There’s a few questions on my mind that have been bothering me for a little while. They’re about seats.

Illustration for article titled Lets talk about seats
Illustration for article titled Lets talk about seats
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Illustration for article titled Lets talk about seats

I have a very rough understanding of how car seats are made. There’s some sort of stamped metal frame, with a few metal springs hooked over it, and then a bunch of polyurethane foam (or something similar). All that gets wrapped up in a nicely stitched covering.

Supposing a person wanted to make their own custom car seats, how difficult would it be? Would it be legal? Would it be safe? Would it turn out half-decent, or, in typical Top Gear fashion - “ambitious, but rubbish”? After seeing the concept interior for the Porsche Taycan (back when it was called the Mission-E), I really kind of thought they were interesting seats. Supposing a person wanted to make something similar, would it be possible? Is it possible to buy polyurethane foam kits, and cast the foam yourself? Does a seat like that even have a metal frame? (I imagine for the concept car, the requirement is “make it look good”, not “make it work, then make it look good”. So who knows - does it even have a metal frame in the back, or is it plastic/carbon fiber?)

Illustration for article titled Lets talk about seats
Illustration for article titled Lets talk about seats
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Here’s another set of interesting seats - this time from the Audi AI Trail concept. Those side bolsters make it look pretty difficult to climb in/out, but they seem to have a similar look in my mind.

The closest I can think of off the top of my head would be the BMW i3 seats, which I still think look pretty good:

Illustration for article titled Lets talk about seats
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A little more traditional compared to the other concept seats, but at least these ones meet safety criteria and are actually attainable.

Now the other big question about seats that has been bothering me. How does the seat reclining mechanism work? It’s not like I recline my seat very often, but from what I remember (at least in the Civic), there doesn’t seem to be set detente positions. You can set it back at whatever angle you want. If that’s the case, how does the seat back remain rigid in an accident? What manner of mechanical witchcraft allows it to be positioned at an arbitrary angle, and when set, not move? Or am I just not reclining my seat often enough to notice that there are actually set positions every few degrees? If there were set positions, I could imagine some sort of notched metal piece that allows a pawl to snap into position, locking it at that spot.

And to think these are the sort of questions that keep me up at night...

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