Regular readers may remember me mentioning in the story on my fake folding roof in the January issue that the seat upholstery for my '46 pickup was underway. It was, it arrived, and it's in the cab. But before we come to the seat, let's backtrack a little. I'm by no means an upholsterer, but I do like to attempt most jobs on my cars myself, and not just because I'm a cheapskate either, but because I want to try my hand at them.
However, budget is a consideration, and the interior is always the last part of a project, meaning the budget's already either broken, or under severe strain. So I figured I'd attempt a budget interior, and I'm pretty pleased with the result, physically and financially.
First up was the dashboard. The chrome trim was worn out and peeling, the old gold 'flake steering wheel had seen better days, an accessory gauge set hung where the speaker should live, and the dash panel itself had a gaping hole a radio once called home, as well as an Appleton-style spotlight hole. From my parts stash I dug out a matching set (well, the bezels matched and they all had black faces!) of Stewart-Warner and Sun oil, temp, and volt gauges, modified the dash to accept them, and welded up the remaining holes. After painting the dash to match the rest of the truck, I installed a new chrome dash trim set and three-spoke steering wheel from Speedway Motors. Dash? Done!
Next up were the door and kick panels. Some Masonite and a jigsaw made light work of the panels, covered with premade tuck 'n' roll with heat embossed pleats from a local upholstery supply house. A personal pet peeve is seeing screw heads in upholstery, so all fasteners were hidden using plastic trim clips, such as those used in late models. The same upholstery was used on the transmission tunnel, before some cast-off carpet from a friend's Suburban project was cut, trimmed, and put to use on the floors.
Speaking of pet peeves, another is seeing the top of a seat back or headrests in an old car above the beltline, so the $25 junkyard-sourced Aerostar minivan third seat had a few inches removed from its risers, prior to new mounts being welded on. I chose this seat as not only was it the right width and came with integral seatbelts (I have a pre-teenage son), but it tilts forward for access to the battery, toolkit, and spare wheel. EZ Boy Interiors (part of the LeBaron Bonney company) stitched a cover to suit. The pleats on the seat cover are stitched, not heat embossed, and each section is stitched to foam then assembled, so the upholstery is completely foam backed. Numerous styles and colors are available, with illustrations on the company's website. Simple to fit, the cover completes the interior, transforming what was obviously an old minivan seat into something infinitely more stylish!