Something critical I’ve learned in all my years of ruini—sorry, modifying cars is to lean on common sense. It’s an easy lesson to forget, especially when forum bros will tell you that wheels, tires, brakes, and a tune are day-one mods. But the simplest mods make the biggest difference, and one often overlooked mod can simply fix a car without doing almost anything else: Installing a proper aftermarket bucket seat.

I strive not to ruin my brand-new 2023 Subaru BRZ, but rather modify it to reach the extent of its out-of-the-box capabilities. Luckily, as the BRZ is such a relatively affordable car, there’s low-hanging fruit aplenty, like the aforementioned wheel, tire, and brake mods. One out-of-the-box bother I didn’t fully anticipate: the stock seating position is terrible. Same with the stock seats.

BRZ Project

My old Type R going maximum attack at Buttonwillow Raceway with stock seats.

This might be because I came from an FK8 Honda Civic Type R, which has some of the best performance seats fitted to any car at any price. Even running a modded CTR, at a track pace five seconds faster than stock, I found those seats supportive enough, low enough, and comfortable enough to keep my wallet away from the aftermarket.

My BRZ does not benefit from good factory seats, especially for track use. While they were adequate for canyon driving, they were not comfortable. My lower back and bottom screamed after long trips, and the seating position was too tall for a sports car. I needed more support all around.

BRZ Project

In my experience, most aftermarket seats are too extreme. Almost every seat maker has a different philosophy for the correct amount of seatback recline, the hip angle between your legs and torso, the amount of thigh support, and shoulder width. Not to mention the ever-critical lumbar support and seat padding. You have two choices down this path: Reclining seats and fixed-back seats.

Without getting into the weeds, I knew that reclining seats would not suit my needs. A reclining bucket seat would be an improvement over the stock seats, but only a fixed-back seat would offer enough support. Either way, I knew who to call: Recaro.

BRZ Project Recaro
BRZ Project Recaro

I chose the Recaro Pole Position for a few reasons, but one stands out: It is easily the most comfortable fixed-back seat I’ve sat in. A few seats come close in comfort, but the Pole Position is perfectly judged for a combination of track and street duty. My other choice would’ve been a Bride Zeta IV, which is reasonably comfortable for long trips but has aggressive leg side supports that make it impossible to stretch out and lounge. The Pole Position relies mostly on hip, midriff, and shoulder support to allow your arms and legs more mobility.

Finally, the Recaro offers the best padding and shaping, bar none. It’s a soft seat, with zero pressure points on my body, with good in-built lumbar support that is also adjustable with padding.

BRZ Project Recaro
BRZ Project Recaro

Oh, and the Pole Position has dummy swag. That’s another unfortunate truth of aftermarket seats. There are many makers, but the coolest of them all are Recaro and Bride, with Sparco trailing that group. Like my wheel discussion in my previous project post, swag is important for me with the BRZ, and the Pole Position has undisputable clout.

Recaro sent me a black Pole Position N.G., which is the narrower FIA-certified version. The wider, road-going ABE offers a bit more room at the hip–something I considered but didn’t need for my 33” waist. I also wanted to be sure that I could use the seat in competition events.

BRZ Project Recaro

Then, there was the issue of mounting the seat to the car, which was surprisingly fraught. A dizzying array of mounts cloud your decision, all without clear guidance on measurements, mounting styles, or even the parts included. Recaro doesn’t make car-specific mounts, which slightly complicates the issue. I’ve also used seat mounts in the past that failed miserably in terms of construction and fitment.

After some research, I found the perfect solution from a company called Pro Car Innovations, better known as PCI. They’re a small outfit based in Los Angeles that makes specialized fabricated car parts, with seat mounts being one of their bread-and-butter commodities. It’s all designed and made in-house, and they tossed me their updated BRZ/GR86 sliding seat mount that made the install ridiculously easy.

Installation was simply a matter of removing the crap stock seat and installing the Recaro in its place. There are two things to be aware of, however: the seat belt buckle and airbag sensor. With the Recaro install, I understood I’d give up the extra safety of the factory airbag, but I didn’t want a light on my dash.

A 3.3 ohm 1-watt resistor inserted into the airbag plug solves the problem, just make sure to wrap it in electrical tape to seal it from the elements. Once the seat is installed, make sure to route the wire from the buckle underneath without pinching it and plug it in.

BRZ Project PCI
BRZ Project PCI
BRZ Project PCI

I then solved the seat belt buckle issue by getting a small extender because it was too short and angled toward the seat too aggressively. Not my favorite solution but I’m going to try to slightly bend the buckle or find a different buckle with a compatible plug in the future to avoid the extender. After a few tries I set my recline and height with the adjustable mounts, and found that the innermost of three positions for the seat rails worked best for the BRZ with a Pole Position.

Voila. I sat at least two inches lower than stock, finally my body at a height appropriate for a sports car. With the proper recline dialed in, I was more comfortable than in the stock seat by a considerable margin. I could do four-hour road trip stints whereas the stock seats had me looking for a snack stop within an hour. The new assembly also weighed in at 36.4 pounds, almost a full 10 pounds lighter than the stock seat, with a lower center of gravity to boot.

BRZ Project
BRZ Project
BRZ Project

Most importantly, I was completely hooked into the car around corners on the track, and found backroad drives to be infinitely more enjoyable now that I wasn’t subconsciously bracing myself against the steering wheel. As a bonus, it isn’t all that difficult to get in and out of the seats with the slider mount.

Driving it with the new seat, I found almost zero downsides, save for the loss of the side airbag. And it had a distinct bonus: The seat also made the car feel different and better by virtue of stabilizing my body and cutting down the material between my backside and the car’s floor pan–I could feel the minute movements of the rear suspension and steer using my fingertips and palms rather than with my entire grip. And just seeing the seat in the car produces instant street cred.

It goes to show just how important comfort and seating position are to a sports car. They can make or break a driving experience. While my BRZ was already extremely good to drive, I now actively pine to drive it because it feels like a more special environment. Yet, as ever, there is more to do, and up next is taking a look at better brakes.

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Last Update: June 14, 2024

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