OUR CARS

The edi­tor’s 912/6 gets a re­trim and a hand-painted fin­ish­ing touch…

Classic Porsche - - Contents - Words & work­shop photos: Keith Seume Lead photo: Antony Fraser

Ever since I got my project on the road, Iʼve never re­ally been all that happy with the seats. They looked great – Cor­beau buck­ets trimmed in Cor­nish tartan and black vinyl – but their de­sign meant that, on longer jour­neys, Iʼd tend to ʻsub­marineʼ, slid­ing slowly for­ward un­til I ended up in a po­si­tion where there was lit­tle sup­port in the small of my back. Af­ter 100 miles or so, Iʼd end up with back ache.

In an ideal world, Iʼd have splashed out on a pair of ex­pen­sive replica fac­tory sports seats, with re­clin­ing backs, but the cost just did­nʼt match my mea­gre bud­get. So be­gan a pe­riod of search­ing the in­ter­net for a suit­able al­ter­na­tive. The seats would have to have ʻclas­sicʼ styling (by that I donʼt mean old, but tra­di­tional), have re­clin­ing back­rests so I could alter the an­gle of the back­rest to suit my driv­ing po­si­tion, have level mount­ings un­der­neath (many seats have one run­ner higher than the other, mak­ing fit­ment in an early Porsche a bit tricky) and be rea­son­ably priced.

An ob­vi­ous choice was one of the ear­lier Re­caros fit­ted to Fords and the like, but all the pairs I came across were com­pletely shot: torn, dirty and mis­shapen. Widen­ing the search along the lines of ʻclas­sic sports seatsʼ brought up an in­trigu­ing al­ter­na­tive, which I would never have thought of: MGF. Yes, the short-lived mid-en­gined Bri­tish sports car.

The seats looked good, and a quick search on line showed that they were nar­row enough to fit in a 911 or 912. But what about the run­ners? Again, the in­ter­net came to the res­cue as a search for a photo of the un­der­side of an MGF seat led me to, of all things, a fo­rum about Mazda MX-5S (Mi­atas, to our US read­ers). Sure enough, there was a photo

of an MGF seat, up­side down, show­ing that all Iʼd need to do was trim off two small brack­ets to end up with a ʻflatʼ base to work with. But what were the seats like in terms of com­fort? Iʼd never even sat in one.

As it hap­pened, one day an MGF pulled up op­po­site my house, so I rushed out and, much to the be­muse­ment of the owner, asked if I could sit in the seat. It felt per­fect. The search was on and ebay once again came up trumps.

For the princely sum of £180 (in­clud­ing de­liv­ery), I bought a pair of leather and cloth seats from a spe­cial­ist dis­man­tler. They were in al­most per­fect con­di­tion, with no marks, no sags and no split seams. All I needed to do now was get the pat­terned cen­tres re­trimmed in some­thing to match the car.

I de­cided against more Cor­nish tartan and spent quite a bit of time at the lo­cal up­hol­stery fab­ric shop in search of the ideal ma­te­rial, but I could­nʼt find any­thing that ap­pealed. Then a trip to a Euro­pean VW show turned up the per­fect an­swer: West­falia tartan, as used in older VW Campers. I bought a cou­ple of me­tres (far more than Iʼd need, but the price was right) and came home a happy man.

A lo­cal VW en­thu­si­ast friend, Lee Lid­stone, of­fered to re­trim the seats for me as part of her learn­ing process – sheʼs keen to hone her skills as an up­hol­sterer and I was happy to give her the chance. Dis­man­tling the seats showed how well made they are (and, yes, they were in­deed made in Eng­land, as a sticker on the un­der­side proudly ex­claimed) and Lee set to, un­pick­ing the seat trim so that she could use the orig­i­nal pat­terned cen­tres as tem­plates for the new ma­te­rial.

The end re­sult is, I be­lieve, pretty darned good and not at all out of place in the car. The only parts that jar at present are the knurled knobs for the re­clin­ing mech­a­nism, so I might look into hav­ing some­one ma­chine some new ones in a more pe­riod style, along with some hinge cov­ers.

Mount­ing the seats was fairly straight­for­ward, us­ing some new brack­ets bolted across the run­ners which, in turn, bolted to some slot­ted brack­ets Iʼd bought off DDK. It works, but the seats are a lit­tle too far for­ward at present and canʼt be moved back enough to ac­com­mo­date a taller driver. Theyʼre fine for me, but itʼs some­thing I need to address at a later date.

Fi­nally, as he was in the area paint­ing Leeʼs hus­bandʼs drag race car, I asked ace pin­striper Neil Mel­liard if he could add a fin­ish­ing touch to El Chu­cho, in the form of a cartoon mon­grel dog, and the name. Watch­ing Neil at work is hum­bling – ev­ery­thing is done free­hand, prov­ing that the old meth­ods are the best. No vinyl here, thank you! CP

Above: Weʼve been get­ting plenty of miles un­der our belts this sum­mer, and now thoughts are turn­ing to sort­ing out the lit­tle prob­lems which weʼve never got round to ad­dress­ing…

Below left: Lee used the orig­i­nal seat pan­els as tem­plates for new ma­te­rial

Below right: We picked up these mount­ing brack­ets from an ad on DDK. Theyʼre OK for now but need mod­i­fy­ing

Far right: The seats are far more comfortable than the Cor­beaus fit­ted be­fore and the West­falia plaid in­serts match the paint­work well

Below left: Ace pin­striper Neil Mel­liard at work. It was fas­ci­nat­ing watch­ing him…

Below right: OK, I know the purists wonʼt like it, but the hot rod­der in me could­nʼt re­sist. El Chu­cho lives!

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