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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sabelt Seats for the North American Fiat 500 Abarth?

Abarth 695 Competizione Sabelt seats
 Abarth 695 Competizione Sabelt seats in black leather with Alcantara® red inserts and a carbon fibre shell.  Link to larger image.

For owners of European 500 Abarths, the "Abarth Corse by Sabelt" seats are the one of the most coveted options. The Sabelt company supplies original equipment seats to the likes of Ferrari and Maserati. So it is only natural that these fantastic sport seats made their first appearance on two hundred Abarth 500s used as courtesy cars by European Ferrari dealers. They also equip the Abarth Tributo Ferrari and other special Abarth models.

Fiat 500 Abarth Venom seats
Sabelt seats in leather and carbon fiber as installed in the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth Venom concept car. Link to larger image.

Here in North American, Abarth enthusiasts are anxious to know when the seats will be available and how much. Hints were dropped that the seats will make their way from Europe when Fiat USA unveiled the 500 Abarth Venom last February. That car highlighted upcoming Abarth accessories that will be available through Fiat Studios.

Fiat 500 Abarth Venom Sabelt seats
Fiat 500 Abarth Venom seating surfaces by Katzkin. Link to larger image.

I had the good fortune of being given a personal tour of the Fiat 500 Abarth Venom by Tim Kuniskis, Head of Fiat Brand North America. Kuniskis is a real car guy, and when talking with him, you can feel the passion and enthusiasm for the Abarth name and Fiat brand. He is high energy and is a man that gets things done. While showing the car, it was quite obvious the seats were a prominent part of the Abarth Venom concept, which Kuniskis had a personal hand in. To give the Venom a different feel from the standard 500 Abarth, Kuniskis had the seats lowered for a more sports car like experience. There are clearly fans of the Sabelt seats at Fiat USA, which is promising for Abarth owners on this side of the Atlantic.

Fiat 500 Abarth Carbon Fiber Sabelt seats
The Sabelt seats in the 500 Abarth Venom feature carbon fiber seat backs. Link to larger image.

As far as pricing, the seats in Europe typically range between £1399 and £1799 ($2170 - $2790). And that is without carbon fiber trim. Add the cost of air shipment of around £600 - £1300 ($930 - $2014) and you are looking at seats not for the faint of heart or wallet. If that is not enough to dampen your mood, the European Sabelt seats do not feature side air bags. I know some are saying "who cares!", but the problem is there is no air bag bypass connector available to keep the air bag warning light from illuminating, and that kills the market for the average enthusiast.

US Fiat 500 Abarth Sabelt seat bracket
Fiat 500 Abarth Venon's Sabelt seat bracket.  Link to larger image.

All this hasn't been lost on North American Fiat Abarth aftermarket and accessories suppliers. With the real possibility of spending $3 - $5,000 on a set of Sabelts to test fit and find that they won't work in a North American car, there is a wait and see attitude on when these seats will be available through Mopar channels. Indeed, pricing is even on Fiat USA's mind as this appears to be a point of contention for them.

So at this moment, it is a waiting game on when or if the Sabelt seats will officially arrive on our shores.

US Fiat 500 Abarth Sabelt seat bracket

Still, North American Fiat 500 Abarth enthusiasts are a hearty group and a few have not been deterred from enjoying these superb seats. Right now there are enterprising individuals working on seat fitment and solving the air bag warning light issue. To help, here are a few images of the Sabelt seat brackets used on the Fiat 500 Abarth Venom.

US Fiat 500 Abarth Sabelt seat bracket
Another look ar the Abarth Venom's Sabelt seat bracket.  Link to larger image.

One of the members on the Fiat 500 USA Forum named "yul" is installing Sabelt seats into his 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth.  Follow the progress here.

US Fiat 500 Abarth Sabelt seat bracket
Close-up on the Fiat 500 Abarth Venom's seat bracket.  Link to larger image.

1 comment:

krakenacht said...

To the Fiat500 USA Forum user named "yul" who is installing Sabelt seats into his 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, I say;

"THANKS, for paving the way for the rest of us! We REALLY want these seats to work for the US market"