Home » A Modern Car With A Rumble Seat Is A Terrible Idea So We Did It

A Modern Car With A Rumble Seat Is A Terrible Idea So We Did It

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Being a Honda Accord must be tough.

Here you are, one of the few remaining mid-sized sedans left. For the last four and half decades you’ve been one of the best entries in this category, and certainly one of the most appealing (hey, did they ever make a Camry with pop-up headlights? Case closed). Still, when a new Accord is introduced, it often gets a fraction of the enthusiasm as some flashier car that’s not even a third as good.

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Honda via NetCarShow

Familiarity breeds indifference, and one gets the sense that if, in an alternate world, Honda were to introduce an all-electric Accord right now with batteries under the floor it might be met with the excitement level reserved for a new type of Wonder Bread. “I thought they already made one” might be the response of others. That’s a shame, since the latest model looks better than ever, and an EV Accord could certainly be a major bone in the throat of Tesla, with better build quality at a lower price.

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Honda

An old school trick of manufacturers back in the day was to make a show car or special edition of a new car to gain attention and drive showroom traffic to the lower-level, run-of-the-mill models. Creating an Accord EV show car that’s exciting and a little absurd might be the answer to get our Accord some well-deserved interest. Did somebody say absurd? Hey, I’m your freaking guy, there. In fact, I’ve been looking for a place to try this next one out.

Rumblings Of Extra Seating

Second in popularity to those dumb ‘Ten Ugliest Cars’ lists must be the list of ‘Ten Features That Will Never Return To Cars’. All of these click-baits mention vent windows and ashtrays but only a few bring up the rumble seat. This was a seat that appeared when you opened what looked like the trunk lid on a pre-war car, and it offered essentially none of the weather protection that front passengers received.

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Still, if the weather was decent it might be a fun place to ride, and the penalty-box ‘mother-in-law’ seat title might not have been fully deserved. This feature disappeared from all cars after World War II. The rather unfortunate looking lumpy/dumpy Triumph 1800 Roadster was the last car to offer one (supposedly different designers created the front and back of the car). Part of the boot lid became the rear windscreen (British car, so gotta go by their terms, right?); nobody designing it seemed to notice that said windscreen became a window into what valuables you were carrying to let thieves see if they should have a go at nicking what’s in there. Brilliant!

Triumph
Left Coast Classics

The rumble seat did occasionally appear on show cars and in the aftermarket. Galpin Ford made a conversion kit for Mustangs in the late sixties, and our very own Beau Boeckman’s Galpin Auto Sports restored a surviving example:

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Galpin Auto Sports

Aw, come on, you just KNOW that American Motors was batshit crazy enough to suggest this outdoor seat again, didn’t you? I mean, AMC should stand for ‘Advancements Misunderstood and Costly’, and the Vignale-built Javelin/AMX showcar they built certainly has plenty of them.

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American Motors

In back, the trunk lid flipped up to form what AMC called a Ramble Seat (Rambler was still an American Motors brand). The cool trick here is that the backlight also flipped up, creating a rear windshield that likely made rumble seat riding far more pleasant than in the prohibition-era cars. It’s a painfully cool concept, looking like a toy you’d run down that orange plastic track in your rec room while Sid and Marty Croft’s Wonderbug or Lost Saucer played on your black and white Zenith 17”.

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That’s just the beginning, though. You’ve heard of ‘2+2’ coupes where the rear seats are ‘occasional’ passengers?  Well what about a ‘2+2+2’? Here’s how one source described the Javelin Ramble Seat show car:

“It offers three-way seating – full bucket seats flanking an aircraft type console; a “Ramble-seat” which is activated by a push button control inside the car; and fold-down contoured rear seats which may be used when the Ramble seat is not in use”. 

Wait, so there were fold down seats INSIDE the car to allow passengers to ride indoors if the Ramble seat wasn’t used? Could these seats be deployed WITH the Ramble seat in place? That sounds impossible, but I uncovered this picture below that seems to prove it was one of this concept’s capabilities:

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American Motors

Good Lord. We could be looking at an ‘occasional six-seater’ sports coupe. Sort of like the extra seats in the cargo bed of Subaru BRAT, right?

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Mecum (car for sale)

Just like the Soobie, it’s an idea that doesn’t make much sense- but it will get a lot of attention for our poor, under-appreciated Accord EV.

