73-87 GM Pickup Truck Factory Bucket Seat Information

Written by: Jeff Drew

Installing bucket seats into your pickup has to be one of the, if not the, most popular and most asked about upgrades for many 73-87 GM pickup truck owners.  What many people don't know or realize, is the fact that bucket seats were actually an option starting in 1973 and ending in the early 80's.  So, if you are looking to make the switch from a bench seat to bucket seats, please read on.

Seat differences
Bucket seats have always been available in Blazers (Jimmys), Suburbans, and pickup trucks...and the seats are all basically the same.  GM used what are commonly referred to as "low back" bucket seats up until 1977, with "high back" seats thereafter.  If your truck is a 1977 model, you could have either one, depending on your trucks build date...this was the changeover year for the different seat styles. 

Bracket and mounting hardware differences
Blazers and Jimmys have a flat floor (since the gas tank is at the rear), and therefore have their own style of seat brackets.  Pickups, Suburbans, and crew cabs have a contoured floor...making their seat brackets different than the Blazers/Jimmy models.  Now just because these three models are different from the Blazer/Jimmy, it doesn't make them all the same either.  Pickup trucks have what I call a "rear shelf" along the rear floor of the cab, the Suburbans and crew cabs do not have this since they have a second (and sometimes third) row of seats.  Since the pickup truck bucket seat mounting brackets bolt to the rear shelf, this makes the pickup truck bucket seat brackets unique to themselves and different from all the other 73-87 models.  One more interesting thing I should mention, in pickups equipped with factory bucket seats, the passenger seat is stationary and non-adjustable...there are no tracks, it is just bolted to the floor via the brackets.  Below is a picture of all the brackets and hardware (minus the bolts). 

Pickup trucks equipped with bucket seats also came with center consoles.  These center consoles were identical to the center consoles found in the Blazer, Jimmy, and Suburbans.  There were two different style inserts in the consoles for the 73-80 years, one consisted of two "pockets" and an ashtray, the other came with two cup holders and a single smaller "dish" for holding coins and whatnot.  The earlier version was used in pickup trucks up until 1975 or 1976, and is the same one found in the 69-72 GM trucks.  Because these trucks came standard with lap belts only, the pocket was intended for the female end of the seatbelt to rest in when not in use.  The later version no longer needed these pockets because three point belts were now being used and they retracted up and out of the way, unlike earlier lap belts.  The 1981 and newer consoles are completely different from the older units.  Below is a picture of each version (coming soon).


Here are some frequently asked questions...

Were bucket seats all that common in pickup trucks?  No.  From everything I have seen, read, and heard...a small percentage of pickups actually received bucket seats, thus actually finding a truck with them can be pretty difficult.

Will pickup truck bucket seat brackets bolt up to Blazer or Suburban seats?  Yes, the seats themselves are all basically the same throughout the years...however, I am not too sure about the mid to late 80's bucket seats since they changed quite a bit from previous years.  You are on your own there.

What exactly do I need to put factory bucket seats in my bench seat equipped truck?  You will need the seats, brackets, floor tabs, and all mounting hardware.  If you choose, you might also want to consider getting a factory console as well...it makes the whole package look soo much cleaner.  Here are a couple pics of the set (high backs) I am using in my '73.


What are the bucket seat tabs?  The tabs were two "A" shaped pieces of steel that were welded to the floor on pickups, Suburbans, and crew cabs.  These tabs were used to mount the front inner seat brackets on both the driver and passenger side.  Because they are welded in, a lot of people don't go thru the trouble of removing them when pulling the seats/brackets out of a donor truck.  These tabs are vital in mounting the bucket seats correctly, and because I hear a lot of people looking for them, I decided to make a template out of a coat hanger...so you can fabricate your own if needed.  Click the image below to see the 1:1 scale template.  


FYI: If you can't locate the factory tab or if it wasn't included when you purchased your seats,
the Suburbans and crew cabs also have this tab...and it is the same as the one used in pickups.

Are there any special steps (or modifications) I should know about if I decide to install factory buckets into my truck?  The seat tracks themselves are pretty much a bolt in deal.  You will be able to use three of the factory four holes your bench seat was bolted down to, the rest will have to be drilled out.  The three you CAN use are the two front outer holes and the rear outer drivers side hole.  You will need to drill both rear passenger holes as well as the rear inside drivers hole.  The front inner brackets bolt to the above mentioned tabs, which will need to be welded or bolted in.  The console bolts directly to the floor, four holes will need to be drilled here as well.



Well, I hope you have found this article helpful.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact me and I will try to answer them to the best of my ability.