A few months ago I had a client from the US contact me about his original and unrestored 1956 Austin Healey BN2. It was a Healey blue car still with its original and fairly rare Teal blue upholstery!
In '56 and early '57 the factory tried using this Teal shade of blue interior trim instead of the common dark blue trim they had used before and after.
The owner wanted me to set some things right like replacing the carpet set and the interior panels with correct ones in the right colours. His original carpets and panels had been replaced with incorrect ones at some point. He also wanted me to repair one of the original front seats, and eventually make him a second pair of seats in matching teal blue done up like 100-S style seats!
Here's what his original front seat looked like when he sent it to me - the lower pivot arms had both been worn away so tape was holding them together, plus you can see the big rip and some of the seams around the pleated section had started letting go...
To start with I had to match up the colours of the leather and the vinyl materials exactly. This proved to be more difficult than I thought! However with much trial and error, I was able to find an almost perfect match for the leather and ended up getting the vinyl custom dyed to match the original shade perfectly.
I started off by making a new armrest which nicely shows how both materials contrast against each other...
Next I made the new carpet set in the correct blue Karvel carpet and black coated jute insulation, and a complete new vinyl panel kit in custom dyed teal...
Next I got into repairing his front seat. I carefully removed the covers and unpicked the necessary seams to remove the damaged pieces. For some pieces like the main backrest surround, I backed the torn leather with some canvass material and restitched some of the damaged seams. I completely replaced the leather on the lower pivot arms & repaired the foam in a few areas. Then I carefully put it all back together...
The final task was to make a new pair of 100-S style seats that the owner could swap in for long trips. The 100-S seats have a ridged frame with vent holes in the backrest - they're not only more comfortable, they look amazing! To start, we ordered some 100-S steel frames in from Kilmarten in Australia.
The wooden cushion frames I made are the same standard design as used on all Healey 100/4's. I made all the foams in house too, and even added the correct square cutouts in the bottoms of the cushion foams just like the factory ones had.
These cutouts allow the foam to compress when you sit in it, making for a much softer/squishier feel. Unlike the re-pro foams available today that are way too hard and don't compress at all...
With the cushions done, I moved on to the backrests. These required some very tricky sewing around each of the vent holes. I made my own foams again and made up some separate vinyl covered back panels that would be screwed on from the back - just like the factory S seats had. The end result came out absolutely beautifully!
While I'm sure the factory never made any S seats in teal, it's a shame - because I think the colour is part of what makes these seats so gorgeous! - they simply belong in a beautiful sports car!
Until next time -
Classic auto enthusiast, upholsterer, coach trimmer, and fine scale modeler.