Over the past several months I've been carefully producing a complete interior for a 1955 BN1, owned by Healey 100 expert, Curt Arndt.
Curt has been meticulously researching and restoring his BN1 over the past 25yrs! and has contributed countless articles and information to various Healey forums, magazines, and Concours guidelines.
He's collected lots of rare original parts and materials over the years, and has become a specialist in various things like restoring & identifying hardware and their finishes, restoring Healey tool kits and components, as well as restoring Healey horn/trafficator units.
Having just purchased my own BN1 project around the same time he contacted me, we've been able to work out a nice trade deal for getting his interior done in exchange for several "unobtanium" original parts I was needing for my own car.
Curt's BN1 is painted Old English White with the green interior. Unfortunately the green is a lot harder to do right these days because many of the materials used are no longer available in the correct shades of green. This requires some extra expense in custom dying which works ok for some things like Armacord and carpet, but not so great for things like Everflex that have to constantly stretch and flex with use.
Fortunately when Curt contacted me to do his interior, he had already accumulated most of the correct materials to make his interior with!
-He'd even found an original roll of NOS green Karvel carpet - which for those who don't know, is completely unavailable in green anymore!
-He had a complete Armacord set already cut & had already been custom dyed to the correct shade of green.
-He even had a roll of the correct shade and type of vinyl ready to go!
Having all these raw materials already, he just needed me to upholster and trim it all correctly. I sourced some green Everflex for his weather equipment, and a good matching hyde of green leather for his seats and got to work sewing and making all the interior components...
I started by making his new tonneau cover:
Curt even sent me his original late BN1/BN2 style tonneau cover for reference.
Unfortunately the Everflex vinyl used for all the weather equipment is only available in this darker shade of Everflex. The original Everflex was a lighter Sage green, but unfortunately the Sage is just not available without custom dying.
As a professional I advised against dying the Everflex for risk of it cracking and flaking off with general use, things like tops and tonneaus that deal with weather & have to fold and stretch often, don't generally last long when they're dyed.
With that compromise settled I made him a new tonneau cover that was accurate in every other detail, including the correct style of "lightning" zipper - Curt even has the original early Tenax snaps to use when we eventually install it on the car-
Next I made him a new interior panel kit: I cut new wood panels out of 1/8" birch ply with the edges sanded round as original. Then I trimmed the panels in green vinyl, using very thin coach-wadding to pad the door panels, and sewing a suede-like material to the lower insides of the panels as original...
Next I did all of the sewn assembly, and hand-rolled/binding of all his previously dyed Armacord linings for the boot and rear cockpit...
Curt sent me all his steel interior components already painted in the correct dark brown, so I could trim items such as this battery box lid...
Next came the carpet:
While Curt had miraculously found a roll of original green Karvel carpet, it turned out that the green just wasn't the right shade of green for what was orignally in his car...
-Here you can see his original carpet on the left and the NOS carpet he found on the right...
I decided to dye the Karvel, and was surprised to find only a few green options available - We decided to go with the upper/darker shade shown in the middle here:
I cut a complete carpet set from his NOS green carpet and then custom dyed it all to be closer to the original shade. Then I bound and trimmed his removable tunnel sections as original...
Here you can see all the interior linings coming together, with the dark green vinyl panels, custom dyed Karvel, and custom dyed Armacord...
Next in line was the seats; I purchased a hyde of dark green leather that beautifully matched the green vinyl and had the right natural grain texture to it. I got to work cutting and sewing the new seat covers with vinyl piping and using coach wadding in the pleats as original...
I made new seat foams by hand, adding the square cutouts to the cushion bottoms as original to make them soft and squishy like the original Dunlopillow. The covers were hand tacked as original and I even added the 'BN' scribble that was found on his originals...
With the interior components all finished and ready to go, I'll be shipping this all back to Curt very soon. I'll eventually be heading down to install it all on his car and finish it off with a new green top and side-curtains so stay tuned!
Until next time -
It's been a very busy year so far for Rightway Heritage Trimming, especially when it comes to Austin Healey trim! In the past 3 months I've done 2 complete interiors for a pair of early Longbridge BN4's, and just recently I got in a very original 1961 Tricarb BT7 to replace all the original vinyl panels and dash.
In doing so many of these 4 seat Healey 100-6/3000 roadsters back to back, I've had the opportunity to verify patterns, as well as some interesting details I've noted time and again in the trimming methods and evolution of parts..
When Austin Healey released the 100-6 in 1956 it featured a larger cockpit with 2 rear seats just big enough for a couple of children - suddenly Healey was becoming a real family mans sports car!
For the first few years of the 100-6 BN4, production continued at the Longbridge factory as it had done with the earlier 100-4 models.
However in 1958, production of the 4 seat BN4's was halted for several months so they could focus on the production and release of the new 2 seater 100-6 (BN6)
When production of the BN4 finally resumed, they were relocated to the Abingdon factory which also coincided with several production detail changes.
For the purposes of this article I will just be focusing on the interior details as they evolved on the 4 seat "roadster" models from the early 'Longbridge' BN4's, through the later 'Abingdon' BN4's as well as the BT7 models.
The 2 seat BN6/7 models will be featured in a separate article!
To start with lets look at the front foot wells and kick panels:
Similar to the earlier 100-4 models, the toe boards and inner bell housing were first covered in a layer of 1/4" jute with a black textured coating on one side. Then the jute was covered with Karvel carpet.
The kick panels were made of Masonite panel board trimmed in a thin vynide type of vinyl.
-Vynide was the standard type of vinyl used on Healeys throughout the years, it was quite thin, had a matching colour backing and a fairly pronounced 'leather' grain to it. (eventually later BJ8 models used Ambla instead of vynide)
On the right hand side only, the kick panel had a large D shaped cutout with a separate piece of vinyl glued to the body behind it which provided a bit more toe room for RHD cars.This R/H foot well detail was standard on all 100-6/early 3000 models regardless of what side the pedals were on.
