Late Model Leather Upholstery
E&G Classics' Replacement Leather Kit Is the Ticket to High-Quality Leather Replacement
From the May, 1997 issue of Mustang Monthly
By Mark Houlahan
Photography by Mark Houlahan
E&G Classics Slate Gray leather...
E&G Classics Slate Gray leather kit, is shown here with custom floor mats and new carpet from Auto Custom Carpets, a Cobra parking brake handle from Performance Parts Inc., and other custom leather-wrapped appointments. The result is a glove soft interior.
The owner had used cloth seat...
The owner had used cloth seat covers to hide the unsightly factory leather, but the covers couldn't hide the faded and stained carpet, seat belts, and trim items.
Removal of the front seats...
Removal of the front seats is accomplished by removing two bolts at the rear of the seat tracks and two nuts from the front of the seat tracks. If you have a power lumbar adjustment, disconnect the wiring plug before lifting the seats out the car. The rear seats come out by pulling up on the seat cushion and then unbolting the rear seat back or fold down assemblies.
Lay the seats on a suitable...
Lay the seats on a suitable work surface and remove the four seat track bolts. You may have to adjust the track back-and-forth to uncover all the bolts. Take notes, Polaroid pictures, or video to remember how everything goes back together.
Once the tracks are removed...
Once the tracks are removed you will need to separate the seat back from the seat bottom. This is accomplished by removing the plastic trim cover to access these two bolts on the seat back adjuster side, and then remove the pivot bolt on the opposite side.
We set the seat back aside...
We set the seat back aside and started on the bottom cushion first. Press the two stop pins out of the knee bolster (if your seat is equipped with them) and pull the bolster free from the seat cushion.
Remove any knobs or switches...
Remove any knobs or switches from the sides of your seat and then unhook the plastic retainers around the edge of the frame. Pull the material inside out so that it sits like a bowl on top of the cushion.
Remove these two wire stays...
Remove these two wire stays (one on each side) and roll the material back to locate the third wire stay towards the back and remove the three hog rings found there to remove the material from the cushion. Tape the wire stays together and mark them for locations in order to prevent mixing them up with the seat back or back seat stays.
We found some damage to the...
We found some damage to the foam base underneath. New seat foam was ordered.
The seat back is slightly...
The seat back is slightly different when it comes to disassembly. The front and rear material is hooked together at the bottom, sort of like a freezer bag. Simply pull the two halves apart to open. Reach up inside the back of the seat with a pocket screwdriver and pry downwards on the head rest shaft to disconnect the locking mechanism and pull the head rest out. We are showing the operation here with the material pulled away.
With the head rest removed...
With the head rest removed pull the plastic liner up and out of the seat back. If it is a convertible seat, also remove the seat belt guide at this time.
The seat back uses a larger...
The seat back uses a larger stay to form the tucks in the material. Remove the metal retainer and pull the wire out from each side.
Roll the material up the seat...
Roll the material up the seat and remove the three hog rings holding the material to the front of the upper seat cushion. Remove the material from the head rest by prying the fiber board off and rolling the material backwards off the headrest. Follow all the previous steps as a guideline for the removal of the upholstery on the rear seat assembly.
We reassembled our seats so...
We reassembled our seats so the Mustang could still be driven while the material was sent to E&G for pattern making. The plastic on the seat back is from the factory and helps in applying the cover. If it is badly damaged go ahead and remove it--we will give you a tip on this later.
Since E&G offers several services,...
Since E&G offers several services, including emblem stitching, smooth and gathered looks, as well as multi-colored seat covers (for example a gray seat with black piping), we wanted to spell it out for their trim department. We grabbed a permanent laundry marker and labeled our seat covers according to what we wanted smooth and gathered, and where we wanted the optional running horse logo.
We repeated the operation...
We repeated the operation on the rear seat covers and then carefully packed them up for shipping. One word of caution here: If you are changing seat colors, make sure you get a section of carpeting for the back of the front seat lower cover that will match. We had extra carpet sent to us from Auto Custom Carpets and forwarded two sections to E&G just for this.
When our new covers came in...
When our new covers came in we began with the seat base cushion first. Our new cushion from our local Ford dealer came in wrong and we ended up having to patch our original like you see here.
After inserting the original...
After inserting the original stay wires into the new material the seat base cover is installed with new hog rings using a pair of hog ring pliers.
Install the side stays and...
Install the side stays and hog ring them to the seat frame like shown. The original wire clamps usually break when they are reused, so just toss them in the trash and use hog rings.
The original plastic retainers...
The original plastic retainers were sewed onto our new Slate Gray covers by the trim technicians at E&G. If you order covers off of one of their existing patterns (such as their OE perforated leather kit for SVO Mustangs) you will have to have these parts sewed back on by a local trim shop.
Carefully find the original...
Carefully find the original openings and cut the leather carefully with a hobby knife or single edge razor blade just enough for the shaft or switches to come through.
For the seat back cover, first...
