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Retrofitting Modern car seats thread

3710 Views 11 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  sbutler
Have any of you tried to take a seat from a modern car, remove the side airbag and the complete seat base/brackets and put the seat back on a base suited for your old car?
Many modern car seats looks good, and are comfortable, but often the seat basees for several reasons are totally unsuited for a small sized hot rod.
I know this would make the seat less adjustable, that's not a big issue for me.
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Thanks for your answer! I have changed the thread title a bit.
Maybe this will be p project thread instead, becausae I bougth a pretty decent pair of VW Passat 2006-11 leather seats for only 60 USD.
They are identical to the ones at the top photo. I like the retro inspired stiching pattern.

They will need to be lowered and the sliding mechanism must be narrowed, quite some.
But the seats are otherwice quite "slim" and not any bigger than the Fiat Coupe seats I have today.

The plan is to keep the power operated adjustments and heater, but delete the manual lowering mechansim, since they will be positioned as low as possible anyway.

Do you know how the heating function usually are wired? Normally there are 3-4 levels.
I will probably just have off / on. Or maybe I can use an universal 3 step wiper switch?
Typically, it's much more work than expected. But not impossible.
What I knew I had to do, was to narrow the sliding rails. Partly because they wasn't centered on the seat ( the outer one was placed outside the seats side) and partly because they was too wide apart for the limited floor space in my car, a 34 Roadster.
At the same time I wanted to lower the seat as much as possible, because I have built the car suited for a very low seating position.

Initially, I planned to keep the manual rise and lowering mechanism. Not because I needed it for adjustment purposes, but becauase I thought it would make it easier to fasten and remove the seats for later, since they are from a 4 door car and therefore don't have a backrest tilt mechanism.

But as my work progessed, I discovered that the seat rising and lowering mechanism was constructed with a huge bend in the complete seat frame. I suppose it is because the mechanism is on one side of the seat, and with a person sitting in the seat, it still rises / lowers equal on both sides! To achieve this I guess they have to add bending forces into the seat.
When I discovered this, I gave up the rise and lowering option and removed it completely. But I kept the ability to loosen the bolts and rise the empty seat up in high position for maintainance purposes.
Haven't measured very accuate, but I think I have lowered the seat app 1,5 inches.

To ensure that the two sliding rails stood parallell in both horisontal and vertical direction during the work, I made a wood jig, that became very useful.


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These seats will replace the 1999 Fiat Coupe seats that i have in the car today.
I do it because they look better, they have removable headrests, they have heating, I got them for only 50 USD total, and i just needed a small garage project!
I have measured and know they won’t be too large.
I have bought the original heater switches, and will use them in case they have some kind of resistance needed for proper function.
The original switch for the driver side power backrest is located on the seat itself, and came with the seat. I have tested and it works.

when I narrowed the sliding rails, I made sure they got the same width as on the Fiat seats that are in the car today. Then i know at least the front fastening points can be used as is.

The new seats are from a 4door car and can’t fold. That’s a draw back, but one I can live with. I don’t have much of a stovage room behind them anyway.
Both seat frames were finished today. Next is a cleaning and recolor. The black will be changed to dark brown.
When they are fitted in the car I will add some kind of a bomber seat inspired side trim at the outer, lower edge that is visible when the door i open. Brushed aluminum etc.
I will also make some kind of cover to hide the headrest fastening points when the head rests are removed.
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Ready for recoloring.
The heat function and power operationing are wired via relays that are located under the seats for easy access. Fuses are located closed to existing fuse box.
The original heater switches could not be used, because it turned out they are integrated with the original car's computer.
I will wire the heat with (relay and) standard toggle switches instead.
The driver seat switch had to be relocated, because the car is so narrow the the outer side of the seat is in touch with the inner door, when door is closed.
I will probly add a cover of some kind to make this look better. Brushed aluminum.


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Hi Staleg,
Long time no hear from.. I would like to ask you what is the seat width when in the vehicle? I think I heard you say that the seat bolsters touched the door panels when installed.. I am looking at seat combinations for My TCoupe. I know the model A is wider but I was just curious.

Note it's been a long time since the "Web Rodder" days when I first started following your build and I can say it gets better and better each time I see it. Congratulations on a awesome Hot Rod!!
Thanks for your kind words! The hot rod has been an incredible journey for me, yes. Last december I even got a new and better job, partly due to techincal skills that I could document with pictures from the build!
Actually I fitted the seats this evening. On the widest part of the bolster, they measure 52,5 cm / 20.7 Inches.
I will do something with the holes for the head rest, make a nice cover, or use backseat head-rests, that are lower than the front seat head rests. I came over a pair of back seat head rests for 10 USD a pair, that are on their way to me. I have checked and know that they will fit.
I have the original front seat head rests as well, but they get too high up over the body line, because these seats have a slightly higher back rest than the old ones.


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It might not be a bad idea to wire some kind of thermostat in to control the heat since there will be no computer control
I agree to that, but decided to test it flrst. If it don't feels too hot, I don't think it will be a problem.
I have wired the heat from a ignition controlled power source, to make sure they will turn off when I stop the car.
If it gets too hot, I have ordered a pair of universal 3 step seat heater switches to use.
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