San Diego Miata Club

Altering the Seats for Tall People

Submitted by Bob Stretch ('94 M "Mrs. Peel)

Tall Guy Blues Vanquished - Making more head room in a Miata

I thought I would share my experience for any of you who might be considering such a radical move.

Taking the seat out was very easy: four floor bolts on the rails, one long bolt holding the seat belt slide to the center console and two electrical quick disconnects underneath (seat belt warning system and headset speakers).

Once I had the seat out and examined the floor boards and the rail system, it became obvious that "bolting to the floor" as suggested in the was not an option. Not only would fitting the seat between the two raised sections of the floor be difficult, trying to mark and drill the four holes properly would be extremely challenging. Further, such a drop would require drilling and tapping a new seatbelt slide hole. Additionally, the new position of the seat seemed to be uncomfortable as it tilted the seat forward.

I have never done upholstery (OK, I was addicted to the "Furniture Guys" on PBS) but I thought I would give it a shot.

With the seat removed from the cockpit, I flipped it upside down on a table and dissembled it completely. This was not a very difficult job, three small phillips screws and five bolts. Once I had the seat bottom separated from everything else I looked over my options.

The bottom has a steel butt plate that forms the basis for the seat. It has a deep inverted shovel-shaped section directly under the driver's tush. I thought that if I cut out the foam in this shovel I would drop far enough and not mess up the styling of the seat (the shovel section is about two inches deep).

The leather is held on to the plate with about twenty copper rings. By using two needle-nosed pliers, I was able to open each ring and pull it out (like taking a hook out of a fish's mouth). I discovered that there were two hidden rings on the seatbelt side of the seat about half way down attaching the leather to an internal loop. By removing all the copper rings I was able to carefully pull the foam and leather away from the pan. BE CAREFUL: THE ROLLED EDGES OF THE PAN ARE VERY SHARP...I got sliced three times in as many seconds.

There turns out to be some internal bracing imbedded in the foam that forms the contours of the seat. Luckily, they don't extend down into the shovel area. I took an electric carving knife and carefully cut the shovel area out so that the bottom of the foam was level. Do this carefully and slowly as there are a few metal pieces in the foam you must cut around. If you do this right, you will have a chunk of foam that can be replaced into the shovel pan if you don't like the end effect (I love reversible surgery!).

At this point all that was left was to reassemble the seat. I decided to use medium sized plastic electrical "tie-ties" rather than to try to rebend and curve the copper rings. They worked GREAT. The seat simply flew together. If you do this, put all the tie-ties on very loosely first, then tighten the front edge (center to sides) and then the rear edge (center to sides) and finally the sides (center to sides).

Once the seat was reassembled it dropped back into the cockpit with no problems (ensure you match up the rails before you put it in if you moved them out of position with each other).

There is no visible difference in the seat, but when you sit in there is an immediate relief! The driver's tush sits much further back in the seat (easing back pain) and much deeper in bucket. Since no changes were made on the sides, there is more of a cupping or "baseball glove" effect that settles you right in to the seat. I seem to have gained about an inch or so in headroom. I still brush against the hardtop, but I don't have to drive with my head bent over -- no neck pain!

The total job, working slowly and taking time to figure out how everything went together (without benefit of a manual) it only took about an hour-and-a-half.

If anyone has any specific questions, let me know and I will give you the benefit of my minimal experience.


Please note that these tips and pointers are not reviewed or approved by Mazda Motor Corporation or any other corporation or entity other than the originator. The San Diego Miata Club does not accept any liability for damage or injury as a result of utilizing these tips and pointers. Please use common sense and always remember safety first.