Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Hunt for Seats

Seats are a problem in one of these cars. The space in the cockpit for the seats is very narrow. Coupled with the fact that to get ICV engineering approval and subsequently registration, the seats must be ADR approved. As far as my search has taken me I have not be able to find an off the shelf aftermarket seat which both fits in the cockpit space available and is ADR approved, let alone happening across one that actually looks good. There are a couple of custom made options floating around, but frankly they're expensive and not necessarily the type of look I am after, although they do of course actually fit in the space.

It's off on an OEM search we go. The current ADR 3/03 came into publication in February 2007 and applies to vehicles manufactured after 1 July 2008, so I need seats from a car that is no older than 1 July 2008. So recently I hit the second hand car dealers one Saturday with a tape measure in hand. The plan was to find an option which fits, hopefully is aesthetically pleasing, and then source some good condition second hand units. On one Saturday I visited about 8 different car yards and measured the seats in at least 15 different cars, small cars, compacts, convertibles, sports cars, you name it, I could not find a seat which would fit in the confined space.

Then the other day I was driving along behind a small car and I thought *bing*  - I haven't measured that car. The car was a Suzuki Alto. In case you're wondering, a Suzuki Swift has bigger seats than the Alto. So I found a second hand Alto, measured it, and it looked promising. So a quick visit to the local Suzuki recycler and I have a pair of very good condition 2009 Alto seats, cheap too. There appears to be a couple of different options on an Alto of this vintage, some with height adjustable drivers seat and some without. I opted for without as it would just be more "stuff" I would have to remove and I would not be able to get the frame any lower with that option anyway.

In some of these pictures the seats are reversed which is why the airbags are facing inwards. This was a test fit to see if they fit better on opposite sides, but both diver and passenger seats appear to be the same dimensions.

I have recently been thinking that I really want to get this car on the road ASAP, so will not be spending coin on things like fancy custom made seats, interior trim, radios, etc, until after registration. With this in mind I purchased the seats and hope to make them fit.

In this picture the Alto mounting brackets and sliding mechanism are still attached to the seat, as you can see the seat is too high up. That mechanism adds at least 40mm to the height.

The seats have side air bags in them which I will need to disable/remove at some point. The air bags are not required by the ADR. As a side note, ICV's have exemption from requiring front air bags, ABS, and Electronic Stability Control.

Like all modern car seats the Alto seats are bulky and quite high. I have unbolted the sliding adjustor mechanisms and associated brackets, and the seats are now low enough (just) to be usable. Another 1 inch further back and 1-2 inches lower wouldnt hurt, but they're definately usable.

I will need to make some stand-off brackets to bolt the seats to the floor/chassis mounting points provided (the brackets that came on the seat prop the seat up to high in the air and are not positioned well for mounting anyway). I cannot find anything about sliding (or tilt) adjustment being required by the ADR, and in fact the ADR says in several places "if the seat is adjustable." I will check with my ICV engineer but if sliding adjustment is not required then I will go without for now.

Removed the plastic mouldings and the slide adjustors;

This picture shows where the tilt adjustor mechanism hits the body, stopping the seat from being placed any further back:

Provided I can fabricate suitable brackets then these seats should fit the bill nicely to get the car on the road. I will not be able to accurately tell comfort level of the seat position until it's drive time, but if they prove comfortable then there's no reason why I could not get them re-trimmed and in the process shave off a bit of padding (or just have then repadded from scratch) to effectively move seating position lower and more rearward - the factory padding is very thick so there should be plenty of scope for work there.

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