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Vitesse & Herald - Seat Replacement - MGF


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Hello.

 

I have just written the following article for my classic car club newsletter and I thought it may be useful to reproduce here as there is always a lot of interest with front seat conversions: 

 

Triumph Vitesse Seat Transplant.

 

With today’s modern traffic to contend with and an ever increasing eye on occupant safety; there are some modifications that if done properly to a classic car are both enhancing and acceptable.

 

Some immediately spring to mind: brake servo, halogen headlights and hazard warning light system to name a few.

However, one modification often overlooked is upgrading car seats by taking a transplant from a modern vehicle. For the purists reading this, it will be an uncomfortable ride or perhaps you may wish to hit the accelerator and move a few pages ahead !!

 

The patient, in question, is a small chassis Triumph – namely a Triumph Vitesse Mk2. My vehicle is a 1971 model and the original seats had seen better days; probably about fifteen years worth of better days or more.

 

Various seat options are used with this vehicle, namely MX5, MGF, Alfa Romeo 147 and even Jaguar seats; to be honest the opportunities are plentiful. I decided to go for a set of black leather MGF (Mk2) seats which came from a 2000 model. Purchased on Ebay and delivered for an all-in price of £175 – a very decent deal.

 

The original Vitesse seats are vinyl which have, especially the driver’s seat incurred various nicks, broken stitching and of course the old favourite – a collapsed bottom which is very uncomfortable as you can imagine. See photo.

 

Of course it is more than possible to purchase new covers and foams etc to refurbish the seat to its original spec. However, I wanted a seat that was not only comfortable, fitted to the body well, adjusted smoothly but most importantly a decent headrest; basically a massive leap in to the safety zone arena.

 

The conversion was greatly assisted by a very detailed diagram and procedure document; of which I must extend my sincere thanks to Adam in New Zealand for compiling it and also allowing me to reproduce it for this article. See attached diagram.

 

Removal of the Vitesse seats complete with the runners is straight forward, being 4x bolts per seat; the original runners are not used for the conversion. With the seats removed and safely stored for the future, I was able to inspect the floor (all good) and then lightly rub it down; finishing off with a couple of coats of Hammerite. During the winter I will be taking the g/box out of the car and when it goes back I will add some new sound deadening material.

 

Using the document supplied by Adam I was now in a position to start the MGF seat fitting. It will be repetitious if I go through what I did, as it’s fully explained – however what will probably be very useful is to mention certain aspects of the fitting that I did slightly differently during the fitting process:

  • With regard to the flat bar – the dimensions really DO NEED to be spot on and as indicated.
  • The rear double welds, per seat – 1x can certainly be cut with a grinder but the second I chose to cut with a junior hacksaw as it was very close to the seat runner. This then allowed the rear mount to be removed and I then smoothed both cuts with the grinder.
  • The rear hole needs to be enlarged to 8.5mm using a drill bit. Due to close proximity of the two holes, as Adam highlights, great care needs to be taken to stop 2x holes becoming one. I decided to use a “rat’s tail file” to enlarge the hole, due to more control and still a relatively quick process. 
  • I did grind the bolt heads down, but still had a problem with them catching the seat runner. There is a small metal stop bar within the runner that the bolt heads were catching on. After checking its usefulness of which there was none, I used the angle grinder to get rid of them and this allowed the seat to move fully back & forth without snagging. See photos.

It was then a simple case of mounting the flat bar transversely on the floor, using the EXISTING Vitesse seat runner holes and then bolting the seats to the flat bars. See photos.

 

With patience and taking your time, this really is a very simple conversion and the seats IMHO look spot-on in the car and also look the part as well. See photos.

 

I opted for the MGF seats over the MX5 units because I think they look ascetically better and also more comfortable. In addition, leather MX5 seats are being sold for a King’s Ransom whereas these are great VFM. The seats, unlike the MX5 units, do not tilt forward although a simple modification can be done to allow this; (I know Pete Lewis has certainly done this, when he owned his Vitesse). The seats move back & forth very well and due to the length of the runners access to the rear seats is not a problem.

 

The conversion was done on a convertible Vitesse and due to the significant “B” posts on the vehicle the rear movement of the seat is stopped on reaching these posts. On a saloon version the seats will go back even further. However, I’m 6’3” and I find that the seat goes back far enough and I do not have to compromise my driving position.

 

All in all, a great conversion that not only looks very neat but of course provides additional safety aspects - be it in a Triumph Vitesse or Triumph Herald.