For the seat back cover, first hog ring the stay wire at the upper front of the cushion. Proceed to roll the cover down the cushion (plastic will help here, so throw a garbage bag over the cushion first if the original plastic is missing) and insert the large stay wires into the sleeves (arrow). The large stay wire will hook under the edge of the frame and then hold down the cross wire as shown here in this picture with the material still rolled up.
Lock the front and back halves...
Lock the front and back halves of the material together at the bottom and then cut out all needed openings for the head rest, belt guide, and seat back latch.
When both halves are complete,...
When both halves are complete, reassemble the two halves of the seat together. If you have a power lumbar setup, make a small slit in the bottom seat cover for the plastic line to come through and then connect it to the rubber line that connects to the bladder in the seat back.
A completed front seat awaits...
A completed front seat awaits installation into our Mustang. The head rest assembly will give you the most diffuculty, so use lots of patience during the head rest assembly. A plastic bag will also help with the head rest cover. Complete the remaining front seat and rear seats with the new covers.
To remove the carpet, the...
To remove the carpet, the complete console assembly will have to be removed, as well as the kick panels, door scuff plates, and the rear quarter trim panels on convertibles. Start at one corner and roll the carpet back, being careful to not get stuck on the shifter or parking brake handle.
Speaking of parking brake...
Speaking of parking brake handles, we opted to trash the stock plastic Pinto job and upgrade to a fine leather version from the Mustang Cobra, available through Performance Parts Inc. With the console removed, simply insert a small screwdriver like shown, or a nail through the retaining hole found on the passenger side of the handle. This will lock the handle and allow you to unhook the parking brake cable.
Unbolt the parking brake handle...
Unbolt the parking brake handle and install the new leather Cobra unit. Don't forget to swap the parking brake switch and wiring to the new handle assembly and remove the retaining pin.
The new carpet from ACC is...
The new carpet from ACC is laid into place and all necessary openings for wiring and the console area are cut out. The console is then reinstalled along with the door scuff plates and kick panels. Before the quarter trim panels are reinstalled, new carpet is cut and glued to the bottoms of the trim panels and the panels are dyed gray to match our seats.
Our freshly upholstered seats...
Our freshly upholstered seats are reinstalled with their original hardware.
To compliment our parking...
To compliment our parking brake handle, we had the stock shifter recovered in black leather (which was supplied by E&G Classics) by Mr. Autocraft in Bartow, Florida.
Mr. Autocraft also recovered...
Mr. Autocraft also recovered our door panels in gray leather, as well as adding the gathered look to our door inserts, and covering our door arm rest pads in leather, with off-the-bolt leather supplied by E&G Classics. We used aftermarket speaker grilles to give the door a custom look and get rid of the stock grilles that detract from the door so much.
The running pony stitching...
The running pony stitching was also added to our rear seat covers. The new rewebbed black seat belts from Ssnake Oyl add just the right amount of contrast while giving us renewed trust in our seat belts. We decided not to cut the seat belt openings in the lower cushion, but to extend the belt material during the rewebbing process to have the buckles come out between the seat back and bottom cushions.
When it comes to the interior of Fox Mustangs the designers didn't place much effort on them in the beginning. Basically a Fairmont interior with some different badging and some sportier seats (in the GT), it wasn't until 1987 and the redesign of the Mustang into an "aero warrior" that the Ford design team used a clean sheet of paper for the interior. The interior in 1987 was fresh and very modern, but again, Ford left it to sit unchanged, except for the addition of an air bag in the 1990-and-newer models, until the redesign of the Mustang into the FOX4 or SN95 Mustang in 1994.
If you regularly look at the many Mustangs along the rows of late-models at a Mustang show, you probably have noticed that many of these owners have now embraced the fact that the interior, like the rest of the car, is uncharted waters and can be modified to one's liking. Some modifications are minimal, such as an aftermarket gauge set up and a shifter. Still others breathe the credo of the street rodder and leave no interior part untouched. Deciding what you want, and what you can afford, will greatly help reduce the confusion in what you want to accomplish with your Mustang's interior. Let's face it, a good set of aftermarket seats can run $1,500 with matching material, so if you have a smaller budget in mind, say, under a $1,000 for the whole interior, you need to look at other alternatives.
The GT you see here is owned by an older, mature gentleman, and he wasn't about to strap himself into a fixed race bucket seat with a five-way harness to go to work every day. As a matter of fact, the stock seats were just fine for him (go figure?). All he wanted was to replace the white interior with a gray leather, while changing a few aspects for a custom look. We turned to E&G Classics of Columbia, Maryland, for assistance.
E&G are the makers of leather interior kits for new cars (1994-1997 models) but they were interested in helping us, since they carry templates back to the late 1980's for some vehicles. As you will see in the accompanying photos, removing your own seat covers is not hard at all, and when all was said and done, we had a completely modified interior, under our budget, doing most of the work ourselves.
8910 McGaw Ct.
Auto Custom Carpets
PO Box 1350
750 E. Main St.
Performance Parts Inc. (PPI)
13120 Lazy Glen Court
Ssnake Oyl Inc.
Route 2, Box 269-6