Miata Seat Installation - Sept '09

 

 
 

 

  

Junk Yard Miata Seats

NOTE: Since purchasing my seat covers in 2009, I've formed a working relationship with Mr Mike who will produce a Miata seat cover in your choice of materials, colors, trim, logos etc for a very competitive price. An advantage for me is that anyone wanting one of my custom Interior Panel Kits can get matching vinyl from Mr. Mike so that the seats and interior will be a perfect color match.

Below are just a few examples of his work.

 

Prologue: This section contains about a dozen pages with over 150 pictures to wade through but the first thing people want to know is.......... How do they feel? Most of the folks who have made this upgrade to their TR6 felt that the Miata seats sat too high relative to the TR6 seats. As a result some even removed foam from the seat bottom. My impression is quite different. I feel as if I'm sitting the same or maybe even a little lower. My theory is that the TR6 owners making this change have TR6 seats in need of either new diaphragms or new foam or both. When I got my car back in '97, the seats were shot and I felt like I was sitting on the floor. I installed new diaphragms, new foam and new covers which to this day are still in great shape. So I was going from good solid TR6 seats to similar Miata seats. What I do notice is that the Miata seat has a firmer feel to it which may be the result of the foam resting in a metal seat pan as opposed to having a rubber diaphragm like in the TR6. You don't sink in to the Miata seat. You sit on top of it. As a result, getting in and out of the car is much easier. The Miata bolsters also offer more support without "getting in the way". The biggest thing I notice is that I can actually hear my radio very clearly with the headrest speakers. So far, the longest drive has only been about 45 minutes so I can't attest to long drive comfort, but I'm pretty confident that I've made the right decision.

On to the seats.

This is one of those "upgrades" that I've been undecided about for quite a while. My problem was that I had only seen them installed in a TR6 with the stock "surfboard" style cloth upholstery and I wasn't sure that I liked the look. It didn't look stock which is a strange thing for me to say considering all of the non-stock stuff I've done to my car over the years. But if you look at my car, it appears to be quite stock on the outside and the interior.............which it is. Everything I've done is pretty well hidden until you pop the hood. So back to the Miata seat concern........... I was at Brits by the Sea in June when I walked over to check out Jeff McGovern's car which has also been converted to Throttle Body Injection (TBI) with Rick Patton's kit.........same as mine. As I was checking out Jeff's car I noticed his seats and, at first figured he had an early TR6 with the one piece backrest. As I was admiring his beautiful leather upholstery it hit me that I was looking at Miata seats recovered in leather! It looked great and had me fooled for a while.  Here's a couple of pictures of his seats.

Jeff McGovern's TR6 with Miata Seats

And Kyle Rice's TR6 with Miata seats and custom inserts

Custom made leather covers by Dave Harris. I love the way he pleated the seat back & bottom to carry over the TR6 look. Dave also made all of his interior panels out of leather and it looks like a custom center console is in the works too.

So once I made up my mind to do this upgrade, I had to find a set of seats, which isn't as easy as it seems. Everyone had told me that I should be able to get them for $150 and I found a bunch on eBay but the going rate was about $300 plus shipping. Next up was to search local junk yards which are few and far between. Most places around here just crush the cars and ship them out. It must have been fate as my wife and I were driving down a back road we never take and there was a junk yard that I used to visit in the 60's for Healey parts. New owners but everything else was the same.............and they had three Miata's on the lot. I went back a few days later to check the three cars out: one was too new, one only had one seat and one was just right! The seats were already unbolted so I pulled them out to check the reclining mechanism. The upholstery was a mess and they weighed a ton being pretty soaked with water......but everything worked. The rails were in excellent condition but the pans had a lot of surface rust on them. I decided to take a chance.............. here's what $150 junk yard seats look like....or at least mine do.

And for those who are wondering, the TR6 seats weigh in at 29 pounds while the Miata seats are 34 pounds. So far I know of TR6's that have installed Miata seats up to the 1999 style with no fit problems. The ones I got are from a 1993 Miata.

Dirty, Dirty, Dirty!

Vacuuming made it a little better but I'm removing the cloth and replacing with leather. BTW....... I've been told by a few places that the Miata fabric wears like iron and lots of guys clean them up and spray paint them with fabric paint.

Rusty seat pans............mostly surface rust.

Worst of the foam...cracked bolster and loose wire.

Next up............removing the upholstery and stripping them down......... more here