The panels were held in place using 3/4" #6 phillips oval head trim screws and countersunk cup washers - these screws and washers were the standard used for all Healey interior trim panels.
It should also be noted that it seems to have been common practice for the factory to hand paint several specific areas of exposed metal throughout the interior in whatever colour matched the interior vinyl. For example - the front lower edge of the door opening was painted red on this BT7 - in fact the entire flange around the door opening that the seal would press onto was hand painted red before trimming so as to hide any exposed metal. The edge of the inner door pocket opening was also painted:
There was a neatly trimmed steel parcel tray under the dash on the passenger side. It was trimmed with a sewn vinyl cover that covered the entire bottom and front perimeter edge, and had a piece of Karvel carpet glued in on top of the tray. There was also a round cutout for the washer fluid bottle and bracket to sit into...
Moving back from the toe boards, the inner sills were covered with Karvel carpet. These sill carpets would have been the FIRST pieces of carpet to be installed, having approx 1" overlap onto the floors and toe boards. Then the toe board carpets would neatly overlap the sill carpet in the corners to prevent any gaps.
The main floor pans were first covered with a thin layer of black tar paper, followed by some more black coated 1/4" jute under the front mats only, and then the Karvel floor mats which were snapped in place over the jute mats. The drivers side mat had a rubber heel pad sewn to it with the "Austin" logo in its center.
More Karvel mats continued under the seats with slotted cutouts for the seat tracks. They were all unbound and used 3 prong brass carpet snaps.
There was a separate curved steel panel that formed the front tunnel bulkhead. This panel had a rubber seal riveted to it that hung down and sealed around the gearbox. Like the toe boards, it too was covered in a layer of jute, followed by Karvel carpet that was trimmed around the edges of the panel. The panel was held in place with #6 trim screws and washers up either side and into the floor...
On 100-6 cars, the main tunnel body was similar in shape to the earlier BN2 models. It was painted black and held in place with screws into the floor and the forward bulkhead.The side shift 3000 cars were basically the same again, but slightly wider at the front. There was a vinyl cover over the front lip of the tunnel body where it met the forward bulkhead panel. The Karvel cover was sewn with a longitudinal seam. There was a 5/8" binding around the shift opening and some more 3/8" binding around the handbrake cutout. Jute insulation was glued to the underside of the carpet cover and the entire cover was snapped in place over the tunnel body - extending all the way to the rear bulkhead.
On later center shift BT7's, the tunnel body was made of fiberglass. It had a vinyl cover glued to the body over the shift hump. And its Karvel carpet was sewn with a few seams and darts to loosely conform to the shape of the body. Once again the jute insulation being glued to the underside of the carpet on these center shift covers - the carpet then being snapped in place over the tunnel body, with the center shift hump protruding through a bound hole in the carpet. There was also binding around the handbrake cutout and a vinyl cover glued to the rear tunnel body around the handbrake lever...
There were several different styles of center armrests that eveolved over the years of Healey roadster production. The first style seen on early Longbridge BN4's from 56-57 was a very similar design to the previous BN2 design, with a length of 15.5" It was a saddle design with 3 leather pleats on top and vinyl sides that extended to the floor:
The second style which turns out to be quite rare, was a similar 3 pleat design, but with sides that only extended down a few inches on either side. This style has appeared on BN4s during the Longbridge/Abingdon transition era of late '57/'58.
Finally they decided to go with this 3rd style armrest that was used on late BN4s and all BT7s (-as well as 2 seat BN6/7's and later BJ7 models). It was a smaller tapered rectangle design with 3 leather pleats on top, the center pleat being larger, and piping with vinyl edging. This armrest was actually sewn directly to the carpet: (note, ignore the repaired/recovered seats in both of these pics):
Moving on to the dash and dash top, as an added luxury on the Healey roadster models the dash was now fully trimmed in vinyl rather than being painted like the previous BN1&2's.
On the earliest Longbridge BN4s, the vinyl was simply glued around the edges,
then almost immediately the factory started adding small clips to the bottom edge, and by late '57 they had a thin C shaped edging that pinched the vinyl around the lower edges and gave it a finished look. This edging was painted to match the interior vinyl colour.
As production moved to Abingdon around 1958 we saw this edging replaced with a fuzzy snap-on trim that also matched the interior colour:
There was also a padded dash top panel with a D shaped padded crash rail along the rear edge. The panel was made of 1/8" birch ply with a tapered 1" thick lip along the rear edge that the D rubber was glued to. The entire panel was trimmed in vinyl with contrasting piping on either end to finish the edges where they met the scuttle seals. There were 2 aluminum demister vents in the dash top that were painted to match the interior colour. and the entire panel was held in place with a pair of trim screws, and turn snaps at either end, and the rear view mirror in the center...
The door panels were trimmed in a layering of vinyl covers and panels. To start, the factory often hand painted the exposed metal edges around the inner door pocket opening. Then there was a vinyl cover glued to the upper structure that would be overlapped by the cockpit rails and main door panels later.
There were 3 inner door panels trimmed in vinyl that all fit inside the door pocket area. They consisted of a larger lower panel that was stitched around the lower edges. followed by an upper panel that fit above it and overlapped it. Finally there was a smaller curved panel that wedged into the bottoms of the door pocket area to finish them off.
Then with the inner door panels installed and the upper vinyl cover in place, the main door panel was screwed in place over top. The main door panels were 1/8" birch ply with a very thin cotton padding on them covered in vinyl. The backs of the panels had more vinyl to cover the lower portion of the panel. then the entire panel was sewn with a stitch line about 1/2" in from the edge of the pocket opening. It was attached to the door with trim screws and cup washers and finished with the chrome door handles, latch finishers and side curtain anchor points.
