Junkyard Seat Swap

Get in the Cheap Seats

Verne SimonsPhotographer, Writer

The world is flush with sports analogies, most of them for round-ball sports. As lifelong and fully obsessed off-road enthusiasts we don’t get many of them, but as consummate cheapskates the terms “nosebleed seats” and “the cheap seats” aren’t lost on us. We can definitely relate, especially with the staggering cost of courtside seating.

While we are happy to pay for tools that will get the job done and last, we also never mind getting by while saving a few bucks. One thing that seems to just about always be worn out in a used 4x4 (or more specifically, one that we can afford) are the seats. Holes, broken springs, worn-out cushions, tears, nasty stains, creaks, unexpected automatic reclining features, and more can render an otherwise perfectly useful seat nearly useless. So when one of our recent 4x4 project acquisitions turned up with nothing but an overturned milk crate for seating arrangements, we were again on the hunt for some inexpensive and comfortable seats.

On a trip to the junkyard we found a lightly used Kia Sportage, circa 1999, flush with usable seats. These seats, frankly, look great for their age and where they came from. They seem to be free of tears, holes, burns, bloodstains, and sticky goop. And since we’ve owned a similar Kia in the past we know the seats are fairly comfy, slide and fold forward (for rear seat access in a two-door SUV), and tend to work as expected even with lots of miles (our old Sportage had well over 100,000 miles). Some work with a couple of wrenches and we had the seats and sliders pulled in minutes and were headed home with our booty in the bed of a pickup. Sure, we were a little more broke (our seats cost $200 plus tax for the pair, but some you-pull-it places only charge $20-$80 for seats and may charge another $10-$15 for seat sliders).