Main.TrailIndexPage | Interior | Seats


This component is part of Interior.


Define the component. Include, if known, the german language word for the component, as well as the English or American equivalent. Show a picture, a diagram.

  • Its technical name & common name(s)
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Describe, in general terms the function of this component. Meaning what is it there for and what role it plays. Describe how it works, the inside mechanism. Use diagrams to explain.


Describe common maintenance procedures, and common faults that may occur. Describe how these may be diagnosed and resolved. Again, include diagrams, photographs and explanations. Where possible, include measures, tolerances, weights etc.

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Seat Removal

Seat removal can be done using the hints below, but some bolts have encapsulated nuts. Once the cage no longer stops it turning you generally have to resort to some kind of violence. Try jamming something like a screw driver or small chisel between the nut and the side of the seat mount to stop it turning, but if the nut is seized on, a hacksaw blade between the runner and mount will do it.

In general access to the bolts is easiest using the hints from, as follows:

  • adjust seat position all the way to the front
  • remove rear bolts
  • adjust seat position all the way to the rear
  • slightly lift seat at the rear upwards
  • now seat can be moved further to the rear
  • now front bolts are accessible for a small ratchet

They claim 3 to 5 minutes per seat.

All four bolts that hold the seat rails to the chassis have a 10 mm head size but their thread width is not identical, the ones in the front are M8 and in the rear are M6 as shown in this schematic.

Before re-installing it helps to clean the nut threads with a M8 or M6 tap.

Seat Cushion Replacement

How To replace a seat bottom cushion. This was done on a 1971 280 SL with MB tex but these intsructions should work on any car and with leather or vinyl covering.

  • Symptom: sagging seat bottom, thin bottom, hollow center in seat bottom, bottom cushion sagging or tilting to one side. Fine red/yellow powder under a seat area from a decomposing seat bottom cushion.
  • Historic note. The original cushion insert in a 280 SL ’71 was “Rosshaarspinnerei, Gummihaar und schaumpolsterfabrik” (horsehair sprayed with a rubber material) and made by the F.S. Fehrer company of Kitzingen am Main, Germany.
  • The cushion insert is available from dealers and possibly directly from MB…there is a right and left cushion. Cost of one cushion bottom in the US in 2007 from a reputable parts supplier was about $125, if available from Mercedes price would be substantially higher.
  • Overview: the entire seat (back and bottom) must be removed from the car. The method for the left and right seat is the same but there is a left and a right cushion. These instructions are detailed but the job is quite easy to do.
  • Equipment needed: a replacement cushion for the correct side, needle nose pliers, regular pliers, assorted sockets in mm sizes, a universal socket end might help reach a partially hidden floor bolt, a few screwdrivers or other tools to pry (prise) out the “C” clips holding the seat cover. The existing “C” clips can be reused but they are available from MB or upholstery shops if needed.

The job:

  • Prepare a workplace place on a table large enough to put the seat down when it is removed from the car.
  • Open the car door. We assume no previous knowledge and someone might start doing this through the window.
  • Slide the seat unit fully to the rear. Remove the bolt at the front of each track. Slide the seat fully to the front. Remove the bolt at the rear of each track.
  • Gently but firmly lift the entire seat out of the car (watch your back).
  • Remove the chrome covers on both sides of the back adjustment mechanism. Cover is held on by tension from a small plastic clip inside the cover. A little gently pulling, prying etc, should get the covers to pop off.
  • A large bolt will be exposed along the side of the seat holding the seat back to the bottom. Remove this bolt. Repeat on the other side of that seat. The bolt has a spring washer under the head and a spacer which goes between the back mechanism and the seat side. Put these in a bag.
  • Remove the seat back from the bottom and remove it from the work area.
  • Turn the seat bottom over so the underside is showing. Be prepared for a shower of very fine red or yellow powder from the decayed seat cushion.
  • Three bolts hold each track to the seat. The two end bolts are accessed by sliding the track back then forward. To access the center bolt, slide the track part way until the bolt can be seen through the center access hole. Remove the center bolt. Store the bolts and lock washers.
  • Remove the tracks from the bottom. Note how the seat position adjustment rod is seated under the outer track. The bottom of this rod may be taped to the frame with double sided tape. If the rod is removed carefully, the tape can be preserved. OK if the tape is missing or not replaced.
  • The rear of the seat cover is held to the springs of the frame by “C” clips (the original clips are copper). The clips are pushed through the seat cover, passed under a spring coil then closed around the spring coil. There are several clips in each hole. The clips also pass through the muslin (thin cotton cloth) covering the back of the cushion.
  • Carefully remove the C clips. Try to remember the approximate location of these clips although exact duplication is not necessary when installing the new cushion. Save the clips, they will be re-used. Try not to rip the muslin too much. It will be reused since it is part of the seat cover not the cushion.
  • After all clips are out, observe how the sides and front of the seat cover are wedged into a thin track (slot) in the frame. The cover is attached to cardboard edging. The edge pieces fit down into the track avoiding the need for clips on the front and sides.
  • Carefully pull the seat cover out of the side and front frame slots. Go slow, takes some easy pulling but it will eventually come free of the frame.
  • Now the seat cover can be removed from the frame. Careful when removing the cover from around the sides of the frame.
  • Put the useless cushion in the garbage pile. (Historians can save the original manufacturer label for posterity.)
  • Vacuum the inside of the seat cover to remove the fine powder from the decayed cushion. When you think its clean, turn the cover over and shake out the rest of the stuff, there is more in there.
  • Now you are ready to install the new cushion. Position the new cushion on top of the coil frame (make sure it’s the correct cushion for the passenger or driver side). Slide the frame and cushion into the seat cover.
  • [A note here: for a slightly higher seat bottom and to protect the cushion from wear by the frame, a piece of thin carpet can be cut to fit over the top of the frame and placed under the cushion. Also, for a softer feel, a piece of fiberglass batting can be cut and put over the top and sides of the cushion between the cushion and the cover. The cover fits nicely with both the carpet and the batting installed. These are options and not originally installed.]
  • We continue with the cover in place over the frame and cushion. Fit the hole in the cover over the protruding hardware on the sides of the seat. Adjust the cover for a good fit top and bottom. Carefully put the pieces of cardboard along the sides and front of the cover into the frame slots. Now only the back of the seat cover should be loose.
  • Use the “C” clips to attach the cover back to the frame. The clips can be put into the same holes and passed under a nearby coil. Close each clip with needlenose pliers to form a closed circle with the sharp ends away from the cover. The clips continue around the side toward the front. Some of the side clips go directly into the cushion and around the frame.
  • The cover should fit tightly, wrinkle free, and centered on the cushion and frame.
  • Replace the track hardware on the bottom of the seat bottom. Make sure the adjuster track and handle are on the door side of the seat. Installation is reverse of removal.
  • Install the seat back to the seat bottom. Chrome Cover: make sure the white plastic clip that holds the cover is in place. Also, verify that the spring holding the three adjuster teeth against the sprocket tab is in place. The plastic clip and the spring are missing on some cars.
  • Hook the tab at the top of the chrome cover tab to the top of the side hardware then push the cover against the seat side. If the plastic holding clip is missing, use double sided tape to hold the cover in place.
  • Install the seat into the car. Slide the seat front and back to access the track bolt holes. If partially hidden, try a universal end for the socket.
  • Sit on the seat and smile.

Seat Cushion Improvement

Sagging seat cushions can be improved for little cost, using a combination of

  • Pool Noodles
  • Cable Ties
  • Carpet Pieces

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Has anyone replaced the "stuffing" in the seat bottoms. Mine is very squishy. Are the SL seats the same as the sedans of the same era? The seat upholstery is in excellent condition. I think the seats were recently recovered. Are the covers easily removed and swapped with new guts?

I recently recovered my seats. The seat bottom is a set of springs covered by a molded horse hair cushion. The cushion is fairly stiff but the springs tend to be squishy. Maybe a new spring bottom would help eliminate the squishiness.

Does anyone have any experience with replacing MB Tex covers? I have been told by various sources that the covers on the market today are really just normal vinyl and not the 'industrial strength' of original MB Tex.

I have a 1969 280 SL with black MB tex interior. The seat covers are worn but presentable. Is it advisable to replace the worn MB tex with aftermarket leather? Does the aftermarket leather look as good as the original leather did? If so, which supplier has the best quality? Also, are there any sources of original MB leather? My personal preference is to install the leather, but I don't want to spoil the collectability of the car. The rest of the car is in near-mint original condition.

I would like to have the passenger seat on my 230 SL re-upholstered. What is involved in separating the back rest from the seat? Can you buy the carpet for the back of the back rest? Can you buy only the cover for the back? Where would you buy the back cover?

