Since the earliest days of the automobile, drivers have sought to get the most performance from their vehicles, using every bit of power and cornering ability that could be wrung out. In olden times, it was a major struggle for drivers just to keep from falling out of their seats. While vehicle performance and handling both have increased a hundred-fold since the 19th century, drivers, both on the road and on the track, have continued to look for ways to improve their stability and comfort behind the wheel. Why is a proper seat important?
Throttle, brake, clutch pedal, steering wheel, gauges, and mirrors are all designed for optimum visibility, control, and responsiveness when a driver is right in the sweet spot of the seat. In other words, sitting upright, centered, and within reach of the controls. During performance driving and racing where sharp curves and extra-legal speeds equal high g-forces, it's all too easy to be pushed out of that desired sweet spot - even when standard three-point seat belts are connected. If a driver is working at moving his/her body back into place, attention is distracted and reactions are delayed. In competition, that puts you at a disadvantage. Even worse, it creates a risk of accident or injury.
In this article, we'll show you replacement seats for your vehicle found in our Racing and Custom Seats section, and we’ll provide some guidance when it comes to selecting the best one for you.
Depending on your preferences, you'll find seats designed to up your game during everyday driving, weekend competition, serious racing, and even off-roading. Everything we offer is designed to be easily installed in place of factory seats and bring a look of luxury and sportiness to any vehicle's interior.
We've also got 3-point, 4-point, and 5-point racing harnesses as well as replacement seat belts in OEM form or with a tension/release buckle in the center. We've even got a racing harness bar that bolts between your vehicle's B-pillars to serve as a proper mounting beam for 4- or 5-point racing harnesses. So if you agree that better seating makes a better driver, we've got all the equipment you need.
Be Sure You Know Whether You’re Buying An Adjustable Or Non-Adjustable Type Of Seat
One of the most important things to keep in mind when looking for a custom seat is whether the seatback is adjustable and can be reclined, or the entire seat features a 1-piece non-adjustable shell designed to cradle the occupant. We get a lot of customers that accidently order the wrong type of seat, so it’s an easy detail to miss once you begin comparing a number of products.
On the left-hand side of the screen, you’ll see check boxes under our SHELL TYPE heading. Select the “Reclining” box, and you’ll find seats with adjustable backrests and supportive side bolsters that provide comfort for the weekend racer who also commutes in the same vehicle.
The "Full Bucket" heading features one-piece, non-adjustable seats that are designed for the highest levels of competition. Needless to say, non-adjustable seats are great for the high g-forces and rigors of the racetrack, but they can be uncomfortable to spend sustained periods of time commuting in. With a rigid outer shell and a snug fit, there really aren’t a lot of ways to adjust your seating position in one of these seats. You can tell a one-piece bucket seat at quick glance because it will have built-in holes by the left and right thigh areas for the purpose of installing a 4- or 5-point seatbelt.
We also caution that some custom seats may be available in both reclining and non-reclining versions. In such cases, you would see a choice of styles in the Product Options Field. Normally, you’ll see the fact that a seat reclines mentioned on the product page, and even in the title in some cases. Plus, there will be an adjustment handle clearly visible somewhere on outer edge of the seat bottom.
Other Factors To Consider When Buying A Sport Seat
A good sport seat will provide proper back support, provide head and body cushioning during impacts, and keep your torso from sliding sideways out of position. However, we recommend considering a few additional factors before choosing one seat over another.
Does the Seat Have Tracks, or Does It Bolt Directly In Place?
Sport seats designed for serious racing may or may not be designed to bolt directly to the floor instead of to horizontal slider brackets that the factory used. While bolt-down seats enhance safety by staying securely in position during a rollover or collision, they cannot be slid forward or backward along tracks for comfort. Again, bolt-down seats are recommended for track competition, not street driving.
Seats designed with fore-aft movement in mind will come with their own slider brackets that bolt to the vehicle frame.
Most of the seats we sell are “vehicle-specific”, meaning they are produced with dimensions and shapes designed to fit your specific make and model without clearance issues. If you are ordering a “universal fit” seat that’s not made for any particular vehicle, you’ll be prompted to select from a choice of seat widths. This width is the measurement of the seat at its widest point at the seat cushion area. We’d recommend using a tape measure to confirm the amount of space you have in your vehicle before ordering.
Most sport seats feature ergonomic designs that cradle the typical human body around the shoulders, buttocks, and thighs. Normally, this provides comfort and support for many people who will use the seats. But because not everyone is built the same way, “many people” may not necessarily include you.
Before you select a seat, take a close look at how thick the bolstering is around the thighs, and how high up it extends. Think of how comfortable that is likely to be for you personally. The same goes for bolstering around the shoulder areas, because that can be very constricting and uncomfortable if the seat is too narrow overall.
We’ve also got check boxes along the left side of the screen that allow you to narrow your search to seats with specific upholstery materials. Bear in mind that some materials such as vinyl and imitation leather can be slick to the touch, reducing grip and causing slides.
Reclining Seats For Performance Driving & Light Racing
When it comes to reclining seats designed for performance driving, we’ve got a wide selection of stylish designs. For example, Cipher Auto offers adjustable racing style seats in a variety of configurations. All are sold in pairs, and all of them feature lightweight tubular steel framework which greatly reduces total seat weight compared to typical OEM seats. All Cipher seats feature reclining seatbacks, and use high-density molded foam to provide everyday comfort for those who drive to work during the week, and do light racing on weekends.
