Episode 202. Budget Hot Rod. (Part 27).

Sitting around in a boilerhouse during lunchbreak I was talking about how I was struggling to find a set of seats that were narrow enough to fit inside the cockpit of my Hotrod, yet wide enough to fit my lardy arse into. One of my co-workers was doing his normal daily browse of Exchange & Mart, and decided to chip into the conversation that there was a fella selling some seats from a minibus. I laughed this off at first, but then he said that minibus seats are often quite narrow, and as they were only located approximately fifty miles from Belonga Clint wasn't it worth giving the seller a call, and finding out a bit more?

If I'm completley honest I still thought it was a bit of a joke, why on Earth would I want minibus seats in my Hotrod? The answer to this question was simply, because I had no better ideas! I jotted the sellers number down, and gave him a call once I'd got home. After a long phonecall I jotted down his address and hit the road with my roadmap to try and find my way to Arundel in West Sussex. After what seemed to be ages driving around Arundel I finally managed, more by luck than judgement to find the sellers house, and before long I was stood with the seller infront of his garage, and he was opening the door. Inside the garage was the entire contents of a minibus. The seats did look like they were narrow enough, but damn they were tall!

I pulled a pair out, and got my tape measure out of my P100 to have a quick measure up. They were narrow, but they were still going to be a tight squeeze, and the armrests would definately have to go. But then there was the height, I reckoned that about 50% of the back of the seat would be above the belt line of the Hotrod, added to that they would probably be taller than the windscreen. Not a good look at all. Plus, with all the plastic around the back of the seats, and trim, my feeling was that they would be far too close to the steering wheel for me to be able to get my porky belly in there. To be fair I wasn't sold on them at all, but I had no better ideas, and thought that if he didn't want too much for them I would buy a pair, and see if they could be modified to suit the Hotrod. So with this thought in mind I said to the seller how much do you want for them? He said to make him an offer, as he needed his garage back and just wanted shot of them. Jokingly I said, OK then, a quid! and half heartedly chuckled to myself. To my surprise he said OK then, a quid it is! Chuffed to nuts with my new purchase I put a pound in his hand, and headed off to the back of the P100 with a pair of seats. As I was getting into my pick up the seller came over and asked me what I was doing? I said, well, I've got my seats, you've got your £1, and so I'm off home. The seller looked at me and said, "Oh no, no, no! You take them all, or none at all. I want my garage cleared, so if you want those two, you've got to take the other 28 as well!" The next hour was spent arranging thirty minibus seats in a Tetris style fashion into the back of a Ford P100, and then trying to tie them down for the fifty odd mile drive home!

Arriving home just after midnight on a workday I really couldn't be bothered to untie the seats, and take them all off. Plus, I didn't really know where I was going to put the damn things anyway! I took two off, and headed off inside to go to bed, and hoped that the problem of finding somewhere to put all these seats would somehow rectify its self during the night and I'd wake up to an empty truck in the morning!

The morning came, and bleary eyed I looked out my bedroom window in the hope that my truck would be empty... Damn, they were all still there! Well, no time to think about what I was going to do with them now, I needed to be on site in a half an hour, and so I headed off to work with possibly the only thirty seat P100 ever! As you can no doubt imagine I was the source of much urine extracting that day at work, but by the end of the day I was down to just a twelve seat P100, and I had even managed to earn £90, from selling each of the seats for just a fiver each! Happy days, and not only that, but the site hut was now looking very plush indeed! Of course this did still leave me with 10 or so to get rid of, but finding storage for 10 seats was a lot easier than finding storage for 28! I just put them in my Brothers lock up on the way home, which was where they stayed until I managed to sell them all!

Back at my garage, and with two minibus seats with me I offered them into the cockpit of the Hotrod. As expected they looked ridiculous, they were way too tall, and the armrests made them far too wide. M.R. looked at them and said, "Right, lets take them apart and see what we're looking at." Before long we were stood there looking at the seats in component form, and M.R. was saying that all we needed to do now was trim them down. So out with the tape measure, saw, and welder, and before long we had one frame cut down to what we thought was the right sort of size.

With the seat frames tacked together we tried it in the cockpit of the Hotrod, it was a pretty good fit, and so the second seat was chopped down to match before the pair of them were welded properly together.

With the frames cut down I now needed to make the seat back cusions match the dimentions of the frames. Cutting and sticking the steel frames back together was one thing, but I had no idea how we were going to adjust the cushions. The first thing I did was to remove the covers so I could see what I was looking at. With the covers off we could see that it was a piece of shaped plywood, with a foam cushion glued to it. I decided to attack it with a saw, and before long I had a very shoddy looking piece of seat which looked dreadful, but matched the dimension of the back of the seat frame.

I looked at M.R. and said, OK, now what do I do? He handed me the grinder and a sanding disc and said that I should take my time and grind it into shape. Well, I still had quite a few seats left if I messed this one up, so what did I have to lose? Before long I was covered in little bits of foam seat padding, as was just about everything else. Man alive that stuff got every where, I was still finding weeks later, infact to this day I wonder if I've washed it all off myself yet?

But after sanding them down with the grinder I then moved on to finishing them up with some fairly coarse sandpaper until I thought they were good enough.

After a quick trial fit they were looking pretty good, and so the seat frames were bolted into the cockpit of the Hotrod, and finally I had seats in my Hotrod that both fitted, and were comfortable! The trouble was, they didn't look great without covers on them. I thought about having one of my friends re-cover them with the original fabric. But I thought that would be OK, right up until the point when I was out in it and got caught in the rain! Whatever I was going to cover them with needed to be waterproof(ish)!

I asked all my friends and workmates if they knew of anyone who could re-trim my seats, and a friend of a friend who worked at a place where they manufacture speedboats said that they used a trimmer who could re-cover them in marine quality leather that would be waterproof and would look pretty good too. I went along to chat to them, and found that they could do the job for me, but it wasn't cheap, for the two seats in leather it was going to be over £500! I'd already spent way more than I had planned to on the Hotrod by this point, plus I couldn't get all the colours I wanted in leather, but I could in Naugahyde.

Now, the Nauga is an ugly beast, but they come in a variety of different colours, and they're obviously more plentiful than Cows as their hides are cheaper than Cows hides are! I decided that I would have the sides done in black leather, and the centre section would be Naugahyde in silver! I gave the trimmer the seat cushions, and, as I had no better ideas I told him to do what he thought would work best in my Hotrod. Looking back this was a risky move, but I guess he uholstered them as if they were going in a speedboat, and when I collected them I was pretty pleased with the results.

Probably just as well that I did like them too, because at £380 for the pair of them it could've been an expensive mistake! I thought that I'd done quite well selling the other minibus seats, but that little re-upholstering job took care of any spare cash I might have had! Still, nevermind, I thought they looked pretty good, and alongside the original seats I thought they were unrecognisable as the minibus seats that they had started off their lives as! Better yet...

They looked superb in the cockpit of the Hotrod, and even fitted really well! Despite the huge expense I was pretty chuffed with them, besides, I was getting used to everything I bought for the Hotrod being a huge expense! But, like I said, I liked how they looked, and I liked how they fitted, and they were even comfortable. But best of all I liked how I no longer needed lay awake night after night trying to think, or worry about what I was going to do for seats in my Hotrod... Now all I needed to do was figure out how I was going to trim the rest of the cockpit!