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Thread: REVIEW: Nakamae Type R Seats

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  1. #1
    Supporting Member JamieH's Avatar
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    REVIEW: Nakamae Type R Seats

    Nakamae Type R Seats Review



    Nakamae Japan has long been known as a Miata interior specialist for decades now. Known for making vintage styled, hand made, custom interior pieces, most notably, the quilted covers for everything from the transmission tunnel to hardtop headliners and boot covers for the NA/NB.

    But the piθce de rιsistance of Nakamae items are the seats. Nakamae makes everything from seat covers to complete bolt in seats, all hand made. And in my humble opinion the best Nakamae custom seats are the low back buckets. Available in a few styles, Type GT, Type M, Type S, and Type R. Each with the available option of real leather for the seating surface over the standard synthetic leather.

    This is about the Type R version.

    The ones I have now, from my understanding and research, were original bought by Randy, aka Phatmiata, through R-Speed way back in the day around '05. And if you know Randy's penchant for rare JDM items, he doesn't settle for anything less than the best, and in this case that means real leather. Randy ended up finally letting them go in April of last year when geffrocks86 bought them, who then sold them this past June to fwdtamiya. He contacted me back in July, offering them to me. If that's all correct, it's nice knowing the full history of the seats I have.

    So, this is a review, I guess I should actually get to it.

    The first thing I should talk about is the quality of the seats themselves. It is phenomenal. The material is tightly wrapped around the FRP bucket frame with straight stitching and piping. Really, the upholstery work is good enough to be of OEM quality. Also to note is the durability of the material. These seats are 12 years old, and while they do show signs of being used, it is very, very minimal. Thanks to the FRP construction there's a nice weight savings over the stock seats, 11lbs per seat. And like all fine JDM parts they have the manufactures name placed on them. But by means of a plate riveted on with the model/serial number stamped in.



    The styling is that of vintage racing buckets. You could tell someone that these are out of any classic British or German sports car, or that they're a rare vintage aftermarket part and they would very likely believe you. Except they're not, they're far newer and Japanese. Yet that does not stop them from giving off that gentleman's racer vibe. Everything about them comes together to create a fitting recreation of racing seats from years gone by. From the low back height, to the horizontal stitching, to the air rivets, they perfectly fit the bill for any vintage styled build.

    The Nakamae low back bucket seats use the OEM Miata seat sliders to bolt in. So while they have fixed backs that don't recline, you can still move them back and forth. But, that does make it a bit more difficult getting to the rear seat mount bolts. Also to note, is that there are provisions to mount either seat to either side since the stock sliders bolt into the chassis at different widths. Regardless, they are a totally bolt in affair, no cutting or drilling needed. If installing into a 1.8 car, you will need to swap to NA6 seat belt receivers, which will bolt right in (but you will need to extended the driver's seat belt wiring). The other option is adapter brackets to reuse the 1.8 receivers, but those bolt the receiver only to the seats. Which isn't really the safest option considering the seat frames are made of FRP.

    Here you can see NA6 receivers installed in the anchor point of my NA8 car.



    Operation is as simple as the stock seats; simpler since there's no reclining feature. Fitment is a bit tight depending on which door pulls/arm rests you have. There is some interference actually with the larger armrest style door pull if you position the seats far enough forward. Nothing major, as the doors still close, but the armrest can/does press against the side of the seat.







    Another area that is an interference/tight fit is the front corner of the seat on the trans tunnel side. Again, if the position is moved far enough forward it begins to interfere. Even more so if Nakamae quilted trans covers are installed.





    With a roll bar there can be interference with the seat belt guide. But, that can be remedied for the most part thanks to the adjustable headrests. Also, the seats will touch and push against the seat belt tower panels before the sliders are maxed out towards the rear. I don't know if there would be any interference with the seat belt guide without a roll bar.













    Here's the clearance to the seat belt guide with the seat my driving position.



