As a heavy (read: fat) dude, I’ve gone through a number of basic office chairs from Office Depot, which are never excessively comfortable, and tend to last only a year or so before the gas cylinder starts to wear out, the seat wobbles, and the padding is all flattened. I’ve even tried a “heavy-duty” chair designed for fat people, and it only lasted a little longer.

I started noticing that, despite the number of hours I’ve spent sitting in my car (a 1998 Subaru Outback with upwards of 230,000 miles on it), it was still pretty comfortable, even for long trips. I wondered if I could use a car seat as an office chair.

I found that a number of people had already done it with seats from a variety of cars, including a Chevy Tahoe. I decided to give this a try.

There are a couple of pick-a-part junkyards near me, with a variety of makes and models of car. I decided to spend a few hours looking around at Pick-Your-Part Sun Valley, with the following criteria for a seat:

  • Comfortable
  • Flat on the bottom for easy mounting
  • Preferably leather
  • Old enough that there are no airbags built in to the seat itself

I ended up with a front passenger-side seat from an early ’90s Saab 900. It was a little tricky to remove, as it required large Torx bits, but it met all of my requirements.

Save at least one of the original bolts from the seat so that you can buy a set of longer bolts with the same thread. You’ll also need a set of nuts, bolts, and washers to hold the seat adjuster to the bottom of the plywood.

I measured the seat base and got a piece of 5/8” plywood from a local hardware store, which they were able to cut for me to the size I had measured.

Measuring the seat base

I then measured the distance from the edges of the seat base to the location of the mounting holes and drilled.

Drilling the plywood

Bolted up to the seat to double check fitment:

Fitment check

Removed the plywood from the seat and marked and drilled the hole locations for the seat adjuster:

Seat adjuster attached

Seat and adjuster assembled:

Seat assembly

I decided to upgrade to a heavy duty gas spring, in this case because not only am I heavy, the car seat and plywood is much heavier than a typical seat. Since the assembled car seat is also much taller than a typical office chair, I went with a shorter piston, a 3.75” unit I ordered online, which ended up being the perfect height for my desk. I re-used the wheeled base from my old chair, and the new gas spring fit perfectly after I hammered the old spring out:

Base with gas spring

Fully assembled:

Fully assembled

After assembly, I hit it with a good quality leather cleaner and conditioner. Sharp-eyed readers will note the large split in the leather with the poorly color-matched patch. So far this hasn’t bothered me, but I can always take the seat to an uphostery shop to have it repaired properly if I decided it does bother me.

To do still is the round off the corners of the plywood on the front of the seat, and possibly paint the plywood.

All in all, I really like it! It’s very comfortable, and it should last a very long time.

I’d encourage anyone who’s interested to give it a try. The Saab 900 seat seems like a really solid choice for a seat, and with a little work, some measuring, and a little trial and error, I think just about anybody could build a seat like this.