this thing in your car would be grounds to have your kid taken to Child Protective Services today. In some ways, that’s kind of a shame, because other than the near-certain peril a kid would be in sitting in this thing, being a kid riding on this thing in the middle of a Bugeye Sprite seems like an absolute blast.
This was an actual, BMC-factory-sold option, not some nocturnally-soaring aftermarket thing. The seat looks like it was designed to match the Sprite’s original interior upholstery, with vertically-upholstered ribs and contrasting-color piping.
Compared to today’s child seats that seem to be padded octopuses of straps and clamps, installation of this thing looks to be deliriously, unbelievably easy. It has four springy metal legs, and the thing just sort of grips the transmission tunnel.
Not only are there no seat belts provided for the kid, the seat itself has no belts or latches or connectors of any type, relying on the smooth-metal-to-vinyl friction to keep the whole thing from flying out of the tiny, open-topped car.
The kid’s wiggly legs would also be in easy kicking-distance of the shifter, just to add that extra level of excitement.
Man, part of me loves this thing, and wishes we still lived in a world where you could drive around in a 1300 lb wheeled bathtub with your kid perched in the middle, giddy with the thrill of the wind and noise and motion.
Of course, a far more rational part is dumbfounded by the fact that this was once considered just fine to stick your kid in. Any accident in this car, no matter how minor, with a kid in this seat, has the potential to be life-alteringly tragic for everyone involved.
And yet, once, people–people like your parents or grandparents–looked at this and thought “fuck it, they’ll be fine,” dropped a kid in there, and screeched off.
I’m sure any surviving kids that did ride in one of these have some pretty amazing memories, at least.