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Restore Your Classic Car Interior

Restore Your Classic Car Interior Published: 26th Apr 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Restore Your Classic Car Interior
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If there’s one thing that marks a good restoration from a great one it’s the state of the interior and yet it’s the area a lot of DIY rebuilds fall down. Don’t fall into the same trap – but be warned, renovating tired trim can cost as much as most body repairs. It will be worth it though, after all, you’ve got to live in the car when out and about.

Some actually want a lived in interior to give their classic a patina. And it has to be admitted that some beautifully renovated interiors can look a tad false as many were never that good when the car was new! It’s a personal thing.

Trim inevitably wears but both pvc and leather can be invisibly mended by ‘smart repairing’ (see your local Yellow Pages or go on the web). You can also purchase quite effective DIY kits, too. Major damage will need to be properly, professionally recovered however. Any good upholsterer can replicate the car’s original design so it looks authentic plus many can rebuild sagging seats. These items shouldn’t be overlooked because a rebuilt seat complete with new springing improves comfort no end – along with a restored steering wheel, they give the feel of a brand new car.

If you are contemplating an inside job yourself then you’ll require an industrial sewing machine. You can buy hides and do your own thing. Autojumbles throw up skins from £65, or less if you haggle and to give you an idea, half a hide is more than ample to restore two MG seats.

Or you can save yourself a whole heap of hassle and buy a tailored aftermarket trim kit for a popular classic. An all-new interior pack for the likes of an MGA, MGB or TR2-4 can run into thousands: a new veneer dash alone costs in the region of £250. However, it won’t get any cheaper so bite the bullet and budget for it when allocating funds. Renewing carpets is one of the simplest and cost effective jobs of all, although it may be hard to match the original pile design. Spend a bit extra when doing this and renew any deteriorating or missing underfelt and sound insulation because not only will it make the interior that much quieter, it will smell better by removing that aged and musty smell.

A particularly rotten job is reviving tired headlining especially if you seek originality. DIY kits are available, but you’ll rarely get it to fit as good or wrinkle-free as a professional will. Emulsion paint can revive pvc; it can be too shiny and ‘wet’ mind so go for a matt and silk finish – some suggest buffing it up while still tacky to remove any unwanted sheen.

The only way to tackle weary wood trim is to strip it back to basics to re-varnish and polish it. It’s a laborious job that can’t be rushed but one that’s worth the effort as anybody who has seen a beautifully turned out Jaguar Mk2 or Rolls-Royce dash close up will testify. Ensure your glass has class. Discoloured and damaged panes are a pain; specialists such as Auto Windscreens have replacements.

Best mods


Thanks to low cost leather hides, it may cost no extra than PVC to retrim in leather and it is in period with many 50’s/60’s family cars

Go one better

So long as authenticity isn’t important, it’s a good time to trade up a better more upmarket or GT interior; what you don’t want is half-and-half job

Dial in delights

Don’t forget the switchgear dash surround and the instruments as inevitable deterioration can spoil the effect but often ignored

Top five tips


Gut out the interior to gauge the condition of all the panels but take great care when removing as some may break due to their sheer age and prove hard and expensive to replace


Don’t simply recover tired and sagged seats before fixing any worn or broken springs first or replacing the frame with new. Along with a recovered steering wheel, a rebuilt seat helps give that ‘brand new’ impression


Don’t discard anything as even dilapidated parts can at least be put to good use as vital templates

Short cuts

Sound but jaded, PVC trim and seats can be successfully repainted. Leather can be similarly reclaimed using special kits if not too bad as well. Can save you a lot of time and money

Spares car

Interior trim is one of the rarest commodities on many classics to come across, so consider buying another identical car with good trim either for salvaging or as spares for the future. And never ever throw anything away as it can be used as patterns

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