If you have been following our restoration/preservation on my 1951 Packard Mayfair 2 door hardtop, you know we started with a 36,000 mile car that had spent a few years under a carport and didnt run (a series on this car can be viewed at www.southernwheels.com, click Archives. Now after much work, we are finishing the car. Whats left is to section in a piece on the headliner, install kick pads, deck mat and windlace, and put on the rear quarter badging.
The 51 has been painted in its original colors of Corona Cream and Matador Maroon top. The inside colors match and compliment this. We were fortunate that the years had been very kind to the interior. The dash matches the roof (nitro lacquer), the seats are dark red leather with tan striped nylon inserts, Maroon carpet and cream and maroon door and rear quarter panels. The headliner was a yellow with small reddish flecks; now its nicely patinaed oatmeal color.
We began the headliner project by trying to find the correct cloth material. Bill Hirsch actually had 7 yards of it which would probably do it. There are chrome bars running side to side across the headliner as used on the hardtop convertibles, these are about 3/4wide and would easily hide a seam if we had to seam some of the material together. I thought about it, but my goal on this car is to make it look preserved,not restored, so I decided to keep the old headliner and patch in a new panel. Fortunately, there was only one bad panel and that was right over the sun visors. It could be seamed at or close to the first chrome bar, tucked into the sides and behind the windshield chrome surround. I had first to find the material. As you know, many of our OEM material suppliers have closed down. The best way to find what you need is to do the research yourself. I went on SMS.com and went through Packard samples. I found a very close piece in a 1954 Packard sample. It took three hours to find it, but thats what it takes these days. Dont let an interior shop tell you, Cant get it!until youve looked. When I got the material, it was about the right texture and print, but it was too light in the background (but close). I left the material out in the sun for a couple of days, and that took some of the newlook away, but it still didnt look old. Then we put it into a pan of strong coffee and let it sit overnight. Once it dried, this had really helped to bring it into the correct tone I was looking for.
The next move was to find someone to put it in. My wife Karen has helped me with OEM interiors in the past, so thats where I started. She agreed, so she measured and began the repair. Discarding the idea of glues, etc., to hold the material in place, she found a roll of 1/2spring steel online to use as a rib. She folded over one long edge of the fabric and sewed a pocket that would fit the 1/2rib. This edge would snap into place behind the first chrome bar and be held in place on each end behind the chrome pieces along the door. After the rib was tested and cut to the correct length, the next step was to remove the old, torn headliner material. Both sun visors were removed (the mounting screws were different lengths, so they were pressed into a piece of cardboard shaped like the sun visor mounting brackets, so there would be no question as to how to reinstall them). The windshield chrome surround was removed, along with the rear view mirror. Again, the mirror screws were inserted into cardboard for ease of reassembly.
The snap rib side of the fabric was put into place over the headliner seam. The opposite side was to be stuffed behind the windshield chrome. A bead of E-6000 adhesive was laid down along the framing before placing the fabric edge and reinstalling the chrome. A plastic body filler spreader helped to get the fabric neatly behind the chrome strip. Once the glue was dry, Karen sewed a line of invisible stitching* at the snap rib side, tacking it to the original headliner fabric. This would keep the snap rib side of the insert from shifting out of place from the motion of the car.
I had replaced the carpet but the kick pads had disintegrated, so I cut some door panel board to size, primed and painted them with dark red spray paint, then a maroon edging was machine-stitched to the edge of the boards. Originally when these were pushed into place they had 4 phillips head washer screws to hold them down, but I have an idea for a Patrician stainless panel to go there later, so I left them out for now. They fit tight.
Next I installed the windlace. The original was maroon cloth about 3/4round, but what I used I had made from maroon vinyl that is a match to the seats. It has a 1/2rubber center that looks neater and forms around the door opening with ease. I removed the aluminum step plates and measured the windlace about 1 1/2longer than the needed length to tuck under the step plates when reinstalled. To push the windlace into the door jambs, I used a clean new plastic body putty spreader. Several areas came loose, so I put a little E-6000 glue into the opening, inserted the windlace then taped it down. The next morning, they were tight.
The last thing was to install the ventiports (bottle openers) on the rear quarters. They were new for 51 and probably were an alternative to Buicks port holes (also called Cruiser Line Ventiports) on Buicks front fenders. They are a bit gaudy, and some cars were offered without them, but I kind of like them. When the body work was done, the car was stripped to the metal and the mounting holes were puttied over. It would have been so easy to push a wire into the putty to mark where they mounted, but that didnt happen. There is an Ultramatic script under the Ventiport closest to the tail lights, so holes will have to be drilled for that, too.
For reference, I had two sets of Ventiport holes still on the left quarter panels and one set on the right using a long piece of tracing paper. I taped the paper to each quarter panel and pushed a punch through each set. Then, using a pencil, I noted which one it was in the set 2, or 3. Packard used three Ventiports on each side on its 250 and 300 series cars. (The Mayfair is the 250 series.) These were supposed to be the middle series, but the Mayfair was only $250 from the first level of the upper 400 Senior series. Its confusing, but we will cover this later. Lets just say that usuallyPackard put no Ventiports on its low line 200 series, three on its medium 250-300 series and four on its top of the line 400 series.
I laid the tracing paper with the two sets of holes on my drawing board and drew a base line so they would all be on the same plane, then measured between the first and second set of holes center to center, then did the same to find my third set of holes, positioned my Ultramatic script under my third set of holes (as shown in a factory photo) and marked its holes to match the studs on the script itself. Then using a drill bit, determined the holes in the quarter panel were 3/16by pushing in a 3/16drill bit. The studs on the trim pieces are 1/4 so I used a 1/4x 3/16tubular nut to mount them. Before drilling the holes, I scored very lightly with a punch where the holes were to be drilled.
For the deck mat, I used a piece of art board the width of the rear window area, using trial and error trimming until it fit, then looking through the rear window into the car, made adjustments to the cardboard shape by adding a piece or cutting a piece from the mock up board. When I had the right shape, I laid out a piece of door panel board and laid the cardboard mock up over it, tracing around onto the panel board. Then I cut that out and spray glued my leather to it, then trimmed it to the board shape, leaving about an inch extra all the way around. Now I have to clean up everything a little and pull the car out. This should be about Spring in Georgia. Next is to test drive and get pictures which will be shown in a near-future issue. Its almost done! Keep em driving!