Installing the 12-way (AL7 option code) Bonneville Bucket Seats

Advantages: More supportive, comfortable and sporty looking seats that are a perfect match for the interior of the Impala SS. Lumbar supports and adjustable side bolsters do wonders for your back on those long trips. Allows you to store the stock seats for future value.

Disadvantages: These seats can be hard to find and locator services usually charge an arm and a leg for a set in good condition. The 12-way seats themselves are heavier (36# right and 35# left) than the stock Impala (29# each side). You lose the SS stitching in the headrest.

Parts Required: The '93 - '95 Bonneville SSE and SSEi offered virtually identical seats in leather, with gray or beige being the only color options. The option code is AL7. For all three model years the gray leather is a perfect match to the Impala SS interior. You will need the seats, the inter-seat wiring harness and the switch pod from the center console. It is also helpful to obtain photocopies of the seat wiring schematics from the proper Bonneville model year factory service manual. Here are the part numbers for the black door inserts to eliminate the stock seat switches:

Description Part Number List Net
Drivers panel asm 10178761 $87.72 $56.10
Passenger panel asm 10099094 $34.40 $22.00

Tools Required: 13mm socket, drill with 5/16" bit, soldering iron.

Procedure: This swap takes several hours. First, I recommend laying out the Bonneville seats, switch pod and wiring harness on the floor. If your harness is the same as the two I have seen, you can unwrap it and remove most of the wires that are not connected to the seats. This both reduces the bulk of the harness and makes it easier to verify the routing of the wires. Supply 12 volts to the orange (or orange and black) wires going to both sides of the harness (3 wires total), and to the small gray wire going to the switch pod connector (switch pod illuminator). Oddly enough, the color schemes on the wires from the '93 and '95 Bonny seats were slightly different. Here is where photocopies of the appropriate Bonny FSM will be invaluable. Mate all the connectors and air hoses and verify the proper operation of the seats.

Next, take the stock seats out. Having done it both ways, I found it easier to first remove the seats from the floor rails, then remove the floor rails (this is contrary to the procedure outlined in the FSM). Raise and tilt the front all the way up to get remove the front ones, and then raise the rear to get the back ones. Recline seat back all the way back and have someone help you remove through the rear door. Then remove the floor rails by unscrewing the trim pieces and unbolting them from the floor. Measure the distance between the bolt holes and mark and drill the new holes in the top of the Impala floor rails. Drill a 5/16" hole in each corner, 5/8" (center-to-center) next to each existing hole. This will make the new holes 1-1/4" closer to each other side-to-side, compared with stock. The front-to-back distance was the same on the Bonneville and the SS. Make sure you check that these match up with the bonny seats before proceeding.

Install the wiring harness. This is properly done by peeling back the carpet after removal of the seats and center console. Unplug the fuse for the power seats. Lay out the harness and solder the orange or orange/black wires onto the power line (also orange/black) leading to the door switches near the hood release lever and connect all the black wires to a solid ground. The Bonny seats have an extra motor and the air bladder pump/distribution attached directly to the seats, so the motor harness needs to be swapped from the Bonneville floor rails to the Impala floor rails.

Re-lay the carpet and bring the connectors through the original holes. Then bolt the modified Impala floor rails to the floor, but don't fully tighten them down yet. Tuck the original seat connectors under the carpet. Set the Bonneville seats onto the floor rails, make all the electrical connections, reinstall the fuse and test the operation of the seats. The gray wire in the bonny harness is for the lighting the switchpod. You can tap off of the gray wire that lights the shift indicator (if installing in a '96 Impala). Once you have verified correct operation, bolt the seats to the floor rails and tighten down the floor rails. Before you reinstall the console, decide where you want to put the switch pod (see below)

The seats come with a 9 button switch pad, comprised of 9 two-way toggle buttons and associated switches, some red LEDs to illuminate the L/R seat selector and mini bulbs with orange condoms with light pipes to illuminate the buttons. I had originally put the switch pod in the console bin. It fits in there nicely and a 1" hole in the front of the bin allows for the switch pod connectors to pass into the open space behind the shifter. This location works for any model year Impala. I had it that way for about a half a day, until I saw what Scott Knight had done. He had the cajones to take a die grinder to his console insert and install the swithes just forward of the shifter (of course this location only works for Impala's with floor shifters). It looked so good, that I immediately got to work on my own console. The location is perfect and after about 8 hours of cutting, gluing, filling, sanding and painting with black wrinkle paint, it looks like the factory put them there (Notice Ed Runnions's great Caddy Shifter Mod too!) [Picture of the modified insert] [Picture of the switches in the console] While I was at it, I filled the depression in the rear of the console insert with bondo and relocated the impala emblem there.

Of course, this renders the stock seat switches useless and I wanted to eliminate these from the door. I started looking for gray switch inserts with window but no seat switches but unfortunately, GM only made gray door inserts for the Impala and the manual drivers side seat was not available on the Impala. Dal Slabaugh at Lambert Buick looked into this for me and was only able to find woodgrained inserts that had the requisite window switches w/o seat controls. At one of the 1998 MISSL meetings, I was checking out Steve Walker's very nice slammed and shaved '91 Caprice and behold! black inserts that looked like they would do. I called Dal and the bloodhound in him got to work. Shortly thereafter, I came home from work and sitting on my doorstep was the exact set-up I needed! The drivers side panel has four switches, one for each window (and no lock-out switch) and the passenger side has a single switch. I went straight to the garage and put them in. I think they look better than the gray myself.

Another alternative to the above is to install separate two-position toggle switches to control the functions that the door switches don't (three for the lumbar, one for the side bolsters and one for the recline). These could be placed on the side of the console or anywhere convienent. You are on your own for the wiring on this one, however .

Back to Bonnville Seat HQ | Send and email to Mike | Return to Mike's Impala Obsession