 

Regards.

 

Richard.

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I always think it is interesting to see how to sensibly 'modernise' older cars which were far more stylish than the current crop....

 

I have seen MX5 seats in a TR6 and Jaguar XJS seats in a Herald convertible as other good examples of seat transplants.

 

The conversion I am considering is the seats from the Rover 800 Coupe. They are tilt seats which only have 4 bolts to remove from the Rover and although there are electrical connectors which provide adjustments and heating(!) in reality there are only 2 wires which need connecting to do a manual to electric swap.

It is also easy enough to change the seat base to manual controls.

 

I am not sure whether I will follow this path as yet, but am severely tempted because I know they would be extremely comfortable :)

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The conversion I am considering is the seats from the Rover 800 Coupe. They are tilt seats which only have 4 bolts to remove from the Rover and although there are electrical connectors which provide adjustments and heating(!) in reality there are only 2 wires which need connecting to do a manual to electric swap.

It is also easy enough to change the seat base to manual controls.

 

I am not sure whether I will follow this path as yet, but am severely tempted because I know they would be extremely comfortable :)

 

Interesting! I happen to have two front Recaro seats from a Rover 820 Vitesse Sport and I'm wondering..... hmm...

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Nice article.  I have had MGF seats in my convertible Vitesse for about 7 years now and I think that they suit the car well.  I had Jaguar XJC seats in for a very long time before these, and then a brief period with XJS seats.  The XJS seats were by far the best quality but for me, the MGF seats look and fit best.  Incidentally, I have made mine (well, the passenger one) tilt forward.  I am not sure if Pete Lewis did this on his car but he did comment (I recall) on my conversion.  The MGF seats look to have been designed with tilting forward in mind but I imagine that this feature was not specified for the MGF as there was no need for it.  Whilst on the subject of seats and upgrades, I fitted after-market electric seat heaters and I must say that they make the car much more useable for top-down motoring in colder weather.

 

Tom

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If it is a convertible you have, be careful re measurements around teh B post area, most seats are just too wide. MX5 are a well trodden path for good reason, and remarkably comfortable.

 

Mine is a saloon, and 'Yes' the major issue with the Rover seats is likely to be the width.

On the plus side there should be plenty in breakers yards to experiment on :)

 

I also have a pair of MG Metro seats which had been earmarked for my classic Mini (which was professionally converted to a rag top) before I came across the Vitesse.

That might be an easier option although I would then regret not having kept the Metro rear bench seat too....

 

Too many choices, too little time.....

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Hello Tom.

 

I would be very interested as to how you did that and if you have any photos that would be very useful - only if you can & have time.

 

Regards.

 

Richard.

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  • 2 weeks later...
 

Hi Richard,

 

I am attaching a photo of the adaptation to the seat:

 

 

 

I am not sure how clear it has come out but I used a release clip from another car to lock the seat back in the down position.

 

With modern seats, with headrests, it's a case of the backrest folding forward, not the entire seat tipping (as the original Herald/Vitesse seats).  If you try to make the entire MGF seat tip, the headrest will come into contact with the windscreen/sun-visor/or roof, preventing the the access you're trying to achieve. 

 

I am hoping to pop over to the Leatherhead SEM show tomorrow, Sunday, so if you're there do come and have a look.

 

Regards,

 

Tom

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Hello Tom.

 

Many thanks for updating the thread with some very useful observations + photo.

 

With regret I am unable to attend the Leatherhead show, due to another classic car club event. Yes I know, priorities !!

 

The photo has come out fine and I can work with that.

 

Best wishes.

 

Richard.

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  • 9 months later...

Hi Robin,

 

You need to remove the plastic trim which houses the recliner wheel.  This will reveal the set-screws that hold the backrest to the seat cushion.  Two set-screws per side I recall.  If you remove the rear ones and loosen the front ones, the backrest will tip forward (the loosened front bolt acting as a pivot).  I then took an angle-grinder to the bracket and cut a slot such that with the rear bolt replaced the seat would relocate onto this bolt (I think I welded the bolt to prevent it undoing).  The only downside with the mod then was that there was nothing (except the weight of the backrest itself) to hold the backrest in place, so I adapted a lever thing I found to make a simple spring-loaded latch.

 

I'm not sure how much sense my description will make but I think that when you remove the above-mentioned plastic trim all will become clear.

 

Do let us know how you get on.

 

They are great seats. I even went so far as to remove the covers to fit electric heating elements (one of the best mods on inmho!).

