What’s your favorite aftermarket seat?

Colin
By Colin Wood
Oct 17, 2022 | Aftermarket, Seats, Discussion

Most OEM seats can work well for the daily grind or even a spirited drive through the twisties, but what about when things get more serious?

Whether it’s your go-to for track days and autocross, or it’s an option you think looks cool, what’s your favorite aftermarket seat?

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docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
10/17/22 3:27 p.m.

Recaro SPG XL.  One of the few I fit into since I'm all torso.  I need really large, high, shoulder harness holes so the harnesses/holes are above the level of my shoulders.

JahjahSQC
JahjahSQC New Reader
10/17/22 4:20 p.m.

Definitely going to be my Sparco Evo XL QRT. Amazingly enough I was able to fit it into my NC Miata without a hammer to the car. Seats are always one of my favorite changes to a car.

For an amazingly-comfortable daily driver/long road trip seat that also works for autocross and occasional trackdays, I love my scheel-mann Sportline R with adjustable lumbar support. I am totally affiliated, as I work at scheel-mann usa. The enthusiasm is genuine as seeking out these seats is part of the story of how I landed my current job.

spedracer
spedracer New Reader
10/17/22 7:41 p.m.

OMP HTE-R, because its a containment seat, with certs,  that actually fits in a Miata without too much fuss. Wouldn't want to daily any "real" racing seat, but maybe I'm just getting old.

 

On the other hand, I have an affinity for old E36 M3boxes as daily drivers, but have always wondered if it were possible to (easily) swap out to better seats. Something like a (junkyard) Volvo seat in a Corolla. Do adapters/rails/etc exist to make that happen?

In reply to spedracer :

It depends. The market for bolt-together XYZ stock seat into ABC vehicle adapters is fairly niche, and only a few examples exist on the market.

If we ignore the junkyard stuff for just a second, the typical aftermarket setup for an adjustable seat is a universal seat as one part, a brand-specific set of sliders matched to the seat, and then a vehicle-specific adapter bracket. 

The interface between sliders and adapter brackets are typically one of two styles, tab or flat. The two big players in the bracket game (Planted and Wedge, and "Corbeau" is also Wedge) make brackets to fit a specific vehicle, and the brackets for a given vehicle all start out the same and they just move the holes or tabs around on those brackets to match up with your chosen aftermarket seat/sliders.

Back to the junkyard stuff. There isn't any consensus among manufacturers how the seat and base assembly is designed and put together, which can make swapping seats a heavy fabrication project. Some of them are all one unit, and the separable parts are seat assembly and vehicle floor. Not very friendly to swapping. Others integrate the sliders into the seat, and the base is separate. Others integrate the sliders into the base and the seat unbolts (I'm looking at you, Dodge!) With so many variations in design, height, width, bolts, welds, rivets, etc, making adapters is complex. Sliders can have the female part on the seat side and the male part on the vehicle side or vice versa. The general concept of sliders is almost always the same, but the dimensions vary quite a bit.

If you get an aftermarket seat bracket from Planted for flat sliders, the top of the bracket is essentially a flat plate, which is probably about as friendly as it gets for swapping, with several caveats. If the seat plus sliders can be unbolted, air-chiseled, or angle-ground from the rest of the base, and they can be attached in a manner that can withstand the potential forces of a crash (way higher than many people think...pull tests are insane!) an aftermarket bracket may be an option...but you also have to keep seat height in mind, which is an important ergonomic factor. Seat bottom cushion thickness/angle  varies, so spacers may be needed. Remember that you can go higher with spacers, but getting lower if bracket is too tall involves a new bracket or a lowered floor.

Tom1200
Tom1200 UberDork
10/17/22 11:12 p.m.

The aluminum race seats; I'm really small and these allow me to make a custom insert that form fits me.

spedracer
spedracer New Reader
10/18/22 1:25 a.m.

In reply to ae86andkp61 (Forum Supporter) :

Damn, exactly what I was worried a out - doable but a huge project. My dreams of having a beater daily but with modern/comfy seats sounds like it ain't happening anytime soon!

kevinatfms
kevinatfms GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
10/18/22 7:24 a.m.

Another one for the OMP HTE-R seat. We love it in our Elantra. Fits all drivers, has FIA certs and is quite comfortable over a 2 hour stint. 

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
10/18/22 7:30 a.m.

Brand really doesn't matter. Getting one that fits you the best is the main criteria. I've had race seats, and I've had race seats that fit me properly. No comparison.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/18/22 8:30 a.m.

In reply to ae86andkp61 (Forum Supporter) :

I've known about Scheel-mann seats for trucks, but hadn't thought about them for cars. 

Is there a decent website for dimensions and whatnot?

FedTom
FedTom
10/18/22 8:41 a.m.

My Bride LoMax with the Bride slider rails is my go to seat for my Miata. It's the only thing that gets me low enough to pass the broomstick test.

I'm wondering if I can fit that seat into my Fox Body Mustang.

Captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
Captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/18/22 9:05 a.m.

Recaro LM. I purchased one on the cheap through an online estate sale with the thought of flipping it, then I sat in it. I previously had felt that Recaros were overhyped and that other high quality seating options, but fitment must be like shoesz where you find a brand or model that fits you best and go with it. The LM fits my large frame, with extra padding, perfectly. It holds me in place and provides the perfect amount of support to avoid and fatigue. 

te72
te72 HalfDork
10/19/22 2:37 a.m.

Whatever fits you snugly without being uncomfortably snug. For a street / track setup Bride makes one heck of a comfy seat that still keeps you in place.

 

Material matters too. Leather can adorn my dash but it doesn't belong on a seat.

