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.