"This entry is part of my Interior Program for The Stripper. I seek to create my own blueprint to a GTS interior, with a bit more flare.
In this entry, I unbox a few Recaro Sportster CS seats. I look back at its history, document its signature, timeless features and compare a few upholstery options I got my hands on."
The A8 ancestor.
The A8 was a reclinable sport seat made with a plastic shell. The A8 was a key technology project for Recaro: it featured the first backrest made from fiberglass incorporated into the metal frame and structure of the seat.
It was a good design for its time, having been released in 1989 - but it isn't contemporary, even when reupholstered.
The technological foundation.
Following key advancements in side airbag technology and composite shell construction, Recaro released the Sportster CS in 2005. The new injection mold process of fiberglass and other composites opened up a new realm of design possibilities.
It has become a staple design in the OEM and aftermarket world of seats. You've seen it featured in Nismo GTRs, Lotus Evoras, the Focus RS and a variant of it was offered as a BMW Performance catalog product over a decade ago.
The basic architecture was retained to create the BMW Performance seat.
The BMW version was altogether a much more premium offering as I uncovered while tearing into a genuine PERFORMANCE seat.
I work with connections in Germany to import seats for EuroConnex members from the homeland, directly. Over the years, I've gotten my hands on various Sportster CS seats, namely to develop the custom seat program for my own M cars first.
Importing from Germany allows to save a bit on cost, along with opening up options specific to the Sportster CS that are not favoured by US distributors of Recaro.
In Spring of '22, I imported a set of Eurospec CS in synthetic leather. They arrived from Germany via DHL within 3-4 weeks. The duties paid were insignificant (below 50$ for the set).
The seats came in the original Recaro boxes, fitted into larger standard boxes. They came in undamaged with the original Recaro paperwork.
What makes them Eurospec was the inclusion of side airbags, critical to developing the wiring needed for a true plug and play solution. The Recaro CS seats are specific to passenger and driver side configurations.
The CS design is first and foremost oriented for the a street build. They are reclinable, giving you easy, and comfortable access to the rear seats.
The Sportster CS seats use bottom mounts instead of the traditional side mounts for bucket seats. It makes for sleek, OEM aesthetics.
The seats are comfortable, even if you are broad shouldered, thanks to its flared out design.
The seats are ideal Sport upgrade over stock BMW M seats. The integrated headrest design gives it a sleeker, thinner profile over stock seats.
The lower section is where these are massive improvements over the stock E9x and E46 M3 seats. They hold you into the seat in similar fashion to a bucket seat, whereas I've felt you sat over the Genuine BMW seats.
'2023: more sets.
Later in '23, I imported another set of synthetic leather seats without airbags for my E46 M3. The Pole Position ABEs we used to create its own custom program weren't ideal for my use. You couldn't easily gain access to the rear seats, and I needed to.
The CS seats for the E46 are without airbag as it didn't exist back then. The airbags were in the door cards. You'll notice the absence of any extended plastic cover on the sides.
Suede Eurospec CS.
I also grabbed a single Eurospec CS with the Dinamica upholstery option along with a few new brackets. My intention was to document the upholstery options available with the Sportster CS seats.
I edited a reel, real quick, here.
Once again, the seats came in in perfection condition, straight from Germany.
This picture captures my feeling of sitting in the seat, ala bucket seats, instead of on top of it like standard BMW seats.
Here's a better picture showing the depth of the lower section.
Unbeknown to most, the synthetic leather used by Recaro is not along the entire seat. There is an exception made to the lower section's bolsters.
This is natural black leather as is differentiated by the grain and feel. I assume they did this to increase durability considering single line stitching is used.
The Dinamica suede is a synthetic polyester made in Italy by Miko. It's a competitor to Alcantara, and is slightly less expensive.
I personally prefer the aesthetics and feel of Alcantara. I will touch more on this in my Special Series on the Custom CS seat program here.
The separation between synthetic leather and black Dinamica is well executed. The suede is grippier and will retain less heat during the Summer. It will require more maintenance.
The frame is made from metal, and seems anodized. These are not mounts. You will need chassis specific bottom mounts. I can help you pick the right mounts for your needs and direct you to retailers that can source them.
Up next: we talk mounts.
The same lessons apply whether you use standard Recaro CS seats or the upcoming custom BMW Performance style CS seats.
I can help you source standard Eurospec Recaro CS seats year long here.