Interior and Upholstery S197 Seat Conversion Project

jrp27540

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I am creating this thread to track my progress of converting front and back s197 seats into my 1988 LX Fox. I hope that this information will be helpful/instructive for those wanting to take on the same challenge.

The goal:
My goal is to fully convert my stock front low back interior seats and rear seats with a pair of retired s197 front and back seats. The red leather donor seats are out of a 2007 GT. The most difficult part of this project will be the rear seats. The s197 body design isn't anything close to our fox body mustangs. The rear seats will require a heavy level of modification/fabrication.

Rear seat plan:
The rear seat of the s197 has three parts, just like our fox bodies. The s197 back seat will NOT work in the fox bodies at all, whatsoever. To make it work, it will require a very large level of fabrication, specifically to the bottom seat. The bottom seat is too wide at the back (by your butt), so it will not slide back far enough to properly meet up with the two vertical back parts. I will have to trim a few inches off both sides and shape it to match the contour angle of the original bottom seat. Also, the bottom back section that meets up with the back section comes up to high. This will require several inches to be trimmed off to properly line up with the two vertical seats.
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The s197 rear bottom seat is thinner and flatter than the fox rear bottom seat. The challenge will be to add support to the bottom of the s197 seat to accommodate for its flat and thin design. My plan is to create a wire frame similar to that of the fox bottom rear seat frame. This will be used to give support to the s197 bottom, as well as location to snap the seat bottom into the original floor pan clips. To adjust the s197 bottom contour and thickness, I plan on using a expanding foam compound. I will line the back of the car with plastic sheeting and build a damn using wood frames; this is a similar concept like poring concrete. I will lay the custom wire frame down on the bottom floor, then poor the liquid foam compound onto the floor. As the foam expands and hardens, it will take on the contour of the floor pans, as well as attach itself to the wire frame. Once the foam sets, I'll work it out of the car and begin to shape the top/sides to accept the s197 bottom. After getting the two pieces blended together, I'll use hog rings to tie them together.
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I’m sure this plan will change along the way, but it’s the direction I'll be going with for now.

Front seat plan:
The front seat will be a breeze compared to the back. There are two options available when tackling the front seats: first, one could remove the s197 tracks and replace with the fox tracks; second, one could fabricate the s197 tracks to line up with the fox floor pan stud/bolt locations. I am going to go with option 2, as I want to retain the power seat feature.

My plan will be to grind off the rivets/spot welds retaining the “feet” on the s197 tracks, as well as on the stock tracks. I’ll take the “feet” from the stock tracks and fasten them to the s197 tracks. This will allow the seats to have the same level as the stock seats. Based off my measurements, I’ll be able to pull this off once I shorten up the fox feet a bit.
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For a quick win, I am going to start with the front seats. This will build my motivation to tackle the back, as it is going to suck….to say the least.

Hope you enjoy the ride!
 
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jrp27540

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Today, I started with the front passenger seat by removing the track “feet”. These are the tools that I used for this part of the project.
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Removing the feet were very easy; once the rivet heads are ground flat, you can knock the feet off with a hammer. I found that once the feet were off, I still needed to finish grinding what was left of the rivet, then punch it out with a punch. I didn’t have much free time today, but I was able to remove all 4 feet.
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Tomorrow, I hope to remove the feet from the stock tracks, as well as trim them up to fit the s197 tracks. To make this work, I will have to off center the stock feet on the s197 tracks, as well as widen the bolt holes about ¼ of an inch. I will more than likely weld the stock feet to the s197 tracks.
 
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jrp27540

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I can't wait to see the seats in the vehicle!

The rear seats? Yeah, that'll be fun. Maybe just reupholster the old seats with the red leather instead?

I'm actually going to see about that option. I'm going to go by a local upholstery shop to get their take. The challenge is that the s197 backs do not have enough leather material to cover the stock vertical back seats. If I use the stock bottom with the s197 vertical backs, there will be a good 2-3 inch gap between the two. They might be able to take the stock bottom and bring it up in the back similar to the s197 bottom. At least I have options :)
 

jrp27540

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I was able to make a little bit more progress today. Since I decided to keep the s197 tracks, the installation process has been slow for the front seats. I tossed around several ideas, but the one I landed on was robbing the track "feet" brackets from the stock seat tracks. I really didn't want to break down the stock tracks, but I feel it will be the best and cleanest solution in the end.

I started by drilling out the spot welds, as well as grinding down the rivets.
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Once the stock track feet brackets were removed, I began the task of fastening them to the s197 track. I started with the front feet, as they will be the most challenging. The track does not lend much space to bolt the feet on. I had to grind the head of the bolts down for two reasons: first, the square head was required as I was not able to get the head of the bolt through the track...it was just too narrow; second, the space between the bottom and top track are very narrow. If I didnt take the height off the bolts I wouldn't be able to move the seat forward and backwards.
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The stock front feet brackets were a bit long, so I had to notch them in order to accommodate for the track gear path.
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Once all was done, I was able to fasten down the bolts. I used lock washers. Once im ready to do a final assembly, I plan on using some blue locktight for added security.
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Since I compromised the strength of the bolt heads, as well as the track feet(by drilling the additional hole as well as the holes being close to the edge), I plan on running a weld down the foot and the track. This will help strengthen things up a bit. I really don't think the weld will be needed, but one can never have to much insurance when it comes to safety.
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Tomorrow I hope to get the other front foot bracket on. Once both feet brackets are attached, I will connect both brackets by welding a 2" x 3/16" strip of steel on the flanges that bolt to the floor pan. This will add more rigidity to the front feet brackets, as well as provide plenty of location space to drill the new bolt holes for the floor pan bolts. This process will be repeated on the back feet brackets.
 

