It's been a busy month of May for Rightway Heritage Trimming!
To start with, I moved into a new shop in the Highlands area of Victoria BC. Just off of Munn Rd on Rolla place, I'm all set up in my new shop with much more room to finally be able to take in customers cars for "in house" upholstery work.
I also had a table set up at the OECC restoration Fair at Heritage Acres on May 6th. With our sign set up and '64 MGB parked in front as a shining example of what we do, we met lot's of new and familiar faces and handed out plenty of business cards throughout the show.
After the restoration fair I was hard at work on several local clients cars, working feverishly to have their cars finished for the big British car show at Vandusen Gardens in Vancouver on May 19th.
Working along side the guys up at Owen automotive (who did the mechanical and assembly work) and Jetsteam (who did the metal and paint) we finished a beautiful S2 E-type Jaguar, and a Morris Traveller.
I also finished a Healey 100M for Trevor Parker. All of which were finished in time and driven to the show as debut restorations.
On the morning of the show I drove our '64 MGB with my lovely partner Cat Amodeo and we joined the convoy of British classics on the morning ferry run over to Vancouver.
It was a beautiful drive with the top down as we drove in convoy with our other friends and British classics along the highways.
The ABFM show at Vandusen was a brilliant show with a record turnout of cars.
I won best debut restoration under $50k for my MGB!
Trevor Parker won best restoration between $50-$100k for his Healey 100 (that we did the interior on), and Dana won best debut to the show for his E-type Jag (which we also did the interior on) - there was also a Healey BJ8 that we did last year that won best of its class! All in all, it was a glorious feeling for us to have had a hand in so many award winning cars. My name was even mentioned in the Globe and Mail:
I'm very honoured and proud of the results.
until next time -
Over the past year I've had a few early Porsche 911's to restore the interiors on. One was a '65 in Bahamas yellow with a black interior and the other was a '66 in Slate grey with a red interior.
In both cases I decided to use interior kits from Autos International who are reputable Porsche interior specialists. I purchased carpet, headliner and panel kits as well as seat covers and new molded latex seat foams.
While I could make all of these things from scratch, it saves a fair amount of time and money to just buy these components already sewn. Whenever I use kits from another source I always inspect the build quality and especially the stitching. I often run components through my sewing machine again just to tighten up seams that might not be up to my standard, or make alterations if necessary.
It's interesting to follow original brochure literature from the time - it shows that the carpets on these were usually black velour, the seats came with either embossed (leather or vinyl) seat centers or hounds tooth in corresponding colours.
As usual, I started by documenting and restoring all the interior components first. I strip and repaint all the seat frames, replace or restore all the seat foams and armrest foams. Then recover the various components with new leather or vinyl covers, trimmed as original with the hand stitching as required.
I always take loads of pics to capture all the trimming details as I take things apart so I can restore each component properly.
The first thing I install on the car is the headliner and all the insulation -
Then comes carpet - in both cases the customers chose to use German square weave carpet which was the Porsche factory standard on earlier cars like the 356. It's a good looking carpet and its very durable as well. The rear areas always require some work in smoothing out the contours with underlay before the carpet is glued in place.
Next step is to install the panels. First I make sure the inner door mechanisms are all installed and working smoothly. Then make sure to add vapor barrier before installing the door panels. The rear panels always require a bit of coaxing and attention to detail to get in properly. Sometimes carpet needs to be packed out in corners to avoid gaps.
I had already re-trimmed all the original waist rails and armrests so these components were all ready to install with the panels...
The dash top and lower dash surround both had to be restored and re-trimmed separately. These I restored with new foam and leather/vinyl respectively. Then re-installed to the car with the addition of some new wood and freshly restored gauges to finish the dash.
Next I finished the rear seat areas by installing all my freshly restored rear seats...
You'll notice on the '65 car in black, the rear seat cushions had leather skirts glued and hand stitched to the carpet around the lower cushions. A neat detail found on these earlier cars!
Then came time to install my finished front seats to finish off the interior..
