A couple of months ago, the lever on my car’s front passenger seat that enables it to tip forward and give access to the rear seat stopped working. After being told (incorrectly) that the seat frame was broken and that it would cost thousands of dollars to replace, I took the car to Eastside Bavarian. They reported that a small rivet was broken and could be replaced relatively inexpensively – there’s no such thing as an inexpensive part on this car – albeit with significant labor costs due to the need to disassemble and reassemble the seat to perform the repair.
Because they had removed the seat from the car in order to work on it and we needed to wait for replacement parts to arrive in order to complete the repair, they asked if I’d be willing to drive the car with the front passenger seat removed. I’d give up one person’s worth of seating capacity and have to ignore the airbag warning light, but I’d save the cost of reassembling and reinstalling the seat (and the cost of disassembling and removing it a second time once the parts arrived). Sure, I said.
So for a couple of weeks I drove a three-seat automobile. Sadly, it didn’t acquire the performance characteristics of the world’s most famous three-seat sports car (top left), though losing 80 pounds of curb weight didn’t hurt. And the decision turned to be prescient because it was surprisingly difficult to locate the replacement part, complicated by the fact that the part does not have its own separate part number. Twice BMW has shipped the part to Eastside Bavarian, only for them to discover that it’s the part for the driver seat, not the front passenger seat. Eventually they concluded that the necessary part could not be located in the United States and there was no way to directly contact the people in Germany who would be able to supply it. Their recourse was to repair the original part.
I ended up enjoying driving without the front passenger seat. It made rear-seat access far easier and provided legroom for one passenger superior to anything smaller than a stretch limo. I’m happy now that the seat is finally repaired but I had mixed feelings about putting it back in.
[Updated 25-June-2015: Reduced image size for improved viewing.]