Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsProject Vehicles
How to Install Custom TMI Sport RS Seats - Throne For A Curve
Project Build Your Own Boss - Part 5: TMI’s Sport RS Seat Conversion Kit brings Boss 302 grip and style … without breaking the bank.
So there I was, sitting in the Mustang, having just returned from another cruise night, and like you, I'm thinking about what the next mod for Project BYOB will be. But I'm not too sure which way to go because the car already looks, handles, brakes, and goes well beyond any stock Boss 302 can, thanks to the upgrades we've done over the past few months.
However, something still feels missing—almost incomplete, if I dare say. As I stare at the gauges, cut the ignition and lean back into the seats, it finally hit me like a broken driveshaft on launch … the interior! After I run into the house and fire up the ol' Internet access device, I look for what makes the most sense and discover the Ford Racing Boss 302 Laguna Seca–style Recaro seats to my liking. All of a sudden, I'm axle-deep in trance, imagining how awesome it would be to have those snug-fitting, super-sexy buckets in my car with a factory fit with side airbags and all.
But not all was perfect in La-La Land. Upon further research, I'd come to find that the factory six-way power seat function as well as the heated seats would not be retained. On top of that, they aren't compatible with BYOB because it is a 2011 and the application guide says that only late 2012s and up fit. And, the rear leather seats would no longer match. Even worse, they're a stonkin' $3,299 for the pair. Dag nabbit, what to do?
Since the dream of owning a set of the Ford Racing seats was fading away, we did a bit more research and remembered that TMI Products (Corona, California) was deep into the S197 with all sorts of door inserts, upholstery kits, and even all-new replacement seat cushions. Once the Commodore 64 conked out from the firm smack on the RGB, we decided to call them directly and we learned about its new Sport RS Seat Conversion Kit for all '05-'14 Mustangs. This kit takes your existing S197's seat tracks and frames and adds all new highly bolstered cushions and upholstery to convert your regular Mustang seat into a Boss 302 Recaro clone, sans the MSRP. Retailing for only $999.99, the TMI Sport RS seat kit costs only a third of that of Ford Racing's M-63660005-MC. Even better, you can add matching rear upholstery, which reuses the factory cushions, for only $250 more. This makes the total seat conversion for the front and back only $1,249.99, making the TMI kit a no-compromise offer for functionality, style, and performance, at less than half the cost.
The TMI upholstery kit utilizes an OEM-grade twill cloth weave and comes with inserts in a material that TMI calls unisuede (no animals are harmed in the making of unisuede.) We went with Charcoal for the main color and added the extra-cost Hot Rod Red unisuede inserts to give a nice two-tone look to match our project car's exterior nicely, and added a nice red contrasting stitch (other stitching colors are available, such as blue, white, gray, or black.)
To match the interior's new theme, we also added TMI's Sport RS Console Lid Cover that is black with two red stripes running down the middle, Shelby style, for $199.95. On the doors, we added the Sport RS Door Panel Inserts in Hot Rod Red unisuede with a diagonal black stitching to break up the look of the factory door panels, which are all black. These are also $199.95 and come as a pair, ready to install. We used a tube of silicone adhesive that we bought at the local hardware store to put them into place, once we peeled off the factory inserts. For those of you who do not have the Premium trim level, it's even easier to install because you can just glue them right on with no prep work.
Sitting on the Job
The Sport RS seat kit can be performed by a proficient the DIY-er, but if you've never worked your way around a pair of hog ring pliers, it would be smart to have an upholstery expert do the conversion for you. Since we're better at changing blown head gaskets on an '88 GT than performing our own upholstery work, we decided to leave it to the experts at TMI to perform the installation at their R&D facility for us, saving us the embarrassing (and inevitable) return visit to their offices to have the kit installed for us.
Once completed, we were rewarded with form-fitting, comfortable, sporty-looking seats that retained all of the amenities we had before, mainly the power seats and heated surfaces, to put our sloppy backsides into. Speaking of which, the TMI Sport RS seats have another advantage that the factory Recaro seats do not—larger hip and thigh areas that span about 2 inches wider between the side bolsters to help accommodate those of us with a cheeseburger and beer addiction that just won't quit. Rather than giving you the feeling of being clamped in like the Ford Racing seats, these give you some more wiggle room, making for a more comfortable drive on the street, even for those of us with less-generous proportions. The cushions are also nice and squishy, making your highway cruise really comfortable.
From your average GT to a Boss beater, Project BYOB has been taking us down some really awesome learning experiences and we still love the car every time we hit the key. Now, it's even more of a pleasure to drive as we truly feel like a boss from behind the wheel thanks to TMI's seat and interior upgrades.
01. While you can perform the seat transformation yourself, it is recommended that you have a professional perform the installation. We went straight to the source and headed to TMI Products in Corona, California, where R&D Technician Emmanuel Gamino jumped right in.
02. To remove the front seats, undo the two bolts in front with a 13mm socket. At the rear of the seats, remove the nuts with a larger 15mm socket.
