It’s been a while since I last reported a milestone. I skipped the 70,000-mile report because I had just shared about my car’s second birthday. Time has flown and now I’m past 80,000 miles. I continue to enjoy my commute, not that commuting 35 miles each way in urban traffic is fun, but the car makes it more enjoyable. The driveline is holding up very well to the Stage 2 tune, even with regular towing. Having the extra power on tap for authoritative passes is a good thing, too! My modifications have slowed due to me being quite content with the car, but they haven’t completely ceased. I’ve gone and done the unthinkable…
My current project, which is nearly complete, is a rear seat delete. I had considered a rear seat delete to be a bit short-sighted and perhaps a waste of time when I first saw one. However, now that my daughter is out of the house and driving on her own, I honestly don’t have a need for the rear seat. I’m usually alone in the car, sometimes I have one passenger. Not having a rear seat is a great excuse for avoiding extra taxi duty. HAHA! I’m also interested in trying some camping. While the cargo area can hold a lot of stuff with the rear seat folded down, the seat cushions still block about 3.5 cubic feet of potential storage space. I wanted to explore some options.
Someone had shared his rear seat delete in Facebook. It featured easily removed parts, which I found attractive. His design also ties into the car’s structure, something that commerically-available rear seat deletes seem to lack, not to mention that it’s MUCH cheaper to build at home. I used his example to create my own removable frame and then deviated from other plans by making doors to access the new storage area that’s created where the seat cushion had once sat. Since my version has doors that expose the frame, I also decided to carpet that space for improved looks and to avoid vibration or rattling caused by anything that I might store there. Since I have wiring/cabling running through the area, I also chose to line the “floor” with jute padding, which provides shock absorption and noise abatement in addition to finishing-off the look of the cargo space.
What do I store in this newfound cargo area? My “trailer bag,” which contains tools, locks, and other trailer-related accessories, was a great start. It doesn’t take much space, but it used to slide around in the trunk. Now it’s contained in a much smaller area. I also keep emergency lighting, a trauma kit, a jump-starter/battery pack, a bicycle repair kit (I’m a cyclist), and a compact air pump in there. These are all items that used to ride elsewhere in the car, but now they’re consolidated to a dedicated area. There’s plenty of room for more, such as a roadside tool kit or a raincoat, so I’ll consider a few options to improve my preparedness during road trips and camping.
I bought the ½-inch MDF in a 24-inch width and cut only the sections near the door openings. The new floor sits perfectly flat, which makes loading my bicycle even easier than before, especially if pannier racks are mounted. One challenge that 4-door owners face is the fact that the sides of the project are exposed when the doors are open (2-door owners get to avoid finishing this area). I made small carpeted inserts to cover the exposed areas of the seat well. It’s not as clean as shaping the frame, but it works. I want to match the carpets between the new floor and the factory trunk floor, but will probably just top the project with black Denier canvas that’s similar to my Canvasback Cargo Liners, which would make color-matching the carpet a moot point. I also want to add some latches for added structural integrity. The ½-inch plywood frame is secured to the car at the seat back hinges (see photo album below), but the doors could lift away in a serious crash. I’m still shopping for a solution that I like. For now, I’ll call the project 99% complete.
I can remove my rear seat delete in less than five minutes without tools. The factory seats can then be returned to the car in another 5-10 minutes if I find myself needing to transport extra passengers. In short, my rear seat delete design is simple to install, operate, and remove. It’s fastened to the car without tools or piercing the metal, completely flat and level, quiet (due to full carpet), and provides ~3.5 cubic feet of padded storage space. Some may even consider the storage area to be hidden once I’ve covered it with the Denier canvas. I’ll be sure to share the details when it’s done. For now, I just want to share the project.
The only drawback I see so far is the extra road noise. I was amazed to discover how much road noise is held back by the rear seat and even the artificial “parcel shelf” below the hatchback glass. I have extra jute and sound-deadening mat to address that. I suspect that layers in the hatch and above the rear wheel wells will do wonders to improve the noise floor. Once the deadening is added, the car should be downright quiet when the rear seat is installed. I’ll find out for sure when we take a road trip to South Carolina with the rear seat installed in August. Look for a write-up in the near future.
Finally, since I know you’re wondering, the total of the rear seat parts removed weighs 60.2 lbs. I also removed the Muddy Buddy cargo liner and parcel shelf, which weigh another 9.0 lbs. My rear seat delete weighs 27.6 lbs, which means I’ve removed 41.6 lbs from the car. I’ve included a photo album below to share some of the “in progress” shots as well as a few pieces not normally seen when the system is in use. Most photos have some sort of description. Look for a video detailing this project soon.
Room for Two (Everyone Else, BYO Ride),