How to Turn Junker Car Seats Into Beautiful Office Chairs

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Introduction: How to Turn Junker Car Seats Into Beautiful Office Chairs

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

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

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.

Step 3: Recovering Existing Foam

I researched a few websites, some claim the pure silicone caulking on the foam can bring its firmness back. I was a little skeptical, but hey 10 bux is worth a try. I was not surprised when this method did not work. To be honest, the foam did get a little bit firmer, but I think the silicone method works if the foam is not as old as mine which is more than 30 years old. Also, the foam had this really weird smell which the caulking couldn't cloak either. So I decided to ditch it and make my own foam.

Step 4: Top Cushion

Alright so here you can see me removing all the old cocunut liner from the top. To create new foam, I just took a piece of parchment paper and traced it and cut that piece. That wasn't too hard and difficult. Remember foam compresses, so be sure to cut the foam a 1/4" to 1/2" bigger than the trace.

Step 5: Bottom Cushion

The bottom section was tricky, because it had all kind of curvatures and thickness. What I did here was that I cut the exiting foam into four pieces. I traced those on the new foam and cut them with an electric scissors. Then once I had the basic shape, I tried to fine tune the piece but creating the appropriate curvature and thickness.

I later found out that the new foam cutout doesn't have to be an exact replica as long as it's not too far off from the original. This helped speed up the process.

I had a major issue with the bottom cushions. I glued the pieces together and the seal broke apart after a few days. Thinking about and reading people's project, it dawned on me that 3M is probably a better option. Also, I fine tuned the foam so the contact surface will adhere to one another. I also provided a lot of tension during its "gluing" process. Basically, when the glue is super tacky on the surface, generally about 20 seconds after applying, that is the prime time to join two surfaces. In order to keep the tension at its maximum level, I wedged those pieces between a chair and a table. Hence, as the glue dried and it bonded very well. And yes, in my opinion 3M was the better option, it definitely adhered a lot better. I wish I had Gorilla Glue spray adhesive to try but oh well.

Step 6: Test Install

After the glue dried, I did a test install of the bottom cushions. The top cushions were already completed and ready to go. The setup came out beautiful, much better than I had expected. You can see them propped up against the wall just looks fabulous. 


Step 7: Office Chair Stands

I needed a stand for the seats. I found two old office chairs I had that were in poor condition; however, the stand was in great condition. You can see the cheap upholstery was tearing off and screws/nuts were missing from the chair.

I measured the appropriate size for a piece of plywood underneath the frame, cut it, and drilled holes for it to attach to the frame of the seat as well as the chair stand (as seen below). I also got these wood inserts that will make the install much easier.

Step 8: Cleaning and Painting

I took the time to clean all attachments, bolts, and nuts. I re-greased all bearings and put machine oil where necessary. This will extend the life of all bearing and make the chair hardware last for a long time.

Also I spray painted both pieces of plywood and retouched the base of both seats. I sanded the layer of rust from the frame and added a protective layer to stop any rust from developing on the frame.

Step 9: Final Assembly

After those pieces dried, its time to reassemble and hope everything fits well. The brackets gave me a little trouble. It was hard to hold it in place and coordinate the top section of the seat as well. However, I eventually got it. Putting all the last pieces back together and viola everything fits and everything works just like I had imagined in my head.

Step 10: Conclusion

In conclusion, this project was definitely quite challenging and difficult. I learned something I have never done before which is priceless to me. Anytime I can teach myself something new, that's pure knowledge to me and I will take that any day. I have been working on this project for the past month but it was all worth it. I'm extremely satisfied with myself. Below are links to resources I found useful.

Links and Photos
Tony's Volvo Car Seats
Acrua DA Seat Foam Repair
Repad Seat Cushion from '69 Nova
The Daily Datsun Car Seat Restoration (Just Like Mine!)
Silicone Caulking Foam Repair (Good Luck!)

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    52 Comments

    0
    emmajasmine89
    emmajasmine89

    7 weeks ago on Step 10

    Wow! What an Idea.. That's interesting. I am surely going to share this one with my friends.

    0
    DoItOrDie
    DoItOrDie

    8 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    0
    builder07
    builder07

    Reply 10 months ago

    You can get gaming chairs that do that for a couple hundred dollars now (or less). But, they don't hold up to long-term use or abuse, but could be worth it if you don't mind replacing every 1 to 3 years.

    0
    3366carlos
    3366carlos

    8 years ago on Introduction

    very nice, can you provide a rough cost estimate?

    0
    SharadScience
    SharadScience

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry for the late response I believe it cost me about 200 with new leather covers, foam, other parts, etc.

    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?

    0
    builder07
    builder07

    Reply 10 months ago

    Build a base and turn it into a couch.

    0
    MarcelO10
    MarcelO10

    Question 2 years ago

    i found a nice set of seats on a trashed 2016 jeep cherokee trailhawk edition. curious if its possible to remove the wiring carefully and get it wired to a regular outlet so i can plug it in at home and still using the power seat functions?

    0
    builder07
    builder07

    Answer 10 months ago

    No, you need a DC converter so that you can run it from the AC outlet in your home first. Then you can plug it in and yes it will work after that.

    0
    MichaelW734
    MichaelW734

    Answer 2 years ago

    Yes, this is something you could do, but keep in mind that you will need to have an ac-to-dc converter to adapt voltages.

    0
    builder07
    builder07

    10 months ago

    Step 1: Acquire a car seat. It has foam, leather, and a base.
    Step 2: Throw away the foam, leather and base and create a new seat from scratch.
    AKA how to build a car seat office chair from scratch without the car seat.

    0
    Auto electrical
    Auto electrical

    1 year ago

    What a great idea, hopefully we will have our new office chairs by the end of the week 👌🏼👌🏼

    0
    SeifM6
    SeifM6

    2 years ago

    Hey

    0
    T0BY
    T0BY

    4 years ago

    I am very impressed!

    0
    JayD55
    JayD55

    4 years ago

    Thanks for the guide, I've thought about doing this for a while and finally went to the junkyard last week. Bolted it to the base of a $15 office chair from Goodwill, but the darn thing was WAY too tall to fit under any desk. I ended up making a short base out of wood and screwing some heavy duty casters on the bottom, and it works great!

    0
    fatmonks
    fatmonks

    5 years ago

    daym.... im disappointed to see that after you went through all that work of disassembling and restoring the seats just to end up mounting them the cheap way... on plywood...i dunno how its holding up but my guess is the plywood aint gonna last and might crack.... i'm sure a guy like you would have no problems figuring out a bracket to mount these nice seats on....

    0
    Cavechild
    Cavechild

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, awesome work.
    Have you any more Top Gear style conversions planned?

    0
    amckinley
    amckinley

    Reply 7 years ago

    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