Despite looking simple, car seats are actually complex pieces of engineering. We all understand that they need to hold you in place while fanging through mad corners, but few realise their crucial and secret role to act as reverse-teabags and absorb waste human by-products, both pleasant and unpleasant - like sweat and body aromas.
This topic was highlighted during a recent episode of Mighty Car Mods featuring Marty's MR2. With 30 years of human slime injected into the seats it was decided to update to some Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86 Seats using adaptor rails.
Just in case you’ve spent your life living in a tree and don’t understand the concept of a teabag, basically they’re sweet little satchels you dunk in boiling water to infuse the flavour of the dried tea leaves inside them through the hot water. You drink it, it tastes delicious and you move on with your life. Our friends in the United Kingdom have turned this into an art form.
Car seats, at least for the last 30-odd years, are designed to work in reverse. They take the stanky flavours and liquids our gross human bodies pump out while we drive, trapping this heady mix of flavours so we don’t gas ourselves with our own brand of stank as we drive.
Proof of what this kind of repeated slime injection can turn into, is demonstrated when we first picked up our Honda Civic, many many years ago:[embedded content]
Old cars are much more tiring and hard to drive because most of them used vinyl on seats and door cards, which doesn’t absorb the human output like a fine leather or soft cloth. If you’ve gone for a drive in an old car and gotten out stinking of body odour with sweaty clothes, the vinyl is to blame as it can’t function as the reverse-teabag it's truly meant to be.
It is thought the origins of this engineering effort date back to the 1970s when American Motors (AMC) released the Levis Edition Gremlin. This denim-trimmed microcar was not only seen as a super-fly ride to take to the local disco, but it was literally cooler inside as it shed the typical hot plastic vinyl for cool denim trim. Unfortunately, it was exceptionally expensive and time-consuming to have one cowboy retrim all the cars in denim, so the auto industry moved on.
As the era of afros and bell-bottoms rolled on, polyester suits became the rage and these gave rise to needing plush velour interiors. These thicker, plusher fabrics absorbed all the body grease coming off the sucker DJs, playas, mark-ass tricks, skip-scaps, skanks, scallywags, hos, heifers, hee-haws, and hula-hoops, though they wore out quickly.
One of the very first Mighty Car Mods Videos over a decade demonstrated how to rid your seats of what is now popularly known as 'Human Slime'[embedded content]
Starting in the early 1980s the Japanese manufacturers led the race to develop high-tech synthetic cloth fabrics which could suck the grot out of our bodies, while European marques tended to favour natural leather, though its upkeep was more intense than the Japanese fabrics.
Have you ever wondered why those racy Alcantara-type materials don’t last with regular use? They’re softer than regular synthetic cloths and can’t handle all the acid and fat in our sweat and funky bum burps.
These facts are why Marty and MOOG always thoroughly shampoo and deep-clean the interior of any car they work on: you don’t want to be top-coating some random’s butt-grease and back sweat!