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The Party Really Is In Back

Named after the targa-topped Civic coupe that OG CR-X fans love to hate, the Honda Accord Del Sol EV is a perfect fastback shape to copy the old AMC show car. You start with an Accord sedan with a glass roof that retracts in several pieces and stacks over the roof above the rear passengers. Simple enough, but if it’s a nice day and you’ve got more than five people to take on your trip there’s another option.

Accord Rear 2

Pop open the upper part of the trunk lid, hit a button to raise the rear backlight, and fold up the two passenger ‘jump’ seat in the trunk and you’ve got a rumble seat, baby! Many rumble seats in days of yore required you to step over the fenders to get in, but our Accord requires you to fold the second row seatbacks forward to climb in (and this row can slide forward to allow for more legroom in the rumble seat area). The whole idea is ridiculous, but if it Honda were insane enough to build it, here’s a few details.

Accord Rear 1

Unlike the old AMC where the opened rear glass appears to just be spring loaded open, we’re going to add supports on the side that not only prevent the wind from the moving car from shutting it, but also have the ability to hold the weight of the back of the car. That’s right; the frame around the glass is steel that acts as a roll bar.

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Accord Side 3

Accord Side 1

Accord Side 2

The trunk lid could open like a regular one if the glass was lowered, the raising top being just a part of lid structure (likely that would make a damn heavy lid but if raises and lowers electrically it won’t matter). Also, the fold up seat itself could be removed from the car in a manner similar to the third row in older Land Cruisers or even the cushions in three row station wagons (allowing you to put cargo in the space under the floor of instead).

Dangerous? Of course! But third row seats in the back of many SUVs are just as close to the rear bumper, so there’s that.

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But Why Tho?

As much fun as riding with half a dozen people in the open air sounds, the complexity and structural reinforcements needed to get this very limited use feature on a very limited production car (if it were produced beyond a show car) would be worth it for only one reason: you’re reading this story, right? You’d breeze (pardon the pun) over some article on the range capabilities of a stock EV Accord, or just ignore it completely and read some Mustang review. Make a seat pop out of the trunk? Now we’ve made you look.

 

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Dennis Frederickson
Dennis Frederickson
10 months ago

I left town for a few days and there you go again!

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
10 months ago

I don’t see how the rambler seats in this Accord would be any more dangerous that the 3rd row of a Model Y or VW Tiguan. The seat back is almost touching the trunk in those things, I assume if you get rear-ended it’s not going to go well for the kiddies.

In fact, the Accord could be offered with optional ejector seats – the munchkins are rocketed a couple of hundred feet into the air milliseconds after impact (triggered the same way airbags are). They get a short but ‘exhilarating’ 7g flight before the parachute deploys, safely avoiding death as the back 3ft of your car is crumpled like an aluminium can.

SLM
SLM
10 months ago

“It’s a painfully cool concept”… In the case of a rollover, it will probably the most painful cool you will ever experience.

Miguel Plano
Miguel Plano
10 months ago

Technically speaking not a rumble seat, but kind of at the same time, the Skoda Felicia Fun, was a single cab pickup truck that had a sliding seat that would displace the whole back wall into the bed, so the passengers could seat behind the driver but exposed to the elements.

https://preview.redd.it/kcia1ik4ept31.jpg?width=1080&crop=smart&auto=webp&s=777c1f6cf3cd6b0448554cc88137aec4cc0ab186

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
10 months ago

Technically, Shay and Camelot did both build rumble seat roadsters into the 1980s, but they were reproductions of Model As

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
10 months ago

You got it wrong. That rear seat has to be out in the open for kids and drunks. The partition needs to noise proof the cabin from the kids and the drunks. Now back in the day seatbelts were non-existant or just optional but i bet mouse fur electronically required now.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
10 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

You don’t want seatbelts in a rumble seat (rumbleseatbelts?) anyways. In the event of a crash just push off with your feet and somersault to safety.

Scootershapedmotorcycle
Scootershapedmotorcycle
10 months ago

The assumption of good weather for these things is always just so lovely. And a 6 seater (hell, 7 of you jam the kids into the middle row) makes it all so very very interesting.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
10 months ago

There’s also the Birdnest for ’57 Thunderbirds:

https://justacarguy.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-birdnest-rare-dealership-installed.html

That’s more or less a modern car, right?

Last edited 10 months ago by Mike Harrell
Sgtyukon
Sgtyukon
10 months ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

without a step, how does one get into the ’57 T-bird bird’s nest without destroying the paint? With two people in the bird’s nest, how does a ’57 T-bird, especially one with a continental kit negotiate even a two-degree incline?

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
10 months ago

Ooooh – next do what a modern “way back” in a contemporary vehicle might look like!