The seats on BN4s are another thing that went through an evolutionary change through production. The earlier Longbridge cars had the exact same seat design as the previous BN1&BN2's, they had wooden seat cushion frames, and wooden tack strips used on the backrests to secure the leather and vinyl covers along the bottom edges. The easiest way to spot these earlier style seats is to note the direction of the piping as it follows the outer edges of the backrest all the way down around the lower pivot arms:
Then as production geared up to introduce the new 2 seat BN6 model in early 1958, we saw this new style of seat appear which had all the wood and tacks replaced with steel and clips. The seat cover design had changed a bit as well, with the characteristic piping now being diverted down to the base about 10" short of the pivot arms. The pivot arms now had separate sock-like covers instead of piping and hidem. Notice also the shorter angle iron style of seat base frame - the earlier style had a much taller frame design:
The cushions were now made with a steel frame instead of wood. The pleats were pulled under the frame and glued & snared on little hooks in the frame. The front and sides were held in place with little clips pushed onto a flange edge. There was also an air hole on the bottom of these early steel frames which made the bottom of the 'Dunlopillow' seat foam clearly visible:
The next small detail change to come with the seat design was the addition of mesh being added to the large cutout on the bottoms of the cushions. Presumably to prevent the foam from collapsing too far through the hole when sat on. This mesh was seen added to seat frames in mid - late 1959 and lasted at least until mid - late 1960. It seemed to also correspond to a change in the Dunlopillo foam design being changed from square waffle cutout in the bottoms to smaller round cutouts.
Not too long after, at least by late 1960 - the cushion frames had solid steel bottoms without any large cutout. This style frame would continue on until the end of production:
Moving to the rear seat cockpit area, the 4 seat roadsters all had a pair of these small tractor seat style seat cushions: They were a shaped steel pressing with a combination of horse hair pads covered in layers of wadding and a sewn vinyl cover with contrasting piping. The each had 4 pleats and the pleated section was actually hand stitched to the steel base pan. The heavy gauge thread that remained visible on the bottom of the pans has often been found taped over to protect it from road spray from the rear wheels.
The rear backrests could easily be lifted out or folded down for stowage of the soft top. The earlier Longbridge cars had a slightly deeper top panel - measuring 6.5" at the widest/center point. Later BN4/BT7s were slightly less at 5.5" This was to accommodate the different style top frames used on the earlier cars.
The assembly was made of 1/4" Baltic birch plywood, with 1" square wood rails glued and screwed together. It was trimmed front and back in vinyl with 10 pleats across its front face and contrasting piping. Upholstery tacks were used to trim the covers in place.
The rear quarter panels and wheel arches on the early Longridge cars looked as follows: The wheel arches were first trimmed with a sewn vinyl cover. Then some angled hardwood pieces were screwed in through the outer rear door post.
The rear quarter panels were made of birch ply and trimmed with a sewn vinyl cover with contrasting piping. The panel was screwed to the hardwood sections at the front and to a small welded bracket at the rear. Finally another vinyl covered finishing panel was screwed on top of the hardwood sections to finish it all off.
The Longbridge BN4 door seals consisted of some polished aluminum strips screwed to the outer door trims containing some corresponding rubber seal strips. Here you can see the door seal details on this original early BN4:
At the front edge of the door opening a strip of furflex draft excluder was also installed to the front inner edge under the kick panels and tucked under the windshield posts:
Notice also the strip of black piping used to finish the outer edges of the rear door post trim. All 100-6/3000s used black piping here regardless of the interior colour.
The early Longbridge BN4s also had these small vinyl trimmed panels tucked in above the rear wheel arches to finish those seldom seen areas, the entire rear bulkhead behind the rear backrest was also trimmed with a large vinyl cover glued directly to the painted metal bulkhead panel.
On later BN4s and BT7s, we saw a new style of top frame that was able to fold down even smaller. The rear backrest became slightly less deep and the rear quarter panels were redesigned to look like this:
Behind the rear backrest, some sections of Karvel carpet were used to finish the corners, however they stopped trimming the rear bulkhead in vinyl.
The boot linings of all the 100-6/3000 roadsters was done in Armacord. Early Longbridge cars saw the Armacord in matching colour to the rest of the interior. While later BN4s and and BT7s they decided to switch to all black. The spare tire was wedged between 2 vinyl covered wood blocks and held in place with a securing bar and natural leather belt strap and buckle. The fuel neck was concealed by a grained panel board and the 12 volt battery was clamped down on the right side with a black vinyl cover over its top.
The tonneau cover on the 100-6/3000 4 seaters seems to have remained the same design throughtout production. The tonneau bar however came as either a single piece or in 2 pieces. The rear section had a series of 5 bars that slotted into corresponding sewn pockets providing stiffness and giving it a clean look. The tonneau featured a 'Lightning' brand zipper and used a series of Tenax snaps as well as turn snaps in the four corners infront and behind the doors.
The top and top frame designs changed a few times over the years of production.
The early Longbridge BN4s had a folding frame that remained attached to the car.
When folded upright, it had a little hook that snapped into a rubber clip and gave it some support while the top was unfolded and snapped in place.
Later BN4s had a separate removable top frame that was a similar design to the earlier one, but would be inserted into corresponding sockets over the rear wheel arches when erected.
The tops themselves had a few slightly different pattern style changes corresponding to the 3 different frame designs. These design differences are illustrated clearly in the Austin Healey Concours guidelines supplement on tops - I highly recommend any restorer have a set of these guidelines as they are an invaluable source of original spec photos and information.
The BT7 style of top frame was a simpler and heavier style of frame that remained separate from the top and removable from the car. Again it slotted into corresponding sockets over the rear wheel arches.
There was also of course a factory available hard top available for all 6 cylinder models. They came painted in either matching body colour, Old English White or Black. It was made of fiberglass with a molded plexiglass rear window, aluminum trim, rubber seals and a came finished with a nice cream coloured patterned vinyl headlining:
The last thing I haven't mentioned in this article is of course the side screens, unlike the earlier BN2s, these were not upholstered and instead were made of plexiglass with an aluminum frame.
They were stored in a neat protective bag with a divider sewn into it so they wouldn't scratch each other. The bag could be stored in the boot compartment when not in use.
