1966 Ford Mustang GT TMI Products Bucket Seats Restoration
Installing New Upholstery Also Provides An Opportunity For Frame Inspection, Repairs, And New Foam
It's been a while since we've touched on one of the most common of all vintage Mustang repairs. While longtime readers will gripe that we've covered this subject ad nauseam, we understand that many new readers may have only recently acquired their first old Mustang. And there's an even better chance that their four-decades-old bucket seats need some attention, if not a complete rebuild.
That's what we're tackling here, going beyond the usual upholstery replacement to also replace the seat foam, burlap, and exterior trim on the bucket seats in a '66 Mustang GT that's undergoing a restoration at Classic Creations of Central Florida. Shop owner Merv Rego has been rebuilding and reupholstering vintage Mustang seats for nearly 30 years, so he's come up with his own tricks and tools. Basically, it's a job that nearly any Mustang owner can accomplish in their own home garage.
In many cases, seats need more than just fresh upholstery. Over the years, Mustang bucket seats have been subjected to plenty of abuse. Often, years of use by plus-size drivers have bent or even broken the driver-side seat frames, making them unstable and even dangerous. Merv notes that a common problem with convertibles is broken or bent passenger-side seatback frames due to joy riders of the past sitting on top of the seat with the top down. Most bucket seat frames can be repaired by a welding shop or, if broken or bent beyond repair, frame assemblies for low-back '65-'67 bucket seats can be replaced by reproductions available from National Parts Depot.
For our project, TMI Products supplied their high-quality black standard upholstery and seat foam, which includes molded-in listing wires as an improvement over the original seat buns. Upholstery and foam for the Décor (Pony) interior seats is also available. Replacement trim, like the polished side aluminum and seatback adjustment hardware, came from National Parts Depot, as manufactured by Scott Drake Reproductions. NPD also carries TMI products.
Our seats were already out of the car as part of its restoration. Removing the seats is simple-they attach to the floorpan with four bolts that are accessible from under the car. Rubber plugs or metal plates cover the access holes, although they are often missing.
One important tip: Vinyl upholstery is more pliable when warm, so you want to tackle the project on a warm day to make it easier to stretch the material over the seat frame. In fact, our project was delayed for a couple of weeks due to Florida's cold weather last winter. Laying the upholstery in the sun will warm it up considerably, making a big difference in the effort needed for installation.