Last but not least - the boot interior carpets were installed -
And there you have it! - 2 beautiful early Porsche 911's with freshly restored interiors.
I've always had a huge love of Porsche and the clean lines and styling of the early 911's make it a timeless classic.
It's always an honor getting to work on cars like these - Inevitably I was feeling so inspired that I went and built a few scale models of these cars as I was working on the real thing lol. But that's for another article...
Until next time -
Last year I had the opportunity to do the interior trim work on a number of rare classics. Perhaps non so rare though as the iconic Mazda Cosmo series 1.
This was the first model of car that Mazda ever produced and it also featured the first of their "Wankel" rotary engines to be used in a car.
They didn't make a huge amount of these Cosmo's and in fact they were never really sold to the North American market. While obviously a few of them did make it over here they were all built right hand drive.
This car as it was, had had a few interior changes over it's life including the addition of some more modern seats probably out of an RX7 or something.
The original seats and carpets were long gone and the new owner wanted to set the car back right again or as close as we could get it to original spec.
As you can see, the above pics show the newer aftermarket brown seats that someone had installed in the car and below is a pic of what the original seats would have looked like:
Since original seats are not available for these cars, I had to modify what we had to try and make some new seats that had the right look of what the Cosmo seats should be.
The seats provided at least had a similar hinge structure to the originals so I decided to use the existing frames and just modify them and reshape them to be more like the original style. I removed the headrest assemblies, cut down and re-shaped the bolsters and made new foams and seat covers.
Here is my final results:
The dash was originally a factory molded design that was still in pretty good shape so we ended up removing and just re-dying it in black.
I started the interior restoration by removing the old tunnel cover and sewing up a new one in black vinyl, installed with new foam under it.
Then I made up a new carpet set in Burgundy wool carpet (as original) and began installing it with all new under felt...
I made all new vinyl covers and panels and installed them in the rear cockpit. Here is a before and after shot:
The original door panels also had some factory heat molded design elements that would be almost impossible to recreate. So since they were still in decent shape, I was able to re-use the molded armrests and covers and just replace the inner panels and re-dye them to match.
I replaced the door seals and all the rest of the vinyl panels in the forward cockpit, and then finally re-installed the new custom seats..
Here's some before and after pics of the overall interior:
There you have it - another one back on the road looking like it should.
Until next time -
Is it a car or a boat? It's an Amphicar! A concept car built in West Germany throughout the early-mid 60's. It could do 70mph on the highway and 70 knots in the water.
It was by no means a high performance vehicle, but fun non the less.
The car I'm working on was involved in a fire caused by leaky fuel lines that filled the cockpit with fumes. When the driver turned the key after weeks spent with the top and windows up - ka-boom! Luckily no one was hurt, but the interior was toast!
After a bit of online research, I found that just about everything is still available for these rare ducks ;) However the only interior kits available are only offered in standard/original colour options. Apparently blue trim was never actually available on these. Originally a Blue car would have come with a yellow/white interior!
So to restore this to what it was, I would have to make all the blue/white components myself.
I started by stripping all the panels, covers, seat covers and making new patterns. Unfortunately All of the panels for the car had to be completely replaced - not just re-covered. The panels were all made from ABS/plastic so they could presumably handle getting wet. But the ABS had gone super brittle and was cracked & broken around every clip hole.
I cut new panels from some 1/8" ABS sheet I sourced locally.
Cutting the ABS to shape the panels took some patients, it's a very dense/hard material to cut - I even broke a bandsaw blade in the process!
I sourced some vinyl locally and got to work sewing and trimming the new trim panels,..
The rear seat components were all made new with covers I made and trimmed to the original wood bases
Here are my new front bench seat covers, I repainted the metal frames and renewed the foam surface before installing the new covers,..
With all the components made, I got to work installing all the new panels and seats. The rubber floor mats were luckily still intact and just needed a good cleaning.
