I suspect I'm not alone when I confess I occasionally have car-related dreams. This past week, I woke from a very vivid dream, though I could only remember one part of it clearly. It was a dream about a car, a BMW 2002.
The part I remembered still haunts me: I was in the rear seat. On top of the backrest of the seat was a panel, with a pull-tab. I opened it, reached into the seat, and... and... pulled out a cold beer. Did I say "still haunts me" before? I meant "seems like a good idea."
I know why I was dreaming about a BMW 2002. You may recall a little while back I enlisted the help of the Jalopnik Brain Trust to help my Community-writer friend find a suitable classic car. Well, partially thanks to everyone's help, we found him a great old BMW 2002. I'll give it a full Jalopnik Classic review soon. So, I'd been in and out and around this car a fair amount recently, and that's why my neurons latched onto it in their time off.
The integrated-rear seat cooler, though, I have no idea why that popped in there. Generally, while I'm not against in-car coolers, I can't really say they're something I give much thought to. I know there's several newer cars that offer a similar feature— The Hyundai Equus comes to mind— but those usually take up a fair amount of space in the middle of the rear seat.
For a vintage car, especially the kind of vintage cars I usually am in, rear seat space is at a premium. But why should that deny the already put-upon rear seat passengers the unbridled joy of a cold beverage? It shouldn't, that's why. So the more I think about it, integrating a small cooler into the normally unused space inside the rear seat seatback seems a good idea.
The seatbacks normally have a good amount of void space inside them, usually taken up with some springs. I'd think that, with a bit of cutting out some of the springs and placing a narrow cooler in the void area, this could work well. You'd want to cover the cooler in upholstery foam, and possibly build a wooden support frame for it. On the lid, you'd want to get an upholstery shop to make a padded cover that could be screwed or otherwise mounted on the cooler's upper lid to keep the look of the rear seat as close as possible to normal.
So, if you've already got a rear seatback that needs upholstery work, I'd say this is the perfect time to integrate a cooler into it. Hell, you could even get one of those 12V fridge units and tap a 12V line from the trunk. If you tapped a line from, say a taillight, then you could use the parking light switch as an on/off. Having the parking lights on never hurt anybody, anyway, and would be a good reminder your rear-seat fridge is on.
If nothing else, the next time you're at a junkyard, just check out some rear seatbacks and see how much volume is hidden in there. I'd love to hear your better ideas about what to stick in there. Clothes hamper? Aquarium? Smuggling compartment?