Note: This post has been copied over from my old site.
Our stock seats have travelled about 260,000 miles, so they're tired and worn out. I'm also fairly tall (a bit over 6'3) so the headrests don't really even come close to my neck. They'd be pretty much useless in any sort of accident. Our truck has a 200tdi in it and the cabin doesn't really get warm in the winter as we've noticed, so we wanted heated seats to help things out. Finally, I wanted leather as it's easier to keep clean and hey, I like it.
I'd done a fair amount of research and eventually came to the conclusion that Saab or Volvo seats would work best. I looked at seats from some Volvo models 840/960/S70 and I think they would have worked fine, but they seemed maybe half an inch or so taller than the Saab seats. They were also more expensive and I felt that going with the Saab seats was a little more tried and true, so I got Saab seats. I picked these seats up from Euro Depot which is a little over an hour from my house. The guy there was very friendly and helpful and was a real pleasure to deal with.
In this photo you can see a comparison between the old and new seats. As you can see, the Saab seat bottom is a little taller but not too bad. This is before any other mounting hardware is added, though. Also, the neck protection is much better as the Land Rover seat's headreast in this photo is up as far as it will go and the Saab's is down as far as it will go.
The original seats have two bolts and the front and back of each seat rail, for a total of 8 bolts per seat. The Saab seats have 4 bolts per seat, or one at each corner. The Saab seat bolts would fit into the outermost Land Rover seat mounting holes, but as the seat rails are much shorter than the Land Rover rails, this wouldn't leave the seat in an optimal position. Much more importantly, though, the rear bolts would be mounting directly on the thin aluminium plating on the top of the seat boxes which is not strong enough to support the seats, and is certainly a major hazard in the case of an accident.
We decided to solve this problem by using 1/4" steel plate to provide a solid mounting foundation for the new seats. To do things this way, you'll need 4 3" by 1/4" steel plates about 18" in length. You can just pull an aluminium plate off and use that as a template to know where to cut the mounting holes to mount the plates to the seat boxes. These plates provided our seats with a very stable foundation that's much stronger and safer than the original seats had. It does raise the seats up 1/4" farther, but that's the way it is. In this photo, one of the plates is sitting where it will eventually go and is outlined in red.
Here you can see a plate again, once the passenger seat has been bolted onto it. The original seats were held down with M10 metric bolts, so I got 16 new ones. Unfortunately though the two rear inner bolts on each seat were seized onto the nuts on the backing plate, so I had to replace the nuts there too. Unfortunately I hadn't thought to buy matching M10 nuts, so we had to scrounge around a bit.
The seat is forward here, but you can see that if you move the seat back you still have reasonably good access to the under-seat box.
The seat rails on the Saab are low enough that the seat will catch on a lip behind the seat, thus limiting its rearward travel. We decided the easiest solution to this (since I'm tall and need the travel) was to raise up the rear of the seat rails with a nut. This raised the rear of the driver's seat up maybe 3/4" and gave me the extra travel I needed. With this setup, I don't even need to move the seat all the way back when I'm driving it. The downside of course is that I gain a little more height on the seat base which I really don't want.
On the seat height issue, you can see on the seat frame that there is room to redrill some holes and lose some height on the metal seat frame (see green circles). I'll likely do this when I get a chance, and also revisit the issue of how to maybe get the nut off the back of the rails and retain my seat travel.
You can sort of see here inside the green circle that I had to cut the inside corner off the inside seat mounts to clear the channel that covers the wire going to the front door.
The seat goes farther back from here, so it's still possible to access the battery. There's no way near enough room to remove the battery without removing the seat, but I think I can just remove the front seat mounting bolts (red circle) and just rotate the seat backwards on its rear bolts. I'd need to remember to disconnect the seat heater connectors first too.
So there it is for now. There are a few things that I still need to do:
- The seat heaters aren't set up yet. I found a wiring diagram at thesaabsite.com so hopefully that will help. I'll likely put the switches on my centre console/cubby (whatever you call it) but I might get a new cubby first.
- I had to remove the backrest adjuster knobs to get the seats in. The ones on the seat are very wide, so now you either need to move the centre console or open the door and temporarily put on the knob to adjust the seats. I need to come up with a different system for this. I might just get a couple small ratcheting spanners and mount them on the adjuster bolts, or come up with a better solution
- The headrests still don't come up as far as I'd like. I've already had two vertebrae fused together in my neck, so I want to protect what's left! I'll likely get some rails off another headrest and weld them onto the ones there to extend the headrest up farther, or something like that.
- As I mentioned above, I'll likely take another look at modifying the seat bases to make them a bit lower.
- My truck was originally right hand drive and was converted to LHD by the previous owner. The windshield wipers were left in their original RHD configuration so instead of getting a nice clear windshield, I'm looking out partially through an unwiped portion in the upper left. It's hard to explain this without a photo, but now that I'm sitting higher, my view is half out of this unwashed part. It's provided sufficient impetus for me to decide to figure out how to switch my wipers so the driver is getting the right wipe pattern instead of the passenger.
I don't know much and I really appreciate the assistance of my brother's mechanic friend, but I'd be happy to answer any questions, so feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Oh yeah. I know my truck is pre-Defender, but I figured if people are searching for this information, "Defender" is going to go into the search box. So there it is on my page.