One of the unique aspects of the 1985 Audi quattro procured for the grand prize of Audi Club North America’s Spring 2022 Sweepstakes is that its original seats had been replaced at some point with more bolstered units from RECARO. As a tastefully built driver, upgrades of this nature aren’t uncommon, but with these we saw an opportunity for improvement.
Most enthusiasts know the RECARO name, a brand whose seat business alone stretches back decades. RECARO is also a longtime supplier of seats for premium Audi models, from the shell seat option in the current R8, and regularly over the generations in RS cars.
In the 1980s, RECARO supplied shell racing seats to the Audi Sport factory rally program, while its Orthoped style “split bolster” seat was standard fare in the highly limited and highly desirable short-wheelbase homologation special Sport quattro. It is that latter iteration that inspired our choice for upgrading our Sweepstakes’ 1985 ur quattro.
Why an upgrade? Frankly, the seats in the ur quattro are already very good. For RECARO spotters, they are the Trophy model seat fitted by Volkswagen in OEM applications for the Mk2 GTI and Jetta 16V models, and also the Rally Golf. It appears that at some point a previous owner of the quattro procured a set of quattro-specific RECARO seat bases and these OEM spec Trophy seats. Earlier examples had vinyl outer bolsters, and grey fabric panels in the center. These appear identical to those early GTI 16V seats, but the centers have been recovered artfully in perforated black leather. It’s a handsome look that you’d be hard-pressed to notice aren’t factory Audi fitment, but Audi never fit them and the perforated panels didn’t match the rear seat. Also, a notorious wear point on those vintage Trophy seats was the 80s era foam of the driver’s bolster. Ours was sagging, as is common of well-used Trophies from that period. We wanted to make a change, and having the RECARO seat bases already in the car meant finding another set of RECARO seats was a major opportunity.
RECARO themselves have a great new Classic Line of seats, offering several of their iconic models with period-looking fabrics… and all approved by none other than Audi rally legend Walter Röhrl. Current offerings range from their Classic LS, Classic LX and Classic Pole Position shell style racing seat that’s closer to what would have been in the rally cars of the time. When the line first launched, it also included their Expert model, with the same split style bolster as the roadgoing Sport quattro. And while the Expert is no longer offered with vintage Houndstooth style fabric, it is offered in back leather… black leather that would be the perfect match for our quattro.
This all made our choice relatively easy. We opted to upgrade from vinyl to full leather to closer match the OEM quality of the original and now long-gone factory seats in our quattro, and also match the rear seats and door panels. Once they arrive, they’ll give our quattro the perfect Sport quattro inspired look. With noting, the photo of RECARO Experts seen here in a Porsche 993 feature Alcantara centers. We went with all black leather, more like the other shot on white background seen in this story.
We’ll admit, we were tempted to find a set of the Expert Houndstooth seats RECARO had been making. We can see them in stock at various RECARO distributors. However, RECARO mentioned they were being phased out, and Audi never offered houndstooth fabric in the quattro, so we decided to stick with keeping it close to what the factory would have done. Our readers have definitely underlined our need to stay close to factory on the car, so that’s exactly what we did here.
Seats ordered, our biggest challenge now is awaiting their arrival. Our order was fairly special with the upgraded leather, so we now need to wait for them to arrive from Germany. For now, check out more on RECARO Automotive HERE and also ENTER our Audi Club North America Spring 2022 quattro Sweepstakes HERE.