Cipher "1000 series" reclining seats are value-priced, and feature single-lock sliders. Be sure to check out the variety of colors and upholstery choices among the 1003, 1007, and 1013 seat models, to name a few. Do you like the look of contrasting white and black designs? That monochrome motif is available in a number of different variants in the 1026 and 1009 model seats.
The Cipher "2000 series" reclining seats are a step up, and use dual-lock sliders. All 2000 series seats are TUV approved (TUV is a global certification process). The 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2009 models all feature aggressive bolstering and accommodations for seat harnesses, as well as a wide variety of colors and fabrics. They are an excellent choice for those who are most serious about driver comfort in a race car.
All Cipher racing seats are designed to be mounted with vehicle-specific Cipher Seat Brackets (which can also be purchased in the Product Options drop-down for each seat style).
Spec-D, one of the best-known brands in the field of custom light assemblies, also offers reclining custom bucket seats in two different styles. Their Recaro Style Racing Seats are available in black & white two-tone, or in variations of black with blue suede, and with red stitching.
The "Bride Style" reclining racing seats (so-named as they emulate the well-regarded Bride brand of JDM seats) are attractively upholstered in various combinations of black, red, and blue. Both the Recaro style and Bride style seats are sold in pairs. Note that while all the Spec-D seats are universal fit, vehicle-specific brackets are required.
“Full Bucket” Non-Reclining Seats For Serious Competition Driving
Since serious competition “full bucket” racing seats don't add engine power, increase braking grip, or enhance suspension geometry, they do their part to boost performance by weighing significantly less, and by providing unparalleled lateral support for the driver during extreme cornering.
Compared to most original equipment automotive seats, single-piece full bucket seats we offer weigh approximately half as much - a benefit that does make the car go faster, stop more quickly, and corner better. Plus, you'll get more advanced construction, better looks, and superior integrity in the event of a collision.
If you're competing at a higher level of racing on the track, Seibon offers ultra-lightweight seats made out of a single sheet of carbon, which creates the highest possible strength as well as a more stylish appearance. The carbon sheet is wrapped with a fiberglass skeleton and built in to the mold so it doesn't split or break apart should any unfortunate collisions occur on the track.
So if you're looking for seats that provide the highest level of wraparound support and grip at high g-forces, Seibon seats are the ones to have. Their Carbon Kevlar Bucket Racing Seat is available in red or black cloth, and their Type FC Carbon Kevlar Bucket Racing Seat practically cradles your whole body at the hips and head area.
Jeep and off-road specialist Rugged Ridge offers a range of seats designed for a range of activities. If you prefer seats that hold you in place, choose the adjustable Super Sport Seat for performance driving on the street. If you’re planning on going a little faster or doing serious off-roading, the adjustable RRC Series OffRoad Seat comes with air adjustable lumbar support, 3 seat belt harness cutouts, and a choice of solid or two-tone color schemes.
And if you prefer a good bolstering seat with a wider amount of room to move around while looking for ground clearance, the XHD Off-Road Seat offers adjustable lumbar and harness cutouts wrapped in durable, easy-clean fabric or stylish leatherette.
If you want simple, basic replacement seats for the front or rear of your classic Jeep, Rugged Ridge has them in a selection of styles and colors. And if you're looking for OEM style replacement seats, Rugged Ridge offers the biggest choice that are purpose-built for all-around comfort, style, and function.
Racing harnesses basically take the benefits of OEM seat belts and improve on them. Because crashes on a racetrack tend to involve high speeds and sometimes rollovers, racing harness belts are engineered to keep all parts of your body buttoned down firmly in your seat.
Racing harness straps are wider than OEM belts for the purpose of spreading deceleration forces more evenly across the shoulders, chest, and hips - because these are the strongest parts of the body. Release buttons are also in easy-to-reach places in order to ensure a quick vehicle exit under the toughest circumstances. In serious racing, 4- and 5-point seat belts are typically required.
Cipher’s 4-Point Camlock Racing Harness includes two adjustable harnesses and two heavy-duty nylon straps available in your choice of colors. The OMP 4-Point Street Racing Harness is designed with aircraft-style buckles and 2" straps. Cushioning pads are available in the Product Option section.
If you're doing serious competition on the track, check with your racing organization because their sanctioning body may require 5-point seat belts. This type of harness, including Cipher's quick release 5-Point Certified Racing Harness, has straps positioned the same way as 4-point harnesses do - but adds a 5th strap. This extra strap between the legs prevents a driver's body from "submarining" under the lap belt portion should the rear of the vehicle become involved in a heavy collision.
It's worth repeating for safety's sake that a 4-point or 5-point harness needs appropriate mounting points, and the Cipher racing harness bar bolts between your vehicle's B-pillars to serve as that mounting point.
Street Seat Belts
If the seatbelts in your street machine have become tattered, worn, or need replacement after an accident, we’ve got replacements that meet or exceed U.S. federal and state requirements for motor vehicle safety standards.
For example, the AutoLoc Seat Belt with Push Button offers traditional form and function. We’ve also got the Beam 3-Points Retractable Seat Belt that’s available with basic push button, chrome button, or chrome lift catch as a release mechanism. For 1976-95 Jeep CJs and Wranglers, you’ll find OEM style replacement 3-point belts from Omix-Ada and Crown.
Whether it's for your daily driver, the weekend track car, or the devoted race machine, a good driver's seat can make a huge difference in how you feel behind the wheel. More importantly, it can make you safer by keeping you secure and alert. There's almost an infinite amount of value in such an investment in a racing or performance seat. Add to that the additional level of security provided by quality seat belts and harnesses, and you will realize that these items are some of the best investments you can make.