Scroll Through Recaro’s Racing Seat History on the Company’s 60th Anniversary

Recaro's seats have been factory equipment in cars, stadiums, buses, boats, and more.

Recaro has done a great job establishing itself as the driving seat brand you’ve heard of if you’ve ever heard of one. Not only are Recaro seats factory equipment in many exceptional performance cars but they’re also considered high-end aftermarket options for older vehicles. As the company celebrates the 60th anniversary of its sporty automotive initiatives, it’s shared some historic milestones that are fun to revisit.

Recaro traces its origin story all the way back to 1906 when a saddler named Wilhelm Reutter started making parts for newfangled horseless carriages at a shop called Stuttgarter Carosserie- u. Radfabrik. Herr Reutter must have started hanging his own name on the sign at some point because Recaro was established in 1963 (60 years ago) “when Reuterr Carosserie became RECARO,” according to the company.

Recaro has this image on its history page and while it doesn’t specify which of these fellas is Reutter (perhaps the boss-looking one on the left?) it’s a pretty cool snapshot of the auto industry’s earliest days. Or maybe it’s a picture of the staff at a Portland coffee shop in 2018, what do you know (kidding, it’s not). Recaro

Just to make the context crystal clear, “carosserie” is “bodywork” in German and the “Re” and “Caro” are just the first bits of “Reuterr” and “Carosserie,” it’s not an acronym just a portmanteau. The company’s origins are German and it still has a major facility not far outside Stuttgart, as well as ones in Michigan and Japan.

The first real Recaro seat as we might know it today dropped in 1965, and I bet you’ll recognize its lovely shape and design as something you’ve seen in an old Porsche or BMW at a car meet. In ’67 the company released its first fully street-legal seat shell, and from there it was off to the races in both the sport and luxury scenes.

Since then Recaro has basically been everywhere your butt goes from boat seats to buses to stadiums and more recently, really expensive office chairs. I’ve sat in a few Recaro driving seats and I’ve been impressed—the company has clearly made some exceptional products. But its real triumph is in brand recognition and diversifying. A lot of the great cars that come with Recaro actually have the Recaro emblem stitched into them—same goes for a lot of its commercial applications. Thanks to that, it’s created cachet and a whole other market in keychains, and T-shirts, and those office chairs I mentioned. By the way, $1,500 is what they sting ya for the cheapest swivel chair offering right now. 

Here’s a timeline of Recaro history the company released for the anniversary:

  • 1965: World’s first retrofit seat for automobiles, featuring revolutionary foam upholstery and side bolsters (featured in the first image of this post)
  • 1967: RECARO “shell seat” is introduced as the first street-legal bucket seat
  • 1971: First RECARO safety seat concept; First vehicle seat with an integrated seat belt
  • 1974: First RECARO racing seat with a super-sturdy double shell; First RECARO professional-grade racing seat bridges the gap between a daily-driver seat and a seat for rally competition
  • 1977: First electro-pneumatic lumbar support, first adjustable side bolsters
In 1977, “RECAROfonie” (the actual name, apparently) was a seat with speakers in the headrests. Mazda messed with this idea in the ’80s and ’90s too, but I don’t think it ever became particularly widespread. Recaro
  • 1981: RECARO releases its first seat for commercial vehicles with a shock-cushioning system
  • 1984: Introduction of the CSE extra comfort seat, which was the first with memory function
  • 1989: RECARO presents the all-new “Profi Class”; later renamed Commercial Vehicle line
  • 1989: RECARO A8 is the first performance seat using a glass fiber-reinforced plastic backrest
By the late ’80s, high-end Recaro sport seats pretty much had the look we’re used to in high-end car seats today. These are the A8s from 1989. Recaro
  • 1995: RECARO Pro Racer, the first racing shell with head protection
  • 2002: Introduced first racing shell optimized for the usage of HANS (head and neck support system)
  • 2005: RECARO’s first lightweight composite shell
  • 2013: RECARO P 1300 GT, the first racing shell with fore-aft adjustment according to FIA 8862-2009
  • 2019: RECARO Podium, the first street-legal and FIA-homologated performance seat
Off-road focused sport seats that dropped in 2019: The Cross Sportster ORV and Pro Racer SPG XL ORV. Recaro
  • 2021: First seat supplier to have ergonomically engineered AGR-certified (healthier-backs) racing shell with the new RECARO Podium seat.
  • 2021: The RECARO Pro Racer XL-ORV seat is the first offroad racing seat to successfully gain certification in FIA standard 8855-1999 on January 20th, 2021. (CS.468.21)
  • 2022: The RECARO Sport C is the first fully powered Aftermarket sports seat
  • 2022: RECARO Automotive introduces the Profi XL RCF Infusion and Pole Position RCF Infusion, the first sustainability-focused FIA-certified racing shells utilizing recycled carbon fiber.
  • 2023: RECARO is diving SMART Seating Technologies to give us an app-enabled Bluetooth-connected seat along with a new lightweight composite aftermarket seat.

Recaro also released a list of OEM applications you might have seen its seats in which I thought was fun to look at, though even from a cursory reading I can see this list is incomplete. A few older Honda Type Rs are notably absent; Mitsubishi Pajero Evo had OEM Recaros, too. I did email Recaro’s PR contact to ask if there was any intention behind the exclusions and will update if they reply. Meanwhile, take a scan and let me know if you can think of anything else that ought to be on the list.

RECARO Automotive OEM Applications

  • Aston Martin Valkyrie
  • Audi R8 V10 GT Final Edition
  • Audi R8 V10 Plus
  • Audi R8 RWD Partner Edition
  • BMW M4 GT4
  • BMW M2 CS Racing
  • Cadillac ATS-V (2016)
  • Cadillac CTS-V (2015)
  • Chevrolet Camaro 1 LE
  • Chevrolet Camaro ZL (2017)  
  • Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
  • Ford Mustang Shelby GT 350
  • Ford F-150 Raptor
  • Ford Mustang Bullitt (2019)
  • INEOS Grenadier
  • KTM X-Bow GT2
  • KTM X-Bow GTX            
  • Mercedes-Benz AMG GT-R Black Series
  • Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X
  • MTM RS6
  • MTM R8
  • MTM RS3
  • Nissan Aura Nismo
  • Nissan GT-R Nismo
  • Nissan Juke-R 2.0
  • Porsche Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport
  • Porsche 935
  • Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport
  • Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport
  • Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Type 991 (2017)
  • Renault Mégane R.S.
  • Sony Vision S Concept Car
  • Subaru WRX S209 US (2019)
  • Subaru WRX STI Sport (2020)