Chronometric
Chronometric
10 months ago

My father had a 1925 Packard roadster with a rumble seat. It was a pretty little yellow thing with black fenders and top. To get in you stepped on the corner of the rear bumper, then a big step (especially for an 8-year old) onto a pad atop the rear fender, then down onto a towel laid on the seat, then shimmy your legs down into the hole provided.

We lived in Florida and my sister and I would ride back there to antique car shows. Sometimes we left early in the morning and it was cold so we would duck down under a blanket and close the lid a bit but that caused exhaust to circulate around us so usually we just toughed it out. Other times it rained. The strategy for rain is to lean forward and to the center so the driven rain is somewhat blocked by the real passenger compartment where we could peer through the foggy rear window at my blissfully dry parents.

Just like this only yellow. And where did that rear windscreen come from? Why didn’t we have a rear windscreen? Maybe because ours was the lowly 6-cylinder.
https://cdn.dealeraccelerate.com/volo/2/15611/209169/1920×1440/1925-packard-236

Last edited 10 months ago by Chronometric
Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
10 months ago

OK, so no one’s done the obvious; I’ll bite the bullet: LETS GET READY TO RUMBLE!

My uncle had 1936 Pontiac hot rod with a rumble seat. He used to put me back there when I was about five and race around town. No seat belts, no hand holds. Just side-to-side sliding terror … er, fun.

Last edited 10 months ago by Canopysaurus
Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
10 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Yeah i dont think your modern kids are built for this.

Old Busted Hotness
Old Busted Hotness
10 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Put an iPad back there and they’ll be fine.

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
10 months ago

Just when I thought I knew AMC’s history, hard evidence of a rumble-seat Javelin concept appears. AMC is a gift that keeps giving long after its demise. Thank you for uncovering the ramble seat.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
10 months ago

Yeah, this was so awesome to find out…this is why AMC was so great!

Óscar Morales Vivó
Óscar Morales Vivó
10 months ago

I remember seeing a pre-WWII car (long defunct automaker) where the rumble seats were basically drawers you pulled out on the sides. Sadly I don’t have time to see if I took any pictures but it definitely looked even more of a death-defying experience than your standard rumble seat.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
10 months ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

For footmen and referees

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
10 months ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

Some one need to send this to the Rivian CEO. Perfect use for their pass-through storage on the R1T.

Data
Data
10 months ago

Tesla called their third row a rumble seat, but I guess the passengers didn’t ride with the wind.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
10 months ago
Reply to  Data

Depends on where the rumbling was coming from.

Data
Data
10 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Probably the company formerly known as T(w)itter’s investors.

LuzifersLicht
LuzifersLicht
10 months ago

Fun Fact, we also have something called “mother-in-law-seat” in German. It’s the golden barrel cactus “Kroenleinia grusonii” 😀
Not even a joke

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
10 months ago

Since when have we let a bad idea stop us?

Greg
Greg
10 months ago

Maybe as an option on a farm vehicle or a true “estate” car, it would make sense. But I’d be hesitant to take my kids out at high speeds with them in some. I agree, these ain’t coming back.

I don’t hate the idea of vent windows coming back though, but that’s probably nostalgia talking.

Chronometric
Chronometric
10 months ago
Reply to  Greg

I have a ’90 Miata with fixed “quarter lights”. The car would just that little bit better if I could tilt them like my old BMW or Corvair. We definitely lost something when the vent windows went away.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
10 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Family 911 has those and I constantly think “come on, you’re German…you’re supposed to be all about functional stuff!”

MAX FRESH OFF
MAX FRESH OFF
10 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Yes! Butterfly vent windows need to make a comeback. I wish there was a way to retrofit fixed quarter glass with a swivel. Back in the Stone Age when I used to smoke cigarettes on long drives the air flow from butterfly window would keep the smoke out and ash out of the car for the most part.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
10 months ago
Reply to  MAX FRESH OFF

That’s honestly one of the features that most people really seemed to love, they went away mainly for styling reasons – Bill Mitchell decided one-piece side windows just looked cleaner and more modern, and GM was big enough and powerful enough to set trends for the whole industry, so everyone followed what they did (GM had been the ones to introduce quarter windows in the first place back in the ’30s). Personally, I use mine all the time, and, of course, smokers especially liked them

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
10 months ago
Reply to  Greg

I’d like actual direct from the outside air vents to return.

There’s plenty of times when ambient air is near perfect, but using the vent selector on the HVAC system pulls it through the engine compartment, so what you get inside the car is less so.

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