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Interior Published: 26th Apr 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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Save some of that restoration budget on making the car’s interior inviting once more so you can travel first class in your classic

Want to know what turns good restoration into a great one? It’s the state of the interior and yet this area is one where too many DIY rebuilds fall down on. Don’t fall into the same trap – but be warned, renovating tired trim can cost as much as the majority of body repairs. It will be worth it though, after all, you’ve got to live and feel comfortable in the car when cruising around!

Admittedly, some actually prefer a lived in interior to give their classic a patina. And it has to also 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 which only you can decide. Trim inevitably wears out but both pvc and leather can be invisibly mended by ‘smart repairing’ see your local Yellow Pages (still got yours?-ed) 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 the comfort zone no end and along with a restored steering wheel and gear knob, they give the feel of a brand new car. If you are contemplating doing an inside job yourself then you’ll first require an industrial sewing machine as domestic ones aren’t up to the job. Then you can buy hides and do your own thing. Autojumbles such as Beaulieu throw up some good bargains, such as 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 from the likes of Newton Commercial or certain car clubs such as the MGOC. 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.

Pricey but at the same time, it won’t get any cheaper so bite the bullet and budget for it when allocating the 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 also 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. The same goes door seals.

One particularly horrid 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 if its tar-free although the result can be too shiny and ‘wet’ so go for a matt and silk finish and some suggest buffing it up while still tacky to remove that 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 Jag Mk2 or Rolls-Royce dash close up will surely testify.

Finally, ensure your glass still has class. Discoloured and damaged panes are a pain; specialists such as Auto Windscreens have replacements.

Is it in your comfort zone?

Satisfy a leather fetish?

Thanks to low cost leather hides, it may cost no extra than PVC to retrim your car in leather and don’t fret over originality as it is entirely in period with many 50’s/60’s family cars. However, some hides feel like pvc so select the cow’s clothing carefully

Why not go for a GT look?

So long as authenticity isn’t that important to you, it’s a fine time to trade up to a better, more upmarket or GT interior look (such as Cortinas etc) but what you don’t want is half-and-half job and there’s enough of them about already…

Dash it all, details count

An area so often overlooked, don’t forget the switchgear, dash surround and the instruments as their inevitable deterioration will spoil the overall effect. It’s not a cheap exercise mind and some items will no doubt prove very difficult to track down

Five top tips

Get a gut feeling

Gut out the interior (including the boot) to gauge the condition of all the panels but take extreme care when removing door panel as some may break due to their sheer age and prove hard and expensive to replace

Don’t bin it, yet

Don’t discard anything out of hand as even dilapidated parts can at least be put to good use and act as vital templates for new parts

Feel brand new

It’s silly to simply recover tired and sagged seats before fixing any worn or broken springs first or replacing the frame with new or at least repairing it. Along with a recovered steering wheel and gear knob, a rebuilt seat helps give that ‘brand new’ impression that you’ll love. In the same vein, don’t overlook the boot area. This should look as good as the cabin with painted side a new floor mat (refrain from carpeting if it’s originally rubber, please) and treat the jack and tools to a clean and paint up. sIf possible, replace any missing spanners, pliers etc that came with the car originally although it can be a pricey pastimes

Right to recycle

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

Spare a thought

Trim is one of the rarest commodities to come across on many classics, so consider buying another identical car with good trim either for salvaging or as spares for the future. Don’t throw anything away as it can be used as patterns

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