Tartan interiors have made quite a comeback lately, particularly the yellow-and-black pattern in the new Lotus Exige Sport 350, and of course the brown tartan seats in the sold-out Porsche 911 R limited to 911 examples worldwide. Last year, an actual real life Scotsman took delivery of a Pagani Huayra with plaid seats, too, and Fiat’s also been offering them in the 500. But to be fair, perhaps tartan never really left anywhere because Volkswagen has been wrapping its GTI seats in the stuff for 40 years. Anyway, we love tartan, so we decided to sit around and scratch our heads wondering about all things wooly and chequered. These are the Top 10 tartan interiors we came up with, apart from those we just mentioned…
The psychedelic ‘Pasha’ interior design is one of the most iconic in car history, but during the Porsche 911 G series era Zuffenhausen also offered a host of tartan materials for the seats that became synonymous with 911.
Original tartan interiors in first-generation Lotus Esprit S1 models are very rare to see these days as many have been restored and retrimmed in non OEM materials, plus Hethel only offered the style in S1 cars.
For ultimate Eighties excess you had to take the tuning route with wild wide body kits from companies such as Koenig, famous for outlandish Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Mercedes-Benzes — this Koenig S-Class came with snakeskin leather and the most fantastic carpet of all time.
Mercedes’ incredible W196 racecar won both championships it competed in and was victorious in nine out of 12 races piloted by Juan-Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss in 1954 and 1955. In sporting tradition the car had beautiful plaid seats, which carried over to the related 300 SL Gullwing road car — in 2005 Mercedes commemorated the iconic seats with the same pattern in the McLaren SLR Stirling Moss limited to 75 examples.
Dodge actually offered tartan, sorry, plaid seats in Challenge R/Ts back in 1971 with the iconic muscle car, but in 1979 when the very un-muscly second-generation model came out it took things up a level for the cabin with a standard-equipment cloth and vinyl interior…
Even though it was a bit of a disaster in wedge design, the Trump TR7 produced by the failed British Leyland Corporation from 1975 to 1981 did score some cool points thanks to an interior that came with the option of three tartan colours: yellow, red, and green.
The Capri was Europe’s own muscle car even if Europe never did officially get the V8 version everyone yearned for — the MkIII Capri, however, at least got tartan seats and that always counts for something… (Useless trivia time: There were about 400 V8-engined Capri Peranas built for the South African market as racing homologation special, and only a few remain today.)
Even though it came with some of the cushiest and coolest looking seats ever put in a compact, nothing could save the ill-fated Pinto from its, um, ill fate, thanks to a design flaw that had the fuel tank located right at the back of the car, causing it to explode after a bumper bashing…
Mini Tartan Edition
Just for the Japanese market, in 1995 Mini did a special Tartan Edition model based on the classic Mini design, featuring a 1.3-litre four-pot, three exterior colour choices, and a blue tartan interior with red seat belts.
Chrysler Town & Country
Back in the Forties, the Chrysler Town & Country was quite a stately, expensive and luxurious car, and you could even order it in a two-door convertible body style with wood panelling. It wasn’t until 1989 when Chrysler first used the classic name to tack it on to the back of a minivan… Anyway, folk back in the day knew how to roll around in style because the original Town & Country had some funky red and blue stitching on the door panels and seats.