Luckily I was able to source a new top and boot cover in white canvass from an aftermarket supplier,
And there you have it! Another one done for the road - or perhaps lake - I wouldn't recommend the sea. Apparently they're supposed to have all the suspension totally re-greased after every water outing!
Until next time -
One of my most recent projects has been doing all the upholstery and trim on this 1957 Mercedes 220S coupe restored by Rudi and Company.
I did purchase seat covers, headliner and a carpet kits for this job but made everything else myself.
I started by installing all the headliner. I made new Windlace trim strips for around the doors in woolcloth and leather sewn over rubber tubing. I also installed all the lower dash leather and thin padding. The leather in these areas was hand skived to be paper thin around areas that chrome or wood trim would later be fit...
The next step was to make and trim all the new interior panels. I cut all new panels out of black waterproof board and then patterned, sewed and trimmed new leather covers with foam following the originals exactly.
Here's the original door panels and rear quarter panels coming apart to show all the various components I had to reproduce...
Next I installed all the interior carpets with underfelt installed under the tunnel and main mats as original
With the carpets installed I could fit the finished door and rear quarter panels in the car with the refinished wood trim and chrome hardware to finish them all off...
Some of the details I had to reproduce were these unique leather door pull handles.
The inner structure is cut from thick belt leather that's wrapped with thin hand skived pieces of red leather and then sewn. Then the handle is then folded into shape and riveted together with some more leather strips braided around the top to finish and hide the rivets.
The rear bench seats were stripped, frames cleaned and painted and then re-trimmed with new foam and new covers...
Sun visors were made as original with new boards covered in skived leather..
The front seats as always were a big job. I stripped the originals, cleaned and painted the frames. Installed new hessian in the bottoms, built up new foam, installed the new covers and back panels with many hours of hand stitching to finish them off - as original.
To finish things off the seats were all installed. Here's some before and after pics of the finished interior...
This car is another fine example of the high level of craftsmanship that used to be practiced on these classic Mercedes back in the day. The hand stitching, hand skiving of the leather, even braiding details seldom still seen these days - I thoroughly enjoy the artistry involved in these jobs.
Until next time -
Back in the spring of this year I had the opportunity to trim this beautiful 1958 Mercedes 190SL for Rudi and Company. They restored the car back to it's original delivery specifications including some special order interior colour accents that were unique to this car in particular. Where as most 190SL's with a red interior would have had red throughout, the original order for this car showed it had a black dash top and door top rails - a nicer contrast than the standard red on those items!
I purchased material kit's from GAHH in the correct Roser Red leather appropriate for this vintage of Mercedes.
I started by making new door panels following the originals exactly. I cut the new panels and carefully stripped and reused the original metal and wood components.
These door panels with their inner pockets, armrests and pleats are a great example of the very high level of craftsmanship that Mercedes put into their cars back in the day.
I have yet to come across another car manufacturer that put in this degree of quality and detail in their upholstery work. In many places throughout the interior, the leather was often hand skived to be paper thin along edges that needed it for clearance purposes or for hiding joints in the material, these sorts of important practices definitely take more time and patience to master but really pay off in the end!
With the door panels complete, I next stripped and recovered the rear cockpit surround/top stowage divider panel in new leather, skived along all the joins.
Next I tackled making up the new sun visors: I made these virtually from scratch using just the original wire frame inside and building up a new inner structure that I carved/shaped by hand. Then they were covered in leather and bound with thin hand skived leather strips.
Next I began installing all the rear cockpit leather on the car. Each piece had to hand cut to fit and the edges hand skived to hide the joints, with the leather in place, the adjoining carpet sections could then be installed and the leather Windlace along the door pillars...
Moving to the front of the cockpit, I installed the long single piece of black leather that covers the dash top - this takes a lot of patience and finessing to coax the leather in place around all the compound curves and get rid of all the wrinkles!
With the dash top installed, it was time to cover the lower dash in thin foam and hand skived leather so the dash itself could be installed in the car. These pieces of leather all had to be skived very thin especially around the glove box door so the chrome trims would still look and fit as they should...
