Is it time to add some polish to the interior of your classic car by updating or replacing its upholstery? Unless you are experienced, this is one project that will need the support of a pro. Here are a few tips to help ensure you get the upholstery update of your dreams.
Upholstery Should Be the Last Thing on Your Restoration List
It may seem tempting to change out the carpeting and seats to revive the look of your classic car before you tackle all of its hidden systems, but replacing your classic car upholstery is like painting the walls in your house. It is the last layer to be added after the wiring, heat, air conditioning, interior lights, and roll-up windows have been fully repaired.
If you do the upholstery first, you may damage it as you take out the seats, door panels, and carpeting to access areas that still need fixing.
It’s About More than Your Seats
Upholstery is about more than just bucket seats. This part of your restoration will affect nearly every surface inside your vehicle. You will be working on the headliner, the rear parcel shelf, inside the trunk, and even on the dash. Upholstery is a huge part of updating your ride.
Test Drive All Your Systems Before Making the Appointment
If the day is approaching to bring your car in for its upholstery update, it is time to take your ride out for a major road test. Open every door, press all the buttons on the dash, and even operate the floor air vents. This is your last chance to make sure there are no hidden repairs left to make before installing the gorgeous new carpeting.
Your technician would rather delay the job than have their hard work destroyed a week after completion.
Also, test all the wiring and ensure each harness has a little extra give when you tug on it. This leaves enough elbow room for the upholsterer to do their magic without causing new damage.
Removing Old Material Will Eliminate Stale Odours
Have you ever wondered why your beautiful classic truck has that “old car” smell, even after washing down every interior surface? It smells like food, sweat, and grease that have spent the last 50 years or longer working their way into every soft piece of trim in the vehicle. The only way to eliminate the odour is to rip out all soft surfaces.
This means stripping the seats down to their frames. Toss out padding, liners, and even the cracked vinyl dash. You will never get rid of the smell if you leave in the old padding.
Sourcing Seats Requires Attention to Detail
Did you see a vintage muscle car of the same year and model as yours at the swap meet? Perhaps its seats looked so much nicer than your torn and faded ones. But before you go ripping out those seats to repurpose them into your ride, you have to thoroughly inspect them.
Those seats have been used for decades. The runners might be bent. The frame could be out of square, and the springs could be shot. You could spend as much or more fixing up those seats as you would buying an aftermarket version.
Bring your upholstery expert in before picking up a used pair of bucket seats.
Adjusting the Height Before the Final Screw Goes In
Those vintage 50s seats didn’t come with a pump height adjustment. Ensure that your upholstery technician has you come in for a height fit test, even if you are reusing the old seat frames. Now is your chance to have an extra two centimetres built up under the runners to give you the perfect driving position.
Is this classic car restoration destined to be a trailer queen or a land cruiser? If you drive it across the Trans-Canada Highway, add a three-point harness seat belt. Your life is worth more than the most beautiful restoration.
Your Local Upholstery Expert Will Have a Wait List
Since the upholstery will be the crowning touch to your restoration, finding a qualified automotive upholstery expert should be one of the first things to do. The technicians worthy of replacing the upholstery in your collector car will not have openings in their schedule for next week–try next year.
Visit their shop. Look at examples of their completed work and cars in progress. Do they readily answer your questions? Do they attend the latest shows?
It would be best to discuss pricing and timelines only when you are confident about their skills.
It’s Done! Now It’s Time to Update Your Classic Car Insurance
Once your restoration is complete, remember that you will want to adjust your collector car insurance policy. Give us a call at Wayfarer Insurance Group to ensure your baby is properly valued, so you can hit the road this summer with added confidence.