I recently recovered a set of e21 Recaros for use in my 1970 2002. The rear seat was in great shape with black factory basketweave vinyl. I wanted to match the pattern with the recovered seats in the front and began to research the alternatives. The goal was to find a source with as close a match as possible, both in pattern and feel. The feel is subjective since the original vinyl on the rear seat was somewhat hard after 50 years as was the passenger's front seat, but the weight/quality of the original vinyl was noticeably different than that used when I previously had the driver's seat recovered locally.
I contacted several suppliers, received samples from each and eventually selected #1010S Black basketweave from GAAH in North Hollywood. I also used their smooth vinyl #0005 Black. It felt the best, my calipers measured it as the thickest and the pattern, while not exactly the same as the original, was close enough that without a close inspection, it looks like a good match to the original rear seat. More on that difference below.
I considered these sources:
BMW - they still sell the basketweave vinyl. The sample was 1 yard which was the minimum quantity. It was OK, but no better than any of the domestically produced vinyl alternatives. A FAQer got a good price on the resale.
World Upholstery - 150 Basketweave. Pattern was fine, embossing a little faint, material weight similar to other domestic choices (lighter weight).
Global Upholstery - R120 Basketweave. Very similar to GAAH vinyl. Slightly more distinct embossing. Looked almost the same thickness as GAAH, but maybe a little thinner and I liked the feel of the GAAH better, Also, while I called and spoke with Global Upholstery, I received the sample and business card from Steven Sperling who has an eBay store called zoomzoomzoom-ing. Lots of forum discussions that raised some concerns.
GAAH - #1010S Black Vinyl ""Basketweave" looked and felt the best and their smooth vinyl #0005 is also a very close match to the original. This basketweave was the highest priced at ~$75/yard. However, the material is not a major cost in the job, it's the labor. No surprise. GAAH also has an "In House" basketweave pattern, but it must be intended for other Euro cars because it's not even close to the BMW version.
A couple of notes for those of you that have basketweave seats and are considering a recovering project.
- The primary difference between all of these patterns and the original vinyl pattern is that the original has vertical seams or lines every couple of inches that may have simulated what actual stitching may have looked like had then been used. None of the patterns I found, included that sold by BMW
had that feature.
- The basketweave has an orientation. If you look closely, there are rectangular bar between the divots. The original seats had the long part of the rectangles parallel to the sides of the seats. So running front to back on the seat bottom and bottom to top on the back. I mention this because it apparently takes 2X the replacement material to sew them like this, but if you don't, or don't tell the upholsterer, you're going to get fronts that don't match the backs, which defeats the whole purpose.
Last, as many before me have testified, a shout out to Dave Varco is warranted. He did the seat work and it is truly spectacular. They feel and look like they are new. I would never send a set of seats, or refer a friend, anywhere else.