One of my favorite (and most rare) mods to my 2012 Audi TTRS was the European Recaro Wingback seats (often referred to as Wingbacks, or Euro Recaros) I had imported from the UK.
These were never sold in the US, and to my knowledge I’m not aware of any other TT(RS)s rocking them.
There are several RS4s that have these installed, but those seats are slightly different which I’ll get into later in this post…
I’ve since sold these seats and sadly didn’t take as many pictures as I should have, but they found a good home in another MK2 Audi TTRS in Wisconsin so I’m sure more pictures will pop up on the internet eventually.
Euro Recaro Wingbacks 101
The biggest question you might have is why bother?
The seats are very expensive (expect to pay $4-5K for a set) and you actually lose functionality – no power anything, and usually no heated seats either – and are a pain to import and adapt to the US market.
The advantages though are several.
Weight savings is probably the biggest advantage, with these seats being a good 40 lbs lighter than the OEM seats.
Removing the power components and modules saves a ton of weight, and the seats are also engineered to be lighter from the get-go as they are a sport seat and not a comfort/luxury seat per se.
Better for performance driving is the second advantage; these are sport seats meant for racing or spirited driving.
They are much more snug in the lower area and will keep you firmly in place; for many people they may be too snug, I wear a size 33 waist and I was fine but for someone who is larger it might be too tight; however, you can be assured if you’re taking a corner at 10/10ths you won’t be sliding around like you might in the stock seats.
They also have cut-outs for a 5 point harness should you go that route.
Aesthetics & rarity is the third advantage, and a considerable one.
These seats look fantastic, and really transform the interior of the car. Even from the exterior of the car you can immediately recognize them and understand the car is something special.
With so few imported into the US, but with these seats having such a high regard of “un-obtanium” in the States, and Audi/VW fan will instantly recognize the seats and ask “Where did you get those!?!?” in envy.
While I never build my car(s) to impress others, it’s nice to have your work recognized.
So weight savings, better performance grip, and a healthy dose of the cool factor are the main reasons why people would go for these.
How to get them?
I imported mine from a seller I found through Facebook who sells and dismantles Audi/VWs in the UK. They came off an Audi S3 and he posted a handful of pictures and after a few exchanges I took the risk in buying site unseen from a stranger on FB, and made sure to send the money via PayPal with buyers protection in case things didn’t work out.
I paid 2500 GBP which works out to about $3,100 USD, which included shipping, plus an extra 4% to cover the fees as I wanted to be protected in case they were never shipped or got damaged in the process.
The seats arrived fairly quick and in the condition as advertised, so I would say this is a reputable seller if you’re in the market. You can check out his FB page here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008251991270
This seller occasionally gets new sets in, but before you buy you need to know a few things in terms of options:
Most of his sets are from Audi S3s; these wingbacks are nice because they don’t have a logo in the headrest and therefore can go in a variety of cars from VW GTIs to an Audi R8.
The only drawback is that they will NOT work on a B7 RS4 or any car where the bottom of seatbelt mounts to frame of the seat, rather than to the B pillar of the car. We test fit it on a friend’s RS4 who was originally going to buy them and although the wiring and frames all lined up great, there was no mounting point for the seat belt which is obviously a deal killer unless you’re going to a roll cage with harnesses.
Likewise there are two options from the Euro S3: 2-door and 4-door models. The sets out of the two door hatchback variant have a lever on the back of the seat to quickly fold the seat forward to allow back passengers in, whereas the four door version does not have this latch. It’s not a big deal as the four door versions still slide forward, it’s just a little more work.
If you want a version that will fit a B7 RS4 or any other cars where the seat belts mount to the base of the seat, then you’ll need to search out European RS4 Wingbacks which are equally as rare and expensive.
If you don’t want to import them, you can obviously try to find them for sale in the US. They are very rare and hard to find, but occasionally you’ll see a set pop up on Audizine or Facebook. I’ve included pricing information below.
Airbag Lights & Wiring Adaption
Okay so you’ve found a set (hard to do), paid and imported them (expensive and time consuming), and now you’re ready to install.
Not so fast, we need to change out some wiring!
The biggest challenge is the yellow plug for the airbag. They are different and you’ll need to adapt it. What my shop did was re-use the yellow plugs from the stock seats and install a tiny resistor as you can see below:
You will also need to re-use your OEM seat belts and associated wiring (black plug) and splice the corresponding wires accordingly.
Most newer cars will also have a driver position sensor on the drivers seat, which the sportbacks may or may not have. If you don’t have it, you’ll need to reuse the wiring for the black plug entirely, and bring this over. It should look like this when you remove it from your TT (or other car), where one end plugs into the seat belt, other mounts to the seat frame.
Lastly the green plug will also need some splicing, which you can see below. For the most part the wires should line up by color.
I paid someone to modify the wiring for me, and it was a $500 job, making the seats now a $3,600 investment.
How expensive are they?
I would say an average set of European Recaro Wingbacks are worth $4-5K depending on condition.
If you’re willing to import them yourself and get the wiring done, you can probably get them around what I paid, which is $3,600.
For my seats, the good news is that I was able to sell them for exactly what I had put into them, $3,600 plus shipping, so although this seems like an insanely expensive modification, it was actually “free” in the grand scheme of things.
I had originally sold them for $4K picked up, turning me a small profit, but the buyer had a B7 RS4 and they wouldn’t fit so I graciously took them back.
I’ve seen them go for as high as $7K private party in a stronger economy and market, but to sell at that price prepare to be patient.
If you don’t want to deal with the price and hassle of OEM European Recaros, the Recaro Sportster CS seats are VERY similar.
Expect to pay about $1,500 per seat for the Sportster CS, plus $135 for the brackets, and then you’ll need some custom wiring done for the airbag light…so net-net, you’re still into the seats at least $3,600 if not more all said and done, making the OEM option a great value.
Was it worth it?
Not only was I able to sell them for what I paid, but I absolutely loved having them when I did.
It wouldn’t be the first mod I did to a car, but if you’re looking to take your driving experience to the next level these absolutely will do that.
And the nice thing about seats, or any interior modification, is that you spend the majority of your time in the interior so it’s something you’ll feel and see every time you drive the car, unlike some mods which are hidden or can only be appreciated when driving flat-out.
You can even see them before you get in the car, making them a nice detail no matter what your vantage point is, and certainly a modification that takes your car from “nicely modded” to exceptionally well done and unique.
I’ve long been a fan of upgrading seats, and my B6/B7 Recaro Swap DIY remains one of my most popular blogs from when I put S4 Recaros in my A4 at the time. It was a game changer then, and it’s nice to know that even if you get a “RS” car, you can still improve and upgrade the seats and interior in a dramatic fashion.
In short, and to quote Ferris Bueller, “if you have the means, I highly suggest you pick one up.”