Heated seats – good as sex?

The little glow that says: "Everything's gonna be toasty warm real soon." Photo: Lucy Martin

The little glow that says: “Everything’s gonna be toasty warm real soon.” Photo: Lucy Martin

Quick, when were heated seats invented? If you have that feature in your car, can you imagine living without it? Bonus Q: Are heated seats in the depths of winter cold about as good as sex?

Credit writer Louise Penny for that quip. After a coming to them late, I finally finished reading (in order) all of Penny’s Inspector Gamache mysteries. The Canadian journalist-turned-best-selling-author says natural seasons are practically characters in most of her novels, usually set in the fictional village of Three Pines, somewhere south of Montréal.

Early in book nine (How the Light Gets In) a character muses that heated seats in Quebec winters are about as satisfying as sex. (Or something like that. I’m a library devotee and the actual book is not currently within my reach.) You can read an excerpt here. And if a series of nine strikes you as daunting, don’t worry. They work as stand-alones too.

Penny’s not talking nonsense. When we moved to Ontario we shipped our own cars here from Hawaii. Need I say that neither one had heated seats? And that was that. Suck it up, buttercup. But a few years ago my spouse bought a newer used car which did have heated seats.

What a revelation! Call me a convert – as in “Let’s take your car!” On a long, cold ski one of us will encourage the other by mentioning that heated seats await!

So when was that wonder of engineering invented? Well, internet lore is full of various repetitions of this assertion:

Heated seats were invented by Robert Ballard. He came up with them in 1951 with a patent issued in 1955. Ballard worked for General Motors when he invented the concept.

According to the well-intentioned but not always 100% right Wikipedia, the first heated seats for regular consumers were offered by Cadillac in 1965 (for the 1966 model year).

Saab is proud enough of adding heated seats in 1972 to have a page all about that, including a video showing the heat signature of the seat. (Which wouldn’t play for me, but you may have better luck.)

Do readers know more about the history behind developing and marketing heated seats?

If you have heated seats, how important are they to you?

Those without heated seats can do as I do – dress for polar regions when getting into the icy cold car.

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10 Responses to “Heated seats – good as sex?”

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  1. Michael Martin says:

    I always hated heated seats because they made my butt sweat. But the first winter I started filming hockey games for Can-Am in Lake Placid Olympic Center & ice-cold Saranac Lake Civic Center I came to appreciate a warm toosh after standing for hours in a cold hockey arena. Really takes the chill off. And it’s great for a sore lower back.

  2. Pete Klein says:

    Are you kidding????

  3. Lucy Martin says:

    Well, yes, Pete. I am kidding.

    Except for the car-technology question, the rest of the post is just flippant fun.

    On the other hand, who invented what – and when did it go mainstream – is a serious topic for the mechanically-inclined. I was hoping real car buffs might speak to that and expand the discussion.

  4. Jared says:

    A number of years ago, my best friend and I set out to go to a movie in Massena on a bitterly cold January evening and we borrowed my grandmother’s car which had heated leather seats. We never made it to the movie. We just drove around all night listening to music and LOVING the heated seats.

  5. Pete Klein says:

    Lucy, I will voice my opinion on what I believe is the worst electronic idea for cars.
    It is power windows. If you end up driving into a body of water and you car starts to sink, your electrical power is gone and your windows won’t roll down.
    Now if you had the old crank windows, no problem. You can roll down the window and get out of the car.

  6. Lucy Martin says:

    I don’t spend a lot of time expecting to be in that situation, but it is an uncomfortable possibility.
    I have crank windows because I can’t abide not being able to operate them without the key in the ignition.

    You know what I miss in cars? Those side “wing windows” that used to be standard in both front seats. Boy, they would cool a hot car – fast. Such a shame they don’t seem to be an option anymore. They were awesome. I guess they aren’t aerodynamic enough, or cost too much to add, or the assumption is everyone prefers air conditioning.

  7. Pete Klein says:

    Lucy, total agree with missing side vent windows. They were especially useful when it was raining. Depending on angle, they could pull out air or push in air.

  8. Hank says:

    Make that three votes for those side vent windows! I want them back already!!! Are you listening, Honda, Toyota, GM, Ford?

  9. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    If you had power windows AND side vent windows when you went into the lake with your car you could open the side vents allowing water in until pressure was equalized and you could open the door escaping to safety.

    And those side vent windows were good for blowing the dust off your dashboard, too.

  10. Mr. Wakiki says:

    I miss the hand vents that cars had down by your legs…

    but on the story side… as good as sex..? maybe someone is doing something wrong…