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 -
Classic auto enthusiast, upholsterer, coach trimmer, and fine scale modeler.