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Mustang Seat Options Explained - Upgrades & Restoration

By:  Andrew Cilio  / Jun 13 2019
Mustang Seat Options Explained - Upgrades & Restoration

Your Mustang’s seats play a bigger role than you probably think in regards to the interior’s look and overall function. While stock seat options have improved over time, nothing can beat a purpose-built aftermarket seat that can accommodate aftermarket belts and harnesses while keeping you firmly planted under acceleration and cornering. This guide will go over what you need to know about aftermarket Mustang seat options.

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Depending on how you use your Mustang, a good set of seats can compliment its purpose. From racing seats to comfy cruising seats, you can't go wrong with adding extra support and comfort.

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How Can I Upgrade My Mustang’s Seats & What Are The Benefits?

You can:

  • Reupholster the stock seats
  • Replace the stock seats with aftermarket seats
  • Delete the rear seats

There are a couple of different ways you can go about altering the look and feel of your seats. There are pre-assembled kits that reupholster the stock seats, reusing the factory cushioning and frame. You can completely ditch the factory seats in place of aftermarket seats. And you can remove the rear seats altogether for weight savings.

Enthusiasts upgrade their Mustang’s seats for either improved comfort or for performance oriented driving. Generally, upgrading your seats to an aftermarket option will shave some weight off of your Mustang and give you better handling in addition to a new look for your interior.

Reupholstering Stock Mustang Seats

You can keep the stock seat, frame, cushioning, and airbags while getting improved comfort with a reupholstering kit. Ranging anywhere from $700 - $2,000, reupholstering kits strip your stock seats of their covers and replace them with more comfy and durable covers that are worlds above your average pep boys seat cover.

The main advantages to reupholstering your stock seats are:

  • Incredible comfort
  • You can retain the factory airbags
  • Improved bolstering

The biggest drawback to re-upholstering the seats is that they generally don’t shed any weight from the car and can sometimes add it. Reupholstering the stock seats is an ideal upgrade for daily drivers and cruisers, not cars that see any sort of regular track time.

Replacing Your Mustang’s Front Seats

There are a wide variety of aftermarket seat options available, all geared towards different types of enthusiasts. The main benefits from replacing your Mustang’s seats are:

  • Weight savings
  • Improved driving position
  • Better bolstering
  • Improved connection with your Mustang

Aftermarket seats are bolted right into the frame of your Mustang, making you feel much more connected to what is going on with the car. Due to the locked in position, you can set the seat to your ideal seating position for the optimal setup for your body. Aftermarket Mustang seats will be much lighter than the factory seats and will do a much better job of keeping you planted while driving.

Generally speaking, aftermarket Mustang seats are designed more for enthusiasts who race their cars, not as much for daily drivers and long road trip vehicles. Not to say you can’t do it, they just won’t have the same comfort level as the stock seats. Also keep in mind that if your Mustang comes from the factory with airbags in the seats and your state inspection requires that you have them, replacing the stock seats with aftermarket racing seats will make it so you won't pass state inspection. Unless, of course, your aftermarket seat of choice has the airbags.

What To Consider With Aftermarket Mustang Seats

When you replace your front seats for a set of aftermarket seats you will need to also replace the seat brackets. A set of aftermarket brackets will be needed to properly secure your new seats into place and keep them there in case of a crash.

You’ll also want to consider if you want reclining or fixed back seats. Fixed back seats are your lightest option, but are also the least friendly for driving on normal roads/long distances. Reclining seats allow you more flexibility with getting in and out of the back seats and a more comfortable driving position, but will not be as light as a fixed seat; however, you will still be saving a considerable amount of weight when compared to the stock seats.

CAUTION! If you want to replace your factory seats and they are equipped with internal airbags. Consider the following. If you remove your seats with internal airbags it will leave a light on the dash which could cause the remaining airbags in the vehicle to not deploy in the case of an accident. Therefore many people who remove their factory airbag equipped seats wire in a resistor to the pigtail below the seat. This fools the vehicle to believe the seats haven't been removed (eliminating the concern of remaining airbags deploying). With that said, it is also against the law to tamper with airbags or safety equipment within a vehicle.

Fixed Back Mustang Seats

Fixed back Mustang seats are more geared toward hardcore racers, and less toward your daily driver cars. Fixed backs are not adjustable, and will keep you in a single position once installed, an ideal upgrade for racing enthusiasts. If you suffer from back problems, fixed back Mustang seats are not really a good mod for you, as they are not accommodating at all for your problems and pain. 

Adjustable-Back Mustang Seats

Adjustable-back Mustang seats are a more ideal choice for Mustangs that share race and street duty, allowing you to find a comfortable seating position. Adjustable-back seats can be reclined to a certain degree, however, still offer firm support that will keep you planted and held in tight while you are driving spiritedly. Although slightly heavier than fixed back options, they are still lighter than stock and offer an overall improved look and feel. 

