This Orange Spectrum Recaro seat is the only office chair I’d buy for $250

Rob Siegel

If you’re like me—and let’s hope that you aren’t, but let’s admit that you probably are—few things feel as sweet as the kind of well-scored Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace deal that only you could find, bag, and fully appreciate.

If you’ll forgive me an opening digression, my wife tells me that I have this really annoying tendency to buy myself presents right around Christmas. She’ll say, “You should’ve left me a hint! I would’ve bought that for you!” So I tried that tack for two years. I literally left browser windows open on her computer for a Harmony programmable remote and a Warn PullzAll 120VAC winch. Then, when these items weren’t wrapped as presents on Christmas morning, her response for the winch was that she’d missed the clue, and for the remote was “I’m not going to buy you that!

So that’s part of backdrop against which I tell you how delighted I was to score a Recaro rolling office chair right before Christmas—my present to myself in which I delighted at the search, the find, and eventually the physical acquisition.

And, of course, there’s a story in all of it.

I have to admit that I have something of a Recaro seat fetish. I’m not talking about the new Recaro racing buckets—I’m talking about the vintage Recaro LS, LE, SE, and LX models from the 1970s and ’80s. Back in the day, these were the shiznit. Bolstered and very supportive, these seats performed the miracle of both holding your butt in place while also being incredibly comfortable for long drives. If you track-drove your car and had the cash, you’d buy one Recaro to install as a driver’s seat. You only bought two if you had enough income to regard the form of the matching set over the function of you being the only one in the car the vast majority of the time. I still smile when I see old barn-find or ran-when-parked cars with one Recaro in them. You know, 1980s driver’s school car. Bam. I’ve got you nutshelled.

If you don’t know, Recaros—as well as their sport seat kissing cousins Konig and FloFit—have a standard 16-inch side-to-side bolt pattern for the rail spacing on the bottom. Recaros were factory standard or optional seats in a variety of cars, from a host of Volkswagens to Fox Body Mustangs. Any set I’ve ever bought, if you remove the model-specific seat rails—and this includes the big heavy electric seat bases on quasi-modern Volkswagens—what’s underneath is the same standard 16-inch rail spacing.

To mount Recaros in your car, you need to adapt that 16-inch rail spacing to whatever the side-to-side bolt pattern is for the rail spacing for your seat sliders. There are two different ways to do it. If Recaros were available as a factory option for your car—as was the case with the 1977–82 BMW 320i—then there was a set of factory adapters that bolted to the bottom of the seats. So, for a car like a BMW 2002, whose seats were the same size as those in a 320i, you order or scrounge or fabricate a set of these adapters, bolt them to the 16-inch rails on the bottoms of the Recaros, bolt the original seat sliders to the adapters, then bolt the sliders to the floor of the car where they always went. The other way to do it is that Recaro, or the aftermarket vendor selling the seats, typically offered mounting hardware that featured a standard set of very heavy-duty sliders that bolted directly to the bottoms of the seats. Then you needed to procure a car-specific adapter base plate that sat between the sliders and the floor.

Orange Spectrum Recaro seats restored underside dimensions
The 16-inch rail spacing on the bottom of any Recaro seat. Rob Siegel
Recaro interior seat design frame metal hardware
A set of aftermarket sliders for Recaros, and the base plates to mount them into a BMW 2002. Rob Siegel

While I absolutely love the look and feel of period-correct interiors in 1970s German cars, the big wide horsehair-stuffed seats are miserably uncomfortable for long drives, so I have Recaros (or Konigs or FloFits) in most of the vintage BMWs that I distance-drive. In my prized 3.0CSi, I have a set of beige cloth Recaro SE seats that I picked up 13 years ago on Craigslist whose color, by chance, is close enough to the beige leather rear seats and the vinyl door panels that the eye isn’t drawn to the difference.

Recaro interior seat design tan plain
Not a bad illusion, as illusions go. Rob Siegel

In two of my 2002s, I’m currently splitting a set of Konig seats, allowing me to get the benefit of a firm supportive seat in each car. Although there’s no confusing either of these with a track-day car, the 40-year-old context of a lone Recaro-style seat makes me smile. I drive these cars, my back needs the support of the sport seat, I had a pair of Konigs sitting in the basement, and one went into each car. Boom, done. Cost: zero.

Recaro interior seat design striped
A Konig driver’s seat in my otherwise bone-stock 2002. The big seat slider bar in the front indicates that the sliders and adapters are part of a package from Konig. Rob Siegel

The point of all this is that what makes all this Recaro seat installation work is a uniform rail spacing on all Recaros (and Konigs and FloFits), and adapters that are specific to the make and model of your car.

With that, let me wind the tape back 40 years for a moment.