Start by looking on Ebay. There are often used SL seat covers up for auction. Your question begs another question. You want to replace only part of a seat covering, so it should be asked if the current seat covers are original. Also, do you care about originality? If they are original, it makes the task of covering just the back more difficult since the MB Tex on the 230SL was unique and is not being reproduced today. Most 230 SL people in the market for new seat covers either opt to upgrade to leather or go for 280 SL style tex. In any event, talk to GAHH in California. They're on the web at, I believe,

While it is true that original 230 SL MB Tex seat covers are difficult to find, the swatches that GAHH sent me were absolutely identical to the originals in my car. Has anyone else on the list had any experience with GAHH and 230 SL MB Tex covers?

Start by taking the seat out. Pry the chrome pieces off where the seat back swivels, there should be plastic tabs along the bottom edge that hold it on. You will see the see a large allen screw on each side which will separate the back from the seat bottom. At the bottom back of the back rest is a screw. Take that out and the back will slide down and out. You don't need to buy a new back, you can cut one from very thin plywood (1/16") and then put new carpet on it. The problem with doing just one part obviously is that it will look different from the rest of the car. I would do both seats at the same time so at least they will look the same. And if you do that I would do the entire interior (including dash and carpets) to make it look all the same. I bought an interior kit from Ron's Restoration in Atlanta. They supply everything.

Has anyone sucessfully used leather dye on worn upholstery. I have several places i.e. under the ignition (from keys), edges of arm rests and dash under the glove box where the blue color seems to have worn off. The leather seems in good shape but natural leather color is showing. What products are available and how do you get exact color match?

Achim says: Leather restoration is a tough topic. Most home restorators are afraid of it. Leather dyes are available from many suppliers. You can get the original colors (or replacements for them - I believe that dark blue's color code is 5A98) from Mercedes-Benz. A pint is approx. $20.00 - 25.00. Another good source is especially if you need other things too. Color match is probably the toughest question, especially with light interior colors. Either trial-and-error or get professional help from a leather restoration shop.

Were headrests offered on a 230SL in 1965 (in Europe)? My car has them, but as the leather is not quite the same color as the seats, I suspect they were added later, when the car came to the US in 1975. I'm going to be redoing the seats, and wonder if I should leave off the headrests in the interest of authenticity?

230s COULD have headrests (I've seen a couple of them) but they were a very rarely asked for option in an era of "happy" motoring and low safety consciousness. It's very likely yours are from a later model/car. Anyway, checking your datacard you should be able to see if your car was originally fitted with them.

I had the complete leather and carpets redone 2 years ago, and while trying to look as period as possible, I retro-fitted headrest to inmprove passive safety. I do think that any restoration has to do with authenticity, but it does also have to do with what you are going to do with the car. If I ever go to a concourse I know I will not win. But I feel I am better off as a frequent driver (almost daily). If I knew of any reasonable way to install ABS to this car I would consider it. IMHO, if I took my decisions thinking only on the day I may sell it, or on what will other people think of it, then I would not enjoy it half as much as I am doing. Therefore my 2 cents are do what your heart tells you,... or even what your wife likes best.

You make an excellent point. Some people only enjoy seeing these cars returned to the day they rolled off the assembly line. That's fine if it is your enjoyment and you have the time and money. But for those who use their cars to drive around on a frequent basis might choose to deviate from the purist approach in the interest of comfort, convenience or safety. When I was restoring the interior of my 280sl I decided to remove those ugly little stereo speakers that were factory installed in the lower front side panels. I purchased some fantastic sounding speakers that I mounted on the same panels but further towards the front of the car. The result was fantastic sound from my becker europa, a cleaner look, and more foot clearance. I also pulled out the A/C at the same time because I considered it ugly and it interfered with some of the passenger leg room. I agree with you, have fun with your car in the way that suites you, and go with your heart.

My drivers seat cushion has a lean towards the door.

You probably have some broken springs in the seat. I had to fix mine with the same problem. It can be done by yourself. A comfortable butt makes for a much better ride. Let me know if I can help you with the fix later on.

You can replace the springs and probably the seat stuffing.

Cees: when I bought my car the driver's seat back was not very "stable" - the right side would move backwards with a little pressure and I found myself sitting crooked as a result, which was pretty uncomfortable. I took the chrome covers off one day, to find that the right gear assembly (that tilts the seatback when turning the black knob) had slipped out of position. I moved it back and, problem solved. It did make me wonder just how long the previous owner had put up with the slightly crooked seat back.

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