03. With the factory buckets removed, Gamino unbolted the backrests from the lower portion with a 15mm socket, after undoing the wiring and connectors. Starting with the seat base, we were able to undo the various fasteners and the factory leather upholstery was removed and set aside.
04. For vehicles with heated seats (like BYOB) the heating pad is adhered to the seat cushions from the factory. Carefully remove them by gently pulling up along the strips of glue.
05. With the upholstery removed, you can see how TMI’s seat cushions (left) compare to the factory pieces. More side bolstering means more support in the turns, which is exactly what we are going for. Note how much more support is in the shoulder area as well, where the taller TMI cushions keep you in your seat significantly better.
06. For head support, the factory steel headrest hoops are needed to make the TMI seat conversion work. Disassemble each headrest by peeling back the cover, cutting the foam apart, and prying the black Styrofoam insert off the hoop. Keep the hoop ready (right) as you’ll need that next, but the other items are no longer required.
07. First up, place the factory headrest hoop into the pocket of the TMI seatback foam. Make note that certain years have different hoop designs, and that TMI will need to know which year car you have to make this fit properly. For instance, the hoops found in the ’13-’14 models will not work because they are a tilting design and you will need to buy earlier ones separately (available from TMI.) Our ’11 headrest hoops slid right in.
08. Next up, lower the new TMI seat foam over the factory seat frame while inserting the headrest hoop back into the holes on top of the seatback. Push the seat foam down while aligning the side airbag and rear release handle.
09. The upholstery comes with pockets for metal wire reinforcements to slide into. This gives the seat a flat, uniform shape and an attachment point for the hog rings to hold everything together.
10. The trick to installing the upholstery it to turn it inside-out. This allows you to clamp the hog rings into place along the middle of the backrest.
11. Once in place, you can then flip the upholstery “outside-out” and begin covering the sides.
12. After a few tugs, stretches, and pulls, the zipper in back is ready to be pulled down. This completes the seatbacks.
13. The seat bottoms are next. With the new TMI seat cushion in place, Gamino uses upholstery adhesive to re-attach the seat heating pad, making sure that the temperature sensor faces down, like it did on the stock cushions.
14. Also starting with the upholstery inside-out, he gets ready to attach the hog rings downward, through the cushions and onto the base itself, to attach the upholstery to the seat.
15. A cool tip that TMI offered to us was to install a small self-tapping screw on the front underside of the seat to make sure that the upholstery stays in place. This is because they’ve noticed that some seats from the factory often have the upholstery unhook itself from the seat base under your knees during normal use. While it is a Ford design defect, this is a simple cure.
16. The TMI Sport RS seat is clearly the better choice for either show or track duty. Nine out of ten open-track nutjobs prefer cloth on any given day. This one included.
17. With the factory buckets removed, Gamino unbolted the backrests from the lower portion with a 15mm socket, after undoing the wiring and connectors. Starting with the seat base, we were able to undo the various fasteners and the factory leather upholstery was removed and set aside.
18. The factory headrests are also recovered, and these are super easy to swap out. It’s like changing socks.
19. To install the new TMI upholstery, slide them over the factory cushions while squeezing the foam in on the sides. It takes a bit of massaging, but like everything worthwhile, taking your time pays great dividends.
20. Next up, pull the upholstery down and pull the wrinkles out. Gamino uses a professional steam machine that can localize heat to where he needs it. Once completed, he then cuts the two holes out for the headrest supports and tucks the excess in.
21. The headrests slide right back in and the bottom of the seatback is clipped into place.
22. The lower seat cushion is held in with a combination of Nylon clips and pushpins. Like the seatbacks, the base and cushions are reused, so be careful when pulling everything apart not to damage anything.
23. Working from the middle out, the grooves of the cushion are filled in with the upholstery and hog rings are used to sandwich everything together.
24. Working his way around, he then clips the rest of the upholstery into place using all the factory locations. It’s like it was destined to be recovered! Once complete, we reinstalled all of the seats and jumped in for our first ride. All we can say is “Wow!”
25. It is important to note that side airbags must deploy in a certain direction and they are designed to burst through one particular seam for optimum occupant protection. TMI takes this pretty seriously, so they use OEM-style reinforcements that are sewn into the backside with the opening at the same seam location as the OEM upholstery, to make sure everything works as our Blue Oval engineers intended.
26. The rear seats are a thing of beauty. Not only do they complement the fronts perfectly, they also maintain the ability to access the LATCH tethers for child safety seats and still fold down as originally designed.
27. To give our project car an even-more custom look, we opted to TMI’s Sport RS Console Lid Cover that has two nice Shelby stripes in Hot Rod Red unisuede to match our theme.
28. To finish things off on the revamped interior, we then opted for the Sport RS Door Inserts, also in Hot Rod Red unisuede, with black diagonal stitching. BYOB is more Boss than ever!
Catch up on the rest of the Project BYOB's builds here!