The soft trim of an interior gets more than its share of abuse throughout a car’s life. It is also an area where most owners can do the restoration work needed themselves. We wanted to re-new the interior in our 64 Corvette Coupe project car so we called the good people at Zip Corvette Parts, 8067 Fast Lane, Mechanicsville, VA 23111, (800) 962-9632. With their experience, they were able to guide us in finding just the items we needed. Follow along as we restore the interior in our 64 Corvette Coupe project car.
01: One of the easiest items to replace is the headliner. First remove the visors and mirror bracket. Then remove the upper windshield garnish moulding and windshield pillar mouldings. Now remove the roofrail mouldings and also the two rear roof panel to roof rail moulding screws. Now remove the compelte old headliner. Glue some type of ½” insulation to the roof and slide the new headliner into place. You will find it is a perfect fit.
02: With the items we received, we got the Interior Screw Kit. This gave us all of the correct interior screws we needed. They were all marked with their location which made installation a snap. We also got new visors and pivots to complement our new headliner.
03: Before the headliner and visors are installed, it is a good idea to refinish the windshield and roofrail mouldings while they are out of the car. This way everything will look new when they are re-installed. Here is what the finished product looks like.
04: To install the carpet you are going to need one of these types of glue.
05: Start by removing all of the old carpet. It may be a good idea to number each piece as to where it belongs in the car. Also make sure you scrape off all of the old carpet backing. Remember, your new carpet has to be glued directly to the carpet underlayment. You do not want to glue it to the old backing. Make sure that the underlayment is also glued in place. If the underlayment is loose, your new carpet will be loose and give you a poor fit.
06: Zip supplies carpet sets of top quality with the correct colors and binding. Here we are pre-fitting each piece so that we know exactly how it will fit. Remember once you glue it into place, you cannot remove it if you make a mistake. So always glue one half at a time and be patient. Do not rush.
07: Start at the rear of the car and work forward. A helpful hint to remember is any bound edge will show. Unbound edges will be covered.
08: Backwall section with glue applied and ready for installation.
09: When you get to the storage compartment area, glue the carpet to the back then lay it over the front. Now mark where it will have to be cut to fit over the transmission tunnel. Then glue it into place.
10: Before you cover the rocker panel area, use a tap in the seat belt mount holes. Since most States require seat belts and this car is driven frequently, we are going to install seat belts from Zip.
11: Now glue the rocker panel carpet into place. Here you can see how we are doing one side at a time. After you have done the rocker panel areas, then do the transmission tunnel.
12: Now lay the floor carpet into place and mark the area for the seat track mounding bracket. Cut this out and then glue the floor carpet into place.
13: Take an awl and poke it through the seat belt bolt mounting hole. Use a single edge razor blade or utility knife and cut out the area for the seat belt mounting bolt.
14: With the hole cut out, now install the seat belts. The male belt goes to the outside. The female (or buckle end) goes to the inside. Zip carries all of the correct seat belts and mounting hardware.
15: Go under the car and push an awl up through the front seat track mounting bolt holes. With the awl in the hole, cut out the carpet over the hole.
16: We also ordered a new accelerator pedal and pedal pads. Nothing looks worse than a new carpet and old worn pads. New accelerator pedal screws were included with our interior screw kit.
17: While we were at it, we also re-did our console with a new console kit and shift boot. The new die-cut pieces fit perfectly and made our reconditioned console top look new again. One helpful hint: Make sure all of the areas where the new die-cut pieces fit are thoroughly cleaned. The adhesive on the new die-cut pieces need a clean area to adhere to.
18: Carpet installed.
19: Remove your old door panels and carefully remove all of the stainless trim and ornaments. These will have to be re-installed on the new door panels. The door reflector is removed by loosening the two nuts and backing plate. The stainless trim is removed by carefully opening up the metal tabs by using a screwdriver and needle nose pliers and then carefully removing the moulding from the panel.
20: Hold the door panel up to the door and mark all of the holes that will have to be cut through the panel for door handles and window cranks, etc. These areas are prescribed on the back of the panel, but pre-fitting is just a safety precaution. Now take a utility knife or straight edge razor blade and cut the prescribed areas out.
21: Take an awl and pushing from the back, open up the armrest mounting holes.
22: While the door panels were off, we also replaced the inside door opening mechanism and outer window beltline. This took care of two areas that are easier to replace now than later.
23: Remember to put some kind of water shield on the door before you re-install the door panels.
24: Install the new door panel using the new screws from the Interior Screw Kit. Our new panels also included the inner whisker beltline (fuzzies) weatherstrip already installed which made for a very easy installation. We also ordered new window cranks, door handle opening bezels and armrest pad covers to finish off the panel completely.
I only recommend that seat covers be installed by a professional. If you make a mistake on almost any other area of the interior, it can be corrected easily but if a mistake is made on seat covers, it is usually costly. I have seen competent professionals spend 6 to 12 hours on one pair of front seats before they got them perfectly fitted, so just imagine what would happen to a novice.
Instead of giving you a step by step on how to install seat covers, I will give you a checklist to help you get a correctly fitted product and pictures as our covers were being installed.
- When you receive your new covers, compare them against your old upholstery, provided the old ones are original. Make sure they have the same grain and pattern.
- If ornaments are installed in your old upholstery, take pictures and measurements of their placement. New seat covers do not come with any ornaments and you will have to re-use your old ones. Now is a good time to either replace or refinish them.
- Check on the seat padding (or buns). Make sure you re-pad the seats before the new covers are installed. This will help eliminate wrinkles or low spots. Nothing looks worse than a worn, broken down seat frame covered with new upholstery.
- Check all of the seat framework for damage or cracks and repair it now.
- Check all of the mounting studs or mounting holes. If anything is damaged, repair it now. You and your passenger’s safety is riding on how well the seats and seat tracks are secured to the floor.
- Check the seat track mechanism for operation. Clean and re-lube the mechanism and repair or replace any damaged springs or stops.
- Re-paint all of the seat frames and springs.
- When the buns are re-installed, make sure burlap is placed against the springs first.
- When the covers are installed, make sure all the edges are even and are on the edges of the seats. Make sure all of the pleats or seams line up between the seat cushion and the backrest. Make sure the covers are tight with no wrinkles. If the installed upholstery is wrinkled, the upholstery shop should repair it now because the wrinkles won’t go away with use. Make sure the front seatbacks stand upright and that the seatback stops are in place.
- Re-install any side or backrest seat trim
Lastly, we recommend using a competent upholstery shop to install your seat covers. This is not a job for a novice. These leather covers were of top quality with the leather being vat dyed, not sprayed. This meant that the covers were dyed in a vat where the color was absorbed throughout the leather hide. Most other covers today are spray dyed with the color being only on the outside of the leather. On vat dye covers, the leather seats’ color will be constant. On spray dyed covers, as the cover sweats, the dye wears off and the leather hides natural color starts to show through.