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Lotus Elise seats in a Suzuki Cappuccino!

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  • Lotus Elise seats in a Suzuki Cappuccino!

    Like many Cappuccino owners, I was unhappy with the headroom supplied by the OEM seats and I was left wanting more. Well now, I have more. Lots more.




    This is a non-Probax seat out of an early 2nd gen Lotus Elise / Vauxhall VX220. The special part about these seats is the way the seat interfaces with the sliders. On the factory Cappuccino seats, and most aftermarket efforts, the rails sit below the seat to account for the narrow tub. The Lotus seats are unique because the seat base sits between and below the seat rails. This means that we can get the driver and seat a lot lower in the car, without sacrificing the sliding function of the drivers seat. The other advantage of the Lotus seat is that it has shoulder wings, unlike the OEM Cappuccino seat which does not. I feel it holds me in a lot better than the factory part.

    I believe I am approx 30mm lower in the Lotus seat than any other seat I have tested. How I did it, and a height comparison to follow.

  • #2
    First, a height comparison. I took both photos with my phone held against the roof, with the back of the phone touching the sunvisor, with the sunvisor up. The only change was driver side vs passengers side.



    (Passengers side, OEM seat)



    (Drivers side, Lotus seat)

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    • #3
      So, onto how I did it.

      It's really very simple. A lot of people get caught up in wanting to re-use the OEM rails, but in reality the OEM rails are pretty crap. Single locking, lightweight materials etc, the only consolation is they are a flat mount rail. I'd personally never want to put a racing seat on them.

      My solution included re-using the Lotus rails, as they are an integral part of getting the seat so low. Actually bolting them to the floor was quite easy. A quick trip to the scrap bin of a local sheet metal engineer and a wee bit of grinding and hammering later, and we have these;





      ( The carpet was cut to try and eke out an extra mm or 2)

      As you can see, It is just a simple step bracket to make the flat mounting face of the Lotus rails connect to the floor of the Suzuki. The front 2 sit in line with the floor bolt holes, the rear 2 brackets are stepped back about 40mm to account for the length differences in the seat. The step height in the bracket is designed to put the base of the seat approx 10mm off the floor. I could get it closer if I drew them up and had an engineering company make them for me, but the inaccuracies in my handiwork meant I allowed for more than I needed. At full slide back, the seat sits about 30mm away from the rear wall. This could be made closer with a slightly different bracket design.

      Now onto our next problem. The lotus seat is centered on the floor mounting holes, however the floor mounting holes are not centered in the car. This means that the Lotus rails sit hard up against the tunnel side and about 10mm away from the outside of the tub.



      (Tunnel side)



      (outer side)

      Now, the question that could be asked is "Why didn't you just move the seat further out?"
      Well, If I did that then the seat would be out of alignment with the steering wheel, and more importantly, the right hand shoulder wing wouldn't clear the inner shoulder panel on the right. (anyone who has tried to install aftermarket seats knows this problem all too well).



      (yeah, it's tight in here)

      Not being able to move the seat further out raises another, rather major problem;

      I can no longer use the OEM seatbelt point in the tunnel.
      (Just to make that clear: )
      I can no longer use the OEM seatbelt point in the tunnel.

      Now, I'm not going to go into the potential outcomes here, the fact that seatbelt loads are now being transferred through the seat mounts instead of the OEM tunnel mount etc. What I have done exceeds the amount of retention that Lotus built into the Elise, and while I agree it is not tested or approved in any way, a crash in a Cappuccino that is strong enough to rip the seat from the floor will probably cause you some more pressing problems. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.



      Lotus uses a seatbelt buckle bolted to the side of the seat, on a sprung pivot to allow some movement in a solid buckle. The OEM Suzuki buckle is far too long and floppy to work in this situation so a suitable one was sourced from a 1994 Toyota Corona Exiv. Celica ones should work too. The belt still sits correctly over my hips and suits a wide range of sized people from me (I'm a skinny bastard) to more well rounded citizens too.

      I just need to get the brackets made for the passengers side and it'll look totally OEM. I'm thinking about getting the headrests embroidered with perhaps the Lotus roundel, and the Cappuccino logo beneath. Either that or the Lotus roundel and Suzuki Sport under that.

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