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Fitting Fiero seats in an MGB

Written by Phil Earl, 2005.

From internet searches, it has become well known that Mazda MX5/Miata seats fit into the narrow floor pan of the MGB and also, the seats from a Pontiac Fiero... These two seemed to me to be the best options. On a track day back in August 2002, I met an owner of a BGT V8 conversion, whose car was fitted with MX5 seats, they looked pretty good, but the back was a little narrow for my liking. But still definitely a possibility. Further to this, I started to search for Pontiac Fieros, a car not that common to in the UK.

As luck would have it, I found a supply of Fiero seats from the Fiero Factory. These guys specialise in Fiero maintenance and repair in the UK and also manufacture kit cars from Fiero parts! When I went down there, they had a Dodge Viper that totally had me convinced until I started to notice a few "Ford Granada" details inside, but outside you'd never know. Good stuff!

MY FIERO SEATS

I sat in a set of seats in a couple of cars that day, and jeez! The Fiero seats were without doubt one of the most comfortable car seats I have ever sat in! Job done and I came away with a set! They were used for a time in my lounge as recliners in front of the TV (nowhere to put them until I sorted out getting them in the car) and to testify their comfort, regular visitors to the house would always forego the sofa in preference for the Fiero seats because they were "Sooooo comfortable". 

In terms of second-hand condition, they weren't too bad, with only the velour cover of the drivers side seat being a little worn, but most importantly, no damage to any of the foam. Unlike the MG seats you cannot replace the foam, its moulded into the seat. If you do plan to fit Fiero seats to your car, buy the best condition seat you can! I paid £100 cash, a fair price in my opinion. This is the driver's seat (note the wear on the base cushion):

 

WHAT STYLE?

To make these fit the inside of an MG, they needed re-covering. I hummed and hahhed for about 6 months over how to do this, bouncing ideas between full leather and half leather (possibly alacantra), styles, colours etc. In the end I went for full leather, black with grey inserts. But who to get to do the recovering? This proved to be a real bind and part of the reason why it took so long to decide what style and colour etc to do them in. All the quotes I received from companies in the UK were in the region of £500 - £700. I just couldn't afford that at the time and some of the options I wanted to include to the seat covers were pushing the cost up further.

Fiero seats have an option where speakers can be fitted in the headrests and also race harness can be used in conjunction with these seats if the seat back is modified slightly. Any new leather covers would need to take into consideration these options. In the end, I went specialist! Over in the USA is a chap who has a business re-upholstering Pontiac seats. He does a kit that can include any option you want, in any style you want and any colour you want. I had a few reservations about buying from such a long distance, and bombarded BBS' members for opinions - all of which came back positive! I plucked up the courage and bought a leather seat cover kit for £350 including P&P from Mr Mikes. The style I chose is known as ‘GT’. The leather used is from the Mercedes Coupes and 4x4's and appears to be good quality. I opted for grey and black leather, with harness slots (thinking along the race theme) and perforations in the leather in front of the speaker positions.

The covers arrived 'inside - out' to put on the seat and were of reasonable quality, stitching etc ok. The kit comes complete with everything that you are going to need and is exceptionally well thought out. It includes the following:

PREPARATION OF SEAT

Best viewed as a series of thumbnails with description. You know what its like when you get into something - you forget to take the pics - DOH! I did take some at various stages, which I have included below (I have got some more shots actually, but they were taken on a SLR and not scanned yet). 

This is the seat back, with holes cut for the speakers and belt slots. You can see the headrest is one piece with the seat back. The seat is formed of metal with the foam moulded to the metal.

The squares of foam you can see on the back are moulded in shape and are cut out of the old seat cloths to keep them reasonably consistent, although you could replace them.

The black bits on the bolsters are repairs I made to the foam. In actual fact my seats were in excellent shape considering they were around 15 years old and the foam was not worn, but I built up the bolsters using layers of cotton and duct-tape to ensure they filled the covers properly. The same technique was used on the seat base bolsters, and I knew from this experience that you had to build out the bolsters to avoid baggy-ness in the covers. (I will get some pictures sorted of the bases.)

