In last months Vintage Car Interiors, Part I, we covered selecting and buying materials. This month we will pick up with selecting and replacing OEM-styled material for our current project, a 1948 Packard Custom 8 Club Sedan (2-door fastback). With the car stripped to the metal, hood doors, trunk off and interior out, we are implementing our interior plan. The floor boards have been replaced, new body bushings installed, the dash and door moldings removed for wood graining (we will cover that in an upcoming issue). Our re-graining will be done with a brush and sea sponge, not the roller or Di-noc applications. We will leave the headliner in, letting the upholsterer remove it. That way, he can get his exact measurements. It has complex fore-to-aft seams, and if they are not straight, your eye would be drawn to the crooked seams instead of the front-to-back flowing lines that give you the impression of massive length and motion. This is never more evident than when you sit in the back seat and look down the headliner, on toward the hood, then over the cormorant that is leading the way. It must be experienced. It can only be described as a car giving its passengers a feeling of comfort and importance--the way you feel in your favorite restaurant when the restaurateur takes you to your favorite table and asks that you just let him know if you need anything.
When we have all of the interior out, we always put in insulation. We use the insulation for heat and sound deadening, and we insulate everything: Inside doors, floors, top, trunk. This will provide for a quiet cabin later on, free of rattles and squeaks. Its worth the time and money.
MATERIALS: 1948 Custom 8s featured shadow cloth on its seatsa 100% wool broadcloth with raised, tone-on-tone texture that was available in green, tan, blue and russet. Packard used a cream piping, framing the seats. The piping had a hollow center with wire running through it to keep a conforming line around the seat. The door panels matched the seats and were in a plain broadcloth. They also had straight-grain wood grained window frames with pear wood panels beneath and quilted leather trim at the bottom of the panel. The quilted pattern is in squares stitched in heavy cotton thread using a long running stitch, with small metal buttons on each intersection. This is where the thread type and stitch are important. Nylon thread just wont work! Anything other than the correct, heavy cotton thread and long stitching would not look right with the rest of the interior.
The kick pads have a nice art deco trim ring surrounding the air vents, and a stainless trim piece to hide the seam between the leather and broadcloth covering. We will re-cover these using spray adhesive to the backing board, and wrap and glue the material edges to the back of the board.
The original deck mat was cardboard, but we will re-cover ours in broadcloth to match the seats (plain cloth), spraying glue to the board, then folding over the edges of the fabric and gluing them to the back of the board. The coupes have a rope seat pull hanging from the back of the front seats. LeBaron Bonney has running lengths of this material in several colors, allowing you to sleeve them, of they can easily be made in leather by sewing a long tube which is then turned inside out.
The carpet was originally Moss-tred and is very hard to find in precut sets. We found ours at www.roadworksauto.com. They have a variety of colors in loop or cut pile with bound edges. They fit well and look nice. Original Moss-tred is still available from Bill Hirsch* in tan only, but it comes in raw yardage and must be cut and fitted into place. On our '48 Golden Green 4-door, we couldnt find any dark green carpet, so we ordered the carpet in the size we needed, supplied a material sample and had the carpet dyed to match the sample (it helps to have the Dalton Carpet Mills close by!). It took time to cut it and fit it, but we had kept the old carpet for a pattern. When it was done, it looked great!
The trunk will have carpet on the floor, and flockon the vertical panels. Flocking is a process of spray painting the surface with medium brown enamel (slow dry) and using a flour sifter or rotary cheese grater full of flocking powder, sifting it onto the wet paint. When the flock hits the paint, it swells and dries to look like velvet. This beautiful, rich process, is unfortunately not being used much any more.
The interior is such an important part of the driving experience. Whether you do it yourself or have an upholsterer do it, its important to make a sketch of what it will look like, know what materials are being used, how its being done, and what it will cost. One last note, and that is to make sure you test-fitespecially when using non-original components like new seats. I recently heard a story about a guy who re-designed his complete interior and used a seat from another vehicle. He measured across the seat and across the car, and everything checked out okay, so the upholsterer re-covered the seat in leather, then put it in the car. You guessed it--it didn't fit! The angle of the back seat cushion was wrong; tilting too much toward the front, putting the driver too close to the steering wheel and dash. The seat had to be removed, disassembled, the frame repositioned, welded and re-covered. When this happens, who pays? The customer, or the shop? Now we're getting into legalities. A simple test-fit before re-covering saves time, money and friends!
I hope this will help in getting your interior exactly the way you want it! See you next month. Keep 'em driving!