Distinctive Industries, known for decades for its classic Mustang and Ford interior upholstery products, offers carbon-fiber seat heaters (PN 061001, $59.97 each at Summit Racing at the time of publication) that can be installed during a new upholstery job or added to an existing interior with a minimum of fuss. The seat heater kit includes a seat back and seat bottom carbon fiber heating element, a preconfigured wiring harness, an illuminated dual position switch (high/low temperature), and mounting instructions for most vehicles. Installation requires removal of your seat upholstery but it can be handled by most home installers. If you've recovered a set of seats before and can handle basic electrical work (connecting power and ground and mounting the switch), you can handle installing your own seat heaters. A set of hog ring pliers and some replacement hog rings will be required as well.
14. Moving on to the seat bottom, the seat tracks will need to be removed in order to access the hog rings for the upholstery removal. Retract the seat track sliders fully to remove the seat track spring. Then remove the four Phillips head screws retaining the two track assemblies.
15. Like the seatback, you may not need to remove all of the hog rings to install the heating element. Unfortunately, when we pulled the upholstery back, we found a broken seat frame. A little hammer work and a quick pass with a MIG welder got it serviceable.
16. The heating element length for the seat bottom needed to be trimmed to length. Placing the heating element over the seat bottom, it was easy to determine where the element needed to be trimmed (at the listing wire under the upholstery where we’re pointing).
17. After installing the seat bottom heating element in the same manner as the seatback element we installed earlier, the upholstery can be returned to its original position. When installing the seatback adjuster stop, be sure the heating element is positioned behind the seat frame and not over it so that the two retaining screws do not damage/short the heating element.
18a. Assemble the seatback and seat bottom together, and then make a small incision in the seat bottom upholstery at the inside corner for the seatback wiring harness to pass through.
18b. This will allow you to connect it to the seat bottom harness.
19. Bolt the seat back into the car and connect the seat heater harness to the pigtail coming from the seat bottom. Some of the connectors are the same on the heating element kit, but if you take a second to verify wire color, you’ll see which connectors go with which.
20. The seat heater harness requires just two simple wire connections to your vehicle—power and ground. The power lead can be connected to a switched or constant power source. It’s your choice, but a switched source means you won’t have to worry about forgetting and leaving the heaters on. The kit includes a fuse holder with fuse pre-installed as well.
21. The last step of the installation is to determine where to mount the heater switch. As shown by this profile photo, the switch does require approximately an inch and half of depth for the switch wiring that is soldered in place.
22. The owner of this ’65 had a small homemade custom console between the front buckets that had two cup holders and a single DIN stereo. The owner wanted to install the switches into the top of the console just behind the radio. A drill bit made quick work of the required mounting holes.
23. The heater switch is retained by friction tabs on the switch body itself. Simply push the switch into the mounting hole and connect the switch pigtail to the main seat heater harness. The switch has a low (green LED) and a high (red LED) position. For console mounting like this the included switch extension harness is not needed and can be disconnected from the main harness.
24. After repeating the installation steps for the driver-side front seat, the complete installation took us about five hours, so give yourself a full afternoon for your project. One of the most time consuming portions of the project will be determining where to mount the switches. Console mounting (be it stock or a custom unit like this) is the most popular location, however, the dash or glovebox are alternatives. You can also make a small mounting plate for the switches for the bottom edge of the dash.