Back in June, I wrote about flirting with selling my ’99 Z3 M coupe (a.k.a. the clown shoe), as driving it for more than 45 minutes consistently causes me sharp back pain. I made a short punch list of things I’d do to maximize its value. I got partially through the list—I had the wheels refinished and shod with new rubber, and repaired a glaringly cracked tail light—but stopped short of refinishing the front bumper cover, as I doubted I had the patience to do a decent job myself, and as none of the folks on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace advertising in-driveway bodywork returned my inquiries (probably for the best).
Regarding the back pain issue, a reader (Chris Holliday) commented “Rob: You did not mention whether or not you had tried tilting the front of your seat bottom up using this kit. Made ALL the difference for my back, and now my Coupe is a forever car.” I’d heard about the seat tilting trick before. The idea is that, by raising the front of the seat base a bit, it does a better job supporting the backs of your legs, which takes some of the strain off your back. I replied to Chris “I tried tilting the seat with spacers. It didn’t seem to make much of a difference to my back.”
Then, as I mentioned last week, my wife had cardiac surgery, and everything in my life other than caring for her ground to a halt. I’m not really sure what I was thinking with regard to selling the M Coupe, but it certainly wasn’t something as strategic as “I wonder if I can thread the needle and find a buyer before Maire Anne goes under the knife.” Maybe I was just doing what people do in stressful circumstances—try their hand at something they think they can control. Silly me.
Now that she’s through the tough part of recovery and things are beginning to return to normal, I’m re-engaging the auto-mechanical world. I looked at the M Coupe sitting forlornly in my garage, crouching like a cat who’s overheard you talking about bringing it to the animal shelter, and tried to recall exactly how much of a chance I’d given the seat-tilt thing. It was years ago, and I probably just slid a handful of washers under the seat trails. I looked at the link to the kit from Street Driven Industries that Mr. Holliday had posted. While the pieces weren’t anything I couldn’t buy in the neighborhood hardware store, it looked like the kit lifted the front of the seat further than I did. And it was complete, tested, had hardware for two seats, and cost only $16 shipped. I clicked and bought. A few days later, it arrived.
This isn’t cutting-edge product development at the level of, say, an inexpensive Kleenex-box-sized cooling retrofit for a 2002 that works by creating a black hole connected to the frigid vacuum of space (note to myself: trademark the concept of black-hole-powered climate control), but it’s a nicely executed little kit that raises the front of the seat by one inch, comes with a good set of instructions, and can be installed in about fifteen minutes. The seat doesn’t even need to be removed—it can just be slid a few inches to the side.
You slide the seat all the way forward, undo the two 16-mm rear bolts, slide it all the way back, and undo the two 13-mm front nuts.
You then thread the couplers onto the front studs that protrude through the floor, and thread the extension studs into the couplers while paying careful attention to the documentation for the placement of the washers.
Then you put the seat back in place, replace the original front nuts and rear bolts, and tighten everything down.
The only issue I had had nothing to do with the kit. It was that there wasn’t sufficient access to the rear inside bolt (the one next to the transmission tunnel) until I used the power controls to raise the seat.
Here’s the “before” pic. (Okay, it’s not “before.” It’s the passenger seat. I forgot to take a before shot. Forgive me. I’ve had a lot going on.)
Hopefully you can tell from the pic that this is not a trivial difference. It’s certainly more than whatever I tried years back with a few washers.
But does it eliminate my back pain?
Well… it’s a bit too early to tell, as I haven’t yet driven the car firmly into the longer-than-45-minute pain zone. But in the half-hour romp I took, it did feel better.
Kudos to Street Driven Industries for putting together this nice little kit. I hope they get working on that black-hole-powered 2002 air conditioning retrofit soon. With regards to inventions, I’ve always been more of an idea man than in implementer. I mean you can’t expect me to do everything myself.