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Pelican Technical Article:

For Tall 911 Drivers

Peter Brownhill


2-3 hours






Needle-nose pliers, flathead screwdriver

Applicable Models:

Porsche 911 (1965-89)
Porsche 930 Turbo (1976-89)

Performance Gain:

Ability for a tall person to wear a racing helmet and race without hitting the ceiling in a sunroof-equipped 911

Complementary Modification:

Replace the stock seat with a racing seat

If you're over six feet tall, as I am, and you have tried wearing a helmet in your 911 for track days, this article may be of interest. Especially if your 911 has a sunroof, as does my 1977 red 911S.

When I first acquired the car, I did what so many taller people do- I moved the seat to the rear and raked the seat back so my head would clear the headliner. Then I moved the seat forward so my legs were comfortably bent even with the clutch fully depressed. Then I raked the seat back some more, to regain adequate headroom. The result, as most of you know, is definitely not the ideal driving position- arms almost fully extended, with no leverage below the shoulder to allow you to maintain a 3-9 o'clock positioning of the hands.

When I bought a helmet for track days, the problem was increased significantly. I tried all kinds of combinations with the seat both forward and back to try to clear the headliner with my helmet on, to no avail. The best I could do was a position where the seat was farther forward than I like and the back was raked more than it should be. My helmet touched the ceiling slightly, but I couldn't possibly drive long distances with my arms so fully extended. A better way had to be found.

I searched for racing seats--some of which would have worked--but decided not to spoil the stock appearance of the car just for a handful of track days. I considered cutting out the seat rails to lower the entire seat closer to the floor, but I didn't want to start cutting things up, only to find that the change was unacceptable. I thought about removing some of the foam padding from the seat, to lower the cushion. I even bought some new foam, thinking it would be an inexpensive experiment to try reshaping the seat cushion. I could always put things back the way they were if it didn't work.

I began the project by removing the seat and detaching the 15-20 small clips that fasten the leather to the frame. Then I removed the entire foam cushion with the leather cover intact. To my surprise, the lowest part of the cushion was already quite thin- maybe 1-1/2 inches. So making a thinner cushion was not going to solve the problem. The solution lay in changing the steel springs that support the cushion.

There are six S-shaped steel springs running front to back, joined together by small staple-like clips. Each of these springs is attached by a simple bent metal clip to the front and rear seat frame tubes. Each of the springs is bent at 90 degrees, about one inch in front of the rear tube, forming a hockey stick profile with the elbow (or heel) of the hockey stick at the lowest point under your behind. To lower the height of the seat cushion, I removed the middle four springs from the seat and straightened the hockey stick. Then I bent them back to the same hockey stick profile, at a distance of about 3 inches from the rear. When I reassembled the array of springs, I clipped the middle four together as before, but moved the clips to the outer two springs well forward towards the front the of the seat. By doing this and by not changing the outer two springs profile, I maintained and even increased the bucket shape of the seat cushion. This might be a bit more challenging for any driver who's a bit broad in the beam. The rear edge of the cushion is now at least one inch lower than before and even lower when I sit in it. Reassembly of the seat cushion was simple and fast.

I now have adequate clearance for my helmet with a much more vertical seat back. My legs are in the proper position for long-term comfort and strength on the pedals and my arms are bent strongly at the elbow, allowing me to assume the correct driving position. The best part of this modification was the price- zero! Now I can focus completely on my driving, not my physical comfort. I hope this works as well for you as it has for me.

Comments and Suggestions:
Karl Comments: Hi guys,
I moved the seat rails back as far as the little holes would go. Helped a lot but then I had trouble getting the clutch pedal all the way in and had the occasional grind. I fixed this by adding a 1 inch pad to the clutch pedal topped with thin soling material. It helped that my business is braces and artificial limbs. I had the materials. You can't see the 1 inch lift and it works great. Love the extra 1 to 1 1/2 inches of leg room. I also made my own dead pedal for the left foot out of crep soling material. Heated it and shaped it to the inside wheel well, added more and sanded flat. Comfortable and cost maybe $10 in supplies. Simply glued it in place. It's been there for about 2 years.
April 27, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
LennyG Comments: As I am 6'4" mostly legs, I was hoping to be able to relocate the factory seat tracks reward 2" or so? I am contemplating this for an 87 911 w/ pwr seats that I am considering for purchase. Please advise if this is a viable option or not. Thanks, LennyG
December 29, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you have room to move the seat backward, you could do this by custom building extensions for the mounting holes on the seat rails. - Nick at Pelican Parts Comments: Peter, Do you have any pictures to share?
Thank you.
September 12, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Bluetone Comments: IIRC, my '87 Cab had two sets of mounting holes for fore and aft seat adjustment. Removing the seats off the tracks and positioning on the back set of holes gives a lot of extra leg room, and will increase headroom as you move the seat back. I'm 6'8" and find this mod necessary. I haven't worn a helmet in a hardtop, not sure if that is in the cards for me : But I'm looking at an '85 widebody coupe that I may do this mod to, in addition to moving the seat back on the tracks.
May 30, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
cos911 Comments: I thought of that, but the leather seat cover backing is stuck to the foam on top-not sure if that is supposed to be the case or if is just age; and I didn't want to shave off the bottom as that has the hard coating that keeps the springs from imbedding into the foam.
March 28, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the Info. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
cos911 Comments: How did you get the seat foam to sag down to fill in the new gap. I did this procedure but the bottom of my 84's seat foam has a stiffener in it and it doesn't sag dow to the new spring height, despite sitting for two days with 100 lbs of weights stacked on the seat cushion. Is there a new cushion available? I'm only 6' yet my head is within a 1/4 in of the top.
March 24, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You might want to try just shaving off some of the foam... - Wayne at Pelican Parts  

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