    Speaking of the adjustable head rests, my preference is one notch up from the bottom (for both fitment and clearing the seat belt guide). I need to see if there's any way to tighten up the slip latch mechanism of the head rests. While the driver's side is still quite tight, the passenger one is a bit loose. There is a bit of side to side rocking when in the raised positions. Again, these are used seats, wear is expected. There's actually 4 positions for the head rests, all the way down and 3 positions higher.

    On the upside. there is more room behind the seats in all positions. Which, sort of sadly means the old Miata seat cup holder trick is no longer an option. There's also no rear storage pockets. But you can easily remove the bottom cushions for cleaning as they are simply held in place with velcro.

    Bottom cushions removed.



    Getting in and out of the car is a bit more difficult with the Nakamae seats. The only thing I would compare it to are door bars, but door bars are far, far more difficult to deal with. The Nakamaes have higher side supports which requires a bit more ingress/egress effort. but it's nothing too difficult as long as you actually fit in the seats.

    And there's the rub for larger individuals. These seats are designed for people of a slimmer frame. They are tighter in the hips than they are the waist. I'm currently a 32" waist, and feel as if I'd still fit if I was a 34" waist. But, that's likely the absolute maximum for a comfortable fit. Also, they seem to be better suited to those of a smaller stature. I'm 5'7", and have plenty of leg room with the Nakamae seats.

    Yet, all that is not to say you can't squeeze into them if you are a larger fellow. I had a friend plop his 6'2" large frame into the driver's seat. And while it is something he would never choose to do on a daily basis, he believes he could still drive my car in a pinch if need be. Nakamae does advertise being able to build them to custom dimensions, but I'm unsure just how large/wide they can go.

    None the less, they don't seem to be meant for the big and/or tall.

    So, how do they do as actual seats? In my opinion, quite well. I honestly find them to be as comfortable as stock seats as far as ride comfort. On short drives 0 extra discomfort is felt at all. On longer drives though, if you sit all the way into them, there is a bit of discomfort that comes from having some restricted side to side leg movement. But it can be alleviated if you simply slouch down and out of the seat a little. I had no problems what so ever finding a comfortable position to drive to and from Robbinsville, NC for MATG this year, a 6.5 hour trip for me each way. As far as fit, they lower you about 2". Which takes a moment to get used to, but is for the best as even with a lower sitting main hoop roll bar (such as a Harddog HT sport bar), there's no trouble passing the classic broom stick test with a helmet, compared to failing with stock seats. It also means I actually have a better line of site on the gauges. Not that I had trouble ever reading them before, but I can now clearly read the words "Fuel", "Oil", and "Water" under said gauges.

    Where the Nakamae Type R seats really shine, besides being absolutely beautiful, is in their ability hold you in place when driving aggressively. Before the Nakamae seats my confidence and focus was limited from having to brace myself as best as possible in stock seats that did nothing to hold me in place. I initially thought I was crazy for thinking that seats alone were helping me to be a better driver. But after talking to others about my experience, I'm convinced that good seats are well worth their money and are one of the 1st mods you should do if you are driving focused and want all you can from yourself and the car.

    Seriously, I have gained so much more confidence and more of my focus can be applied to actually driving. Where before I would struggle to bring the tires near their limit, and would have a bit of trepidation about doing so, I now find it far easier to do so and without being nervous about it. I feel much more connected to my car now, I find it easier to pick up on what my car is telling me and I do so quicker as well. I had no idea that these seats would do any such thing for me. And I am completely impressed that they have.

    Which, to be fair, that is likely true of any seat that actually holds you and keeps you in place. Keeps you from sliding around in the car, keeps you from having to brace yourself and lose focus towards driving.

    And what does such fantastic JDM greatness cost? Enough to make Lotus Elise seats look like an economy option. Just a single, brand new Nakamae Type R will set you back for more than a pair of Lotus seats. And that's for plain jane synthetic leather. The actual numbers? $1,200 through Rev9 for each seat. Times 2, $2,400. Leather option? $650 per seat. Times 2 $1,300. $2,400 + $1,300 = $3,900... without shipping. That also doesn't include the optional side protectors, which are $125 each... $200 each for real leather.

