Upholstery of seats and door panels

Completed 12/2005

As far as I'm concerned, the work on the inside of the car was as important as all the work and effort that has gone into the outside. The long awaited work on the interior started in mid June. If you notice in the background here, there are several shots of the original black upholstery on the Scheel-Mann seats I chose to put into the car. For the uninitiated, these Scheel-Mann seats were among the best in terms of sportiness and for us old guys with bad backs, the best in back and lumbar support when you're on a long drive. They are pretty rare. I searched about 4 years for the right seats for this car.  When you invest that much time and energy into seating of your car, you know exactly what you do and don't want. This rebuild of this interior started with the purchase these seats in Germany.  Shown below is the center section of the driver's seat back. These pleats will be reproduced and changed when the leather is applied to the seats. Leather you ask? Wasn't a 2002 equipped with vinyl seats?  Yes, but I plan to enjoy my car and drive it a long time.  Vinyl makes you sweat in cars without A/C, which mine will be without. I decided I should feel comfortable and also enjoy the smell of leather over time instead of the way most 02s are - that smell of vinyl, horse hair and faint scent of gasoline!!
I have acquired over the last two years several leather hides, all of which were of the same texture and dye lot. The type of leather used is an automotive hide. The grain is embossed to make an even look to the surface so that the entire hide can be used.  What you will find, is that through sources like Ebay, there are lots of leather to buy in bulk for less than Vinyl costs in the first place. A full hide is roughly 40-50 sq. feet of material. It will take 4-5 hides to do your seats and back seats, and another 1-2 to do your door panels and other trim you will want covered.  I suggest that you ask prospective sellers for samples, and tell them you want to buy 6 hides in the same dye lot so that there are no color mismatches. 
Unfortunately leather doesn't do well where the sun shines on it constantly, like the tops of the door panels. Heat causes the leather to shrink over time, so you must take great care where you put it. We ended up using vinyl on the sides which compliments the trimming of the leather on the sides and backs of the seats, and the tops of the door panels. The original Scheel seats were in this type of pattern
My interior is the late model beige/tan color. It has some taupe colored vinyl and tan vinyl to trim out, as well as some carpet which compliments those colors.  The photos shown are of the drivers seat. This pleating pattern will repeat on the back seat as well as the door panels. The color is not coming out right in the photos do to the mix of lighting at the upholstery shop.
The custom work done to make leather fit to your seats is a laborious and expensive task. Be prepared to spend a lot to get it done right. What I have found so far is from a cost standpoint it's not as much as what it costs buying it all over new from World Upholstery and Mobile Tradition charges for the original vinyl stuff. And -- you can tell them exactly what you want it to be when it's all done. 
Here are the completed seats. The flash on the camera shows about the right color of the material.

Under the florescent lights, they look kind of greenish. But this shows off the padding best I think.
The back seats began to take shape. The frames on the back seat were sandblasted and epoxy primered so they will not rust anymore.
The rear seat pattern matches the front seats. This is the bottom of the seat.
Again, I think without the flash shows the padding of the seats better.
Here is the top of the back seat.
Another view shows the padding better.
The top of the back seat maintains the pattern all the way to what will be the package shelf in the back window. I like this better and I think it makes the back seat look more plush.
We started to map out the design of the door panels to match the seats, and also maintain a type of retro look the early door panels had on them with two-tones. I went with a vinyl on top and bottom with leather in the middle. A chrome bead piping was put in place of where the old chrome strips were originally.
Partial assembly of the panels.
Some stitching action on the panels.
Calvin hard at work...
And the finished results... passenger side door.
Close up of the piping, and the bottoms of the door panels.
Dumpster bound... the carcass of the old rear door panels.
On the rears, we deleted the ash trays. It's hard to find decent ones, and besides nobody will smoke here!
Straight on view, right rear panel. The arm rests are being dyed to match the center leather color.
Top view - the chrome pieces on the tops of the doors are not available separately anymore. Use fine steel wool to polish them up.
New pockets were made at the bottoms, mine were waterlogged bad and warped.
No more ashtrays - and I think they look better.
And just for fun I put one in the car to see how it was going to look. Can't wait till the day these are all installed!
Now, the interior is 99% complete so we are done until the car is ready to drive.
Cross this one off the list!!!



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