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e21 Recaro reupholster price check

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5 minutes ago, Beantown said:

Wow.  these look beautiful.  I NEED a set like these.  Where is NC?  I am up in Asheville and hope to get this done within a year or so.  Are those e21?

They are e21 Recaros. Shop is in Burlington, NC. Happy to introduce you to owner if you are in the area.  Again, BMW/Recaros are not a specialty for them but I thought they turned out well.  No loose material, no puckered corners, etc. 

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A friend got some E46 leather covers from lseat.com ("L" seat) and was very happy with them.  He does upholstery and liked their quality.  They show covers for 320i sport seats and I'll probably use them for mine when I get around to it.

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                        Rant Alert!

Yeah,, I'm totally fed up with the seat game and reality has finally set in for me.

 I want cool, comfortable, appropriate, not black, excellent condition seats now.

No more searching, no more estimating refurbish costs, timelines and shipping.

No more waiting.

Time for drastic measures starting with a major upwards revision of estimated cost.

Reality check? Completed.

Edited by tech71
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As somebody who has done a decent amount of upholstery, including a couple pairs of E21 Recaros (one set for me, and one for a friend) I just want to help put in perspective the job. Those seats are fairly complex, my recollection is that each seat is either 19 or 21 individual pieces. If you are patterning that from scratch, it's a time consuming affair. Even if you have an original set to take apart, it still takes a while to lay out and get fitted just right. Also, as many well know, the side bolsters on these seats are often shot, and no exact pre-formed foam replacements are available, so you are doing something custom here. The seat backs are often also bent and lean to one side, so fixing that takes a bit of time and perhaps some welding up of cracks in the frame. If you want French seams, each of those seams will need three passes unless you have a twin-needle machine, and you can't go at a super high speed if you are trying to get the seams dead straight and looking good. If you've done these before then perhaps you have patterns which can save some time (hence places like Aardvarc can hammer them out more quickly and cost-effectively.) However, I'd say you are looking at a solid day for each seat, at least. Oh, and you have to factor in time for taking off the old covers, as well as installing the new ones, which are a bit of a bear. And again, doing it right and getting all the wrinkles out takes time and expertise.


So, maybe best case is 20 hours of work (I'm kinda slow and am sure it takes me more than that.) What is a "fair" price to pay a skilled craftsperson? You pay a mechanic $100+ in pretty much any big city these days. And then there are the materials. Vinyl is pretty cheap, but a couple of leather hides will be $600+ just for raw materials.


Long story short. I understand that the dollars can seem high, but when you break it down, and you have a desire for quality work and materials, that's just the reality of it. My two cents.




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I was pleased with the work that Dave Varco performed on a very "shabby" pair of E21 Racaro's. I'm in Spokane Washington so shipping added $180 to the total. But he charged $850 for both in German Vinyl, I supplied the the Racaro buttons.

finished seats.jpg

driver twisted seat back II.jpg

driver L lower bolster.jpg

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For those curious, I ended up going with the eBay set and doing the work myself about 3 years ago. They are still holding up and look just as great as when they were first installed if not better looking more worn in. 







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  • 2 weeks later...

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