    Yes, a pair of brand new Nakamae Type R seats currently costs over $4,000 with all the bells and whistles. Yes, you can get seats that serve the same, even better function, of the Nakamae seats for far less than even their entry price. Actual racing seats are less expensive and come with safety ratings. But few, if any, seats are as sought after or look as good as the Nakamaes. Quality, hand made goods are rarely cheap.

    Yet, there is the other side of the coin of such high dollar hand made goods. They hold their value quite well. Used sets usually go for around $2K, non leather. What I paid was more, but was also quite the deal IMHO considering they are the real leather version. Three times now these seat, the very seats I have now, have been sold for $2,500 + shipping. Something that I like to think is both because they have held their value and that such great members of the Miata community have passed along a great deal.

    Though if you hope to someday get your hands on these very seats now, bad news, chaps, I'm not letting them go. My girl is a forever car, and even in the event that tragedy strikes her, I will rebuild or build a spiritual successor.

    The Nakamae Type R seats are, in my opinion, the crown jewel of nearly any vintage/retro/classic styled Roadster's interior. And while not for everyone (either by fit or price), they will elevate any interior they are placed in.

    TL;DR

    Quality: 10/10
    Install: 9/10
    Comfort: 8/10
    Features: 9/10
    Fit: 9/10
    Cost: 6/10
    Appearance: 10/10
    Rarity 9/10

    Overall 8.75/10

    But personally? They're a 10 out of 10.

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  3. #2
    Supporting Member JamieH's Avatar
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    To cap this off, here's installed pics.


























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  5. #3
    3,000 rpm - starting to feel the power freedomgli's Avatar
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    Congrats on acquiring these nice seats. They’re perfect for your typical Japanese size drivers who want a sporty vintage style seat for the street. Maximum waist size that comfortably fits would be around 36”. A 30”-32” waist is probably ideal.

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    6,000 rpm - mere mortals would shift HarryB's Avatar
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    Excellent review, thank you! Stating that I am jealous would be obsolete...

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  9. #5
    4,000 rpm - entering the fun zone Hyper's Avatar
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    Only a person with knowledge of these seats can understand the" Wish Factor"

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  11. #6
    Supporting Member oldgrayleather's Avatar
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    Wow, exceptional post Jamie! As a great resource for those interested thought I'd add a few things..

    When I first discovered the rabbit hole that MRnet et al provided on the incredible options there were to enhance these fantastic little cars I was stopped in my tracks when I first encountered Nakamae's Type R's. For me they captured everything special about just about every car I loved from my youth. Function and form.. and what a form. By that point I also knew my NA was a forever car so these ambitions over a lifetime of ownership made the cost consideration a little more palatable..

    Like many seat options from Japan I wasn't sure if I could actually fit. I'd been to Car Make Corns and sat in their seats but wasn't convinced they would work. I'm 6', 176lbs with a 31-32" waist. I'd connected with MadaboutMX5 and after his post of receiving his red Type R's from Japan I started questioning him about fit. Since I travel to the UK on business he'd graciously invited me to his place for a test fit. I fit. Snug, in an exceptional way. A wee bit harder to get into with a hardtop on but I fit. Besdies, my hardtop is reserved for track time.

    So last year I had a friend in Japan help me order a set directly from Nakamae-san. I opted for the synthetic leather foregoing the olfactory benefits over durability. The wait was nearly four months when EMS showed up I couldn't believe how excited I was.



    Before and After...



    I appreciate them absolutely every single time I get into the car. Every single time I drive. For me they are perfect.


    I place my seat all the way back which is ideal for reach (legs and arms). With my Blackbird fabworx SD bar the headrest has to be raised to the top position to protect my noggin as well as clear the seatbelt. Works a treat.




