image source: Pinterest
The idea behind front bucket swivel seats is to make ingress and egress easier for passengers.
It was an interior option first offered by the Chrysler Corporation in the 1950s, followed by General Motors some fifteen years later.
Virgil Exner was the design inspiration behind the high flying Forward Look that dominated Chrysler cars and most of the American car manufacturing industry of the 50s.
Cars from this design philosophy are long, low and wide with wraparound windshields and emblematic sweeping fins terminated by jet-exhaust styled taillights lending the cars a sense of motion while standing still.
Engineering features that were modern for the time matched the correspondingly fresh looks, which for the Chrysler corporation for a time included swivel seats.
The swivel seat utilizes a unique track system that allows the front bucket seats to not only move back and forth.
But swivel toward the outside of a vehicle for a more dignified entrance and exit.
Today swivel seats are marketed toward people with physical disabilities. They’re also commonly associated with custom vans, RVs and low riders.
Although this feature was short-lived, there have been attempts to revive the swivel seat. Until then, checkout the cars that once came with stock swivel seats.
1. 1959 Dodge Custom Royal
image source: Curbside Classics
Based on our research, the swiveling seat seems to have been a mostly North American automotive feature.
The zenith of the late 1950s tailfin wars came in 1959. Cars were more flamboyant than ever before and nowhere was that more evident than at Dodge.
The bulk of Dodge cars sold at that time were the bread-and-butter cars like the Coronet. Cars like this Custom Royal were considered top-of-the-line.
Not to be confused with the Royal. The Custom Royal gets more of everything that came with a Royal, including an elliptical steering wheel and optional front swivel seats.
As you can see in the advertisement above, the slightly restyled 1959 Dodge Custom Royal exhibits what the company marketed as swing out seats.
2. 1959 DeSoto Adventurer
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DeSoto isn’t a familiar name within the modern automotive landscape.
Formerly a division of Chrysler, DeSoto was a mid-range marque slotted above Plymouth and just below Dodge.
The brand specialized in huge family cars representative of the 1950s American automobile. And the Adventurer was at the top of the model lineup.
The Adventurer was an exclusive, limited edition trim level of DeSoto’s top level offering. Only 300 were convertible like the example above.
Along with dual headlights and a fin-covered design typical of high-end American cars of the time.
This Adventurer also came with front swivel seats making its first appearance in the 1959 model.
Adding to the uniqueness of the car, in 1959 only 97 were convertible. But after 33 years and declining sales, the parent company decided to pull the plug.
3. 1959 Plymouth Sport Fury
image source: Barret Jackson
The Plymouth brand was introduced in 1928 as a budget-friendly option coming in below the mid-line Dodge brand.
It quickly rose to become Chrysler’s volume leader.
This focus on offering budget-friendly options also helped the company sidestep bankruptcy during the great depression.
The Fury name was introduced in 1956 solely as a sport coupe. It was intended to be a fun but practical car for the average buyer.
In ’59 it was heavily updated with a two-door hard top and convertible options.
The 1959 Sport Fury was Plymouth’s flagship car. For 1959 the Plymouth Fury was heavily updated with new styling and fresh power train options.
The same year saw the introduction of the Sport Fury.
Along with an on-board record player, optional on Sport Furys were a pair of swivel front seats that allow you to swivel out in comfort when you open the door.
Despite its strong run, the Plymouth brand was discontinued in the beginning of the millennium after 73 years due to declining sales.
4. 1960 Chrysler 300F
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In 1960, if you wanted an American car with all the luxury and performance of a Bentley Continental GT. You got the Chrysler 300F.
1960 was a year of innovation for the Chrysler Corporation.
And the 300F was one of the first cars (since the Chrysler Airflow) to receive a unit-body design.
Like the Jaguar XK, it was engineered to be the gentlemen’s hot rod.
Engineered for a new market, it also got the new for the time Ram Induction consisting of two separate intake manifolds.
Inside are four bucket seats that help create a cockpit like feel. The swiveling front seats were introduced in the 300 letter cars beginning in 1959.
5. 1973 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
image source: Classic Cars
About fifteen years later, over at GM the swivel seat trend was rekindled in the colonnade cars of the 1970s.
Colonnade refers to the car’s three pillars.
GM’s malaise era colonnade cars all had B-pillars. And some cars between 1973 and 1977 also got swivel seats.
This was my dad’s first car.
But his didn’t include the cool swivel seats.
Other GM cars to get swivel seats include the Monte Carlo, Chevelle and Laguna. But just like Chrysler, swivel seats was a short lived feature.