When Maire Anne and I returned to Boston in 1984 after our 2½-year stint in Austin, we brought with us a rust-free 1975 BMW 2002 (“Bertha”) that I’d bought that spring. I actually wanted a big-bumpered 2002 to withstand the demolition derby that is Boston parking and commuting. Over the next four years, I transformed the car into a cross between a daily driver and a weekend track rat, throwing in a goosed-up engine with a hot cam and dual Webers, a full Koni track suspension, and many other mods.

BMW Bertha Siegel family wedding vintage photo
Maire Anne and I about to drive the then-still-largely-stock Bertha off from our wedding, shaving cream and cans in tow. Rob Siegel

I was always buying, repairing, and selling whatever 2002s I could get my hands on, so when I found a 2002tii that had a full Recaro interior with the very zingy “orange spectrum” fabric—the car had two Recaro front seats and their adapters as well as a back seat reupholstered in the orange spectrum fabric—I bought the tii, swapped interiors with Bertha, and sold the tii.

In 1988, my close friend and fellow 2002 guy Alex got married. He and his wife were planning on taking his car on a big western road trip to do “the grand circle” of national parks. He couldn’t get the car ready in time, so as a wedding present, I loaned them Bertha (which, in addition to the comfortable Recaros, had working air conditioning). They loved the car, and when they returned, agreed to buy it.

That was, unfortunately, the beginning of a long and sad period for Bertha. Like me, they lived in Boston, and the car was often parked on the street. In 1990, Bertha was stolen and recovered. When it was stolen and recovered a second time, the recovered car was damaged—it ran horribly from what appeared to be a bent valve, and one of the windows had been smashed. Alex rolled it into a neighbor’s garage. He never expected it to sit there for nearly 30 years. I’d routinely ask him about Bertha, with my nods and winks about buying it back turning into outright pleading as the years went by.

Finally, in 2018, Alex relented and sold me the car back. The problem was, like an idiot, I hadn’t actually looked at it, and when I rolled open the door to the garage where the car had been sitting since 1990, my heart sank. The garage backed into a pond, and the humidity, combined with insulation batting that had been stored on the hood of the car, had nearly destroyed the once-proud car.

old bmw front end
Poor Bertha. Rob Siegel

The interior was an absolute disaster as well. Prior to the thefts, Alex had already worn the fabric on the bottom cushion of the driver’s seat, and swapped it with the passenger seat. This was now augmented with the shattered glass from the theft, spider webs, mildew, and rodent damage. The orange spectrum Recaros were now a sad worn memory of their former eye-popping glory. To see them in shambles was heartbreaking.

Orange Spectrum Recaro seats old rough condition
And poor Recaros. You can catch just a glimpse of the orange spectrum fabric on the back seats. Rob Siegel

But if you’ve already decided to jump in, it really doesn’t matter how disgusting the water is. And jump in I did. Due to the pricey real estate and the nice lawn on his neighbor’s pond-facing garage where the car had been stored, there was no easy way to get a ramp truck down there, so I spent a week in the garage reviving Bertha enough to drive the car out under its own power, the video of which can be seen here. I then worked on the car over the next year, eventually driving it to The Vintage in Asheville in 2019. The entire story is chronicled in my book Resurrecting Bertha.

Orange Spectrum Recaro Office Chair pre restoration ratty condition
Bertha’s orange spectrum seats after some cleaning. Rob Siegel

But there was something about the exposure the seats had gotten to the humidity from the pond that gave the orange spectrum fabric all the strength of a used Kleenex, and by the time I got back from my 2,000-mile round trip to Asheville, the base of the driver’s seat was a shredded mess.

Now, with everything I’ve said above, it’s clear that I keep my eyes open for vintage Recaro / Konig / FloFit seats, and when I find a well-priced set, I snag them, even if I don’t have something to install them into at the moment.

old bmw patina circles outside in driveway
Bertha as she looks today with a small bumper conversion. You can see the Recaros peeking through the windshield. The faded orange fabric actually matches the rust spots on the hood remarkably well. Rob Siegel

So imagine my delight when, on December 23rd—two days before Christmas—I saw an ad for this rolling office chair on Facebook Marketplace (FBM), clearly showing a Recaro seat in the same orange spectrum fabric as Bertha. The asking price: $250.

Orange Spectrum Recaro Office Chair
Oh, baby! Facebook Marketplace

Recaro rolling office chairs were—and still are—sold directly by Recaro. They featured a standard commercially-available rolling swivel base, bolted to the bottom of the chair via (you guessed it) an adapter plate that mates to the seat’s standard 16-inch rail spacing. From everything I’ve written above, you now understand that, to put this in a car, all you need to do is unbolt the swivel base from the adapter plate, unbolt the adapter plate from the rails, bolt on the adapters and sliders for your car, and it’s in like Flynn. These Recaro office chairs do show up regularly on CL and FBM, although one in orange spectrum fabric is, as they say, hen’s-teeth rare. As a buyer, a big advantage is that the people who have them as office chairs usually don’t know that the seat is worth more as a car seat than as an office chair. Of course, it would be worth way more if it was part of a matched set, so it cuts both ways.

