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Bimarco seats in the desert

Text was published in: Wyprawy 4x4 magazine -September 2007

Text and photo: Tomasz Lukasik

There are many companies producing car seats, with special consideration to racing sports. In most cases the definition of racing sport means that the driver or the driver and the pilot spend several minutes in car, in some rare cases several dozens of minutes and the whole race lasts from a couple of hours to three days. Seats with harness have to ensure safety during an accident and good hold of body when taking curves. When buying “bucket seats” we seldom think about comfort. If the race or the special stage does not last long, we can bear it even in a very uncomfortable seat – it is enough that it gives a feeling of safety and good hold of body when cornering.


A bit different criterion has to be applied when choosing seats for long-distance desert rallies. During this type of rallies the driver and the pilot spend a lot of time in seats. Rallies usually last more than one week, some of them up to three weeks and special stages take from a couple hours to more than 12 hours. Here the meaning of comfort gains a new quality. Time and distance measured in thousands of kilometres during these rallies are not everything to be taken into account – one has to remember about specific conditions of this type of rallies. Temperature that rises in the car’s cockpit up to 70 Celsius degree, ubiquitous sand that lies on seats and mixed with sweat has a tendency to scratch the skin and thousands of jumps during each stage and thousands of landings (hundreds of them are extremely hard landings, when the suspension is compressed to its maximum and the hit is transferred to the car body and to the driver and the pilot, what is particularly felt by the backbone) which probably tires cars’ suspension most, as well as people.

One has to add to it one more issue of seats fatigue – it is something that we do not usually take into account and that turns out to be very important in those conditions. Level of wear and tear of seats during one rally is very high and quite often exceeds the level of wear that seats are normally exposed to a whole season (or a couple of seasons in case of less intense usage). I think that it will be honest to say that long-distance desert rallies (just like El-Chott) are a truly extreme test for both people and equipment. We put Futura seats, manufactured by Polish company Bimarco, to such a test. During two weeks and a couple of thousands of kilometres we have exposed them to desert tortures and we have tested how well they protect the driver and the pilot and how much they “torture” people.


After coming back to Europe, the seats, as well as the entire car, was subject to thorough cleaning from sand and it turned out that they were relatively little damaged and will survive a couple more of such rallies, which is a proof of their resistance. The shells of our seats were not damaged at all, except for scratches from loose equipment elements – in spite of the fact that during the rally, especially during the landings, they took quite large forces on them and they were deforming a lot to absorb hits. What is more, the shape of the seats ensured a quite high level of comfort of travelling during the rally, ensuring great hold of body, both in cornering and in case of rapid hits, during climbing dunes and riding over rocks. We often felt, how the shells were deforming during jumps and hits, definitely lessening the force that normally hits the driver and the pilot – both during jumps, when the force hits the backbone and during rapid hits from the side. I think that elasticity/durability ratio of the shell is optimal here. Car body bindings of seats are also of a very good quality, they survived really enormous overloads and enormous forces, especially in the moment when after jump we hit with our front into side of the dune. Force of this hit was similar to the one during a serious head-on – but in “frame build cars” there are no crumple zones and the sand in such situation has hardness of concrete and we may acknowledge that the car braked from a couple of dozens kilometres/h to zero on a stretch of couple centimetres. We definitely felt four-point belts and we thanked the belts and the seats for saving our lives. All plastics went off from our car and were lying on the side of dune. It was an extreme test for seats and bindings, which they passed with distinction.

The quality of upholstery and finishing leaves nothing to be desired. After this rally, in spite of thousands of kilometres, hundreds of get-ins and get-outs and a lot more than hundred hours of usage in extreme conditions the seats still look decent.


In spite of generally positive opinion about them, the Bimarco Futura seats are not perfect. There are some elements, which in case of desert rallies should be improved, however, in case of many other racing sports it is not indispensable. It is crucial to use a different, much harder and absorbing material in upholstery, especially in lower cushions, but the rear cushion supporting back should be more absorbing. It is of especially vital importance after over thousand kilometers, when the now used material has lost its absorbing abilities. It would be advisable to use more breathing material on the cushions. All in all, I evaluate the quality and level of workmanship of Bimarco Futura seats very high and I intend to use them in future. However, I do not conceal that I am counting very much on that Bimarco company will create a special set of desert cushions. These cushions, however, are needed only in long-distance rallies.

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