With the dash installed, the rest of the interior started to really come together, the rubber floor mats and kick panels could all be cut and put in place, as well as my new door panels with contrasting black top rails unique to this car...
The seats were another time consuming adventure but care and patience resulted in beautiful results! As always, I restructured all the inner foam to get them nice and smooth and the correct profile. Lot's of hand stitching was involved with these old Mercedes seats too - just as they did originally -
Finally came time to fit the top. I sourced a new top from GAHH in the correct German canvass. I started first by fitting the chrome top frame to the car and making sure it functioned properly. Then I covered the inner frame sections with tan Bowdrill, installed the new webbing strips to keep the bows in line, and finally the top itself...
With the top installed, I fit the rear cockpit divider panel in place and then fit the leather boot cover that covers the top when it's folded down...
And there you have it, another one done and ready for the road!
All in all, this was a very enjoyable and rewarding job to do. As with most of these vintage Mercedes the level of detail and craftsmanship required was a welcome challenge that required a lot of patience and experience to get right. These jobs are what keep us on our toes and make us better trimmers!
Until next time -
Over the past few months I've had the opportunity to finish installing all the interior and sunroof on this 1965 Volkswagen 21 window "Samba" bus.
The owner spared no expense in this meticulous nut bolt restoration and chose this beautiful factory original colour combination of blues with grey mesh interior.
Inside I installed all the headliner and interior panel kits supplied by Wolfsburg West. I also re-trimmed all the seats with improved cushion foams and new covers...
Here are the rear bench seats and partition wall details. I had to do some fabrication work to create the top railing on the partition wall as well as the lip around the drink shelf as many of these parts are now scarce and unavailable...
Here's the rear compartment with the spare wheel and it's cover I made in matching vinyl..
The trickiest part was installing the huge sliding sunroof assembly. We sourced a new frame assembly as well as the headliner and outer canvass sections. The canvass was custom dyed by Yellow Jacket to match the paint as original...
The Samba bus made it's public debut at the 2016 Vancouver Island motor gathering held at the new Motorsports Circuit in the Cowichan valley in September...
Until next time -
It's been a busy and exciting few months for me in the car upholstery business. I've had the opportunity to take on a few more 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 all of the interior trim components for the Austin Healey 100's - BN1's and BN2's.
Having worked primarily on Healey interiors for so many years, 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 tar paper.
The foot wells & firewall area around the bell housing had 1/4" jute insulation (with a black coating on one side) glued down. The jute was covered by unbound Karvel carpet glued in place over top of the jute.
In the tops of the foot boxes, more 1/4" 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 snapped in place over more corresponding 1/4" 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 - as you can see in the second shot -
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 removed from the BN2 panels and relocated to the engine bay firewall.
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 karvel carpet on in inner tray 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 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 and trimmed with jute 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 this 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: (note: the under-felt in this pic should be jute!)
Armacord mats were snapped in place on the floors under the seats and Armacord lining continued throughout the rear of the cockpit.
The shape of the under seat mats changed between BN1 and BN2 to fit around the corresponding tunnel shapes at the front.
Early BN1's did not have the slotted cutouts for the seat tracks in these mats because the seats were bolted directly to the floors without tracks on the earlier cars.
Because the BN1 gearbox cover was shorter in length, there was a second removable tunnel section just behind it to cover the driveshaft under the armrest. It was trimmed in carpet with vinyl edging.
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 door panels were birch ply panels covered in vinyl with thin padding under the vinyl. the panel edges were sanded to a curve with an opening 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. Here you can see the other vinyl covers applied directly to the inner painted door with the separate upper panel screwed in place and the sewn vinyl door latch pull cords. These pieces would all be installed before the wood door panel...
Finally in late 1954 we started seeing stitching around the door pocket openings, about 5/8" 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 lower door 1/4round seals...
