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Recaro Sport Installation in 99 Cobra
Sent in by: David MacCallum




5-23-00 Update:
I have found a mistake in the current Recaro catalog that will affect every Recaro dealer that is referencing it. The correct brackets for 98-00 Mustangs are incorrectly listed. The CORRECT part numbers, according to Recaro CEO, John Marcozzi, is 1.74.0 (driver) and 2.74.0 (passenger).

The rest of this article is simply one Recaro customerís experience with the Recaro Sport Seat order and installation process - Dave

Overview
The use of Recaro Sport seats in the about to be released Ford Mustang Cobra R has generated much interest in these seats. After much research and pricing comparison, I chose to order from Speedware Motorsports (www.speedwaremotorsports.com) in Redmond, WA. My salesperson was Dan Reiss and he was very knowledgeable and extremely helpful. Recaro offers many colors available in fabric or leather. Expect to pay approximately $700 for fabric and a little under $1000 for leather. You will also need to order brackets that mount between your existing manual and/or electric seat tracks and the Recaro seat. These brackets run about $99 each.

Packing 101
The first disappointment came when the UPS driver delivered two large boxes at my door. One of the boxes looked like it had been to hell and back. I opened this box first and lifted the Recaro out slowly. While lifting, I heard pieces of plastic hitting the bottom of the box. Sure enough, about every piece of plastic on the Recaro seat was cracked or shattered including the large plastic shell back plate and shattered side seatback adjustment knobs.


The drivers seat was a little better but not much. I believe the real culprit was Recaro’s totally ridiculous packing. There was only one piece of thin cardboard liner on the bottom of the box. There is no foam or other material for the seats to rest on to soften any blows the box may take during shipping. The top of the seat is wrapped in large bubble wrap. Then there is a cardboard wedge that holds the top of the seat to prevent it from wobbling in the box. Many if not all the cracks and shattered plastic could have been prevented if Recaro would just use a $5 cushioned tray to position the bottom of the seat in.

Once I was assured by Dan at Speedware Motorsports that he would take care of getting a claim filed with UPS, I decided to proceed with the installation since I had a weekend of racing at Willow Springs planned.

Removing the stock seats
The stock seats are easily removed by using a socket to remove 4 bolts that hold the seat and seat track in place. Once removed, you need to remove the 4 bolts that attach the seat tracks to bottom of the stock seats. If you plan on retaining the drivers electric seat track, you will need to remove the wiring harness attached to the bottom of the stock chair. I used tie wraps to attach this harness to the bottom of the new driver’s seat. I positioned the electric seat adjustment controls on the left side of the seat (see picture at the bottom of this article). I plan to ditch the electric driver’s seat track for a manual track because it causes me to sit 2 inches higher compared to the passenger seat. My head constantly bumps into the roof when wearing my helmet. Not fun when going 125mph and concentrating on slowing for Turn 1…

Note: If you ensure that Recaro sends you the correct brackets for your car, you will not need to go through the custom installation procedure below to make your brackets fit! The correct brackets for 98-00 Mustangs is 1.74.0 (driver) and 2.74.0. Please note that the Recaro catalog has an error and incorrectly identifies these brackets.

What a bracket!
I next turned to attaching the Recaro brackets to the Recaro seat bottom. I started by checking the fit of the Recaro brackets. The first concern came while unwrapping the brackets. The bracket sheet read: Kit No. 0.07.4 Application: Ford Mustang (Manual Tracks) (79-92). Dan at Speedware swore that these are the only available brackets for Mustangs. I aligned the brackets to the driver’s electric track and neither the left or right Recaro brackets fit flush - mainly due to a raised metal ridge on the electric rack. I have seen others (such as Jeff Fisher http://jwfisher.home.texas.net/motorsport/ford/mods/project99/pro-6/default.htm) describe using a flanged hex nut to take up the empty space created by the poor fitting Recaro brackets. I decided to take a different approach - with my hacksaw. I had to remove a good two inches of the bracket to make it fit. This was very tedious and quite a workout since the brackets are very thick. I found the bracket was much easier to cut if I clamped it to my workbench with a large C-clamp.


The bracket closest to the drivers door also required cutting to fit to the stock electric seat track:


Before Hack. After Hack

I am happy to report that the Recaro brackets for the passenger seat did not require any modifications to fit the passenger seat track.

Once you complete the hacksaw cutting, you can mount the brackets to the seats. Recaro provides 4 Hexnuts to secure the bracket to the seat. Once again, the installation took a 30 minute detour because Recaro did not properly align the holes above the bottom of the bracket to allow the Hexnuts to be tightened with a Hex tool. To solve this, I had to use my power drill to enlarge the hole in the bracket to allow the hex tool to properly fit in the end of the Hexnut. The picture below shows the hexnut in its hole in the bracket. You can see how the hole that was drilled to allow you to tighten the bolt is not properly aligned:

With the hole drilled out, I proceeded to finally mount the Recaro brackets to the Recaro seats. I strongly recommend tightening the Hexnuts by hand before using the Hex tool to tighten so as to not strip the retaining nut permanently embedded in the bottom of the Recaro seat.

With the brackets on the bottom of the seats, I placed the seat on its back and lifted the estimated 35 pound electric rack in place (it weighs a ton). I used the bolts, nuts, and washers provided by Recaro. No problems with fit here.

Once attached, the drivers seat was ready to be placed in the car. Since these Sport seats are tall, I found it easiest if I tilted the seatback forward before lifting it into the car. I reattached the 4 bolts to secure the seat. The passenger seat installs much easier and in a similar fashion to the drivers seat. Be careful of the passenger side spring mounted manual tracks as they hurt if the release and smack you in the hand!


Finished Product
Recaro Sports offer a much more aggressive look for any Mustang. The side support, which is totally lacking in the stock Mustang seats, is excellent. They are also extremely comfortable!!

Conclusion
This installation is very involved and not recommended for someone that is not handy with tools. Recaro could make this experience so much better if the fixed the following things:

a) Provide bottom padding for their shipping boxes. A friend ordered the same seats as mine and both of his seats were more damaged than mine (The UPS inspector authorized up to $600 to repair his Recaros). So I don’t think my shipping experience was necessarily a “fluke” accident.
b) Make brackets that fit the seat tracks
c) Tell bracket manufacturer to center the hole above the hexnut on the bracket end!!!

One last concern is the rubber air hose from the hand pump on the side of the chair to the lower back bladder. It is tightly wedged between the plastic backing shell and a piece of metal. The rubber gets stretched when you raise the seatback to allow someone to get in the back seat. It’s only a matter of time before the hose gets torn.

Recaro USA: http://www.recaro-nao.com/


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