I first started working on a lightweight seat project a couple years ago. I was using a Recaro SPG, got a mount mock-up for fitment testing, and then... moved on, leaving the project unfinished. There were a few things that I didn't like about how the project was going, the main issue being that the seat included too many compromises that would have drastically reduced its marketability. While I could have lived with the drawbacks of the SPG, it wasn't the perfect solution that I wanted to offer.
Jump ahead a bit (a long bit) and the seating project hasn't just been restarted, it's been completed! Every aspect of the project has changed, including the seats being used - I’m using the Cobra Nogaro instead of the Recaro SPG. My buddy Eric volunteered as the guinea pig and worked directly with the owner of Cobra to make sure the seats came out perfectly for what we needed.
Let's chat about the seats and why I switched from Recaro to Cobra and some of the other factors that went into these seats.
The main usability issue with the Recaro SPG is that the bolsters at the hips are really tall. There are slots there for harness straps to pass through but the seat wasn't designed for street use so it was difficult to use the factory three-point seat belt. One of my major goals for the seat project was making it absolutely useful for a normally-driven street car. Yes, any racing seat can be useful on a track. But a seat that can also seamlessly handle street duty is a different story. The Cobra Nogaro has low bolstering at the hips, allowing the use of the factory seat belt while also being more comfortable and allowing much, much easier ingress and egress than the Recaro SPG.
Recaro makes a great product and even make the factory seats that came in our cars - Recaro is indeed the OEM (original equipment manufacturer). However, they don't make the leather covers that go over the seats. That job is handled in-house by Aston Martin's own specialists. I looked into having seat covers made for the SPG but it wasn't an ideal situation and wouldn't have been very practical from a supply chain point of view.
Well, it turns out Cobra is based in England and they make their seats there. This makes Cobra's seats more British than the German Recaro seats. Cobra's leather covers are made by hand, same as Aston's originals. Between the extra Britishness and the same craftsmanship, the seats from Cobra are, dare I say, more Aston than Aston's.
Cost and Availability
While cost and availability were not factors in switching from Recaro to Cobra, it's worth mentioning them as they relate to the factory lightweight seat option. Aston Martin did offer carbon fiber lightweight seats in some places. The option was offered at the time of build but the seats could also be retrofitted after the fact. The US wasn't one of those places where the lightweight seat option was available, nor can we get the seats even now.
Even if we could get the factory lightweight seats in the US, they're obscenely expensive. I heard one quote for a retrofit from a guy in Europe that was north of $30,000. No, that isn't a typo. The Cobra Nogaro seats provide the same benefits as the factory option, but at a greatly reduced cost and we can actually get them here in North America.
I've already got a set being made for my car and I'll be making a DIY guide and video for the seats once I have them. I'll also be making a product spotlight video and write-up, including comparisons between the factory seat, the Recaro SPG, and the Cobra Nogaro to show how the seats differ and how the designs of each matter in various ways.
As for that Recaro... it's sitting in a parts room collecting dust. I was trying to get a racing simulator built but the company I was talking to ghosted me, and I moved on to other projects. Whenever I get around to it, I'll find another racing sim company to work with and get a rig built.
New Shipping Option
Please do NOT use the "Shipping Quote" option during checkout unless you are specifically instructed to do so in a product listing. I added this shipping option so that I can resume selling large and heavy items, like door sills and brake rotors, as well as streamline shipping for new products like the Cobra Nogaro seats I just added to the store and the carbon fiber stuff I'm about to start listing.
For these items, there is a note about shipping in the product listing that looks like this:
As the name states, If you choose this option I need to get a shipping quote for the items you ordered. Then I need to create an invoice and send it to you. I then have to wait until that invoice is paid before the order can be shipped.
This process might take half an hour. It might take two or three days. The items that require this shipping option generally will have a lead time built into them anyway, so the added delay will be irrelevant. But for routine maintenance items - oil change filters, door struts, intake filters, brake pads, and so on - having to deal with manually invoicing shipping separately rather than using the automated shipping quote built into the online shop's checkout process is going to slow down getting you the parts you ordered.
If it's being chosen to try to trick me into free shipping, sorry but that's not going to work (and it's pretty fucked up, so please don't try it). I don't have the margins or the volume to give free shipping. It sucks, yes, but you're seeing the actual cost of doing business. Thanks for understanding!
New Product Listings and a Discontinuation
The Infotainment Upgrade Kits from Aston Installations are shipping to customers with about a one-week lead time. I'm finishing up the last bits I need to get the installation guides finished. I've also added installation kits for dash cams, which can be used in conjunction with an Infotainment Upgrade Kit or separately on its own (the CEM Kit option).
I've relisted the V12 Vantage door sills. These require the Shipping Quote shipping option and include new margin sills so you'll have everything needed for installation. They come unpainted so keep that in mind when planning out your project.
I've also relisted OEM brake rotors, which also require the Shipping Quote shipping option. Brake rotors are very heavy, so shipping them can be very costly.
And the aforementioned Cobra Nogaro seats are also now available. They're built-to-order so please keep in mind that they can take about eight (8) weeks to complete. I've already got a set for my grey 2007 V8 Vantage being made right now and I'll be doing videos and write-ups about them and their installation once they're delivered to me.
I’ve removed the listing for the Exterior Lighting Package. The items needed to complete the package have proven impossible to source reliably and the manufacturer hasn’t been able to hold up their end of things. I’ve already lost thousands of dollars on those things, so I’m going to be reducing my efforts to manage them for the time being. I have far too much else going on to deal with them but I’m hoping to revisit that product line next year when I have a very, very different situation that I’m currently in (that’s some long-term foreshadowing).
As some of you may already know, Florida is about to be hit with a hurricane. Even if I’m not hit by it directly, it’s safe to assume there will be shipping delays, restocking difficulty, etc. Hopefully the impact will be minimal but I do expect at least a bit of “recovery” time for things to normalize afterwards.