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Scheel Mann Vario XL seats in the Equipt 200 Series Land Cruiser

Equipt

Supporting Sponsor Presenting Sponsor of Overland
Scheel Mann Vario XL seats in the Equipt 200 Series Land Cruiser

If you haven’t met before, I’m a big guy. If you have, you know. 6’4”, wandering around 250lbs. I honestly don’t fit in many vehicles. Luckily, I do fit in a 200 Series Land Cruiser. I love everything about it. Well, almost. The seating in these trucks is pretty nice. Leather surfaces, heating and cooling, and lots of electrical adjustments. Pretty cushy, unless you are 6’4”, weight an eighth of a ton, and are known for 1,000 mile driving days. Oh, and getting old…. Quickly.

I’ve stared in jealousy at the fancy seats you see in the high end luxury and sports cars for decades. Recaros and others were fun to sit in at shows like SEMA. I first saw Scheel Mann seats at a show in Germany called Abenteuer & Allrad, back in 2010, and they were impressive. The quality was incredible, the legacy was impressive, and they made an extra large version. The fact that a pair of Scheel Mann seats cost more than my first half dozen vehicles, and were not available in the US were a couple hurdles that would take a while to overcome.

Jump forward a half dozen years, and I run into the Scheel Mann booth at SEMA in I believe it was 2016 and meet Toby Pond. Toby and I have conversed over the past few years, crossing paths at Expos and the like. A terrific guy, for sure. Then I read articles about Scheel Mann seats by a couple friends of mine, Chris Cordes and Bryon Dorr. Two more great guys that share something with me. Back pain. Not fun at all, if you suffer from it. Long drives are torture. I talked to both of them and they agree that the Scheel Mann seats really do help mitigate a lot of the shortcomings that stock vehicle seats have. “They’re worth it!”, replied both. Well, that was enough to push me over that tipping point.

I reached out to Toby, and explained my desire to get a set of seats for my 200 Series. After chatting for a bit, we figured out that getting the seats was going to be the easy part. We discussed the options available, and ordered up a set of Vario XL seats in black leather with heat. Those take a while to make, but that is fine. We had other things to work on.

It turns out that as far as we could find, there isn’t a viable commercial solution for a seat base that adapts the mounting points of the 200 Series to any aftermarket seats. Everything I looked at were custom one-off projects. So Toby introduced me to Jeff Reiss of Planted Technologies. Planet Technologies, of Kirkland Washington, is a division of 425 Motorsports that specializes in aftermarket seat bases for vehicles. Most vehicles are unique, when it comes to the mounting of a seat to their body. Heights and angles, lengths and widths, all vary just a bit. They have an extensive array of seat bases for vehicles of all sorts, but nothing for a 200. After a few conversations, I was off to Kirkland to use the Equipt 200 as the template for creating a seat base for passenger and driver seats. These guys were great as well. A few hours of removing/measuring/templating a couple bases, I was on my way back home in Utah. Just a 1600 mile round trip. No biggie. A few weeks later, my seat bases show up all nice and pretty. A few weeks later, the seats show up. Cool!

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So this is where the real fun starts. Taking the front seats out of the truck was not too bad. There are 4 bolts to undo, and a couple sets of wire connectors. I had removed the second row of seats for Goose Gear cabinetry a couple years ago, and had become used to the airbag light in my dash. Installation of the Planted bases was straightforward. They mounted right up to the OEM locations. The Scheel Mann seats come with a few things to bolt together. All in all, not bad either. After I installed the seats, I found I had a bit of a tilt in the driver side seat. I found that the base was about ⅜” low on the outer side. That was solved with a piece of ⅜”x1” aluminum flat stock, painted black, used as a spacer. It leveled the seat right up.

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The seats are heated, so we needed to source a circuit for each of them. The OEM switches had more wires to them than I wanted to deal with, so we located new switches (included) in the center dash area. I used a couple Add-a-Fuse links, one for each side, inline on a couple ignition circuits. If we decide to reverse the install, I can purchase a couple new dash panels, and we’ll be back to stock.

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The really big hole in this seat swap plan is the air bag system to get sorted out. I would really like to get this part of it back up to snuff. There are a few comments out there on the interweb about 2 ohm resisters in the second row seat air bag connections to clear the issue there. The real trick here is the passenger seat. There is a pressure pad built into the base of the OEM seat that detects weight, and activates the passenger airbag system based off that sensor. I haven't found a solution for this yet. So if there is anyone out there with some suggestions, please let me know.

I have had the seats in my truck for roughly 7 months now, and absolutely love them. I can extend the base to properly support my legs. The back of the seat is the same height as my back. The headrest supports my head instead of my neck. The lumbar is adjustable, not only in and out, but up and down too. The quality is spot on. It definitely is an investment. But I don’t plan on selling this vehicle any time soon. It’s a decade truck for me, so it was well worth it. I thought some of you out there might be interested to see this set up for yourselves.

Thanks
 

1leglance

2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
Hey Paul,
You know my busted back and 1 leg have always made the highway part of travel worse than the offroad.
The Scheel Mann seats in my van have made a huge life changing difference. They will be the seats that go into every rig in the future.
Glad you are also loving yours.
 

MOAK

Adventurer
Nice write up, thanks. I’ve been reading about these seats for a number of years and have yet to read a single negative review. I’m still a bit shy about getting them for my 450. Our seats were rebuilt 10 years and 160,000 miles ago and still in great shape. I’ve no back problems whatsoever, however my wife has serious C-3 and C-4 issues ( annual RFAs.) She’s good for about 7 hours a day, riding. Will these seats enable her to lengthen her day? I’d hate to drop that kind of coin, and for her to experience zero relief. Thanks
 

Equipt

Supporting Sponsor Presenting Sponsor of Overland
Nice write up, thanks. I’ve been reading about these seats for a number of years and have yet to read a single negative review. I’m still a bit shy about getting them for my 450. Our seats were rebuilt 10 years and 160,000 miles ago and still in great shape. I’ve no back problems whatsoever, however my wife has serious C-3 and C-4 issues ( annual RFAs.) She’s good for about 7 hours a day, riding. Will these seats enable her to lengthen her day? I’d hate to drop that kind of coin, and for her to experience zero relief. Thanks

I can completely understand this concern. 7 hours is a pretty good day in any seat. I wouldn't be able to guarantee this for you, but I would think it would help. There is a lot of adjustment in these seats, and there are several models to choose from. I do know that they are stiffer than the OEM seats for sure. More support. Kind of like going from a standard bed to a firm bed. I'd hate for you to come back at me and say "@#$%% Paul! You said this would help!" It works for me though.
 

T-Willy

Well-known member
Great write-up. Beautiful seats, but I'm pretty sure they could use some competition. It'd be great to see some other makers come in with high quality, higher value options.
 
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