And there you have it! everything you need to know about Healey BN4 & BT7 interior trimming. Of course if there are any of these trim components you're needing for your Healey you can contact me through Rightway Heritage Trimming. or email me at email@example.com
I am now producing all of the interior trim components for Healey 100/4s as well as these series of 6cyl roadsters - to concours spec in the right colours and materials.
For further reading on the evolution of the 100-6 & 3000, I highly recommend the website:
Until next time -
I recently made a new tonneau cover for a clients late BN1.
The client was able to send me his original tonneau in the original Sage green Everflex so I could cross reference it with my patterns and re-examine the details...
While I was at it, I pulled out my original Red early BN1 tonneau so I could lay them out together and examine the differences,
Here you can see the late BN1/BN2 style tonneau in Green, compared to the early BN1 tonneau in Red:
The early BN1 tonneau pattern followed the cars cockpit rail curvature around the front, while the later style had more sqaured off front corners and used turn-snaps in the front corners rather than the Tenax snaps the earlier used...
Notice the original "Lightning" zipper used on both styles -
Both styles have the same little under flaps for turn-snaps sewn in just behind the doors...
Slightly different stitching at the base of the zipper...
Also some updated stitching details around the rear hook bars as the later style improved...
Here's one of my new early BN1 tonneau's that I made earlier this year - in correct Red Everflex, with a new correct style Lightning zipper:
And here's the new one I made in the later style for Curt -
Unfortunately the Sage Green Everflex is totally unavailable, and it's just not wise to try and custom dye a piece of weather equipment that's going to be used regularly. So we had to settle on using the available Dark Green Everflex - which still looks great!
Complete with a new correct zipper and his original Lightning pull -
Get yours through:
Until next time -
I recently started on a job for a customer who has an un-restored 1956 Healey BN2 in Healey blue with the rare Teal blue interior.colours.
While Teal is a rare interior colour, it's one that I'm quite familiar with;
My late father Rich Chrysler had a '56 BN2 that he restored back in the early 90's that also had remnants of a Teal blue interior. It sent him on a massive research hunt for others like it so he could restore his to original spec..
With the help of fellow Healey upholstery experts Martin Macgregor and Peter Svilans, here's they came up with back in 1992:
Since then we've found several other un-restored cars with the teal interior combo appearing in blue cars and even a few white cars throughout 1956 until the end of BN2 production.
We've also found a few early Blue BN4's with the Teal blue trim combined with cream piping as late as March '57.
With this most recent job being sent to me, I've had the opportunity to take a fresh look and study how the Teal blue colour faded so differently among the differing materials of leather, vinyl and Armacord it was seen on.
Having been in the Healey upholstery business for over 15yrs now I've seen A LOT of original trim!
The key's to remember when studying original colours and narrowing down specific shades is: Exposure!
ie: materials that have spent 50+yrs in the sun and elements are going to bleach and fade in wild ways that can be very confusing for restorers to decipher.
It's important to find areas that have never seen daylight or exposure to moisture, cleaners etc...look in dark areas and under edges and seams...
In the below pic, I'm trying to match the original leather shade on the bottom of this cushion - not being fooled by the brighter colour above that it's become over time...
Here are some more pics of original teal found on my friend Richard's BN2 - again showing how the exposed vinyl faded to a greyish green, while the leather got more brilliant over time...
Of course most Healey owners will recognize this standard shade of dark blue with grey piping. All the materials of leather, vinyl, Armacord, and carpet were in similar shades of dark blue.
This dark blue interior colour scheme was seen in cars painted Healey Blue/Healey Grey, and also available in cars painted Old English White, and Coronet Cream.
It's worth noting that this standard dark blue Karvel carpet and royal blue Everflex weather equipment remained the standard used even with the Teal blue interiors -
Here's some good pics of the standard dark blue used on BN1's and BN2's throughout production:
Notice with the armrest removed below, the original blue colour of Karvel carpet with dark blue vinyl edging - both colours faded with exposure, the carpet turned to a grey colour, while the blue got a bit lighter over time.
Moving on to the Reds:
Another colour that a lot of Healey 100 owners often don't get right, is the standard Red/Persimmon interior colour scheme offered as "Red" on BN1's and early BN2's painted Black, White, Carmine Red or even Coronet Cream!
Like the Teal scheme, the factory decided to use some high contrasting material colours together:
The carpet, Armacord and Everflex weather equipement were all in a medium Scarlet Red shade, while all the vinyl and leather were done in a very bright contrasting Persimmon shade.
Persimmon is another colour that can act like a chameleon after decades of sun and wear -
A number of years ago my father and I restored a '54 BN1 that had all of it's original Red/Persimmon interior still intact. I was given the task of carefully cleaning all the interior components and reinstalling them on the car.
What I found was the Persimmon would fade out to a bright Orange over time, though in areas unexposed I could see it started life as a very bright Red with a faint Orangy hue when compared to the darker red carpet and Armacord:
Look at the variations of colour saturation! It's evident how orange the Persimmon became over time, though it actually started a very bright red:
Persimmon was also seen used on the piping in Carmine Red cars with black trim -
Black interiors with Red piping were offered with Carmine Red and Reno Red cars, the carpet, vinyl, leather, Armacord and Everflex would all have been Black with only the seat & armrest piping being in contrasting Red.
At the end of 1955 as the BN2's evolved, the Carmine Red paint scheme was discontinued in exchange for Reno Red.
Subsequently, the Persimmon shade of interior was also discontinued and replaced with a slightly more scarlet looking shade of red leather and vinyl that better matched the Red carpet and Armacord.
Here's some examples of the later red that replaced the Persimmon shade after December 1955:
Notice how the upper surfaces of the seats have indeed faded to a slightly more orange hue - though make no mistake, these are a much darker shade of Red than the previous Persimmon!
The last interior colour I'm going to feature is the Green colour scheme that was offered with cars painted Spruce green, Old English White, or Black.
It used a variety of different shades of green to create what I consider to be a truly elegant interior colour scheme!
The leather and vinyl were both a dark green with only slight contrast between the 2 materials...
