How I did a 2005 Mustang Front Seat Swap: (1/5/2012)
The stock leather seats in my 96 Cobra are showing the signs of age. The leather is getting ratty looking and the driver’s seat has a big rip just behind my left shoulder-blade. So it is time for a change.
If your seats are still in good condition, make sure you use leather conditioner once a month to keep them in good shape.
I looked into having the stock seats recovered, but the local upholstery shops consistently quoted $1600 to do it. I don’t find the stock seats all that comfortable, and they definitely don’t hold me in the seat during hard cornering, so I wasn’t interested in spending that kind of money on the stock seats.
I considered buying racing seats, but the only ones I really liked were $1100-$1400, and they do not give enough adjustability for my tiny wife to be able to drive my car in an emergency.
On the internet, I ran across a set of adapter brackets from www.oemcarandtruckseats.com that let me easily install S-197 seats from 2005 to 2010 Mustangs in SN95 cars. I tried sitting in an S-197 car and found the newer seats were more comfortable and wrapped around me more than my stock 96 seats do. I also learned that the S-197 seats have more degrees of adjustability as well as more range, so my wife should be more comfortable in the new driver’s seat than she was in my stock one. So I decided to find a set of S-197 seats to swap into my car. I also saw several web sites that say it is possible to swap the seat rails, but none of them were clear as to how it should be done and it looked like a lot of work to me, so I decided the adapters would be easier.
While researching, I discovered another good reason to do this seat swap. There are a bunch of how-to videos on the internet that show how the average Mustang owner can recover these seats without much trouble. This is one particularly good video from Motorz: http://www.motorz.tv/blog/2579/mustang-leather-interior/ If the leather ever cracks on these seats, I can easily recover them myself.
You can use seats with side impact air bags, but they will not be wired up or functional, so it will probably be cheaper to find seats without them as I did. But you can use either style of seats.
Since my car has a Saddle/Black two-tone interior, I decided to look for black seats, because there are no saddle-colored S-197 interiors, at least as far as I know.
There are also 4 good videos on how to install S-197 Mustang seats in a 99-04 Mustang on that site. Those videos provide excellent instruction on how to physically mount the seats into any 94-04 Mustang: http://www.oemcarandtruckseats.com/seat_instructions
But the Installation of these seats into a 94-98 Mustang is a little different from installation in 99-04 cars.
First, the seat belt latches in the 94-98 cars are attached to the transmission tunnel, not the seat, so you will remove the seatbelt latch from the S-197 seats before installing them in your car.
Second, since the seatbelt latches are not integrated in the seats in the 94-98 cars, you do not need to hook up the seat belt wire from the S-197 seat.
Third, the seat motor power wire in the 94-98 cars is a Black/White wire, rather than the Dark Green wire in the 99-04 and 05-10 cars.
The following shows some data about the seats and information about how I did my swap.
Weight Comparison of the Leather Seats:
Stock 96 Cobra driver’s seat: 52.5 lbs
Stock 96 Cobra passenger seat: 42 lbs
2005 driver’s seat before modification: 55 lbs
2005 passenger seat before modification: 45 lbs
22005 driver’s seat (After modification): 53.5 lbs
2005 passenger seat (After modification): 44 lbs
Driver’s seat adapter bracket: 5 lbs
Passenger seat adapter bracket: 5 lbs
Total stock seat weight: 58.5 lbs
Total new seat weight: 49 lbs
The new seats add a total of 13 lbs to the car.
Lubricating the seat mechanisms:
Before you install the S-197 seats, it is a good time to lubricate the moving parts of the seats. I used spray silicone lubricant as per the recommendation of the local Ford service department.
Seat Belt Latch Removal:
Since the 94-98 Mustangs have the seat belt latch attached to the transmission tunnel, rather than the seat, you will need to remove the seat belt latch from the S-197 seats. Disconnect the seat belt sensor connector from the seat harness and remove the seat belt latch by removing the Torx T-50 fastener.
Air Bag Proximity Detector:
There is a proximity detector in the 2005 Driver’s seats that tells the air bag system if someone is too close to the front airbag for safe deployment. Since the 94-98 cars do not have this functionality, this sensor is not needed and can be removed using an 8mm socket.
Air Bag Shunts:
In seats without air bags, there is a small yellow connector with two wires under each seat, called an Air Bag Shunt. It tells the car that a side air bag is not present in the seat. FYI, each shunt appears to be a 7.0 ohm resistor. It can be removed for the swap.
