Monday, 22 October 2012


Why is it that many of today's cars, which bear almost no relation to those built at the dawn of motoring, still share one single component; a seat covered in dead animal skin?

Don’t get me wrong, dead animals have their place; its just that covering car seats isn’t one of them.

The stuff is freezing cold in the winter, likely to give you 1st degree burns on a hot day, and is slippery all the year around. It was originally selected because cars usually didn’t have roofs, and needed a tough seat covering that would stand up to the elements. When car builders eventually realised that a roof was a good thing, we all moved on. Take a look in the back seats (where the owners' bottoms rested) of an upmarket saloon from the 1920’s and you’ll find rich fabrics; the skin was reserved for the paid help up front who drove the owner around.

I appreciate that previous attempts to find a replacements for the stuff haven’t been all that successful; the 50s gave us vinyl, and the 60’s leatherette. Those efforts simply recreated the weak points of cow skin, and removed the one good point; the nice smell. A 70’s beige velour might not have been very much better, but at least you didn’t skid across it before hitting the (vinyl) door trim when trying to engage in what passed for enthusiastic cornering in those days.

My nearest branch of Millets is crammed with racks of warm, wind and weatherproof clothing made from high tech fabrics. The motor industry is capable of building vehicles with complex hybrid drivetrains, featherweight carbon chassis, and which pretty much drive themselves.  

Surely, a seat fabric that cools or heats as required, feels good to the touch, and grips you comfortably is not beyond their ability?


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