Armacord was a bright Emerald green with contrasting Dark Green vinyl binding...
And to finish it off, it had this Sage Green Everflex used for all the weather equipment:.
Unfortunately, Sage Green Everflex is completely unavailable nowadays, so restorers must settle for a Dark Green Everflex instead..
Black and White:
Of course there were a few more less colourful interior schemes left that I haven't mentioned yet:
There was an off White leather & vinyl colour that was used with Black carpet, Armacord and piping. This was only available for 6 months on Black BN1's only:
To finish, I'd like to leave you with a colour chart made by Roger Moment that lists all of these colour schemes by date and body number -
I have done a lot of research to source just about all of these original materials in the correct colours for reproducing Healey 100 interiors accurately.
The only materials that are unavailable in the correct colours are the Green Karvel, Everflex and Armacord, as well as the Teal Armacord - although I have found decent substitutes for the carpet and Everflex, and can custom dye the Armacords.
For Concours accurate upholstery for your Healey, come to:
Until next time -
The car is an early Austin Healey BN1 #793, it's one of a small hand full of BN1's that were originally painted "Coronet Cream" - a colour the factory introduced in 1953 in honour of the new Queen's Coronation. It was the colour of her dress
during her Coronation ceremony. www.cbsnews.com/pictures/queen-elizabeth-iis-coronation-regalia-on-display/
It was originally offered with either a persimmon red or, a dark blue interior colour - of which we chose the latter.
The owner of this car wanted the high standards of a concours restoration and so gave the task of restoring the car to Michael Salter (formerly of Precision Sportscar Specialists). Mike is an old friend of my late Father (Richard Chrysler) and knows all the details of the Healey 100's very well. In fact, he is the new concours guidelines editor for the Healey 100's in the national Healey club.
He won Gold for his own early 100 #174 just a few years ago - a car that I did the interior on in Ontario, just before moving my new business to Victoria:
So, several months ago I got the call from Michael wondering if I'd be interested in doing all the interior trim for this Coronet cream car, and if I'd be willing to fly to his beautiful cottage home in Ontario to do the installation. All I can say is, it's cars like this that got me interested in auto upholstery in the first place, and it's jobs like this that keep me super keen!
So back in the spring I set to work producing all the interior trim components for this early 100 at my home shop in Victoria. I made everything up as kits ready to install, and then shipped it all out to Mike's place in Ontario. Then I flew out with all my tools the following week and Mike set me up in his beautiful lake front cottage where I got to work trimming and installing all of the interior components on the car.
I started with seats - I made my own new plywood seat bases and my own new seat foams, as well as the leather covers with grey piping I made as original...
It was enjoyable and rewarding to work on a Healey 100 again that has clearly been done right. I enjoyed talking shop and discussing details with Michael while I worked on this project. A pic of the engine bay shows his meticulous attention to detail and originality:
With the seats finished, I started on the floor coverings. I first put in some black tar paper on the main floor pans and then installed all the jute under felt, Karvel carpets, and Armacord.. You'll notice on these earliest cars, the under-seat Armacord did not have cutouts for the seat tracks, as these earlier cars had adjustable steering wheels, the seats were bolted directly to the floor without any seat tracks..
Then came the rear bulkhead area with the rear wheel arches, Armacord coverings, spare wheel bag, and battery box lid...
Then I finished these areas with the addition of the armrest and finished seats
Next I turned my attention to the boot and installed all the boot Armacord, complete with a full new set of accessory bags for the side curtains, jack and tools. Notice the early style of boot mat and boot seal...
Then came the doors, I trimmed these while they were still off the car and then together we hung them to the car after they were trimmed...
With the interior done, I turned my attention to the top and top frame. I cleaned and painted the frame and then installed it to the car with a new wood header rail Michael had made. I also went around and installed all the necessary Tenax snap/fastener hardware to the body of the car...
Finally I fit the new Robbins Everflex top...
And there you have it, another beautiful Healey 100 on it's way to achieving Gold!
I thoroughly enjoyed working on this car, capturing all the early details and visiting with Michael Salter and his family at their lovely home in Northern Ontario to install the interior.
I look forward to seeing this car finished and on the road in the coming months!
Until next time -
Over the past few months I've been producing by hand, all the interior trim for a couple of upcoming Austin Healey 100's I'm doing this summer.
One is for an early 1953 BN1 car that will be painted in the rare "Coronet Cream" with a contrasting Dark Blue interior and Grey piping on the seats.
The other is for a 1956 BN2 car that will be painted Black with a Persimmon red interior.
This article will show the differences in upholstery for the two marques...
I started with making the new seat covers, I sourced some good quality leather with natural grain, in the correct colours, with hand made piping & Hidem strips, complete with the vinyl pieces for covering the lower cushion pans.
For the trimming of these seats I also produced all my own seat foams and wood seat bases made completely in house.
Next I made the center armrests, the one for the BN1 being the longer 19" style and the BN2 having the shorter 17" style.
Then came the carpets sets. In these next pics I'm showing the new Karvel carpet sets I made for the BN1 and BN2.
Both are cut as original with vinyl edging on only a few of the center tunnel pieces.
They have the correct "Austin" rubber heel pads sewn in place over top of the previously installed front carpet snaps - a detail that many other manufactures forget to do before sewing in the heel pads.
The BN1 tunnel is a very different design and has a few more carpet sections than the BN2...
Next I made all the interior trim panels and vinyl covers. The kick panels and B-post panels were cut from 1/8" birch ply with the edges sanded round before being trimmed in vinyl. The BN1 kick panels are a taller profile than the BN2's.
The inner door panels were cut from black panel board and trimmed. Also included are the wheel arch covers and vinyl to complete the doors and parcel tray...
The door panels were also cut from birch ply with the edges sanded to a curved bevel. Then they're trimmed with 1/8"foam and vinyl.
On the lower insides of BN1's door panels there was a brown suede like material sewn to the inner edge of the vinyl cover and glued in place.
