Instructables

How to Turn Junker Car Seats into Beautiful Office Chairs

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Picture of How to Turn Junker Car Seats into Beautiful Office Chairs
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I am a big fan of Top Gear (UK primarily) sometimes US. I've watched nearly all episodes and I have always been fascinated by their car chairs, sofas, and engine block coffee table. I had told myself a while ago, if I ever get the opportunity to, I will definitely try to make my own. I was at the junkyard a couple months ago and I came across a bright yellow 1974 Datsun 240z car. I'm also a big fan of Nissan and most Z cars. Naturally I wanted to rescue those seats and convert them into office chairs. The journey begins.

The first picture is just the transformation, the before and after.



* This project along with other projects are also available on my website at www.diy-create.com.
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Step 1: Design and Parts Needed

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Looking at several examples in the internet, some are very fancy and expensive but most look too cheesy and unprofessional. I wanted mine to be in decent price range but also look very professional. I was not sure how well it would turn out since I have never done something like this before. Nevertheless, I continued on. Below are the parts I used.
  • Old Seats (Junkyard -40 bux for both)
  • Foam (John Hancock Fabrics) (30 bux)
  • Synthetic Leather Seat Covers (Took a big chunk but the quality was excellent) ($100 for each cover)
  • Lots and lots of Spray Adhesive (Loctite & 3M) (~10 bux)
  • Silicone Caulking (Idea didn't work) (10 bux)
  • Spray Paint, Rust Remover, Associated Hardware (~20 bux)

Step 2: Dis-Assembly

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These seats has been untouched and been abused for the last 30 or so years. I noticed this, because upon dismantling the seats there was quite a bit of rust and the foam just didn't hold any weight. Also, they used a lot of coconut liners especially on the top portion of the seat. The screws bolted on the chassis had loctite on them. Getting them out with stripping them was a pain. With a little bit of clever leverage and body weight, I manged to get them out.
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I just found some Dodge Caravan seats on Craigslist that I want to pick up to make furniture with… this looks like a good idea. What can I do with the bench though?

Cavechild1 year ago
Wow, awesome work.
Have you any more Top Gear style conversions planned?
i have 2 backseat "love seats" as my family is very into old SUVs im using a backseat from a 93 Tracker and a 83 Jeep CJ7 make great love seats
SharadScience (author)  Cavechild1 year ago
YES! I would love to make a sofa out of a back seat and perhaps an engine coffee table.
The idea of a back seat sofa is fantastic, that would work well if the donor seat had a pull down arm rest.
3366carlos1 year ago
very nice, can you provide a rough cost estimate?
SharadScience (author)  3366carlos1 year ago
Sorry for the late response I believe it cost me about 200 with new leather covers, foam, other parts, etc.
poofrabbit1 year ago
Hey congratulations on being a finalist in the hack it contest! Good luck to you!
Thought about doing something like this as a gift for my dad the mechanic, but never really found a proper way of doing it till now. Can't wait to find a pair of old muscle car seats and do them up! Also, since the 5-armed base can be separated from the raising mechanism and seat, what about using a wheel or even sturdy steering wheel for a base instead? It would be stationary and not sure how to begin, but any insights you might have for that would be awesome.
SharadScience (author)  wolfsingleton1 year ago
Hey that is a very cool idea! I like the steering wheel option. I think its definitely possible to mount a steering wheel to the base. The steering wheel has a hole in the middle where the steering rod is attached to. What you can do is get a steering wheel and measure the diameter of the circle. Then go to any hardware store and find a copper or steel (pvc poss option too) tubing of similar diameter. I believe they come in different lengths. Find one you like and attach one end to the steering wheel and the other to a wooden platform that attaches to your seat. If you ever do this let me know! I may do something like this in the future.
SharadScience (author)  SharadScience1 year ago
Btw this attachment can work very well with the pipe should you go with this idea. It allows you to screw the pipe and then attach it to the base. http://www.pexsupply.com/Ward-FCICOFL2x6-2-x-6-Black-Cast-Iron-Steam-Companion-Screwed-Flange-444000-p
juanangel1 year ago
I like the idea . I have the seat, the stands and everything else. I am going to do a pair for me. Do you just center the stands or had to play a little to find a balance as not to backflip when sitting? It is funny when someone else fall but not when it happens to me. Just kidding, I do not want that to happen. I also have growing grandkids that love to test/break everything they touch. I love them for that, they make me think safety and keep me alert.
SharadScience (author)  juanangel1 year ago
Yeah I understand the issue. I for saw that problem when I was creating mine. Mine can recline pretty far back without any issue. However I am an adult weighing roughly 190 lbs so its not a problem for me. However if you have small kids you can avoid this problem by adding more weight to the base. All you have to do is integrate some weights on the bottom of the base.
DoItOrDie1 year ago
Great job. The chairs look really professional. I did the same sort of thing but for different reasons. I needed a chair in which the back reclined separately from the rest of the chair. Could not find one anywhere except one for $1000!! Car seats almost all do this. After looking around, I got a drivers seat from a motorhome. They are really comfortable and adjust in all sorts of ways. Also they have arm rests, which is nice, that fold up so you can push the seat all the way under the desk. Even thought about getting an electric seat, but that was going a bit too far. Anyway,it has a steel pedestal base so I simply mounted it on a plywood base and used caster wheels underneath. Has worked nicely for years. Practically a recliner. I've been known to nap on it.
SharadScience (author)  DoItOrDie1 year ago
Haha nice.
criggie1 year ago
I did this with a pair of seats... I'd bought a frame to use in my landrover but getting it legally certified was going to be impossible.

