Interior Redo Helps Camaro Owner's Dream Come True
Sometimes a little vinyl, and carpeting and plastic and metal can make a person's dream come true. Lori Fuller's car was just another silver blue '69 Camaro SS that needed interior restoration. But it was special to Lori. The car had belonged to her husband, who died in a California car crash along with their two daughters. He loved the Camaro and she wanted to fix it in his memory.
Lori took the car to one shop, where it sat for a frustratingly long time and nothing got done. Next, She took it to a second shop. The restorer said he could get an interior kit for the car and fix it. He priced out the job and Lori paid in advance for the parts, which were never ordered. Again the car sat and sat.
Then, body shop owner John Diermeier of John's Custom auto heard about Lori's case. He contacted a friend who knew people in the collector car industry. John was advised to call Classic Industries, a Huntington Beach, Calif. company that sells reproduction Chevy, Pontiac and Mopar parts. Owner and president Rick Lara listened to the story and offered to supply the interior parts.
Faded or Worn or Torn
Over the years, circular holes had been cut into the Camaro's door panels to mount aftermarket radio speakers. The dash padding had cracked. The console lid was broken. Other interior parts like the carpets and kick panels were faded or worn or torn. The interior had been disassembled by the other shops. "We had to find the parts and figure out where they went," says John. "None of them were labeled and many were taken apart, so the job took longer."
John and Steve Kractt, Jr., spent a good chunk of time gutting the Camaro's interior. They unbolted the front bucket seats and removed them. The clipped-in-place rear seat cushion was easy to pop out. The rear seat back came out, too. Then, the tattered old carpeting was lifted out as well. Other parts removed included the kick panels, door panels, inner rear quarter trim panels, the seat belt system parts and the rear package tray. The dash pad had already been taken out. Finally, the center console and related parts were removed.
The back glass was removed from Lori's car. Unless you're experienced with clips that hold the chrome on and have tools to cut butyl tape, you may consider calling a glass company to take your front or rear glass out ($60 each) and put them back in, The cost is a bargain if it keeps you from breaking the glass. However, if you do it yourself, you'll need a window molding clip tool and a cold knife. A cold knife is a piece of aluminum rod with an "L" shaped blade. It has a cable with a handle that pulls the blade through the butyl tape. After you cut through the butyl tape, you can carefully lift the glass out.
Other than the ugly speaker holes that had been cut into the kick panels and door panels, the major interior parts were not ruined. The seats did not have to be recovered. In fact, the only major seat work included removing and re-dying the plastic panels on the back side of the front seatbacks. The headliner and sun visors could be cleaned and reused. John made a list of all of the parts that did have to be replaced and sent it off to Classic Industries. The parts were all in stock at the company's expansive warehouse and were promptly shipped.
Starting on the Ground Floor
Work on the interior of Lori's Camaro started with replacement of the carpeting. After the seats, console and old carpet were removed, John and Steve cleared away all of the old jute padding and sound insulation. They used a variety of tools, including a good stiff putty knife, to scrape the floor clean. With the carpet out of the way, they spotted some floor drain plugs that weren't sealed correctly. There was also a minor rust issue with a bit of surface rust showing. They applied a coat of rust inhibitor to the floor and sealed up the drain plugs.
Classic Industries included instructions that pointed out that the better the floor pan was cleaned, the longer the new carpet would last. Following directions, John and Steve used a mild solvent to clean the floor pan. Steve used a yardstick to measure the jute padding so that the new padding could be trimmed.
After cutting the padding and carpeting to size, Steve transferred the location of the original holes for the seat belts to the new carpet. He then heated up a hot iron tool and pushed it through so it made a hole without fraying the carpeting. According to John, that's a trick a lot of restorers don't know about. Do not cut any holes for mounting seats or attaching the seat belts until you have checked and re-checked carpet fit. Once the carpet is cut, it cannot be returned.
PAGE 1 2