The later BN1's/BN2's had this material done instead with matching vinyl and the entire pocket opening had a seam stitched through the panel about 5/8" in from the edge. - early BN1's did not have this stitching at all.
To finish, I cut and trimmed the Furflex door seals along the front and back edges to complete the panels.
I then cut and bound all the Armacord linings for the rear cockpit and the boot compartments of both cars.
Notes: - the early BN1's had a much fatter spare wheel bag then the later BN1's&BN2's. .
-BN2's also had Armacord to cover the rear tunnel section, whereas BN1's used carpet...
In the boot, the early BN1's had a different style of main gas tank cover and also had longer side floor mats as well, as you can see...
Finally I also made new accessory bags to complete the interior kits for both cars. I included bags for the side screens, tool roll, jack and handles. All as original with the correct snaps and materials.
To finish these kits off I will be making new tonneau covers for both cars and supplying all the necessary hardware kits and jute under felt required.
Austin Healey owners take note - I'm now geared up and producing all of this interior trim for anyone needing it - only available in any of the original colours!
As many of you know, I've built my name on being a purist who pays close attention to getting the details right. Other companies have failed to reproduce the subtle variations and details that I have captured with my kits. I am happy and proud to be able to offer these complete interior trim kits for the Healey 100's at least for now. There will be more Healey trim available as I perfect my patterns for the rest of the various marques.
Available now through:
Until next time -
Recently I made up a full set of new accessory bags for the Austin Healey 100/4's.
These bags included a jack bag, a jack handles bag, a bag for the tool kit, and the side screen bag.
While there are other companies making these bags, no one is making them in the correct thin oil cloth like vinyl that they originally were, nor are others getting the correct sewing, or the right size/style snaps that these came with.
The side screen bag was fairly easy because it's the only one of the bags that was originally done in the same colour matching vinyl to what the rest of the interior used.
I was able to find a good original example to use in making accurate patterns from and I went about reproducing it exactly as the factory did.
The only tricky part was finding a source for the correct size and shape of snaps.
I was able to contact some of the leading Healey concours experts who graciously helped me in identifying and sourcing the right snaps and providing me with patterns and instructions for making the remaining bags.
Working closely with some original examples and the advise of some concours experts, I was able to find a very good match for the super thin black material that the originals were made of and got to work producing the new bags.
Here is the tool roll coming together with an original example shown to compare
The finished set of bags turned out great and will make a beautiful addition for anyone wanting to finish their car to concours spec with these original accessories.
Now that I've sourced all the right patterns and materials, I will be producing these bags to order and making them available for anyone needing them.
Of course the side screen bag would have to be colour matched to the interior vinyl, but with a mailed sample, I can usually find a good match.
Order yours today through www.rightwayheritagetrim.com
Until next time -
Over the past few weeks I've been working away on making and installing all the interior components for another early Austin Healey BN2 being done in the persimmon shade of red that was common on 100'4s through the early-mid 50's.
I say "another" because this is the second black BN2 with persimmon interior that I've done for local clients in the past 2yrs! We're finishing this one off just in time for the ABFM show in Vancouver this weekend and it will be there beside the identical one from last year!
The leather and vinyl which are persimmon in colour would fade out to a bright orange colour with age.
Contrasting with the richer dark red carpets, Armacord and weather equipment it was a unique and stunning colour combo that is seldom still seen today.
The leather I sourced is in the correct colour and natural grain. It has been vegetable tanned just as it would have been done back in the day.
I also sourced a good matching vinyl - both from local suppliers here in BC. The Karvel carpet and Armacord that are somewhat unique to the Austin Healey's, I sourced from England.
Having made accurate patterns from some originals, I cut all the leather and vinyl and got to work sewing up the new covers.
The piping and hidem strips all had to be hand made to match...
I even made new squab foams in house. After trying several different "molded latex" re-pro foams that just didn't have the right fit or feel, I decided to make my own foams out of a good quality medium density foam with lamination's of softer density foams to fill out the shape..
The final result looks and feels the way they should, sleek and smooth but not too hard or overstuffed...
With the seats all done, I've continued working on making all the rest of the interior components for this car.
Here is the finished armrest that will snap down over the tunnel between the seats...
The interior door panels, complete with furflex draft seals. The vinyl trimmed over thin padding and stitched right through the 1/8" birch ply panels around the pocket opening as original..
Here's a taste of the colour contrast that the carpet gives on this finished parcel tray...
The finished main tunnel carpet, floor mats and the front gearbox cover...
Here's the spare wheel bag being made in persimmon vinyl and sewn to the contrasting red armacord...
The completed rear bulkhead coverings sewn and ready to install,..
And all the Armacord boot linings finished, bound by hand (meaning the binding is sewn twice - without a binding attachment)
Then when the car was painted and ready for the interior to install, I set to work by first covering the floors with black tar paper (as original) and then proceeding to install all the under-felt in the foot wells, followed by all the carpets...
Then I worked my way through the back of the cockpit, installing the wheel arch vinyl, spare wheel cover, the center armrest and Armacord mats...
I then installed all the boot Armacord linings...
And finished off the cockpit by adding all the interior panels and the seats...
Then I finished her off with a new red Everflex top from Robbins
a custom made tonneau cover that I made in the correct red Everflex following the original exactly with a new "lightning" zipper and all original Tenax snap hardware with the knurled heads.
And of course a matching stowage bag for the side screen - made exactly like the original with the correct snaps and coloured vinyl..
Until next time -
It's been a busy and exciting year for me in the car upholstery business. I've had the opportunity to take on several new local Healey jobs which has felt like a welcome return to my family roots so to speak.
As many of you may know, I grew up with a strong interest in Austin Healey's that I learned through my late father Rich Chrysler - especially the early 100/4's!
Over the past years I have been accumulating all the correct patterns to start producing extremely accurate interior trim components for the Austin Healey 100's - BN1's and BN2's.
Having worked primarily on Healey interiors for several decades now, I've had many opportunities to document the evolution of Austin Healey trim and the many subtle detail changes that came along through the years as the marque evolved.