So I cut the chairs off and made two like this:

http://criggie.org.nz/crap/chair-small.jpg

It was a comfy seat but there were issues.
* The hip hugging bolsters got in the way of my elbows.

* The seat tilted back nicely, but that messed up the center of mass, so it was easy to fall over backwards while reclined. The fix was to mount the seat further forward on the base.

* Seat was heavy and was quite tippy if you rolled it, pushing or riding

* Promoted bad posture - a car seat is much closer to the floor than an office seat, so when seated in a car your bum holds the weight. With the office version, the back of my thighs took a lot more weight and I got pins and needles a lot.

On the plus side - a headrest was fantastic and I really miss it but that wasn't enough to keep it. So in the end I sold both seats for $20 and went back to a boring normal office chair.
SharadScience (author)  criggie1 year ago
That's a pretty modern laptop you got there.
It was a number of years ago, I was clearing the laptop for a friend.

You should see my cell phone if you think the laptop is old :)
Wow, these turned out beautifully!

I was wondering, did you do all of the leather work yourself? If so you are very talented, because the stiching is very well done.
SharadScience (author)  skittlespider1 year ago
No No I didn't do the stitching, I bought the covers off Ebay but it still took me abour 24-30 hours to do everything.
Oh ok. That makes a little bit more sense. (I was wondering why you had left out what seemed like an important step.)

I bet this would have taken me a lot longer than 30 hours to do. Congratulations on ending up with such a fantastic looking final product!
stumitch1 year ago
well done but i have to ask about the 240z? is anyone going to restore it? such a nice car. they get big cash here in BC!
SharadScience (author)  stumitch1 year ago
That 240z is long gone probably. It is so sad, I found the car sitting in the junkyard with only 49,000 miles on the speedometer. By the condition of the car, it seemed that the car was not used at all or deserted. There was smell of mold and rust on the chassis.
bummer. very cool cars. 49000 is hardly any miles at all!
that was probably 149,000 miles, back then the odometers only went to 99,999 and 9 tenths on a fractional indicator...
SharadScience (author)  sschoemann1 year ago
Hmm, I didn't know that, thanks!
blizz861 year ago
very cool! im actually in the market for replacing my car seat covers and 100 for each is a steal, especially when they are custom fit! where did you get them from???
SharadScience (author)  blizz861 year ago
Yeah I bought them from this seller.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&vxp=mtr&item=400317091709
There are others available too, this seller just had custom stitching for free and the quality of the seat covers is excellent.
Congrats. Much more comfortable than my racing seat and a higher quality build as well.
SharadScience (author)  uranus_b_hurtin1 year ago
Thanks man appreciate it.
chikid681 year ago
this would be so cool If I ever get around to building the car themed computer I want to build
ledshed1 year ago
Cool, I've got plans to do something similar, so it's nice to see an example, thanks! :-)
Fantastic instructable - 5 stars. All though I may not get around to doing the conversion to desk chair, it has spurned me on to rebuild the seats in my actual vehicle as they are a tad worn using this as a primer!
SharadScience (author)  iminthebathroom1 year ago
Yeah give it a try, I really think foam not too old foam like mine will greatly help with the silicone caulking. It creates a moisture lock on the foam so it prevents any pieces of foam to disintegrate into fine particles.
liveleezgl1 year ago
Turned out great! Very professional looking. Thanks for the instructable...
13blue1 year ago
Absolutely great instructable! Well done.
psk9811 year ago
I like the way you converted the car seats into office chairs. Ideal for people who love car themed stuff.
blkhawk1 year ago
Great job! Love the way your chair looks. I am thinking about doing a similar project and I thank you for posting yours. I agree with your choice of the Top Gear show. In the US it can be watched on BBC America. Unfortunate that it is a paid channel. I knew about the show from a friend and watched some of the episodes in Youtube.
SharadScience (author)  blkhawk1 year ago
Thanks for the comment. Good Luck.
Wow, these came out really beautifully. Thank you for documenting your overhaul of this, and i think I may experiment with silicone and foam....
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