 

The only other issue with the seat-transplant (which was a bit of a make-or-break actually) was the fact that the headrests had two letters embossed in them, an "M" and a "G" and, although actually quite discreet, they shouted out to me like a regretted tattoo.  Anyway, scouring eBay resulted in a far less offensive, un-embossed set; the originals meeting the same auction fate, and they are now someone else's (until they see the light! - joke).

 

Tom

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Hi Tom

 

I've attached a photo showing the bracket that came with my mgf seats - it fits ok but is a little high. If I remove the mgf cross bar ( the one with the blue rivets) and then make up the two brackets as shown previously by Classiclife then I assume this should fit? Any thoughts ?

 

Thanks

 

Robin

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Hello Robin.

 

DO NOT remove the bar with the blue rivets - this bar acts as a an important brace for seat integrity and also safety; it prevents the seat runners from buckling.

 

I have to say that your photo shows an over-engineered set-up which is not required. 

 

If you follow the diagram I attached on my initial thread then the seats will fit perfectly. I have just done the same job on my Alpine.

 

Have attached a photo to show the simplicity of the flat bar in position and other support photos.

 

I presume you have removed the 4x corner MGF floor mounts ??

 

Hope the above assists ??

 

Regards.

 

Richard.

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Hi Robin,

 

In terms of fitting the seats into the car, I am probably not the best person to advise, as mine went in replacing a set of Jag seats, so I had already modified the floor pans.  I made up some brackets, as I recall, out of a couple of body-mounting brackets I had lying around.

 

Tom

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Robin.

 

Having just done the seat transplant for the Alpine I noted that by removing the raised stop bars (photos attached), that there is no need to file down the Allen Key dome head bolts. 

 

This is preferable because keeping the dome head intact you get better leverage on the bolt when tightening.

 

When I did the Vitesse conversion I did both: remove the stop bar and file the dome head down. I now know via the Alpine that only the stop bars require grinding down with the bolts being left intact.

 

Regards.

 

Richard.

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Hi Richard

 

That's great - thanks for explaining.

 

The reason I asked about removing the mgf crossbar was that from the photos it looked as though this would sit below the level of the two new 5mm bars that's subsequently fitted but I guess this isn't a problem?

 

Robin

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Robin.

 

The shape of the Vitesse / Herald floor pan allows (by luck) for this bar to move freely without snagging. However, on the Alpine I had to use 30x10 flat bar and raise it by another 5mm so that the MGF rigidity bar cleared the floor design. 

 

If I remember correctly the rigidity bar is proud by 12mm; hence the requirement for a 15mm rise.

 

Of course for the Vitesse conversion you only need 30x5 flat bar; as per the design document.

 

Hope that assists ??

 

Regards.

 

Richard.

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Robin.

 

The shape of the Vitesse / Herald floor pan allows (by luck) for this bar to move freely without snagging. However, on the Alpine I had to use 30x10 flat bar and raise it by another 5mm so that the MGF rigidity bar cleared the floor design. 

 

If I remember correctly the rigidity bar is proud by 12mm; hence the requirement for a 15mm rise.

 

Of course for the Vitesse conversion you only need 30x5 flat bar; as per the design document.

 

Hope that assists ??

 

Regards.

 

Richard.

Hi Richard

 

Sounds good - will get some 5mm bars made up and give it a go

 

Once again thanks for explaining

 

Robin

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Robin.

 

If you follow that diagram you will not go wrong; even if it means going back to step 1 and starting afresh - sometimes the only way forward !!

 

Any issues or advice, drop me a PM.

 

Regards.

 

Richard.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi Richard

 

Just starting to fit the seats but have one quick question

 

The front mounting points on the mgf seats (just in front of the tensioning bar) are attached to the runners by what looks like two round rivets - how did you remove these?

 

Thanks

 

Robin

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Robin.

 

Grind the rivets down and flush to the mounting bracket; you will eventually see a faint circle, this is where the rivets go through the runners. 

 

A small drift placed on those circles with a few sharp hammer taps will pop the rivets out and the mounting bracket will fall away.  

 

If after a couple of taps the rivets do not drop out then grind them down a tad more.

 

That will do the trick.

 

Regards.

 

Richard.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Richard

 

Finally managed to fit the seats and they look great. I fitted them so the rake adjustment wheel is door side but I notice that some people fit them so the wheel is on the gearbox side. Is there a reason for this or just personal preference?

 

Thanks

 

Robin

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