The Healey 100's alone are an interesting evolution that I think many owners/restorers could benefit from understanding.
So without further ado, I'll start with the Floors and Foot wells:
The main floor pans were first covered in a thin layer of black tar paper.
The foot wells & firewall area around the bell housing had a thin jute insulation (about 3/16" with a black patterned coating on one side) glued to the painted metal. The jute was then covered by unbound Karvel carpet glued in place over the jute.
In the tops of the foot boxes, more of these jute pieces were glued in place to provide further insulation...
More Karvel carpet covered the inner sills with about 1/2" overlap extending onto the floor sections.
The 2 main floor mats were unbound and installed with brass carpet snaps in all 4 corners. The mats were snapped over more corresponding jute mats sandwiched underneath. The drivers mat then had a rubber "Austin" logo heel pad sewn in place over the pre-installed front snaps.
On BN1's, the front kick panels were made of 1/8" birch ply with edges sanded round and covered in vinyl. There was a plastic ID tag screwed to the upper drivers side...
Later BN1's (mid 54 on-) had a different style of Aluminum ID tag mounted on the LH kick panel -
With the introduction of the BN2, these kick panels were shortened in height on both sides to accommodate the lower position of the wiper motor bracket.
The panel boards themselves also started getting cut out of a cheaper hardboard and no longer had the edges sanded round.
The ID tag was also relocated to the engine bay firewall on BN2's.
The parcel tray was mounted to the passenger side firewall under the dash. The steel tray was painted a dark chocolate brown and trimmed with a vinyl surround and had Karvel carpet on the inner tray face... Note, the tray in the below right pic should be painted brown not black -
The scuttle panel was trimmed with thin jute on both sides of the panel, the interior side was then covered with Karvel carpet that wrapped around the edges. The panels also had a rubber seal riveted to the panel that would seal around the gearbox bell-housing.
Bn1 panels were a flatter design that had its carpet running left to right and screws along the outer edges on the face.
The Bn2 design had bigger sides that wrapped around the toe box edges, the carpet instead ran top to bottom and it had screws on the lower sides and 2 more through the upper face:
The gearbox cover sections evolved as follows: On the first hundred or so cars we've seen this rare, sharply edged style of tunnel - it was aluminum, painted dark brown and did not have any jute insulation, it was covered with sewn carpet&vinyl covers like this:
Then almost immediately, as production of the BN1 moved forward we saw this new more rounded standard shape of aluminum cover, again painted brown, it was trimmed with jute insulation covered by a single piece of carpet and vinyl covers like this:
Then in mid-late 54 on the BN1 we saw a 3rd tunnel and the carpet change again slightly to this 2 piece style, again glued in place with jute under the carpet The tunnel is almost the same as the 2nd but has a small hump on the rear left side to provide more clearance for the overdrive solenoid. This meant that the carpet also had a small dart sewn horizontally at the back to go around this hump: (note: the metal on second example should also be painted dark brown)
Finally with the introduction of the BN2, we see an entirely different style aluminum gearbox cover that extends further back to accommodate the 4 speed gearbox. This style tunnel had its jute glued to the back of the carpet, and the carpet then snapped down in place rather than being glued down like on the BN1's:
There were Armacord mats bound in vinyl and snapped in place on the floors under the seats.
The shape of these under seat mats changed between BN1 and BN2 to fit around the corresponding tunnel shapes at the front.
Early BN1's up until November of 1953, did not have any slotted cutouts for the seat tracks in these mats. This is because the early BN1's had adjustable steering wheels instead of the sliding seat tracks.The seats were bolted directly to the floors on those early cars with adjustable steering wheels.
After Nov '53 the BN1 mats had slot cutouts for the wooden seat risers on both sides. The drivers side only had sliding tracks. Note the squared corners on the BN1 compared to the round shape the BN2 does around the tunnel. Sliding tracks on the passenger side was an available option, though not standard!
On the BN1 tunnel, there was a second removable tunnel section just behind the main gearbox cover section that covered the driveshaft under the armrest.
It was trimmed in carpet with vinyl edging.
More Karvel carpet covered the length of tunnel behind this section right back to the rear bulkhead, it was tightly cut around the handbrake mounting so as to leave no gaps...
On the BN2, the rear tunnel was covered in Armacord under the armrest, rather than the carpet used on BN1's.
There was often a piece of vinyl glued in place first around the base of the handbrake under the Armacord, though on some cars we've seen this area hand painted instead to match the interior colour.
Finally the center armrest was snapped down over the rear tunnel section with 4 Tenax snaps. The Armrests had 3 leather pleats on the top face, and had long vinyl sides that extended to the floor. The BN1's had a longer 19" armrest while the BN2 with it's revised tunnel arrangement had a shorter 17.5" armerest..
Moving now to the doors,
The inner door skins were covered in a big piece of vinyl that was folded in the corners to cover the front, rear and bottom sections of the inner door. We've often found a strip of jute sitting in the bottoms of the doors under this vinyl flap (as a bit of padding)
A separate black board panel trimmed in vinyl extended above this piece of vinyl to finish the top inner door area.
Another piece of vinyl was glued to the upper inner doors just under the cockpit rails,
and the door pull cord was wrapped with a sewn vinyl cover...
The outer door panels were birch ply panels covered in vinyl with a very thin layer of coach wadding under the vinyl. the panel edges were sanded to a curve with an opening in the middle for a large inner pocket area.
The first few hundred cars had contrasting piping tacked along the inner edge of this opening.
On the inside, the lower sections of the panels had a soft brown suede like material sewn to the top edge of the outer vinyl cover and glued down to the inner panel.
Furflex was also glued and tacked along the front and rear edges of the panels and along the front edge of the door frame sandwiched under the kick panels and windshield posts..
As BN1 production moved forward the door pocket piping was almost immediately discontinued as production got into full swing. The door panels remained plain without piping or stitching until towards the end of 1954,
Finally in late 1954 we started seeing stitching around the door pocket openings, about 1/2" in from the edge. This practice continued on the later BN1's and through all BN2's.
