07

Project Starletabusa #3:  Sitting in the Cheap Seats

By:  Alex Vendler


I have to admit that I am actually driving the Starlet around a bit in spite of its horrible suspension and woefully stock engine.  It's a bit of an ambassador of automotive good will bringing a bit of vintage Asian cheer everywhere it goes.  I get far more unsolicited compliments on this little crate than on my other, supposedly nicer ride.  This is all well and good but it would be nice to be able to sit in a decent seat or, lord forbid, have a seat for a friend.  If you need a reminder here is what is passing for an interior in the car now:


Pretty sad really.  The one seat I do have is likely from a 1980's Toyota Supra.  Not a bad thing by way of the shape of the seat but being out of a much larger luxury car, the seat was a bit wide for the little Starlet and it weighs way too much as it's tricked out with several electric motors and other hefty options. 

After scanning the local Craig's List for a couple of weeks and not really finding a pair of seats that were both in my no-budget price range and seemed like a good fit I decided to exercise the nuclear option.  SSJY.  Self service junkyard .  As is evidenced by this article here I am an advanced SSJY user and this was a perfect opportunity to hit the yards in the hopes of striking gold.  Seats are about $35 each where I shop to so it's kind of hard to go wrong. 

Anyhow, after stuffing my face with a couple of taco truck Al Carbones, and checking out a couple of bootlegged DVD's being hawked by a 11 year old boy named Nacho (true story) I began wandering the car rows, poking my head in windows, and looking at the scuzzy seat options.  I probably should have ordered a large Horchata instead of a small because thirst was taking over.  Then, shimmering like a far off wadi, there was this, one in a million, SSJY find.



No, it's not a Geo Metro.  Even though it shares the chassis and many parts with the most humble of all housekeeper transport units, this is actually a race bred sports machine.  Yessiree.  A Suzuki Swift GTI!  And even better, no one had even bothered to lift the hood so the only parts that had been pulled before I got there were the rims.

So, after a couple of moments of wrenching, and a this guy friendly $70 expense, here is what I dragged home.  The Swift was equipped with a pair of pretty nice factory sport seats.  They have deep bolsters, and only weigh 32 lbs each with the sliders attached.  Let's check out some more features:



These seats are dual lock style and that's really important.  There are engagement teeth on both sliding seat rails to prevent the seat from squirming around under the driver during spirited driving sessions and this is a really important feature for any sport seat setup.


The other nice feature these seats have is a shape that allows for safety harnesses to pass through the seat backs.  The harness slots are a bit narrow but I still think they will be good enough to allow me to properly set up a 4 point harness for a little more track day security.

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Comments
8695Beaters
8695Beaterslink
Wednesday, February 08, 2012 5:21 AM
Genius. Pure genius. That is all.
Steve
Stevelink
Wednesday, February 08, 2012 5:57 AM
Zip ties, again saving the planet. Yay!
jeffball610
jeffball610link
Wednesday, February 08, 2012 6:45 AM
It's actually surprising how many 80's and 90's cars actually came with decent seats. If the seats weren't so trashed in my Colt GT, they would actually be supportive. Any advice on replacing fabric as well? (material type etc.)
Also, I tend to dig around for BMW 3 series seats as well. Leather, supportive, and high quality. If you're REALLY lucky, you might find some factory Racaro seats in a M3. The best I've done is some nice Miata leather seats. They're really low and look pretty good. Too bad the bolsters suck on these things.
SixCylinders
SixCylinderslink
Wednesday, February 08, 2012 8:42 AM
I love it, I'd be scared to venture into seat upholstering for fear of making a seat less comfortable. You did a great job from what I can tell from a distance!
destrux
destruxlink
Wednesday, February 08, 2012 9:32 AM
Good find. Another car that has some great OEM seats is the 90-94 Eclipse/talon/laser. When I took mine off the road after 9 years I kept the seats and welded up brackets to put them in my 87' Supra (which are the seats you have in the first picture... they weigh a porky 120 pounds total). The eclipse non-turbo cloth seats are only 30 pounds each (60 pounds saved!).
jeffball610
jeffball610link
Wednesday, February 08, 2012 10:47 AM
I've been a DSM owner for many years, and I don't feel the seats are that great. The velour is generic and the bolstering isn't all it could be. That being said, I do have a set of 1G seats sitting in my Datsun for mock up. They're cheap, easy to find and fit wider people well.
I've never had the privilege of sitting in 1G DSM leather seats though. They look much better, but the leather doesn't hold up well over 20 years of use.
Anyone else know of good factory seats to use?
JDMized
JDMizedlink
Wednesday, February 08, 2012 12:03 PM
Alex Vendler = Dave Coleman Jr.
rawkus
rawkuslink
Wednesday, February 08, 2012 3:25 PM
JDMized,
I couldn't agree more! He is a very good read.
Tim.Flat4
Tim.Flat4link
Friday, February 10, 2012 7:05 AM
Yet another great article Alex!
destrux
destruxlink
Saturday, February 11, 2012 7:40 PM
The seats in the Mazdaspeed3 are pretty good, but they have seat bolster airbags... so if they're in the yard in a wrecked car they're probably ripped. Same goes for pretty much any 05'+ car.

SRT4's have nice seats too.
econobox
econoboxlink
Tuesday, February 14, 2012 12:30 AM
Very impressive use of your local SSJY! Those seats blend in better than I had anticipated.
4cylndrfury
4cylndrfurylink
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 5:32 AM
We can haz updayt nao?!?
Alex Vendler
Alex Vendlerlink
Monday, April 30, 2012 6:39 PM
Thanks for checking in. I am out of town for the next few weeks working but have a nifty Starletabusa update to show off when I get back. Stay tuned!

4cylndrfury
4cylndrfurylink
Wednesday, May 30, 2012 12:32 PM
we am stayed tooned
Chris
Chrislink
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 4:34 PM
well May has passed by a few months. any progress?
4cylndrfury
4cylndrfurylink
Wednesday, January 02, 2013 12:18 PM
I think I hear the "bleep....bleep...bleep" of life support for this project chirping in the background
Alex Vendler
Alex Vendlerlink
Wednesday, January 02, 2013 7:46 PM
Not to fear. I'm finally finishing up this massive home project I took on and will be back in on the Starlet and all my other car stuff. Sorry for the radio silence but I'm still around.
Chris
Chrislink
Saturday, October 18, 2014 3:31 AM
Any news?
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