Oh, So That’s How Seats Work: Cold Start

Cs Fordcutaway

I always love car cutaway drawings or ghost drawings or whatever you want to call these sort of X-ray vision views into cars, and this 1961 Ford example is no exception. It’s fantastic. There’s all kinds of good details in this, like that plaid trunk liner, but the one detail I find most amusing is that the seat interiors are shown, too. Because you’re looking at this to know how the seat works, right?

Based on a really informal look at these sorts of drawings, seat cutaways only show up about 25% of the time, I’d guess. Sometimes even the same company can’t decide how important knowing what’s inside the seat is. Look at this:

Cs Beetlecutaway

Volkswagen figured Beetle owners would be curious about the magic happening inside the rear seat at least, but Bus owners?


I suppose they prefer the mystery.

Usually, the seats are either shown solid or disappeared to make visual room for the complex stuff they’re surrounded by:

Cs Smcutaway Cutawayakoda AccordcutawayReally, I’m pretty sure no one is looking at these to figure out if there’s such a thing as a headrest carburetor and, if so, what it does. Still, I like the detail Ford put in that 1961 diagram.

Now the real question: do any of these show what’s inside the tires?

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25 Responses

  1. Beautiful artwork. My favorite part is that long nougat-filled structure running longitudinally underneath that dissected front seat. Is that the carpet, perhaps? But why is it so thick in the front? And is that nougat or peanut-butter? Either way, it looks delicious.

  2. Anyone who has ever reconstructed a old car seat will tell you there are layers, materials, and construction techniques inside that are not obvious to the casual observer. You will learn about hogrings, burlap, wire, carpentry, springs, hinges, latches, animal hair, foam densities, sewing, cloths and vinyls, piping, and adhesives.

    And rust, just for David.

  3. Anyone else worry we’re never going to get promo diagrams like this ever again? And I don’t just mean b/c electric vehicles have fewer moving parts to make good ad copy, but also that most buyers simply don’t care.

    I’m always saddened at how for an increasing amount of vehicles these days, when you open the hood, you see…another hood. That is, a plastic cover over the engine. And one that often has to be unbolted if you want to remove it and actually see your motor.

    Maybe it’s the iphone-ization of things, attempting to remove the machine nature from our consciousness and replace it with that of a mysterious artifact…

    1. I used to hate those covers, but I’ve come around to them more recently. They do serve a function, reducing NVH and keeping dirt and oil off of the engine itself. Is that very important? No, but it’s not totally pointless either. Besides, they generally just pop right off for servicing.

    2. Don’t worry, they still do amazing line drawing cutaways to put in the manual that no one ever reads.

      Not in glorious hand-painted color though. It’s based on the CAD data now. I’ve done a few technical illustrations for workshop manuals.

  4. Honestly really want to see the design plans for adjustable lumbar support. Heck, what about those extended bottom cushions that’s in most BMWs? A lot of them are manual so I’d be curious to see the mechanicals

  5. In the 1961 Ford cutaway, what is the red object in the engine compartment on the passenger side of the vehicle? Is that the back side of a drum brake? If so, it seems too high. Or, is that the air cleaner on the driver’s side of an inline engine? The perspective confuses me.

        1. We had a ’59 Ford — generic sedan: white with no model-name badging. Galaxy? Fairlane? No way go tell!
          Straight six with three on the tree — probably my all-time favorite car, due to our stage in life when it graced us with its excellent service.

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