Still, I totally, immediately, and unambiguously wanted this one. The problem was that the seat was in southern Connecticut, not far from New Haven, plus it was the day before Christmas Eve, my wife had the flu, and there was no way I was going to drop everything and get down there that evening, or anytime in the next few days, for that matter.

I messaged the seller, explained all this, and said that I’d gladly meet his asking price and would Paypal him half the money immediately, but that I probably wouldn’t be able to get down there until after New Years Day. To his immense credit, he agreed.

You do know what I did next, right? (You probably do, since we’ve established that you are like me.) To make the road trip more worthwhile, I spent hours trying to find cars to look at and other things to buy between Boston and southern Connecticut.

About a week after New Years, I lined it all up. I have a 1999 BMW Z3 (“Zelda”) that I sold to a neighbor, then bought back a few years ago after her son drove it onto a median strip, damaging its front end enough that the car surely would’ve been totaled and parted out if I hadn’t. I repaired it (bent lower control arms and wheels and blown air bag) and have been driving it around since spring 2021, but its front bumper cover (what most folks would call the air dam) was shattered in the impact. I’ve kept it held together with packing tape and Gorilla Glue, but have always had an eye out for one that’s the same Boston Green color as Zelda so as to save me the cost and effort of painting it. There are plenty of used Z3 front bumper covers around, but not many in Boston Green. Plus, bumper covers are BIG, and thus expensive to ship.

So when I found a guy in Springfield, Massachusetts—not directly on the way to southern Connecticut, but squaring off a rounded corner was close enough to make it work—who was parting out a couple of BMW Z3s, and one of them was Boston Green, I was almost giddy. Unfortunately, when he sent me the photos, his bumper cover had some separations in the bottom portion. Still, it wasn’t cracked all the way through, it was much better than the one on Zelda, and Zelda is far from a perfect car, so I told him that I’d be in his area the coming Saturday and proposed giving him a hundred bucks for the bumper cover and both of the inner fender liners, which I also needed. To my delight, he agreed.

The morning that I left, I saw a well-priced 1987 BMW E30 325is on FBM only about eight miles west of the guy with the bumper cover. Odds were that it was going to be rusty, but hey, you never know unless you look, right?

Game day came, and I needed only to choose a car. My resurrected truck—the 2008 Chevy 3500HD Duramax dually, the one that had its catalytic converter was stolen—was the logical choice to swallow these large items, but the fuel cost for the 300-ish mile drive wouldn’t be trivial. So I took my 2003 BMW E39 530i stick sport instead, as its fold-down rear seats give it near-wagon-like flexibility. Things were a little tight, but it was well worth being able to cruise at traffic speed in a car I actually enjoyed driving, plus it would burn only about $50 in fuel instead of more than twice that in the truck.

First stop was the bumper cover and the fender liners. The nice young Russian man was great, even handing me a baggie of fasteners that held everything in place. The parts, though, occupied more space than I expected, especially considering how little the Z3 is.

trunk full of plastic moulding
How much space does a Z3 front bumper cover and a pair of fender liners take up? Rob Siegel
car interior rear seat bumper toolbox
Quite a bit, actually. Rob Siegel

Next was a quick jaunt to see the BMW 325is. As expected, it was rustier than I wanted to take on, but seeing it enabled me to stop thinking about it.

That left the leg down toward New Haven for the Recaro office chair. I gave the seller the remainder of the $250, we unbolted the rolling base, and I stuck the Recaro seat on top of the passenger seat of my E39.

Orange Spectrum Recaro seat in passenger seat riding shotgun
Sort of like a Recaro booster seat for an adult passenger. Rob Siegel

When I got home, I realized that I had no space in the garage for the chair, and the cats would tear it up if I put it in the basement, so I brought the two sections of the chair into the living room, where there’s light and floor space, and a door to keep the cats out. (Yes, I have a saint-like wife.) I cleaned it up and photographed the adapter that held on the office chair base before I removed it.

Orange Spectrum Recaro seats underside bolts locations
This shows the special-purpose adapter that bolts to the 16-inch rail threads and to which the rolling base attaches. Rob Siegel

And then, to my surprise, I stopped. Instead, I reinstalled the rolling base, and rolled the chair into the dining room, which doubles as an office. As soon as it was in there, juxtaposed against the room’s Mediterranean orange walls and the orange tablecloth left over from Thanksgiving, I realized it was far more likely that the chair’s fate would continue to be an office chair and not a replacement for Bertha’s driver’s seat, as I had envisioned. And I’m cool with that. I mean, Bertha is a car with the patina knob turned up pretty high. Having a cherry set of vintage Recaros in it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Orange Spectrum Recaro Office Chair at table in orange room
Looks like it’s always lived there, doesn’t it? Rob Siegel

Of course, the joke is that while a single Recaro seat, particularly an orange gradient one in excellent condition, is a freaking steal for $250, I’d never pay $250 for an office chair.