NorseDave
NorseDave HalfDork
10/19/22 9:11 a.m.
spedracer said:

In reply to ae86andkp61 (Forum Supporter) :

Damn, exactly what I was worried a out - doable but a huge project. My dreams of having a beater daily but with modern/comfy seats sounds like it ain't happening anytime soon!

To tag onto this idea, the original seats in my MB 190 must have been pretty unsupportive when new (I'm assuming), and by the time I acquired the car, the driver's seat in particular was totally beat.  You'd actually lean to the left because the springs were collapsed.  The vaunted MBTex was even ripped!

Armed with some measurements, I ventured to the local pick-n-pull and grabbed a pair of good condition seats from a Mazda 3.  I had to swap on the MB seat belt receptacle, and then I fabbed up a pair of base adapters.  It wasn't particularly hard, but welding and fab skills are definitely required.  I've done a bunch to the 190, but this is the single best thing I did.  All the Mazda seat adjustments were manual, so other than the side airbag, they retain full functionality.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/19/22 9:17 a.m.
spedracer said:

In reply to ae86andkp61 (Forum Supporter) :

Damn, exactly what I was worried a out - doable but a huge project. My dreams of having a beater daily but with modern/comfy seats sounds like it ain't happening anytime soon!

If you find Miata seats comfortable, you can fit them into almost anything with moderate DIY adapters. The seats will even fit into a Spitfire (with minor modifications), which is a notoriously difficult car to fit seats into due to the pan design and limited height.  Whether or not you're comfortable safety-wise with making your own adapters is a personal choice. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/19/22 9:18 a.m.

Do the super-cool Mazdaspeed seats count as "aftermarket", since they were technically made by an OE? Because they are amazing-looking and I really want a set.

I can tell you that my least favorite seats are anything by NRG, after I had one of them literally break in half while I was riding in it on an autocross run. They were brand-new seats, no one had ever even sat in the passenger side seat according to the car's owner, and halfway through the autocross run, the seat back sheered off the base. Literally two runs later, the driver's side seat did the same to the owner. 

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
10/19/22 9:31 a.m.

What about aftermarket simple bench seats? I have found nothing really.

Nockenwelle
Nockenwelle New Reader
10/19/22 10:15 a.m.

Sparco Evo original fit pretty good. Ended up going with Cobra Suzuka narrow for the E30. I sat in it on the floor of a showroom/race shop party for 3 hours before buying. Support in ways I didn't know existed and by far the most comfortable I think I've ever sat in, race seat or not.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/19/22 10:40 a.m.
tuna55 said:

What about aftermarket simple bench seats? I have found nothing really.

Funny you mention that. I remember aftermarket bench seats in the JC Whitney catalogs decades ago. I wanted one with a fold-down center console and split seat backs to replace the stock bench seat in my '78 F-150.  

In reply to Ian F (Forum Supporter) :

Overview of in-stock here http://scheel-mann.com/products The Vario models are super adjustable and can fit a wide range of people, so the dimensions vary with adjustment. The Vario aren't racing seats, they are drive-10-hours-in-comfort-and-want-to-do-it-again-tomorrow seats

Dimensions for other models here: 

We've got some exciting projects in the works that might be of interest to some folks on here. wink Updates to come maybe early next year?

Matt B (fs)
Matt B (fs) UltraDork
10/26/22 3:35 p.m.

In reply to ae86andkp61 (Forum Supporter) :

Man, those Scheel-Mann's are nice. I was not aware of those at all.  

In reply to tuna55 :

I think Corbeau makes bench seats.

edit - Looks like they're just for CJ Jeeps and some smallish universal sizes. 

spedracer said:

In reply to ae86andkp61 (Forum Supporter) :

Damn, exactly what I was worried a out - doable but a huge project. My dreams of having a beater daily but with modern/comfy seats sounds like it ain't happening anytime soon!

My initial reply might have come across as overly pessimistic...I answer questions every day about how sliding rails and seat bases aren't universal, so take it with a grain of salt.

You may get lucky...I've heard of unlikely combinations that almost bolt together and just need a little ovalizing of a couple holes, and/or or a little spacer or step down washer. I've also heard of people spending a full day with an air chisel and angle grinder, six trips to the hardware store, and two trips to their buddy with the welder, and at the end of it the only conclusion is that it still won't work, the day is wasted, and the stock seats are now destroyed and can't be put back in.

A resourceful GRMer with an open mind should be able to take measurements and photos of the E36 M3box commuter car, and head to the junkyard with measuring tools, and hunt to find something that will be a doable project.

Another thing to be aware of is that most vehicles roughly mid 20-teens or newer (and some older than that) have side impact airbags in the seat, and vehicle safety systems that are looking for input from seat-track position sensors, occupancy sensors within the stock seat or seat base, and the airbags in the seat, which makes them no-go for seat swapping if you care about warning lights and/or legality. Full-race builds are obviously different. For daily drivers, early 2000's and older are generally much friendlier to seat swaps.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/27/22 8:33 a.m.

In reply to ae86andkp61 (Forum Supporter) :

Cool.  When I get home I'll have to take a look at my TR8 and see if any of those could fit.  The stock seats in my car are marginal at best.   Even the moderate bolsters of the Vario model is more than the stock TR8 seats have.  The built-in seat heaters are definitely something to drool over. 

I'm really hoping to get a set for my E350 at some point, although since it has fairly comfortable conversion van seats, that isn't quite as high on the priority list.  Plus, I need to get a bit further along in my camper build and comfort with its reliability over long drives before I spend considerably more on seats than I paid for the entire van. 

As far as seats in other cars, I have a rough plan to install Miata seats in my Spitfire and/or my GT6, but using a slightly different method than what folks usually do.  Fingers crossed it may solve a couple of issues folks have with Miata seats in those cars.

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