Well, decided that i wanted a change from the standard seats, and didn't fancy going down the leather retrim route as its been done quite a lot already.
I started looking at sports bucket recliners as they can be picked up for similar cash to standard leather seats and really make a statement visually. Having seen the Cobra recliners in Catweazles TF, i knew they were feasible to fit, although those were pro fitted i believe so D.i.Y fitting was an unknown quantity.
Trouble is, despite numerous searches, i found that nobody makes subframes specific for the MGF or TF - although they make other Rover ones which MAY fit....for a price (nearly 100 quid a pair in many cases). You lose the sliders with many of those though, so i decided after a little measuring up that it would be within my abilities to make my existing seat frames fit with a few little tweaks.....
I discovered after the original attempt that there are two methods for doing this. Which one will suit you best depends very much on how tall you are.
Method one will suit anyone of 5'9" or less as it makes the seat sit quite high in the cabin, and may give a more comfortable seating height and better visibility.
Method two will suit taller folks like myself (6ft) as it retains roughly the original seat height and positioning, although its a harder job to get right.
As with all 'How To's' you should only attempt this after reading it through fully and judging if its within your mechanical ability to attempt it. You try this at your own risk - balls it up and its your own fault.... i take no responsibility for it. The principles described here will be the same across all MG/Rover models, but the details may vary between models. I recommend checking your subframes over before getting out your drill!
I would recommend buying a spare set of knackered cloth seats as subframe donors if you plan to try this but i only have the seats the car came with to experiment on so thats what i've used - it incentivise's me somewhat to get this right though as if it goes T**s i have no seats
I pick this 'How To' up having already removed the seat from the car - this process is covered on other sites so i'll skip that for the sake of speed.
Method one (For shorter F'ers):
Once the seat is out, you need to remove the adjustment cog - the centre of it levers out with a flat blade screwdriver:
Then you should be able to pull the cog itself off, then remove the pretensioner (Torx T50):
and the 4 Torx bolts that joint the seat base to the back.
You will need a T50 socket for all of these bolts - about a fiver from Halfords for a decent 3/8 drive one.
Once the four Torx bolts are out a bit of wiggling whilst folding the seatback forward should seperate the seat back from the base:
Turn the base onto its side so that its outer edge is facing you. There are 2 rivets on the side, 1 at each end that attach the subframe to the base of the seat, a large brass one at the front (You will need to push back the cover slightly to see this):
and a small alu one at the back, which is visible without moving anything:
Using a suitable sized drill bit, drill the heads off these until the head starts spinning on the end of the drill thus:
Repeat this process on the opposite side - the rivets are located identically to the ones you just drilled out.
Next, you will see a steel plate running across the front of the seat base with two alu rivets about 1" in from the ends. Using a sharp chisel and a copper mallet or hammer you can cut the heads off of these (easier than drilling as its hard to get the drill to locate due to the mushroomed shape of the rivets) Like this:
Once these are out, look to the back of the seat base and you will see another 2 rivets on a bar that the rear of the seat cover clips to, one on each end. You need to lever off the seat cover clip at each end to see these - easy enough to do with a flat bladed driver:
Drill these out as before.
The seat subframe is now parted from the seat base but it may need a little encouragement to seperate. I levered it at the side rivets using a flat bladed driver until the rest of the rivet popped free:
And it popped right off
The seat is now only attached to the subframe by 2 hooked 'bum support' bars that run across the base of the cushion pad. These can easily be popped out by locating the blade of a screwdriver in the bend of the hook and giving it a whack with the palm of your hand.
You are now left with this:
The next part will vary depending on which seats you plan to fit, but the methods will be similar. You may need to adjust your approach to suit.
I would recommend measuring up any potential seat purchase before parting with your money, as you will need to keep the overall dimensions of the seats as close to the original ones as possible. The reason for this is that f you go too wide or too narrow, fitting them will be problematic as too wide and they will squash up against the centre console and cubby, and too narrow will mean big gaps down the sides.
The measurement that really counts though is the width at the very base of the seat. If the difference is big between the standard seat and the seat you're measuring it will mean a LOT more work on the subframe to get it to fit as you will likely need to weld 4 additional brackets onto the subframe instead of 2 and will be making a lot more work for yourself.
After a good look at whats available, I went for some generic Recaro type recliners as they are relatively cheap and easy to come by but still of decent build quality and visually quite effective.
I bought mine via a seller on Ebay who bought them for a project, but wrote off the car before fitting them. Consequently they were a steal at £60 and in brand new condition.
However, they can be had on Ebay from a couple of shop sellers for around £180 a pair delivered, and come in a wide range of colourways, fabrics (Cloth, Vinyl, Alcantera and even Leather if your budget will stretch to it) and styles.
My measuring session told me that the width at the front mounting points was near identical to the standard seats, give or take a couple of mm meaning i would only need to fabricate the rear mounts - much easier!!
I removed the 'Universal' runners (Universal, in the best tradition of aftermarket parts means 'Fits nothing') from the new seat by undoing the 4 M6 allen bolts and removing the spacer rings.
I then had the bare seat base and could offer up the subframe to see what was needed.
I already knew that the front fixings were in the correct place but the front support plate was in the way and surplus to requirements, so i drilled out the remaining rivets holding the steel plate at the front of the subframe in place.
With this removed i needed to enlarge the holes to M6 size using a suitable drill bit:
Once this was done i found that the bolts were too long to get into the holes, as they would be fitted from below and screwed UPWARDS into the seat thread, and the available clearance was too small to get them in because of the locking bar for the seat slider.
I stopped for a brew and a headscratching session (this part is optional) and after coming back to it i decided the best way around this would be to bend the tags back far enough to get the bolts in place and then bend them back to their original position using a good old fashioned set of big arsed mole grips
With that done, i could fix the front mounts to the seat. I found the only way i could do this with the limited clearance was to cut down the allen key shaft as short as poss so that i could get it in the bolt head without it fouling anything.
I then attached the spacers (you need these or the adjuster rubs on the bottom of the seat and squeaks when you use it) and bolted the front mounts to the seat:
With the subframe securely attached at the front i could measure up for the rear brackets that will need to be made to fix the rear frame to the seat.This part is done by eye and will vary dependant upon the seats you're fitting but i cut 4 pices of steel to roughly the right dimensions and tacked them on with a welder in the appropriate position on each side of the subframe:
It was then just a matter of drilling an M6 sized slot in the bracket and fixing it to the seat base:
Then, if all has gone to plan they should bolt into the car in a reversal of the removal procedure:
And that, as they say, is that!
If you plan on keeping conventional seatbelts the pretensioner and seatbelt clip can be reattached as they were. I have 3 point harnesses so i haven't bothered - i can use the mountings for the fixing rings.