Forget Recaro… you want ‘Scheel’


Ask most car enthusiasts where you can find a cracking set of front seats for your classic car, and they’re likely to point you firmly the direction of the iconic “Recaro”.

However study some interior-shots of a range of classic Porsches, BMW’s and Fords, and you won’t see Recaro stitched into the seat panels, but Scheel. So who are Scheel? And why were these seats to be found in so many cool 70’s cars?

A pair of “Scheel Roll Tops” from an 70’s Ford Capri!

A little bit of history…

Scheel Seats started life as “GREINER Stahlmöbel” in Germany in the 1920’s manufacturing metal components for barbers chairs. The company soon started to make a name for itself as being a designer and manufacturer of exceptional quality. It wasn’t until the 1960’s however that “Scheel” as we know it really came about. “Scheel-Schalensitze” (Scheel Bucketseats) was set up by Mr. Rolf Scheel (also a racing driver) just outside of Stuttgart in the 1960’s with the sole aim of providing top-end seats for the sports and racing car market. Mr. Scheel raced at a time where front seats were the flat “bench seat” style you see in cars of the 1950’s and before. He decided that by designing a seat that closely matched the curvature of the spine, whilst adding lateral supports with large bolsters, the racing driver would be better supported, and as a result faster. The ‘bucket seat’ as we know and love it was born!

He knew there was a better way, and he was driven to develop it

Rolf Scheel –

By the late 60’s and early 70’s Scheel Seats had forged a reputation for making exceptional racing seats. Ford, BMW and Porsche, keen to sprinkle racing-car influences into their road cars began installing Scheel’s infamous buckets into a number of their ‘special’ road-going cars.

Before long Scheel was supplying seats to manufacturers who were defining the new formula for road going sports coupes. Some of these cars are now legendary such as Alpina’s 3.0 CSL, and Ford’s Capri RS.

Scheel Roll Tops – BMW 2002ti

Scheel continued adorning ‘race inspired’ road cars for many years, right through the 70’s. Other notable cars they were installed in were the BMW 2002ti, MK2 RS Escorts, and some early Porsche 911’s. Ultimately as the late 70’s dawned many of these car manufacturers switched their allegiances to Recaro, which is the sports seat brand we all know so well today, and Scheel Seats sadly faded mostly from memory.

Where can I find a set today?

Despite the fact Scheel still makes car seats they now specialise in seats designed for comfort. Their main focus today appears to be designing the perfect seat for Orthopaedic purposes, not quite as sexy as making seats for road racers, but we’re glad the company still appears to be thriving and has carved out a new niche for itself.

What this does mean however is if you’re looking for a set of original Scheel Rolltops, Navigators or 500’s then you’re going to have to look on the usual websites such as Ebay, or get onto some BMW or Ford Forums! We’ve found that there seem to be quite a few of them on the second-hand market in Germany, so try out (and get Google Translate on) if you’re looking for a set!

Do be aware, the prices do reflect how rare, and how fantastic these seats are though – we recently saw a set sell on Ebay for over £3000!

As someone who has had both Recaro’s and now Scheel’s in my car, I can tell you there is really no comparison. You haven’t experienced a proper drivers seat until you’ve driven a car hard whilst sat in a classic Scheel Seat.

J may – racing driver / classic car owner

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