Wiring for the New Seats:
Here are the connectors on the bottom of the 05 driver seat:
If you get the body harness connector from the donor car with your S-197 driver’s seat, and you can find a seat harness connector from a junkyard 94-98 Mustang, as I did, the wiring is easy. You can also cut the seat harness connector from your old seat if you don’t need it any more. You can then make a small adapter harness from the S-197 body harness connector (left) and the 94-98 seat harness connector (right):
Simply splice the S-197 Dark Green wire to the 94-98 Black/White wire and splice the two black wires together (I prefer solder & shrink tubing) and your adapter harness is done:
If you do not have the S197 body harness connector, you will probably want to cut off the S-197 seat connector and splice the 94-98 seat connector directly to the S197 seat harness. Either method will work fine. Fortunately, while at the junkyard, I also liberated a couple of spare seat mounting bolts and nuts, which came in useful later.
Modifying and Installing the S-197 Driver’s Seat:
Note: I actually installed the passenger seat first, but the documentation works better if I describe the driver side installation first.
I laid the driver seat on its back on a clean piece of cardboard and covered the seat bottom to protect the upholstery from sparks. The air bag proximity sensor has also been removed.
Here are the rivets and tabs prior to grinding:
Here are the rivets ground down with an angle grinder and the tabs knocked off with a chisel:
Here are the rivets ground down to the seat rail:
Here are the rivets removed:
Here are the rail ends after painting:
I let the paint dry before loosely installing the front adapter plate with the carriage bolts per the instructions:
I then loosely attached the rear adapter plate to the rear of the seat: (You may need a battery to move the seat rails to get access)
In the car, I moved the seat all the way back and removed the nuts from the studs at the front of the stock seat. Then I moved the seat all the way forward and removed the bolts from the rials at the rear of the seat. I then tipped the seat up and unplugged the seat connector:
I removed the stock seat, set the 05 seat into the car and hooked up the power using the conversion harness. Then I set the front adapter plate on the studs, and moved the seat forward to get access to the rear bolt holes. I started the rear seat bolts into their holes. I moved the seat back and saw that the right side of the front adapter plate was sitting too high to get the nut started. I was able to start the left nut, but the right stud was not long enough. After a bunch of attempts, I replaced the inner stud with one of the spare rear bolts I had gotten from the junkyard, since it was longer than the stud. I moved the seat forward and tightened the rear seat bolts. I moved the seat all the way back, and tightened the front seat to adapter plate bolts. I then tightened the nut on the stud and the bolt that holds the adapter plate to the floor. I moved the seat all the way to the front and tightened the bolts that hold the seat to the adapter plate and I was done:
Modifying and Installing the S-197 Passenger Seat:
I laid the passenger seat on its back on a clean piece of cardboard. I then bent the connector bracket up toward the seat bottom for clearance. I noticed that the connector bracket was binding on the occupant sensor cable, so I zip tied it to the seat frame.
I removed the seat belt latch and then covered the seat to protect it from the sparks in preparation for grinding the mounting tab rivets:
I removed the tabs and rivets in the same way as with the driver seat. Then, using a claw hammer head, I bent the passenger seat slide bar up a bit on each side, so the slide bar does not hit the front adapter bracket:
Here is the passenger seat with the rails painted and ready for the adapter plates to be mounted:
The Finished Product:
Here is a picture of the seats installed in the car from the driver's side with the door closed. You can see the seat backs are substantially taller than the stock units:
Here are a couple of shots from the driver's side:
And a couple from the passenger side:
I found that the 05 Mustang driver seat has a lot more range of movement. It moves further forward and back than the stock seat does and it goes up and down which the stock seat does not. My wife can actually reach the pedals and see over the dash without pillows, and she says the new seats are much more comfortable for her.
I went for a test drive and found the new driver seat to be more comfortable than the stock one. I also felt that it held me in place a little better than the sock seat did on hard cornering, although it isn't as good as a racing seat.
Aside from waiting for the paint to dry, and the junkyard run, the project took me a couple of hours to complete.
Since the back seats are almost never used, they are still in like new condition, so I don't have any plans to change them.
All-in-all, it was a good mod for me.
Once again we would like to thank Mark Olson for this excellent write-up.