Due to a portly PO and PO's wife, both the front seats in my 96 Unlimited were broken. The drivers seat especially- a broken seat frame where it bolted to the electric seat track and a broken brace on the back frame. Previous repairs held for a little while, but the metal was so fatigued the welds were the strongest part of the seat and the metal around the weld kept tearing out. With 220k, the seat definitely has seen better days, and while the leather itself from still in decent shape, the stitching on both seats had pulled out.
Turns out I had zero luck finding XJ or WJ leather seats in decent shape. I checked three auto yards over the past 6 months looking for seats, and all of Jeeps had loose or wobbly seats. Even after opening my search to cloth seats, I still couldn't find any used seats. Long story short, I got a pair of leather bucket seats from a 2002 Dodge Durango. The drivers side maintains its power status and the passenger side is manual.
First I took the ZJ seats out and took the tracks off the seats so that I could drill out the rivets and remove the brackets that bolt the tracks to the floor of the Jeep. I reused those brackets on the Durango seat tracks. Note: to remove the Durango seat tracks, you need a long t-handle T-45 Torx bit. I had to make one by cutting up a T-45 Torx bit and using a 1/4" socket driver.
ZJ seat track: heavy, more complicated, more wirings, and broken:
Durango seat track: lighter, simpler, only a two wire operation, and all the metal is still strong (ignore the drill battery I have to hotwire the seat track)
Differences in measurements
I used some 1"8" plate steel and welded brackets on to the sliders of the Durango seat track. On the outboard side I just kept in line. The inboard side, I had to use cut the plate a few inches wide to move the floor bracket away from the transmission hump. Jeep accomplished this design feature in the seat frame with stamped steel, which IMHO is part of the reason why the seat frames tend to crack. Anyway, once that was done, I did a test fit before finish welding.
Here you can see the difference between the ZJ seat and the Durango seat. The high back is MUCH more comfortable and the newer foam is firmer.
I spent another day working the passenger side in the same way but finally got them both in the Jeep.
As far as wiring, all I had to worry about was the drivers side, so I just connected the Durango seat to the old ZJ plug and only needed to hook up a 12v power and a ground, snipping the rest after the ZJ plug. If I were to ever want to hookup ZJ seats again, I could easily. But I don't see that happening because the wife and I both agree the Durango seats are MUCH better than the ZJ seats.
1- the drivers side does need moved inboard about one inch which I will do with tabs between the seat track and the seat. The brackets are lined up fine, the seat just sits too close to the door. With the goofy door pockets on the Jeep, slamming the door makes the pocket bump the switch and after a day of getting in and out of the Jeep I need to readjust the my seat positions.
2- you will lose the memory function of the ZJ seats, but I don't miss it. Ours never worked right and wouldn't reprogram, so this actually makes with life a little easier.
3- I were particular about the seat color matching in my 96 ZJ, I noticed the color matches are better in 98 ZJs and WJs, so I would be able to swap rear seats with one of those models to match the seat color.
4- The ZJ seats are about 20 lbs heavier than the Durango seats. Not much of a weight drop in a ZJ, but its something
5- When welding on the seat tracks, keep them cool where you aren't welding at all times! I poured too much heat into the passenger side, so the tracks are very stiff now and don't want to slide. I had to reweld that entire side because of a stupid mistake, which I think is where my problem was, but still.