Note in the lower 2 pics, the original early scuttle seals, and the 1/4round seals along the bottoms of the doors themselves...
The seats on Healey 100's were originally a slim and slender shape which is worth noting! - most of kits available today make for a seat backrest that is much bigger and puffier looking than they actually were.
The center pleated section of the backrests were stuffed with coach wadding and the piping smoothly curved around the top, I've noticed this area is often too squared off on modern kits too, it's a detail often missed because later 6 cyl cars did have a more squared off design at the top of the pleats.
Here is what they should look like on a 100/4:
The backrest piping continued down around the pivot arms under the lower Hidem strips and joined to itself along the bottom edge of the backrest.
The backrest was bolted to a lower cushion pan that was mounted to the floor or seat tracks. The removable cushion would firmly sit in the pan. The pan was painted dark brown and trimmed in vinyl aound the inner & outer perimeter...
The inner frames of the backrests had wooden tack strips riveted to bottoms with brass split rivets. The foam was a soft molded Dunlopillow foam glued in place with thin wadding used to pad the back and add some definition above the center pleated area:
The cushions were a big molded shape of Dunlopillow with square cutouts molded into the bottoms to allow them to squish down when sat in. The top perimeter was packed with wadding to give definition and the back of the pleats was often stuffed to fill any gaps where they met the backrest. They were mounted in a sturdy wood frame glued and screwed together that gave an upward rake towards the front of the cushion...
We've seen on several early BN1's the use of white cloth being tacked to the bottoms of the cushions to finish them off neatly, however by early '54 this practice seems to have been discontinued and the bottoms of the Dunlopillow cushions were left exposed...
Moving to the rear bulkhead...
The wheel arches had a small jute pad where the top frame would rest, covered by a sewn vinyl cover with piping.
The shape of this jute pad has been seen in a few variations, early BN1's had this larger style of jute pad - the vinyl cover only being glued around the corner edges so the cover would float over the pad and not define the shape of the pad underneath.
Later BN1's and BN2's had a smaller jute pad that only covered the flat D pressing in the wheel arch. This allowed the wheel arch cover piping to be glued more securely along the wheel arch and still look clean and smooth
The rear bulkhead was covered mostly in Armacord with vinyl trimmed birch ply panels for the B pillars.
The early BN1's until about mid 1954 had a much larger vinyl spare wheel bag than later BN1's and BN2's.
Here you can see the difference between the big and baggy early spare wheel bag and the later more slender shaped bag that fit the narrow shape of the standard "Dunlop Road-speed" tires a lot better.
- In hindsight, the narrower bag won't actually fit most of today's tires!
The battery box lid was trimmed in Armacord edged with vinyl and had leather straps riveted in place with snaps to secure it shut.
The boot of all 100/4's was trimmed in Armacord with vinyl edging.
The patterns remained basically the same throughout the 100/4's, except that early BN1's (up to around Aug '54) had a narrower main mat for covering the gas tank.
Here you can see the earlier narrow boot mat design that required longer separate Armacord side pieces to fill in around the side wheel arches.
The later style BN1 and BN2 boot mat was made full width and sewn differently around the rear bumper brackets.
This last shot of a teal blue BN2 interior shows the spare wheel shelf and wheel wedge block as was standard on all 100's...
Here is an example of the original green Armacord with darker vinyl edging...
The soft tops were basically the same pattern between BN1 and BN2 with 3 minor changes occurring between the top frames and latch mechanisms.
They had grey webbing between the bows and the front wooden header rail.
The header rail was trimmed in matching Vinyl or Everflex as the hood.
Some early BN1 tops have been found in vinyl, while later ones were all done in Everflex.
The early style tops had a trim screw through the top into the rear bow that also trapped the webbing straps.
Note: the below pic shows the original "sage" green Everflex used with green interiors - this Sage green colour material is no longer available.
There were 3 different styles of side screens on the 100/4's -
Early BN1 side screens were plexiglass with a chrome metal frame. They came in a colored vinyl stowage bag that matched the interior.
The Plexiglass BN1 screens were replaced in late '53 by this 2nd style of sewn vinyl side screens that had a flip up signalling flap which could be snapped shut from the inside...
Then in late '54 and on the BN2 we saw a 3rd style again in sewn vinyl with clear plastic windows.
The lower flap had been eliminated and instead the lower rear corner of the entire screen could be lifted just enough to work the inner door handle.
These all came with a matching color vinyl stowage bag for the screens.
The Tonneau cover:
The early BN1 Tonneau cover was a slightly shorter and more curved design than later Tonneau covers. It followed the shape of the front cockpit rails and had Tenax snaps in the front corners.
Later BN1's and BN2's had a slightly different pattern of tonneau with the front corners being bigger and more squared off. These later tonneaus also used a turn button snap instead of the previous Tenax in the front corners. Here you can see an early BN1 tonneau in red over a later BN1/2 style tonneau in green...
This black tonneau is on a later BN2 and shows the later design with taller front corners and turn-snaps instead of the earlier Tenax. Note also the small grommet over the spring studs...
The Tonneaus were made of Everflex and originally came with a Lightning brand zipper and nickle plated Tenax snaps with a knurled head:
Last but not least, the Healey 100's also came with some separate stowage bags for storing your accessories. There was a bag for storing your side screens, a tool roll, Jack and Jack handles bags.
The tool, jack & handles bags were all made of a very thin black vinyl. The side screen bag was made in the same coloured vinyl as used in the rest of the interior.
So there you have it - some interesting detail references to note on the interior trim of Healey 100/4's
In closing, I am very pleased to announce that after years of careful research,
Rightway Heritage Trimming is now producing all of these various styles of 100 interior trim components!
All made by hand to exacting detail standards using the correct materials and colour combinations.
Contact me anytime for samples and pricing info through:
Until next time -
Classic auto enthusiast, upholsterer, coach trimmer, and fine scale modeler.