Rob’s latest book, The Best Of The Hack Mechanic™: 35 years of hacks, kluges, and assorted automotive mayhem is available on Amazon here. His other seven books are available here on Amazon, or you can order personally-inscribed copies from Rob’s website,

Check out the Hagerty Media homepage so you don’t miss a single story, or better yet, bookmark it.

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    I converted some Porsche seats for my sitting area in the Garage. We gutted a 944 for a track time car. I put legs on and they are great to sit to take a break and watch a race. I use creeper stools for foot rest.

    One seat that gets so little notice but a lot of use is the Lear Sigler in the Fiero. It is a simple seat that is firm to hold you in but not restrict you to where you feel like you are being held hostage.

    They are hard to find as many street rodders, MG owners and Cobra kit car builders use them. They are small but will hold a large fanny.

    These Recaros were cool but they lack much in padding. 8 hours at a desk in one is not the most comfortable thing. Driving and working are a bit different.

    My dad converted a Chevette seat to an office chair when I was a kid. It was probably less comfortable than yours.

    Rob, great story, now for your next mission, find a white 8’ bed from a totaled SOUTHERN Chevy pick up. But it. Take that air brake utility box off your excellent America Chevy truck, install the pickup bed, then you will have a useful truck for scavenging parts. It will increase your gas mileage and make the truck more useful for your needs. You may be able to sell the utility box to a handyman that needs it. Now that was easy wasn’t it, now get busy….

    Always look forward to your stories Rob. So funny seeing myself in them. But for the love of God spray the rust on Bertha’s hood with rust converter! 😉

    There is another pair of the Orange Spectrum Recaro Seats on FMP right now in New Jersey – unfortunately they are in the same condition as yours. Luckily there was an amazingly perfect set of black Recaros with the halo mesh headrest in my 14,000 mile 73 TA when I bought it in 2014 – they are still perfect today.

    Great story. I am the same. Brought 2 NOS “CAMARO” Lear Siegler Conteur interior rolls in Charcoal/Burnt Orange from a guy in Canada. Thinking about making my office chair with the cloth I have.

    And yes I did buy me an original Electronic Merlin game from the early 80’s for this past Christmas. And I do give wife hints but never get what I wish for.

    Hey Rob great story. I have a set of wheels and tires from my 2000 MZ3. If you ever have a need they are in great shape.
    Thanks, keep up the good work.

    In 1971 I was in the Air force stationed in Germany and had a BMW 1500 that had been wrecked but I fixed it up for my driver. The BMW dealers had BMW car seats mounted on stands for seating in the waiting rooms. Very comfortable seats. That BMW went around corners like it was on a rail!

    Does anyone know where replacement Recaro Orange Spectrum material can be obtained? I’ve got seats that (like Bertha’s) need recovering…

    Thanks Rob! You’re right… $340 for material for one seat is expensive. However like you, I’m a huge fan of Recaro (and Orange Spectrum in particular) so for me that’ll be money well spent every time I get in my car!

    When I worked for DuPont, the company was a supplier to Recaro and one of of the suits had been given a Recaro office chair. When he dropped dead of a heart attack, everyone else was too superstitious but since I was then doing IT work, spending much of my time in a chair, I made some inquiries and was able to get it for my cubicle. I would joke that if the Recaro had been in a Porsche, I doubt anyone would have turned it down. As I’ve gone through three Office Depot level office chairs in the past 10 years (the welds on one broke, putting me on the floor), I sorely miss that Recaro.

    I always loved the Recaros from the late 70s/early 80s myself as well – I’m pretty certain I still have one of their catalogs in the collection out in the garage. Fast forward 25 years or so and I’m looking for some new seats for my early Bronco and I remembered the vintage Recaros. A little internet sleuthing and I discovered the versions from the 320is cars. They were hard to find in 2008-2009, but still obtainable, so I bought a pair on Ebay and had them shipped to Dave at Aardvarc Racing and had his guy upholster and rebuild them for me. Still have them in my truck today -and you can still see them on Aardvarc’s website too. I’ve had the bottom of my driver’s seat rebuilt once and I think it needs it again, but man, I still love to sit in them for short AND long drives.

    I have a set of recaro spectrums and I’m trying to find out if they would fit in my 1978 bmw 633 csi. Anyone know? Rob you seem very knowledgeable about these seats so this question is specifically for you. I appreciate your time.

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