All car design is a compromise
The Correct Seating
The correct seating position is the manner in which you address the steering wheel is the basis of how well you will control the car, and how easily. The basic adjustable or layback seat is designed to be both a driving support to control the car and convertible to a kind of recliner chair to relax in. The common layout consists of two pads. The base pad supports your weight and the back pad supports your back. In all mechanical design there is some form of compromise. The common driving seat is a good example. The vehicle manufacturers have to accommodate for large a range of body shapes with one size product.
It doesn’t fit the large driver too well and the skinny lightweight falls all over the place. What you are left with is a “support” compromise. Support is everything in a fast car. If your body is not supported you cannot control the car at critical speeds and you are cheated of the all critical feel that a fitted seat provides. The main problem is that manufacturers produce and sell vehicles that can corner at speeds that exceed the capacity of the seat to support the torso of the driver trying to negotiate sharp bends and curves. Without dedicated side support, you have very little control over the torso which in turn controls the arms. Without a locked torso, you are both attempting to steer the car and hold yourself upright with the same tool, the steering wheel.
The only support you can call on is the left footrest in a right hand turn and the support of the right hand door in a left turn. This stresses your spine and neck causing driver fatigue and back pain. This is why racing drivers require form fitting seats. In other words the car can out perform the driver’s ability to control the vehicle from the steering aspect because the driver isn’t held securely in place. This is a result of design compromise, one size doesn’t suit all.
A dedicated driving seat
The photo opposite illustrates the prototype of an orthopedic seat designed by the author for total driver support. The high sides locked the torso in the appropriate upright position and were tailor made for the individual driver. The structure was made of high density foam that would collapse in a violent crash so as not to break the rib cage and puncture a lung. If steel or even aluminum were used at these points the resistance to collapse could seriously injure the driver.
The upper torso was cushioned between the two kidney panels and the lower lumber cushion. These three items were inflatable to allow for exceptional support in a vital area that is often neglected in conventional seating. Located above this basic area a firm shoulder panel braced the upper back to allow for the head to loll against the head wrest. This in turn allowed the neck to wrest lightly in the valley of the wrest and gave support under acceleration. Air bags were inserted under the foam panels, actuated by a blood pressure pump to maximize the total fit, fed by lines situated under the front pod.
The angled front pod supported the upper leg with softer foam towards the front allowing for the pedals to be operated without resisting the natural action of the muscles involved under the thighs when braking or operating the clutch. The exit and entry was not that hard. You had to grip the forward roof strut with your left hand and swing into the seat with the assistance of your right hand on the lower sill. This was not a seat for the impaired. However, once settled, you were securely placed in the vehicle and driving was a completely unique experience, being as it were one with the machine. This of course isn’t a practical option for every driver as disabilities aren’t taken into the design – it’s purely a performance item.
With a full harness seat belt your body became one with the machine. All forms of control were amazing and the stress of cornering, even at large roundabouts was negligible.