If you like Recaro seats, thank Porsche

Reutter Sitzproduktion 1960

Look inside any of Porsche factory race cars, such as the 911 GT3 Cup, 911 GT3 R, 911 RSR, or Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR, and you’ll see a Recaro seat. Recaros are also optional on a bunch of Porsche’s roadgoing cars, such as the 911 GT3 and Cayman GT4. Recaro, of course, supplies many carmakers with top-notch performance seats, but they are particularly special in a Porsche, since this relationship goes back more than 70 years to the origin of both companies.

Recaro began as Stuttgarter Karosseriewerk Reutter und Co. (loosely translated as “Reutter and Company Stuttgart bodywork”), founded by Wilhelm Reutter at the turn of the century. The reputation of Reutter’s shop for fine work led Ferdinand Porsche come knocking when he needed bodies for prototype cars after founding his own design company in 1931.

Skip past the war (as many German automakers would appreciate) to 1946, when Ferdinand and son Ferry set about to build a car from their own design. After developing the 356 prototype in parallel with the production version, Porsche contracted with Reutter and Company in 1949 to build the first 500 bodies, frames, seats, and interior trim, plus the electrical and heating systems. The rest, as the saying goes, is history. The 356 was a hit, and a majority of those cars were built in large part by Reutter.

Recaro Porsche front seats
Recaro rear seat details
Recaro Porsche
Courtesy Recaro

Porsche once again turned to Reutter’s bodywork expertise to make the 901 prototype first shown at the 1963 Frankfurt Auto Show, which ultimately turned into the 911. (Peugeot lays claim to any three-digit car name with a 0 in the middle, so Porsche changed its car to 911.)

The Recaro name came into being that same year, when Porsche acquired the Reutter body plant along with the expertise of its 950 employees. That same plant in Zuffenhausen is still in use today, set to build the all-electric Taycan. The sale included a deal to supply Porsche sports car seats for the next 10 years. The new company took its name from the combination of Reutter Karosserie, and with the launch of the Recaro Sportsitz in the 911S in summer of ‘66, helped popularize the Pepita fabric seat pattern that’s often incorrectly referred to as Houndstooth.

The relationship continued much longer than that, with Recaro supplying most of the production seats through the 993-generation 911 that ended production in 1998. But those first years when the 911 established its name as a world-class sports car also launched the Recaro reputation for comfortable and supportive seats both for motorsport and everyday use.