I initially chose to reupholster the Spirit-R Recaros in red and stay true to their original colors and to add contrast to the overall color scheme. That was over 2 years ago. Being reminded of this leaves me baffled at how fast time flew by. 2 years was long enough for me to change my tastes and grow a bit older. I now think the red seats stand out too much and gives the car a “tuner” look. It would be more befitting to convert them to black. My master plan has always been to keep the RX-7’s aesthetics subtle and simple in order to betray the true mods that lay underneath the surface…
Sometime last Fall/Winter, I shot a message to one of the longtime members of RX7Club, Austin, who I knew had an upholstery business. I was merely curious and inquired if he would be able to help make me black covers for the Recaros. The timing could not have been better because he coincidentally was in the process of procuring a set of the Recaros to replicate covers with. I took advantage of the opportunity and jumped on board.
This made the logistics on my end easier since I didn’t have to bring my seats in to a local shop to have the covers traced and remade. All I had to do was wait and let Austin take care of the rest.
The previous red covers fit well and did actually look quite nice, but they were made out of a cheaper synthetic suede. This time, I decided to raise the bar and opted for real Alcantara to match the rest of my interior. I also requested for top-stitching to add strength and quality to the end product.
Fast forward a couple months and after multiple pattern refinements during the upholstering process, my new seat covers were completed and delivered to my doorstep in a box. I dragged my feet with their install because I ended up asking Austin to make and send me a front flap cover to hide the red inner cloth layer:
Removing the old seat covers was a straightforward and easy affair:
Installing the new ones, however, required quite a bit more finesse. The Alcantara material is stiff and does not stretch well, so the cover must go on in a high tolerance and form fitting manner. I started wrestling the covers on and decided to stop at the half way point. I felt more confident in handing the seats over to a professional to ensure that the covers would receive the best possible installation, since there are many intricacies that can come in to play. I dropped the seats off and had a local shop figure it out.
Once they were ready, I rushed over after work one evening to pick them up. The shop owner was nice enough to stay late so that I could make it there in time. We’ve been having a spurt of almost Summer-like weather here in California, and even though the forecast mentioned rain for that day, it stayed dry until that evening… Almost immediately after I loaded the seats up in the back of the Tacoma, the clouds opened up and the rain started pouring. I haphazardly covered the seats with trash bags, which soon flew off, and hauled ass towards home.
Luckily the upholstery shop was only a couple miles from the house, but every single traffic light felt like an eternity. My stress levels swelled as the rain grew stronger and my freshly upholstered seat covers soaked more and more with each drop. Since the house is on top of a hill and I had no intentions of driving slow, this caused one of the seats to slide back in the truck bed and into the tail gate. There wasn’t much damage, just a small scratch on the backside, but it did make the situation worse.
As soon as I got home, I started patting down the seats with bath towels. I then brought out and loaded up the random orbiter and gave the backsides of the seats a quick polish and to remove the small scratch. Next, I used a hair dryer on the seats before setting up a rotating floor fan. I set the fan on a 3.5 hour timer, jumped in the truck, went to the gym, and carried on.
It’s a good thing the seat covers were made in Alcantara because the material is super resilient. I checked up on the seats a few days later and they looked like nothing ever happened. I ran over them with a lint roller for good measure.
The trickiest part of the install is pulling the material through the harness holes evenly and centered, and then gluing them down at the back. I spent some time with goo-gone to remove left over glue residue that the local upholstery shop missed.
Closer look of the top-stitching at the seams:
Another caveat, you have to wrangle them around the corners of the shell and hook the lip into a clip on the sides, all the while tightening up the tensioner spring at the bottom. Glad I didn’t have to do it.
Cushions back into place:
Austin included an excellent add-on, a matching pair of Alcantara bolster covers that blend right in!
I only installed the driver seat because eventually the plan is to take the car to a shop and have a custom roll bar made. The bolt-in replacement from Samberg fell through… more on this later when more headway is made.
I was explicit on having the Recaro logo embroidered as accurately as possible. Austin worked with an embroidery shop over an iterative process to achieve this outcome, which I am happy with.
These seat covers are fantastic quality and really heighten the image of the car, especially in black.