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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 pièce de résistance 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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I know this is old, but... Props on a really, really great review! I'm sorta' considering pursuing a set if my current seat project doesn't pan out as planned. Hopefully, you're still around, but I'm 6'2" with a 36" waist & 34" inseam - you had mentioned that your friend who is 6'2" - he doesn't happen to be of the same stature as me?
 

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I know this is old, but... Props on a really, really great review! I'm sorta' considering pursuing a set if my current seat project doesn't pan out as planned. Hopefully, you're still around, but I'm 6'2" with a 36" waist & 34" inseam - you had mentioned that your friend who is 6'2" - he doesn't happen to be of the same stature as me?
I'm 6', 31" waist/ 31" inseam and they're very snug but I fit in mine very comfortably, almost perfect. Nakamae-san will also make a wider version but another friend who is 6'2" didn't fit well (leg room) given his height. I'd highly recommend finding a way to do a trial fit for anyone truly interested.
 
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