Cutting the holes for the speakers needed a Stanley knife blade to cut the foam. The hole behind where you can see is bigger than the aperture, The speakers are 3.5" dual cone speakers made by Inifinity.

The holes for the seat belt slots (just visible under the head rest at shoulder distance apart) needed a Dremel tool to cut away the metal in the seat back.

Word of warning: the blade blunts quickly in the foam due to a plastic netting material. It will still cut the top of your finger off though - believe me! OUCH! And Sellotape is not a good sticking plaster!

The back of the headrest showing the seat belt slots a little more clearly and also the hole at the back of the speaker bits.

Here you can see the side bolsters and the profile of the foams cut out of the old covers a little better. The speakers are visible in the headrest. I sprayed the foam black around the speakers in case you could see it through the covers. This was not necessary however, because the covers are double skinned.

The speakers were fitted to some model years of Fieros and it appears that the seats had the gaps in the metal even if not fitted. I just slit through to the metal in the right place and found this hole here, which I used to route the speaker cable through. It also doubles as an air balance to allow the speaker to work correctly. The leather covers have perforations here for the same reason.

All wired in!

TA DA! Finished! Apologies for the poor picture quality, I haven't been able to successfully brighten the picture without screwing the contrast, but you can just about see the best bits..! I am very pleased with the results.

Speaker housings... (The creased leather was a result of shipping and has now largely disappeared.)

Back of the seat showing the perforations in the leather for the rear speaker ducts.

FITTING THEM TO THE BGT

To fit them to the B (the seats also fit Midgets and Cs by the way, but the following still applies) you have two choices. Modify the seat runners, or bolt them straight to the floor using new holes. By modifying the seat runners however, I could use the existing holes in the BGT's floor pan, so the seats literally just replace the old seats being removed! For the modified seat runners I went to Mr Anthony (Tony) Barnhill from The Autoist.

The seat runners took ages to arrive because of the panic surrounding Sept 11th meant that US post was really slow at the time, so best to use a courier if you have access to one. I sprayed the runners satin black and they look very groovy now...! The seat runners have four legs, of which the rear two are L-shaped and the front two are "inline". The modifications involve removing the two rear legs and replacing with two spare front legs so all four are "inline" with the runner. The reason I went to USA to get these legs is because Fiero seats aren't that common in this country and the spare legs aren't readily available.

THE RUDE QUESTION OF MONEY

I often think people would be more adventurous with things slightly different to the norm, if they were presented with the costs of such an option up front - no one likes to be stung with hidden bills, much easier to be able to do it all in one go, up front. In my mind there is no doubt I have the better option of seat (for my circumstance) compared to say the MGOC Sports Recliner. My choice of cover may not be to all tastes, but don't let that put you off what is otherwise a good looking seat in my opinion. As I previously mentioned I did not go for the MGOC seats because I do not find them comfortable, otherwise they would have most likely been my choice.

Here's a breakdown of what I have paid to install my Fiero Seats:

TOTAL = £630  (dated: 2003)

I have not added the cost of the speakers here, because they would not be fitted to the MGOC seats and besides, this would be related to how much you want to spend. Also I realise the Seat Heaters here were a good deal and looking on the web, perhaps what you would pay for the option on the MGOC seats is more like the cost you would expect to pay otherwise. Bear in mind though that many modern cars have a heated seat option and scrapyards can be a Mecca for those prepared to spend an afternoon gathering the bits they need.

In comparison then, the MGOC equivalent seats are £685.0 (Leather 'Sports Recliner, one colour only including headrests) with an additional massive £127.50 for the seated heat option = £812.50.

 

Fiero seats

Fiero seats

An alternative seat that is probably more readily available in the USA is the Fiero seat.  These can be customised quite heavily with leather covers available and the option of using a harness and having speakers in the headrest.