Written by Jim Seto
Sunday, 18 September 2005
This Guide is designed to simply illustrate the wide variety of seats that will fit an '02 with little effort. Boneyards are typically the source of many comfortable and supportive seats from other model cars that will fit nicely and hold you in place in those twisties!
Disclaimer: many of these pictures were taken from the internet. If you see a pic that belongs to you that you don't want used here, please just email Rob and he will remove it asap!
The stock seats are nice and comfy if properly taken care of, but dont offer much lateral support in the twisties. In addition, they are relatively light at about 38 lbs each.
E21 320i Recaros:
View of "Genuine" E21 Recaro Label
A popular upgrade are the Recaros from an E21 320is. They, too, are getting harder and harder to find and tend to get snapped up quickly at boneyards. Some of the late model '02s ('75-'76) had the Recaros as an option. These seats should be a direct bolt-in replacement. The cost of them in good condition has slowly crept up in past years...(using Ebay as an Index). They come in both leather and vinyl.
Beautiful, eh? Comfy too! These clearly need some new webbing under the cushions.
People have noted that they feel "much better than stock '02 seats... but may not be as comfortable as the e30 sport seats." A slight drawback is the driver seat is off-center from the steering wheel by ~1" to 1 1/2" and they are a bit heavier than stockers at about 45-50 lbs. each.
Recaros are available in varying conditions and colors... like anything else, its just a question of how much you want to spend.
Please Note: E21 Recaro webbing and repair kits are available. For a great source of the seats and repair kits, contact Dave Varco or a local auto upholstery shop.
Aftermarket and Other OEM Recaros:
Because most Recaros use the same mounting method, fitting them is easy.
Early-model VW GTI seats are also Recaros and fit fairly easily. Later VWs use a totally different mounting method, but many things are possible with some cutting and welding.
e30 Sport Seats:
E30 sports seats are readily available, and are very comfortable. They can be easily adapted to fit in the '02, but one drawback is that they sit very high. The images below are from my set-up, so this is first-hand feedback. (I have since replaced them with an aftermarket set; see below.) They weigh about 45lbs per side.
Slightly different angles of my former setup.
This pic illustrates the height difference between my new R-1 racing seat (driver's side) and the e30 seats (pass side). More on the R-1 installation below.
The e30 seats are also available in leather, and in different colors. Don't you just LOVE junkyards?
Other BMW Setups:
Patrik Railo, an ambitious owner in Sweden, has transplanted an entire e36 M3 interior into his '02. This is not a bolt-in replacement!
More e36 Seats:
e24 Six-Series Seats:
Other OEM Seats:
For some, boneyarding is something they *have* to do, while for others, boneyards are a great big treasure trove, just waiting to be harvested. Fortunately for us '02ers, many other makes' seats will fit with, in many cases, just a little fabrication effort.
These Porsche seats required only fabricating some lateral rails and relocating the mounting holes. Many Honda seats mount very similarly to '02 seats, requiring only relocating the mounting holes. Pic shows early ('89-'93) Acura Integra seat.
Early Integra seats installed
In case you were wondering, Integra rear seats will fit, too!
Honda CRX seat rails are a little narrower than the '02 mounting brackets, so extra metal strips were added to extend the width.
These 1991 CRX seats were supposedly OEM'd from Recaro
Prelude seats fit similarly to Integra seats. Just need to relocate a couple mounting holes.
Prelude seats installed.
Aftermarket Sport Seats:
Knowing that Honda/Integra seats are very compatible with the '02, I sourced the following R-1 Racing aftermarket seats. Given the size of the Honda aftermarket, there are a ton of seats to choose from. I picked the R-1s as they are fairly light (about 32 lbs-- about 10lbs less than the e30 sport seats) and they are very affordable (similar to a set of nice used E21 Recaros.
Cloth seats grip you better and the R-1 seat rails are almost identical to the '02 units.
Here the '02 rail and the nearly identical R-1 Racing rail are shown. '02 rail is the light-colored one at the top, and R-1 Racing version is just below it. At the bottom is the adjustment/slider mechanism that comes with the seats.
Bottom of the R-1 Racing seat with rails and slider mechanisms attached.
The mounting points on the '02 shell are about 19" apart, and the R-1 seat rails span approximately 13". Therefore cross-members are required to adapt the seats. It's just a matter of drilling a few holes on some stock flat steel or angle-iron, and then centering the seats in front of the steering wheel, etc.
The steel crossmembers (1/8"x3"x18.75") are bolted securely to the stock '02 mounting points with grade 8 hardware or better. Once the sliders are bolted to the newly fabbed crossmembers, the seats just bolt to the sliders.
The R-1 Racing seats are brand new, fully reclinable (fore and aft), light-weight, comfy and easy to install.
Here is the final product installed. The flash on my camera makes it look gray, but in real life the color is jet black. E30 sport seat awaits its replacement on the passenger side.
Other seats that I have found online are Sparcos, Corbeaus, and Scheels. They are a little pricey for me: a single seat costs more than the pair of my R-1s. As with anything else, however, your own tastes will dictate what you'll be comfortable with. One suggestion is to actually see the seats in person and sit down in them to make sure they will suit your backside beyond how thin your wallet will be once they are purchased.
Scheel sport seats
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them to the Message Board!