Project Deceptive RCI Pro Racing Seats

Nov. 01, 2005 By ORC STAFF

RCI Racing Seat Installation

The original, dying seats - Click image for a larger viewWhen the seams started separating on the seats in my '92 Samurai JL, I had two choices. I could have the seats reupholstered or replaced. A few things had to be considered first though.

Dead driver's side bolster - Click image for a larger view

The driver's seat leaned back a bit more than stock (after a few "Air Samurai" flights) - which wouldn't be so bad except that it didn't bend evenly - and I never did like the feel of the stock head-rests. Then the driver's side outside bolster (see photo) gave out... decision made!

There are many different choices out there; both factory transplants and aftermarket seats. I needed a budget-minded alternative while still looking cool! While there are some really neat seat kits out there that will let you drop in junkyard specials - the heat and sunshine here in El Paso will trash an unprotected seat in a few weeks. The best set of junkyard seats I could find were $200 for the pair (with the upholstery already thinning) which doesn't include the adapter kit... so another decision was made!

I have always had to put the driver's seat as far back as it would go, and my wife had to move it all the way forward (she is only 5'1") so I knew I needed to retain the slide. I would still have to make an adapter plate, but a piece of .25" aluminum would take care of that.

Click image for a larger viewI looked for a set of aftermarket seats that were inexpensive, could take some abuse, and still look good. I found them at Summit Racing! I got the RCI Pro black poly buckets. I priced these seats at local 4x4 shops and although most have the ABS/poly buckets in stock, none were as low priced as at Summit Racing. I got the RCI covers for them also. Combined price was about $75(US) a seat.

Note: Although these covers are comfy - I found a set of extra-cushy covers at a local 4x4 shop just in case my wife complains too much...

PartsClick image for a larger view

2 Seats with covers
2 Aluminum adapter plates 14"x16½"x¼"
12 3/8" Bolts ¾" long
8 5/16" Bolts with nylock nuts 1" long

Use washers as spacers where needed

Cover snaps - Click image for a larger viewThere is some assembly required for the seats themselves. You have to install two snaps in each seat where the cover snaps on.

I got the aluminum adapter plates from a local metal shop. I just asked for two each ¼" plates - cut to 14" by 16½". Total cost - about $30. The measurement for the plate puts the edge of the plate at the edge of the slide rails. Makes it look like it was meant to be there, especially if you paint it black to match.

I guess I could have gone with thinner material, but I know it will take a lot more abuse this way. The 3/8" bolts will attach the seat to the plate, and the 5/16" bolts will connect the plate to the stock slides. Sounds like a straight bolt-in, right? Weeeell... not exactly.

Step 1 - Removal

Click image for a larger viewClick image for a larger viewFirst, remove the stock seats. On the passenger side you only have to remove the seat from the rails. Be careful of the cable that connects the "recline handle" to the slide rail. This is the mechanism that allows Click image for a larger viewthe seat to slide forward when tilting the seat forward for passengers to get into/out of the rear seat. You must remove this cable from the slide because you won't need it with the one piece racing buckets. Leave the rails mounted in the vehicle.

Click image for a larger viewThe driver's side rails mount to raised channels in the floor to give you more storage space. It is easier to put them back together out of the vehicle, so remove the whole rail assembly for this side at this time.

Step 2 - Measure and Drill

A friend warned me that the bolt pattern under the RCI seats is not exactly symmetrical. I numbered each seat and plate, measured the patterns and transferred the info to the plates accordingly. Good thing, because a few of the mounting points were off by as much as ¼". I had to do some creative "hole shifting" to accommodate the offset. Measure the bolt pattern on the seat bottom and transfer the info to the plate, then drill. Just make sure there are at least two holes that line up exactly to keep everything in check.

Note: I wanted as much room as I could get, so I mounted the seats as far towards the back of the plate as possible. I gained about two inches of legroom.

Step 3 - Seat Assembly

The adapter plate attached to the new seat - Click image for a larger viewIf your measurements are true, then the adapter plate will bolt right up to the seat using the 3/8" bolts, six bolts per seat. I gave them all a good tug and didn't strip a single one, life is good. For the driver's seat I mounted the slides to the plate at this point.

Driver's side mounted - Click image for a larger viewI ran into a couple of problems...

A tab on the slide on the drivers side extends upwards into the area under the seat. I was planning on bolting this flush to the adapter plate - wrong! The mounting points for the front of the rails are different from the rear, so flipping the whole rail system was a short- lived idea. As a result, I have swapped the slides (left to right, right to left). This puts the tab outside of the plate. Later I will use some 1-inch stock to raise the plate above the tab, and then I will swap the rails back to their original position.

Also, on the driver's side the slides are a bit shorter. So I flipped the rear "adapter plate to slide" bolts upside down so that the bolt head was facing down. This gives more room for clearance when they pass each other when sliding the seat.

Step 4 - Seat Installation

Passenger seat bottom - Click image for a larger viewPassenger side mounted in the truck - Click image for a larger viewThe passenger side went in as smooth as silk. No problems. Just drop the whole thing in place above the stock rails. Four bolts and you're ready to try it out.

Outboard seat belt detail - Click image for a larger view Inboard seat belt detail - Click image for a larger image To aid in locating the seat belts, I ran the stock belt's outboard side down through the belt hole on the outside edge of the seat and back to the stock mounting position. The stock belt's inboard side (with the button, mounted to the transmission tunnel) will not fit through the other belt hole in the seat. Being able to do so would have given the seat a semi-stock appearance, like it was meant to be there, but unless there is a safe way to extend this side about 3 inches, it will have to stay outside of the seat.

Driver's side installed in the truck - Click image for a larger viewFor the driver's side, I mounted the plate on the seat as I did with the passenger side, but I then mounted the slides to the plate before installing the seat into the truck. As I wrote earlier, I swapped the slide rails from left to right. The rails still mount to the body as before, but the guts are to the outside. Driver's side bolt locations - Click image for a larger viewAs on the passenger side, I slid the stock belt through the outboard edge of the seat.

Step 5 - Test Drive

New and old seats side by side - Click image for a larger viewI found it a little different having to climb into the seat as opposed to sliding in. Also, the seat puts you about an inch lower, so the addition of the 1-inch spacer to raise the seat later will bring it back to normal height.

Finished new seat installation - Click image for a larger view

The biggest difference felt so far - the seat grabs your butt when you are in an off-camber situation. My daughter was a bit frightened when doing the "twisties" (as she put it) because it felt like she would fall out of the doorway. Now she loves it! Although the seat is very comfortable I can still feel the hard seat underneath, so I may add some additional padding until I can swing the cost of the thicker covers. These seats will do well until I can afford Recarros.

Last word = COOL

Thanks to the guys (Eddie, Troy) that have shared their experiences with me prior to installation, every bit helped.

--Bill Johnston Newsletter
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