The Impossible Evo Part 4: Ergonomics

Do you ever just feel old? At 38, I’m afraid it’s officially happening to me. Fortunately, only under very specific circumstances. Unfortunately, one of these situations is while driving. With certain cars and certain seats, I will feel pain going down my right leg and into my foot with a splash of numbness to top it off. I know it’s sciatic nerve pain and I can avoid it in 99% of my day-to-day life without issue, but sometimes when I drive, I ruin myself almost instantaneously.

It took a few years to figure out what situation caused the pain; for example I drove across the country in an S2000 and felt perfectly fine the entire adventure, yet when driving my wife’s brand new CR-V I would feel pain within 5 minutes. After trial and error, I learned that the pain is caused by a lack of leg support. Being 6’2” with long, dancer legs, I’m regularly scrunched up with my knees bent and thighs floating in space. The solution was tilting the seat bottom up at the front so my legs were supported. This was a life changing moment and allowed me to be comfortable driving for hours!

Sadly, the Mitsubishi Evo X Recaro seats, as incredible as they are, have no such adjustment for the bottom cushion angle. Driving the Evo killed my leg and foot almost immediately. I knew I had to make drastic changes but as my goal is to make a no compromise street car, I didn’t want to swap seats due to the integrated airbags. With this in mind, I started looking high and low for modifications that could be done to the factory seats. On top of the leg pain, I always felt the seat sat way too high for me. This reminded me of my Evo VII days, which always felt like I was sitting on top of the car, rather than in it. For the VII, VIII and IX Binary Engineering made brackets that allowed for the stock Recaros to be lowered. Unfortunately, the Evo X seats are different enough that option doesn’t exist.

In my research, I found a Japanese company, Kansai Service, that makes lowering seat mounts for the stock Recaros, but the brackets lower the front of the seat more than the rear. While lowering the seat in general was a positive, this was the exact opposite goal I was trying to achieve for leg support. With no other ideas, I started to get desperate and I figured the only thing left would be to remove the seats and see if I could modify the stock rails to achieve my goal. That’s when I found a most interesting modification left for me by the previous owner. Washers and lots of them.

Safety third! A previous owner replaced the OEM high-quality seat bolts with these non-flanged 8.8 bolts with heads so small a medium-sized child could pull the seat mount out with little effort. At least they were the right thread size.
This is amazingly bad and unsafe. The head of the bolt can easily pull through the rail under load.  It’s a good thing we caught this.
Seeing this leaning tower of washers used to raise the seats gave me an idea…

The previous owner was vertically challenged and he must have been bothered by the seating position, but for different reasons. He wanted the seat higher and his go-to methodology was to stack a bunch of washers under each corner of the seats to raise them up! No wonder I felt like I was so damned high when driving this car. To top it off, he used some low-grade, 8.8 bolts, without flanged heads, as the factory ones would no longer reach. Their head size was almost small enough to fit through the bolt-hole location! Not the safest solution I’ve ever seen.

12 comments

  1. It’s the simple things! I too am amazed at how long it sometimes takes to figure out the causes of things like leg pain. Owning a car for many years gives you the time to steadily find and fix issues like this.

    1. I’ve always been a wallet in the front pocket kind of guy. Honestly not sure how I hurt my back but about 10 years ago I had to get injections. Once I learned soft couches and no leg support made things worse, I’ve just avoided those situations and I basically never have any pain. I figured out the car seat thing about 2-3 years ago and now 99% of my life is pain free!

      1. I had a 2011 tundra rock warrior just like you guys and it always gave me leg pain when driving. Seemed to me we be able to adjust the seat to fix it.

      2. yep, mine too! fun fact: if you do it long enough, it’ll pinch off bloodflow to your lower leg and your toes will go numb. fun!

      3. My wife corrected that habit of mine a while ago. It’s one of the biggest, yet easiest diagnosis she has to make.

  2. Paint Protection Film is a much better/stronger solution for keeping headlight lenses protected. The clear coat is still susceptible to rock chipping/stone-rash, and will start to peel/flake- sometimes within less than a year. Most modern PPF is rated to a minimum life expectancy of 4yrs on a lens, and can last up to 10yrs- and it is designed to resist and prevent rock chipping, along with providing UV protection. The other added bonus to PPF is that most modern PPF films are self-healing.

    1. I honestly don’t have any experience with PPF, but I will certainly look into it. The daily driver Honda Insight headlights were done over a year ago and still look as good as day 1, the Evo was done about this time last year and they look great as well, but it doesn’t get nearly as many miles or exposure to the elements. I totally see your points on rock chips though!

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