How To Get Your Classic Car Ready For Upholstery

Volkswagen Wants To Make Its Beetle Into An e-Beetle

For most car enthusiasts, getting their classic car upholstered is never an enjoyable ordeal. Every car lover loves his ride and most people use car covers for classic cars. With a bit of planning and preparation, the experience can run smoothly and can be rewarding. Most are afraid to take their classic cars because it usually takes too long, and no one wants their prized possession away from them for that long. 

Customized upholstery can be expensive, and if the upholsterer is the best, be prepared to wait for it. In some cases, you can even wait for a year before they get the time to schedule your car. You need to plan yourself well, and select an upholsterer you’re comfortable working with and perform the style you need for your classic car. You can do this by inspecting the quality of their work from fit to finish, and then book an appointment to get you on the waiting list.

Here are some tips on how to get your classic car ready for upholstery and some cost-saving tips. 

The budget

Some shops will require you to pay a non-refundable deposit to secure your spot on the waiting list. It’s important to have an accurate estimate of when your car will be ready. A good rule of thumb is to give them a 3 to 6-month date to your expected completion date to have time to deal with all the unexpected items that may come up. Keep in touch with the shop, give them updates on your progress, and let them know ahead of any unexpected delays. If you want to cancel the appointment, inform them, too, but most shops will try to squeeze you in at a later date.

The style of your interior and materials you select will highly influence the price of the final job. Ensure you take photos of the upholstery styles you want from magazines or the Internet. See a few classic car examples from This will give your upholsterer an idea of your expectations and allow them to provide a more accurate estimate of their work in your classic car.

Prices for foam and other materials often change, so keep in mind the price they give you can change at any time. The extras can also add up quickly. Things like trick consoles, custom seatbelts, and custom-made stainless trim can increase your bottom line.  

Get rid of the old.

Old cars usually have a smell that uniquely reminds you of old cars. The last thing you want is your new upholstery to smell like an old car. To avoid this, you should remove all the materials that retain that odor. Strip away the factor hardboard usually tarred to the floors, then sand and refinish the entire floor. If the doors and side panels have the hardboard material, remove that and repaint it. It’s usually best to start on a clean slate, so that when you take your classic car to the shop, it comes back smelling new and incredible as it looks.

Most classic cars had the battery located below the floorboard. To ensure your interior appearance looks clean and avoid an unsightly trap door in the middle of your floor, you can move the battery. Ensure you add a battery disconnect and remote charging posts. Most classic car enthusiasts like to place their master cylinder below the floorboard as well. You can use a remote fill master cylinder or convert the one you have to remote fill style.

Working electrical

All your electrical connections should be repaired and working well before bringing your classic car to the shop. Most upholstery shops won’t complete a car’s interior until they are sure everything is working correctly. If they resolve any of your electrical problems, expect your bill to go up. You can save yourself these extra costs by ensuring power windows, door locks, third brake lights, wipers, dome lights, speakers, interior lights, radio, and the heater are all working before you take your car to the shop.

It’s also important to leave some slack in the wiring. When fitting door panels with no slack for power window switches, it may be problematic. If the designer is to build a custom console with the lights, gauges, and controls in it, try to secure a small box to the floor, run your wires components in the box, and don’t forget to leave enough slack in the wiring.

Minimize the noise.

Using sound deadeners and heat shield materials is an excellent investment. Installation is also easy, and there’s no need to pay the upholstery shop more money for something you can easily install yourself. Ensure that you use quality materials with good surface materials, so that it’s installed perfectly.

The glass and garnish

All sides, quarters, and wing windows should be installed and working well with all the felting in place. In some cars, the front and rear window seal or garnish moldings also secure the headliner material. With classic cars, the upholstery shop will want you to leave them out until the headliner is intact. Ensure that you check all garnish moldings for the perfect fit, especially on classic cars that have been chopped. It’s common to find gaps in them.

All moldings should be panted before taking your car to the shop. However, if you intend to match your molding with the upholstery, just prime it and keep it ready to paint.

All hardware

Unless the upholstery shop requests otherwise, ensure that you have all the door handles, vents, window cranks, and window handles purchased before going in. If not, expect an additional expense on your bill.

When mounting your car seats, mount them a bit lower than you expect them to be. Once the car is back from the shop with the new materials and foam, you’ll find that they fit differently. Many shops prefer you test fit the seats before they complete the work on the interior.

These are a few steps you can take to prepare your car for upholstery and even save a few dollars. Consult the shop as your project progresses to avoid making costly mistakes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *