Project BMW 318is: Actually Repairing The Seats

Update by Tim Suddard to the BMW 318is project car
Jul 1, 2019

So, after much research, we decided what we needed was Anthracite cloth sport seats in our BMW 318is. Thankfully, as always, Al Taylor had a decent set of sport seat cores that he sold us for a couple hundred dollars.

We searched and searched and finally did find an exact match for our Anthracite cloth diagonally striped seat inserts. Global Upholstery sells something called BMW 1391 (Charcoal) that is an exact match. 

We then found a very similar gray velour, which we will use on the bolsters, at our local fabric store.

Fabrics in hand, we now needed to find a good upholstery shop.

We had heard a lot of good things about a local upholstery shop: CC Colby Upholstery (386) 672-8922.

Cecil and his sons assured us he could make the seats all perfect again for a $1500 price tag. While not cheap, we were committed to getting the seats right and had seen higher prices for newly recovered seats (in the wrong fabric) on the internet.

The mechanics of seat restoration are quite straight forward, but the nuances of the task take talent and experience.

You first break the seat down into its components, carefully photographing and noting how everything goes back together.

Once you have the seats in pieces, you carefully remove the covers from each piece. Once removed, you methodically cut the covers apart and again mark how everything goes back together.

From there you cut out new covers, using the old ones as patterns and then sew those covers back together.

Once everything is sewn, you can reassemble your seats.

Two more things to think about here are the frame and the seat cushion’s condition. E30 seat frames are notorious for breaking and we did have to make one repair with our welder—the driver’s side bolster—before we could repair the seats. Seat cushions are available if needed, but ours were still good, only needing a bit of cleaning.

Getting some used seats in the wrong color, and color changing the interior might have been easier and cheaper, but we were so, so glad we chose to do it right.

CC Colby made our seats look factory new again.

Here is a good website for details on fixing seats.

The Colby boys pose with the front seats Al Taylor found us, along with our original back seat and the materials we found on the internet and at our local upholstery store.

This is what a late E30 BMW rear foam seat cushion looks like once you pull the fabric off.


And once the front seat is disassembled, you can see how one of these seats is made with a wire frame covered in cushions with springs down through the center section.

Here dad (Cecil Colby) carefully sews our new seats together with patterns he made from the old covers.

Next comes assembly as the new covers are stretched across the cushions and then hog ringed to the frames.​​​​​​​

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View comments on the GRM forums
Daeldalus Reader
7/2/19 7:55 a.m.

I really like those floormats. What are they?

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela GRM+ Memberand Digital Editor
7/2/19 12:44 p.m.
Daeldalus said:

I really like those floormats. What are they?

I asked Tim. They're mentioned in a future update, but here ya go:

Coco Mats now carries Furstil mats from Germany  (Nylon 6.6 medium grey #117)

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