Child Seat Options for Classic Porsche 911 owners

I supplied an agreed insurance valuation for a nice 1982 Porsche 911 SC yesterday. It was a bittersweet moment for the owner: the valuation was for more than he was thinking, but our valuation discussion was a precursor to the impending sale of the car later this year.

The owner had spent a small fortune on the car in the last two years, including £8k with Historika on replacing the suspension and brakes, plating and powder coating the parts that would be re-used and fitting a lot of new parts. He spent over £2k plus materials on the usual rust repairs and then another £2k with Autofarm on a service plus underbody steam clean and waxoyl rust inhibitor treatment.

Add another £2200 on a gearbox rebuild, a bit more on SSIs and you’re getting up for £15k spent on the SC in recent years, so the car is now just about done and in better condition than the average SC of a similar age. Having done all that work, why sell now?

“Since I got it I’ve poured money into it, just short of full restoration, but I’m a new dad with another on the way and thought I could be one of the young IB crowd that could keep the car through kids. Turns out it’s harder than I thought.

“Recent new car seat rules are the killer: Rear facing to 15 months and then some sort of booster until they are quite old. I’m heading towards two kids under two: the SC is a third car and the Mrs wants something she can enjoy also.”

Kids and old Porsches go together like cheeseburgers

Having been through this whole thing when my kids were little, I did the same thing any 911 guy would do and told him to keep the SC and get a Polo or something to run the kids around in. I kept my 911s right through having little kids and wouldn’t dream of selling an air-cooled car just because kids came along, albeit I would be lying if I said it was always easy.

I’ve done the daily school run for at least one child over the last eighteen years and the 911 was always a popular choice when my kids were small. Many nursery pickups were done in the SC despite the mums’ cautioning that “the Porsche will have to go now you have three.” Err, no. I just bought a 5-door Polo and ran that when I didn’t want feet scratching the SC’s leather seatbacks. ‘Shoes off in dad’s car’ was the order of the day.

Child seats in the 20th Century

When I was a kid in the 1970s, there were six children in my family (Irish) and my aunt lived nearby, with three kids and no car. We had a Peugeot 504 Family estate: three rows of seats and not a belt to be seen. All thirteen of us would regularly pile into the Peugeot to head off to my grandmother’s.

Years later, I had my own kids and the child seat laws were a little more rigorous. I did my best to fit proper Porsche seats into the 911 SC Cabriolet I had at the time and the best option was the Porsche Prince seat: a drop-in insert that fitted coupe rear seat wells but struggled with the Cabriolet’s more upright seat backs. Eventually, I either took just one in the front in the Prince or on a Porsche booster, two in the back using the normal lap belts, three using a combination of both or they all stayed at home. My wife has never been one for old Porsches, so no need to take her along…

EU/UK Child Seat Laws 2019

Don’t take the following as full legal advice, as I am not an expert and I accept no liability for you not doing your own research! However, according to a quick look at RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) and the RAC, the current child seat laws seem to break down like this:

Children must use a rear-facing seat until they’re 15 months old. Rear facing seats must not be used in front if there is an active airbag on the passenger side of the car.

Once your child gets to 15 months old, their neck is deemed strong enough to go in a front facing seat, which must be mounted using ISOFIX mounts or a diagonal seat belt. Kids aged 12 or older or those who are taller than 135cm do not need to use a child seat. Children under 12 years old or shorter than 135cm must use a child seat.

Kids over 12 years old or more than 135cm tall must wear a seat belt. Those weighing more than 22kg and taller than 125cm can use a backless booster seat. For smaller children, a high-backed booster seat (like the Porsche ‘Plus’ below) is recommended, as a booster cushion alone will not protect them in a side impact. A child aged three or older may use an adult seat belt if making an ‘unexpected but necessary journey’ over a short distance.

Child Seats versus older Porsches

There are EU requirements laws relating to seat approval which apply to seats made after March 1, 2017 and you should read up on these. Seats manufactured before this date can still be used based on the previous legislation, so let’s assume that your actual seat ticks all the legal boxes.

The only option if your child is fifteen months or younger is a rear facing seat. My experience says that there is no hope of safely fitting one of these into the back of a Ferry-era Porsche, therefore it has to go in the front and the car has to be fitted with no active airbag.

If you have an air-cooled 911 (964 or 993) with a non-switchable airbag, then you need to take the bag out (good luck with that) or you are using another car. Anyone in pre-airbag models is sitting pretty: none of my three Porsches have airbags. 996 and later 911s have a bit more space to play with so most solutions should be OK in there, but you may still struggle with rear legroom/footroom.

Over fifteen months, you can get them in forward facing seats. If you have an older 911 coupe, then there are a few options for forward-facing seats in the back. The Maxi-Cosi Rodi XP has worked well for some and the Porsche Prince is one I recommend. The Prince was made by Britax Römer for Porsche (I had both Römer- and Porsche-badged examples) and works with a seat back and detachable “table”, pressed into the seat back using the seat belt.

Now for a cautionary note. You will love the Prince as it opens up a whole world of car fun with the kids and seems to look cool in situ: it has a very Porsche-like appearance. The table top is also a great place for their head to lie on when they want to have a sleep. However, I had two kids in Prince seats and I can’t say either of them were overly enamoured with them.

Orla G in a Porsche Prince child seat (911 SC Cabriolet)

The Porsche Prince seat is a bit claustrophobic – especially in the back of a Cabriolet – and a right faff to fit with anything other than diagonal inertia-reel seat belts, which my Cab did not have. Be prepared for your kids to hate these seats and keep your cool if that is the case. You don’t have to sit in them and mum’s/dad’s “other car” is quieter with better seats and probably decent air con too. Don’t expect miracles straight away.

A tired Ciara G about to have a snooze in the SC at the Stamford Hall VW Show

I occasionally used these seats without the table when my kids were bigger and they were happier like this but, while the Prince variants worked quite well, they were not perfect. A hardback Audi front-facing seat (pic above) that also had a lap table, which I used in the front of the SC, had height-adjustable clips on either side of the backrest to take the shoulder belt at a nice angle and all three daughters were happiest in this. I was perhaps happier with the risks of using a less than optimal seat than you might be – I never went flat out anywhere with the kids in the car – but it will be up to you to decide whether it fits your comfort zone.

Child Seat Summary

The upshot is that, if you only have one child to move, then anything is possible and it should not be too much of a problem. If you have two to move, then it gets interesting: especially if the Mrs wants to come too. That said, if your old Porsche is a third car and either of the other two work for moving kids, then I don’t see why the Porsche has to go. Kids don’t stay kids forever. Note also that whatever cash you get for your Porsche car will disappear in a heartbeat and getting back into one will be a lot more expensive down the road. “Don’t sell your dream,” as my friend Leonard very wisely told me.

I understand why the SC owner is putting his car up for sale, but I still think it’s a mistake to sell due to kids. Macan and Cayenne took off because they are great for moving kids if you simply must have a Porsche badge, but they are no substitute for the old ones. I did 50k miles including countless school runs in my Cayenne S. I eventually sold it, but still have the classics.

What about you: how are you moving your brood? Let me know in the comments – happy to add any appropriate pics to the piece.

Featured photo courtesy of Greig M – many thanks!


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