The seats on Healey 100's were originally a slim and slender shape which is worth noting! - many of kits available today make for a seat backrest that is much bigger and puffier looking than they actually were. Also the center pleated section of the squabs were smoothly curved around the top which is often too squared off on modern kits. However later 6 cyl cars were a more squared off design. Here is what they should look like on a 100/4:
The backrest piping continued down around the pivot arms under the lower Hidem and joined to itself along the bottom edge of the backrest. The cushions were neatly shaped and often hand stuffed around the back to fill any gaps where they met the backrest...
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 mid '54 this practice seems to have been discontinued and the cushion bottoms were left exposed...
Moving to the rear bulkhead...
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 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 later 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 matching colored Armacord to the rest of the interior. 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 early narrow design that required longer separate Armacord pieces to extend either side of it to fill in around the wheel arches.
The later style BN1 and BN2 boot mat was full width and sewn differently around the rear bumper brackets. The last shot notes the location of the spare wheel shelf and block on all 100's...
The soft tops were basically the same pattern between BN1 and BN2 with some minor differences occurring between the top frames and latch mechanisms. They had grey webbing between the bows and the front wooden header rail which was trimmed in matching vinyl to the car. Early BN1 tops were vinyl while later ones were Everflex. The early style tops had a trim screw through the top into the rear bow that also trapped the webbing straps. Later tops saw the webbing sewn into the top and secured to the rear bow on the inside only. Note the Hidem strip used to finish off the front edge...
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.
Last but not least, 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 .
The Tonneaus were made of Everflex and originally came with a Lightning brand zipper and nickle plated Tenax snaps with a knurled head:
As I'm sure you've probably noticed in this article, there were many different interesting colors of trim used on the Healey 100's, in fact the spec's are beautifully described and illustrated by Roger Moment in the Jan and Feb 2016 issues of Healey Marque magazine.
So to finish, here is a color table from that article which clearly shows all the various Standard color options that were available on the 100's and what dates they were used.
Of course there were a few special color applications too, like the 7 BN1's painted in gunmetal grey with scarlet red interior (which some of these pics are showing), The 3 early special test cars painted in light green metallic and the two 100M show cars done in black over pink with pink trim and, Florida green with florida green trim. But these colors were specials/never offered standard ;)
So there you have it - some interesting detail references to note on the interior trim of Healey 100/4's
Until next time -
For today's post I thought I'd share some of my work on this beautiful 1965 VW 21 window bus. This bus just had all of it's metal and paint work done by Coachwerks here in Victoria and they've done another outstanding job!
I've been charged with doing all the interior trim work. I started with the seats, stripping them down and re-trimming them in the correct original grey mesh vinyl.
Starting with the front drivers seat,
Then the front passenger seat,
And the rear bench seats,
Next was the big job of installing all the perforated vinyl headliner and trimming it around all the windows...
There's lots more to come over the next several months as this beautiful bus takes shape. I'll be back to install the big folding sunroof and all the rest of the interior components in time so stay tuned -
For today's post I thought I'd show the interior trim work I did for this '58 AC Aceca. This was one of the first cars I did for Rudi and Company when I arrived on the island a few years ago. The Aceca was always a rare favorite of mine since the first time I saw one at an Auto show as a kid. It was one of the first hatchback designs in history. The Aceca was basically a coupe version of the AC Ace - of which the Cobra was also later based on.
AC only produced 151 Acecas and 169 Aceca-Bristols between 1954-1963 (the difference being either AC or Bristol produced 6 cyl. engines).
Being the rare car that it is of course I had to make everything from scratch.
Luckily I had all of the original trim for this car to study and make accurate patterns from...
The seats were a unique design used on these cars, it's pretty much the same design as was also used in the Ace and the later Cobra models.
Here is my installation work on the Aceca, starting with the wool cloth headliner, followed by all the leather details, carpets, panels and trim. Rudi and Company completed the restoration of the car, Coachwerks handled the body and paint. Together the car came out looking absolutely stunning!
Until next time -
Classic auto enthusiast, upholsterer, coach trimmer, and fine scale modeler.