    Couple other observations:
    * the seats were tighter when I first got them but with some use there was some give. They fit me like a glove now. In the rare occasion I'm in the passenger seat there's a notable difference how much more snug they are.
    * I also haven't been able to figure out how to lock the headrest in position. Doesn't create any issues unless the driver seat is pulled forward and then it drops. Not the easiest to get up and down.
    * The side protectors are an investment. For an investment. Absolutely worthwhile as there's a lot of rubbing from the seatbelts.


    * I've done about 15k miles in these seats and they aren't showing any signs of wear. I don't get any more fatigue on long drives than I did with the OEM seats. Perhaps less as the forehead buffeting has stopped ;) .
    * They absolutely have given me a ton more confidence to find my limits. The confidence of knowing you'll be held in place takes away a ton of distraction.

    I'm really glad Garret passed these on to you and Betty. He'd test fit in mine but didn't actually drive so didn't realize he was too tall until he installed Randy's. Since my BRG has blown out seats and I'm local that would have been an easier option but that would have just been greedy ;). They do look absolutely perfect in Betty!

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    Supporting Member JamieH's Avatar
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    Awesome! Thanks for providing your experience, insight and pics! Really, parts like these need this kind of coverage. I wrote my review when I realized it seemed as if no had done so before and it would probably, possibly, be useful to others.

    The only thing I will likely add later tonight are images of the brackets Nakamae makes/sells to bolt NA8 seat belt receivers to the seats.

    But they're small and low quality images pulled directly from Nakamae's sight, but are the only pics I've ever seen of them. Still, I just don't think they're a wise option for safety.

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    96-BRG BRGNA8's Avatar
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    fantastic review!
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    Supporting Member JamieH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldgrayleather View Post

    Oh hey, I just noticed that the material for the seating surface of your seats is a sort of perforated material.

    Now I'm curious if that's a difference between black and tan or synthetic leather vs real leather or choice of material from then to now. Interesting.

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  19. #10
    Supporting Member JamieH's Avatar
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    Here's the pics of the NA8 belt receiver brackets.



    Like I said, small and low quality. I just don't trust the FRP to not break or have the threads get ripped out in an accident that would put excessive stress on the mounting points of the seat belt and it's receiver.

    I got as far as making a template to make my own brackets before making the realization it probably wasn't the safest option.


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  21. #11
    Supporting Member oldgrayleather's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JamieH View Post
    Oh hey, I just noticed that the material for the seating surface of your seats is a sort of perforated material.

    Now I'm curious if that's a difference between black and tan or synthetic leather vs real leather or choice of material from then to now. Interesting.
    The synthetic leather (I'm fine with calling it vinyl ;) is perforated for both Black and Tan (NA & NB) and red. It was one of the things that synched it for me too.

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  23. #12
    Supporting Member oldgrayleather's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JamieH View Post
    I wrote my review when I realized it seemed as if no had done so before and it would probably, possibly, be useful to others
    Which is precisely why this is such an amazing thread you've started! I did a ton of searching to learn about them before I bit the bullet. Feel bad I hadn't got around to sharing the level of detail I should have. Really appreciate that you got this kicked off!

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  25. #13
    Supporting Member JamieH's Avatar
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    No biggie. I've been sitting on my review for a couple of months. Was waiting to have the side protectors and quilted side step pieces for maximum pic impact.

    Which, man, the side protectors are the perfect size. Not too big, not too small, and completely cover the bolster where ingress & egress wear is going to occur.

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  27. #14
    4,000 rpm - entering the fun zone Hyper's Avatar
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    I want the black seats so bad

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  29. #15
    Admin / Pit Boss / Miataholic Phatmiata's Avatar
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    Great review Jamie !!


    So glad you got those Nakamae seats Man!! Very happy they are still here with a forum member.


    Pics of my red ones for attention.




    they are sitting in my closet right now as im not sure if im going to stay with these or the custom Lotus seats

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