Davedacarpainter

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Are you talking about moving the rear bolts farther to the rear?

You don't have SFC's yet, do you?

I would weld this front brackets as well, that would make me very paranoid as well.
 

jrp27540

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Are you talking about moving the rear bolts farther to the rear?

You don't have SFC's yet, do you?

I would weld this front brackets as well, that would make me very paranoid as well.

I have not gotten my SFC on yet. I want to get my car on a frame rack before I do the SFC. I discovered that the car was hit(or it hit something) on the driver side in its past. I want to make sure the unibody is true before I go any farther. The car has no issues with getting it aligned, so it can't be that bad, but the driver side caster camber plate sit farther out towards the finder than the passenger side. I have a reputable frame/body shop lined up to take care of that for me this fall.

I will not be relocating the floor pan bolt/stud locations for the seats. I'll bring the back feet brackets forward on the s197 seat tracks in order to line up with the stock floor pan bolt/stud locations. I have created a jig that will allow me to get the back feet connected with the correct distance from the front front feet brackets. There is more than enough real estate on the s197 tracks to bring the back feet brackets up to the stock location.
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Yes, I plan on welding all 4 feet brackets on. The bolts serve two purposes: first, allows me to get things tightened down and in place during the fabrication; second, they will take place of the stock weld rivets. Once I get all 4 feet brackets where I want them, i'll weld everything down. It will be a tricky weld job as the s197 track metal is thicker than the stock feet brackets. I'll have to make sure I dont melt the thinner feet bracket metal while trying to get a good penetration weld on the thicker track metal. I'll do some practicing with a few scrap metal parts before I go crazy.

I know there were other options that I could have done with creating brackets, but I think taking the time to do it this way will give it the stock seat look, as well as making it look like the seats were supposed to be there.
 

jrp27540

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I was a little rushed with time today, so I didnt get as many progress pictures as I hoped. I have the front passenger seat seat in, but will need to pull it back out in order to finish up the bracket welds.

The back feet brackets were fairly simple. there was a pilot hole already drilled that lined up perfectly with the stock bracket location.
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I trimmed off the top part of the rear feet bracket. I left a lot of the material on so I would have a good location to weld the bracket on. I only used one bolt on each side of the rear bracket feet. The welds will give more than enough strength to the rear brackets along with the bolt. I didn't get a picture of the rear feet brackets connected to the seat tracks. When I pull the seat back out to finish up the welds, I will take a picture of the final product.
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Here are a few pictures of the seat bolted in the car. The red doesn't look to bad with the gray/black interior. It isn't as sexy as an all black interior, but I think the colors go together OK.
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90sickfox

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That's a nice swap....I may have to look for some red seats...

Very good job, sir !!!

Do they sit taller than the fox seats ?
 

jrp27540

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That's a nice swap....I may have to look for some red seats...

Very good job, sir !!!

Do they sit taller than the fox seats ?

Thanks!

Well your question is difficult to give a solid yes/no answer to considering I was sitting on the floor to begin with since the bottom springs were broken in the stock drive seat. I would say it sits about .5 to 1 inch higher, which I think feels right. I am 6'3" tall and still have plenty of head space. I would compare the ride height as sitting in a SN-95. I had a 98 GT and this feels almost identical to its sitting height. I always loved my 98 GT seat height because I hate sitting on the floor or feeling like I have to roll out of the car to get out.
 
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NIKwoaC

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Those do look really good, plus now you actually have effective whiplash protection with those modern headrests!

Any idea how the weight compares?
 

Mustang5L5

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Those do look really good, plus now you actually have effective whiplash protection with those modern headrests!

Any idea how the weight compares?

Ain't that the truth. Even with halo headrests, my SN95 seats offer no head support
 

NIKwoaC

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Ain't that the truth. Even with halo headrests, my SN95 seats offer no head support

Oh yea, it seems like the OEMs didn't get serious about whiplash safety until maybe 10 years ago... Or maybe they just had no idea what they were doing prior to that.

I love the way halo headrests look, but there's no way those things do anything in a crash. Doesn't stop me from lusting over an old set of Recaros though. :D
 
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Mustang5L5

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I love the way halo headrests look, but there's no way those things do anything in a crash. Doesn't stop me from lusting over an old set of Recaros though. :D

Yeah, I know I'd be pretty screwed in a crash. No airbag. 30 year old seatbelts I hope would work, and a head rest requiring me to look like a pez dispenser before it touches my head.
 

jrp27540

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Those do look really good, plus now you actually have effective whiplash protection with those modern headrests!

Any idea how the weight compares?

They are very heavy compared to stock, especially the drivers seat. The seat tracks is where most of the added weight is. If you looking for weight reduction, these aren't the seats.
 

jrp27540

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Yeah, I know I'd be pretty screwed in a crash. No airbag. 30 year old seatbelts I hope would work, and a head rest requiring me to look like a pez dispenser before it touches my head.

My seatbelts scare the crap out of me... Every time I get in that car I wonder if they actually work lol. I should replace them...but I hate to pay the money because they arent cheap. I'm going to do it anyway so I dont leave my wife and 4 kids husband/fatherless because I was to cheap to replace them.
 
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