Story and Photos by Mercedes Lilienthal

Heated to Perfection: Scheel-Mann Orthopedic Seats

Scheel-Mann Vario F seat backs

After commandeering our 1991 Mitsubishi Pajero over 5,120 miles of snow and ice, with temps dipping to -40 during last month’s Alcan 5000 Rally, we realized we were sitting on gold—by that, I mean our German-made orthopedic Scheel-Mann Vario F seats. Gone are the days of occupant fatigue and cranky demeanors. Scheel-Mann seats are fully adjustable to suit a multitude of body types. We put them to the test as we rallied in the Arctic.

Orthopedic Goodness

Our Vario F heated seats offer up two heat settings for full-seat heating capability, plus they’re 10-way adjustable. The headrest can tilt toward you, the bottom seat cushion adjusts in and out to accommodate various thigh lengths, and the upper bolsters support the sides of torsos, adjusting in and out for a customized fit.

Scheel-Mann Vario F heated seats

Scheel-Mann Vario F heated seats.

Additionally, Vario F seats allow for four-way lumbar support—perfect for keeping our backs in a secure and comfortable position for thousands of Arctic snow- and ice-covered miles.

The lumbar feature boasts the opportunity to change the intensity of the support, as well as fine-tuning the height of where occupants prefer it. Different than other Scheel-Mann models, the Vario F has smaller side bolsters on the bottom cushion, allowing us to get in and out of our lifted Pajero easily. This bodes well for other customized off-roaders, too.

Custom Coverings

Scheel-Mann seats can be customized with a colorful array of leather, leatherette, and fabric options; we opted for their stock black-on-black upholstery alternative. Our Vario F seats are impeccably made, from their mechanics to their stitching—Scheel-Mann produces top-quality goods, and it shows.

Scheel-Mann Vario F seat backs

Scheel-Mann Vario F seat backs.

Our black leatherette and checkerboard fabrics are easy to clean and have held up well to our snack-eating habits. Chocolate, cracker crumbs, and even cheese bits didn’t stain our seats. A quick clean and blot, they’re good as new.


Our seats easily installed atop custom seat bottom brackets. Whereas most applications include stock seat brackets that can be purchased through the U.S. distributor Toby Pond (for vehicles like Sprinters, Land Rover Defenders, Ford Transits, Ford E-series, G-Wagens, Range Rover Classics, and Dodge Promasters), our unique righthand-drive Pajero had to have custom seat brackets made for it before our seats went in. A shop in the Seattle area measured the Pajero, mocked up the prototypes, and made the final set. They were constructed by Planted, although another provider, Wedge Brackets, can also supply Scheel-Mann seat brackets for installation.

Custom seat bracket

Custom seat bracket.

After our brackets arrived, we met up with Toby and installed our seats in a few short hours. We took out the worn-out stock seats, installed the seat brackets, then the seats, and finally hooked up their heating elements via simple three-way switches. Off, low, and high settings allow each occupant customized comfort.

Stock Pajero seats

Stock Pajero seats.

Stock Pajero seat out

Stock Pajero seat out.

(Note: Scheel-Mann aftermarket seats do not have integrated side impact airbags.)


  • Fully adjustable: seat back, bottom cushion, and headrest
  • Robust lumbar support system
  • Solid heating ability and easy-to-use switches
  • Superior construction quality
  • Seat upholstery options (cloth, leatherette, leather)
  • Easy to clean/maintain


  • Expensive (but better investment than potential physical therapy)
  • Door-side seat adjustments hard to use (seats are wider than Pajero stock seats)
  • Sliding seat adjustment could be easier


Heated seat switch

Scheel-Mann Vario F heated seat switch.

Scheel-Mann seat adjustments

Scheel-Mann seat adjustments.


Scheel-Mann seats aren’t just for newer off-road or rally rigs—plenty of seasoned runabouts boast these orthopedic wonders. Scheel-Mann seats have been installed in older 4x4s: Broncos, Scouts, Excursions, F-250s, Dodge trucks, various Land Cruisers (like the 40, 60, 70, and 80 models), FJ Cruisers, and even Tacomas. If your rig isn’t on this list, contact Toby at Scheel-Mann. We did, and made it work for our Pajero.


Scheel-Mann Vario F seats

Scheel-Mann Vario Fs during Alcan 5000 Rally.

After using our Vario F seats for the severe-weather Arctic road rally, never once did we experience body discomfort or fatigue. We’d happily buy another set of these for our other Pajero versus pay for hours of potential physical therapy. Our road rally seat time averaged approximately 13 hours per day for 10 days straight. These Scheel-Mann Vario F seats saved our butts—literally.


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