Fitting Roll Cages Around Aftermarket Seats

There are a few reasons to consider a roll cage for your Mustang. The first reason is safety, roll cages can be the difference between life and death. They are also a great way to stiffen up the car's chassis. Also, once you break the 11.5-second ET, they are required to run in NHRA drag-racing classes. 

The NHRA wants roll cages installed to keep you safe if the car topples over and to ensure a multipoint harness can be used to strap you into the car. The position of the cage will impact the seat you use. If you are going to run a cage, you want to make sure the cage is positioned to run the cross bar directly behind your seat. This means larger seats may not be used unless custom work is done. So for all intents and purposes, if you are running a roll cage, make sure the seats you spend your hard earned cash on will work with one.

Mustang Rear Seat Delete Kits

One of the most popular options for many enthusiasts who are looking to cut some weight out of their streetcar while not completely compromising the look of their interior is to delete the rear seats. A rear seat delete kit smoothly replace the rear seats and the all of the hardware that goes with them, with a carpeted piece of plywood/composite board for a slick 2-seater look. Rear seat delete kits became popular after the 2012 Boss 302 Laguna Seca came out with it stock from the factory and continue to be a popular upgrade for S197 and S550 owners.


How Much Weight Does Removing Your Mustang’s Seats Shed?

Newer leather heated Mustang seats can weigh as much as 120 lbs a piece, with most other ones clocking in at anywhere from 70-100 lbs. Aftermarket seats can weigh anywhere from 15 lbs to 50 lbs depending upon which brand and make. The rear seats of your Mustang can weight anywhere from 20-45 lbs when all said and done with all the hardware that is used to keep them in place.


What’s All of This Going to Cost Me?

Those who don’t want to spend a fortune on a new interior look would be wise to go with a set of good seat covers. They are by far the cheapest option. Getting a new upholstery kit can be a bit costly after you figure the cost of installation, unless you do in fact choose to install the kit yourself. When you go with aftermarket seats the prices vary quite a bit, but you will drop weight with an aftermarket set and increase comfort. For some, the added performance benefits and ability to take the car to the track make aftermarket seats the most appealing option.

What Else Will I Need When Replacing My Mustang's Seats with an Aftermarket Set?

Keep in mind, when you go with aftermarket seating in your Mustang the existing seat tracks will not work. You will need to purchase pre-fabricated tracks offered from the aftermarket seat manufacturer, have custom seat brackets made, or fabricate your own setup to make to seats fit securely in the car. That said, many manufacturers offer these tracks along with the seats themselves.

As for which brackets you'll need, let's say you're putting in seats from a newer Mustang than your own. You'll want the bracket that matches your year range Mustang not the year of the seats. Aftermarket seat brackets for your year Mustang will also allow you to retain the use of the stock seat belts. The buckle portion of the belt will simply bolt to the new bracket.

How Can I Best Protect My Mustang’s Seats from Damage?

If you’re just looking to keep your current seats in good condition then I would recommend a set of 1999-2004 Mustang seat covers. These will protect your existing seats from a number of things such as wear and tear, UV fading, and stains. Almost all seat covers are washable as well, so you can keep them looking brand new for many years. This is also a good alternative if you’re on a tight budget because they are the cheapest of the seat restoration options.

Seatbelts and Harness Bars

To keep you planted in your seat, an upgraded seatbelt or harness is the way to go. With a 3-point harness or 5-point harness, you can remove the ugly factory seat belt that wears out over time. With over the shoulder straps, you remain firmly planted in your seat whether you’re carving corners or straight line driving. A very nice addition to your new harness would be a seat belt harness bar. It allows for a more stable and improved way to install a 3, 4 or 5-point harnesses in your Mustang all while offering additional chassis stiffness

The full package of seats, brackets, harnesses and a harness bar will keep you securely planted in your seat and allow you to focus your attention where it should be – on the road. Not to mention, your Stang will look much more menacing decked out in racing gear – even if your Mustang is a daily driver.

Picking the Right Mustang Racing Seat

  • Fixed seats are cheaper, but are less comfortable
  • Reclining seats have adjustability, but are more expensive
  • Aftermarket seat brackets make more seat options available to your Mustang
  • Some seats have spots for racing harness

The main purpose of a seat is to keep your body where it belongs while you’re driving. Racing seats have much better side bolstering than stock seats and also have harness pass-through slots to provide additional support for the driver while at the track. Racing seats typically have either a fixed back or have a reclining feature. Fixed back seats are more affordable, but you are limited and they might cause you to have to get out more to stretch on long drives. Reclining race seats are some of the best interior upgrades - you have the styling and support of the race seat with the adjustability of the factory seat to keep you comfortable.

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