The car bench seats in these classic autos offered comfort comparable to that of a well-loved couch or recliner, rivaling even the most posh of today’s luxury sedans. (For comparison, take a look at some vintage 70s couches here!
While fancy automobile interiors have a history stretching back to the 1920s (as you can see in the magnificent classic Pierce Arrow shown below), it was only in the late 20th century that these extraordinary comforts became available to more than the elite few.
Perhaps the most significant element contributing to the living-room-on-wheels vibe was the seating — namely the old-style bench seats that didn’t have a divider or console in the middle.
Unlike today’s bucket seats, which are considered to be sportier and better suited for the tight dimensions of smaller cars, the vintage bench seats could make these cars feel like they were fitted with a nice piece of upholstered furniture. (The lack of headrests in many of the earlier models really helped complete the couch-like silhouette.)
Car bench seats were the standard in large American premium sedans and minivans well into the ’90s. But alas, their decline started creeping in as the auto market evolved.
Benches were swapped out for buckets to offer a sportier feel and better accommodate safety features like airbags. In fact, by 2013, it was reported that the Chevrolet Impala was the only American car still being sold with a bench seat… an option that was soon discontinued.
But the cushioned seating was not the only luxury these old chariots boasted. Most came fitted with deep-pile carpeting that extended the homey ambiance throughout the cabin. You weren’t just driving — you were gliding in a mobile living room targeted at mainstream America.
So, buckle up and have a scroll back to an era when driving could be as cozy as a night in front of the TV — when the line between your car and your living room was beautifully blurred.
It’s these comforts that make these cars fondly remembered, and sorely missed.
Luxurious old General Motors Viking car with couch-like bench seats (1929)
Sofa-like back car bench seats in the 1957 Buick Roadmaster 75
Cushioned and embroidered blue front seat upholstery in the 1965 Cadillac
Wide car bench seat with champagne gold upholstery in a 1966 Cadillac
The 5′ leather sofa on the 1968 Chrysler Imperial
Welcome to a totally new driving environment. Lavish. Commodious. Invigorating. You don’t adjust to Imperial luxury. It adjusts to you.
The front seat (shown in Silhouette-grain leather upholstery) is actually three seats in one. With armrests up, it is a 5-foot-wide sofa. With armrests down, it becomes twin armchairs, or an armchair plus recliner. Whichever you prefer, whenever you prefer. With full options, absolute luxury surrounds you.
Stereo tapes play through a 5-speaker system. An AM/FM radio tunes itself. Headlights dim and brighten by themselves. When you arrive home late, they remain on, lighting the way to your door. Then extinguish automatically. Set the Auto-Temp for the exact temperature you prefer. It is maintained — winter and summer.
No other luxury car moves and comforts like this one. Not one is so thoroughly satisfying to drive. The 1968 Imperial, finest automobile built by Chrysler Corporation.
Padded vinyl upholstery in the ’68 Buick Electra Limited
“What the Electra Limited Lacks is a fireplace.”
Black velour pillow-effect upholstered seats (1972)
Here’s a car with a deep-buttoned couch-like velour trim — complete with contrasting piping — as seen in the Oldsmobile limited-edition Ninety-Eight Regency
Lush red velour everywhere in the Buick Electra Park Avenue (1974)
“Check the upholstery. It’s crushed velour — loosely draped, like on fine furniture, and very soft. Above your head is more velour. Even the console is covered with velour. It makes the inside of a Park Avenue look and feel, well, kind of spectacular.”
Cushy leather in the 74 Mercury Cougar XR-7
Victoria Velour seating surfaces in the 1974 Thunderbird Burgundy Special Edition classic car
Most of the luxuries in Thunderbird come standard: things like air conditioning. The vinyl roof. Steel-belted radial ply tires. And it doesn’t require premium gas. Now, for a little more, you can have this very limited Special Edition.
The Burgundy Luxury Group is sumptuous, from its discreet gold stripes and distinctive wire wheel covers, to its deep Victoria Velour seating surfaces (or choose red leather and vinyl).
Here’s the car to remember. Better still, to own. Thunderbird 1974. In the world of personal luxury cars, its the unique value. This is your year. Make a little Thunder of your own.
Plush burgundy velour easy chair seats in the Buick Electra Park Avenue (1975)
Interior trim on a 1975 Cadillac Sedan de Ville
Interiors continue to play a major role in Sedan deVille’s popularity. For 1975, there is a new seat and door panel design… “Soft pillow” door uppers… Deep pile carpeting. And a wide choice of interior trims.
Shown is Maharajah — a rich multipatterned design in Medium Jasper bordered with Jasper leather. Also available in Dark Blue or Medium Saddle. Other cloth trims: Manhattan — an elegant velour in Gold, Crimson or Rosewood. And Metamora — a tastefully muted plaid in Orange, Jasper or Saddle. Or you may specify leather in any of 10 available colors. Available also is Mardi Gras velour in Black.
Mid-70s Ford LTD wagon interior with split bench seats in glove-soft vinyl
Shirred patterned velour seats: 1975 Cadillac Brougham interior trim
The shirred look! It helps make one of the world’s most elegant interiors even more attractive — to the eye and to the touch. Whether it’s in the new softer leather available or in the new ornate Monticello velour shown, the effects of the shirring technique are beautifully evident.
Everywhere the emphasis is on beauty and comfort. The soft leather is available in nine colors. Lovely Monticello, pictured here in rosewood, comes in five additional colors.
Super puffy leather seats & thick carpeting in the huge 1977 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz
Late 70s Oldsmobile Royale Brougham interior with pillow-top backrests
Champagne leather sofa seating in the 1980 Chrysler New Yorker Fifth Avenue Edition
Well-padded interior trim on a ’79 Olds 98 Regency
Puffy leather front seats in a 1979 Chrysler LeBaron
Soft draped velour upholstery in the 1979 Buick Electra
Velvety soft fabric on the seats in the 1982 Caprice Classic
Thick cushioned seats in the 1983 Buick Park Avenue
Soft front seats in a 1985 Buick LeSabre
Deep-buttoned leather seats in the ’87 Chrysler New Yorker car
B-52s on the joy of huge cars: “I got me a Chrysler, it seats about 20” (1989)
“Hop in my Chrysler, it’s as big as a whale, and it’s about to set sail” – B-52s, Love Shack