What are seats to the Ultimate Driving Machine? Nein!

What are seats to the Ultimate Driving Machine? Nein!

"In this Special Series about the Custom BMW Performance style CS seats, I set out the process to match my Genuine BMW Performance driver seat with a replica passenger seat in collaboration with David at Recovered Workshop. 

I go down history lane, document the differences with the standard Recaro CS, dive into intricate integration of OEM electrical components, cover the mounting solutions and detail the final upholstery & paint work required to get an OEM match.

In this entry, I go down history lane of the Ultimate Driving Machine's amnesia: what about the seats BMW? .. and I get lucky!"
- Matt

BMW M rarely made ultimate driving seats standard.

First, let's go down history lane: I can think of very few great seats offered by BMW M in their signature cars.

It always felt like BMW M ran out of budget when it came to seats and brakes: Porsche really was light years ahead of BMW M in those departments. 

The GTS had a pair of SPG XLs.

A straight off the shelf seat doesn't count. 


The E90 M3 CRT had magnificent seats - but they're closer to crown jewels considering their rarity. 

These appear to be heavily customize Recaro CS seats when looking at the frame.  

I can think of only one pair of seats from the naturally aspirated era: the M3 CSL. 

Quite obviously, these were bespoke Recaro Pole Positions made for BMW M. They had unique upholstery and new design designs. 

When BMW Performance became a thing.

BMW Performance parts were sort of officially launched with the E9x M3 and its little brother, the 1 series. 

You can make the case BMW Performance part existed before with the E46 carbon strut bar and the E60 black grills, but it wasn't until the E9x M3 that it became a catalog

BMW Performance unleash upon the E9x M3 an incredible catalog of carbon fiber parts that are, to this day, still chased by many owners on the used market. 

Splitters, mirror caps, trunk spoilers, steering wheels, carbon trim, inconel rear sections and more. 

They did the right thing by M3 V8 owners by delivering proper factory parts with aftermarket appeal. 

BMW M's pivot to ///Marketing may have started here with the launch of the M Performance parts catalog on non M cars, and the X series of M. When it happened can be debated to hell and back, I digress.


They finally made a proper driver's seat.

With the launch of the E9x M3 and E8x chassis, BMW officially introduced the Performance Seats. 

Finally, we had an Ultimate Driving set of seats. Buckets are cool, but from my experience with Pole Positions, they aren't suitable for daily driving - certainly not back in 2008 when bankers shorting the market bought them. 

Evidently based off the Recaro CS frame, it was designed for street use. They seats were integrated with OEM electronics and had unique design features to distinguish itself from the aftermarket version.

I will touch on those in the next entry.

Credit: BMW Performance.


[...] but they were Euro only at launch

Like any great things BMW does, it was euro only.

It's not all their fault though, the US had different safety regulations to the European market which made adapting the seat cost prohibitive considering this was BMW's first true venture into aftermarket catalog parts. 

They did not contain the passenger occupancy mat as is required for all passenger cars in the US, although they did have side airbags. 


[...] and 10,000 to 14,000 US for a pair when imported. 

Aftermarket retailers took notice of the demand for these seats and the few  sneaky owners that managed to import grey market seats from Europe and Asia. 

The usual suspects started gouging the market when the seats went out of production in 2017. 

10 years? It was good a run. 

I lucked out for 3,500$.

Yet, BMW M didn't plan production and stock levels to market demand and overproduced on driver seats expecting owners to prefer one seat over a set. 

They were wrong. 

Dave at Recovered Workshop is a seat aficionado and a marketplace guru. He had notifications on for BMW seats knowing about my incoming set of Recaro CS and our plans for the seat program. 

I imported this Euro-spec artificial leather set last Summer planning to use them to start from scratch. 

David found a single driver seat for sale: 3,500$ CAD! I talked to him and put a deposit down.

The guy bought a 135i with these fitted by the previous owner. He had them fitted because of back issues - they were more comfortable than stock apparently, ah!

The guy was from Ontario and driving through Quebec coming back from vacations in Gaspesie. 

He was on a schedule. I had to drive out of Montreal's old port, over the bridge and out to the suburbs to catch him at an Ikea parking's lot.

Long live the V10's speed and the E60's trunk - I caught the guy in time and carefully slipped the seats in the trunk. 

Got it!

Up next, I document the differences with the Euro-Spec CS passenger seat. 

Dave and I lay down our plans to get the conversion project started. 

Seats are inherently complex: safety, aesthetics, comfort, performance, luxury - they encompass a variety of variables that can make or break your experience. 

Slides, brackets, electronics, upholstery, paint, we'll cover it all. 

As we document the process, you can get on the list for the custom seat program here and be the first to know when it drops. 

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