What is a rumble seat?

30 April 2014

A rumble seat was an upholstered seat that fit into the back of a car as in the trunk, opened up to allow for comfortable seating in the rear and closed down when not in use. The idea of the rumble seat came from carriages that had seating for servants in the rear of the carriage and not in the carriage where the owners sat. The rumble seat was also known as the mother-in-law seat with the same idea as having a mother-in-law apartment in your home, to allow your mother-in-law to drive with the family while not intruding on their personal affairs as the right of privacy was quite valued during the early 1900’s.

Another name for a rumble seat was a dickey seat. A dickey is something like a false shirt or blouse, actually just a piece of material buttoned in front of an outfit to give it the appearance of having on more clothes than what one has actually. The dickey seat gave the automobile the impression of having an extra seat which was actually a fold away seat. The rumble seat took the place of the car’s trunk. The driver who chose to buy a car with a rumble seat did away with his trunk since the fold away seat was placed in the trunk. The occupant of the rumble seat got no protection in case of rain, wind and snow. There was the option in some cars sold with rumble seat to buy a folding top but the option did not prove to be popular. The rumble seat option was done away with following World War II.

The rumble seat as the word implies allows occupants of the car to rumble without being subject to scrutiny of in-laws or of servants. The luxury implication did not seem to hold value following the War and the rumble seat option was ended. There are some extensions of the rumble seat currently sold as seats that can be attached to a vehicle including a bicycle. Of course, these are not the rumble seats that were built into what are now collectible classic cars.

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