By Patrick Smith
Changing the carpet in your muscle car looks like a big job, but it can be a good hobbyist project. All you need are hand tools and patience. We will walk you through a typical General Motors F-body carpet replacement using a Pontiac Trans Am as an example. The Chevrolet Camaro Z28 is virtually identical. You need a Philips screwdriver, snap ring pliers, Torx T-45 and T-50 drivers, 7/16 box end ratchet, ratchet driver set, Exacto knife, Allen Key Set, and a long 3/4 inch shaft screwdriver.
Our car, a 1980 Turbo Trans Am SE, had just been through the paint shop and the owner wanted to revive the interior to match the shiny black finish. The twenty-six year old tan carpet was a mess with cigarette burns, rust proofing stains that bled from underneath the kick panels, severe sun fading, and sand from the recent body shop's bare metal re-spray was everywhere.
Old carpet was faded, dirty and ready for replacement.
We used a new carpet from Auto Custom Carpets (ACC) for installation. This carpet is hot stamped with the correct factory contours of the floor pans. This is important on a car like the Trans Am where the floors bend and fold like origami paper sculpture. ACC also has jute padding and pre cut holes for the seat track bolts.
The first step is to disconnect the seat belt shoulder straps in order to free the bucket seats. Rotate the shoulder strap guide sideways and to remove it from the shoulder anchor. Some cars, like our example, may have a Phillips screw installed requiring removal first. Gently twist and rotate the strap guide away from the molded ridge and lift the strap out.
Rotate shoulder belt guide sideways and carefully lift out.
We can now remove the bucket seats.
The bucket seats are held in with four 7/16 bolts. You will find it easy to remove the front bolts with the seat pushed to the back of its travel. A ratchet box wrench works well here. Remove the rear bolts first, otherwise you won't be able to move the seat forward with those front bolts out. If your bolts look rusty and difficult to remove, a shot of WD-40 fluid sprayed underneath the floor pans on the exposed threads will help.
The rear seats are held in by a wire frame resting under a pair of metal hooks molded into the floor pans. We used a long flat blade screw driver with a 3/4 inch shaft for leverage. We placed the screwdriver against the wire seat frame and lifted up and towards the rear at the same time while using a free hand to guide the seat away from the hook. It will pop out suddenly. Once the lower seat buns are out, you can remove the shifter console.
The console is present in more than 90 percent of Firebirds and Camaros sold since 1975. Depending on your model year and options, it will be an easy job, or at worst a minor hassle. This 1980 Trans Am SE with power windows, automatic transmission and special performance goodies is the worst case scenario. The console shift plate was removed using an Allen Key to spin out the four screws. Next, the shifter knob was removed using a thin flat blade screwdriver to lift out the shifter knob bezel. This exposed the snap ring locking the shifter knob to the shaft. With the knob out, the shift bezel lifts off.
Moving to the front of the console, look for two bolts attaching the console to the dashboard. They will be found on each side of the console next to the console storage shelf on older cars. Newer cars like our Trans Am will have a plastic plate blocking off the shelf but the bolts are in the same place. Two bolts at the bottom of the storage compartment hold the console in place. Unscrew the bolts and remove the storage liner. Pull out the power window switch from the console and carefully pry the harness off. On most F bodies the console can be removed. Some cars have an ESC module to unplug. It's a metal box located under the console at the very front.
Console underside shows front mounting bolts, power window switch, compartment retainer straps and ESC ignition module.
Carefully unscrew the speed nuts holding the module in place then disconnect it. This module controls ignition spark on turbo engine cars.
The inner seat belt fasteners are left and they are removed using Torx T-45 or T-50 drivers. The seat belt warning buzzer is found on the driver side inner seat belt mount.
Note where console compartment braces and seat belt buzzer wire are and transfer cutouts to new carpet.
Now you can remove the old carpet.
Then we vacuumed the floor to clean up any loose debris. Next, we placed the new carpet in position and lined up the pre cut holes with the factory shifter cut out holes and molded floor pans.
Start installation by lining up shifter cutout and molded floor sections with floor pan.
Some cutting was required as the alignment wasn't perfect. Usually the console mounts and half the seat bolts are correct. The inboard seat bolts are the ones that need exact placement. Since the F body seat track has one moving and one stationary rail, you adjust the two rails until they are even so the seat will be installed square. Be sure to cut from under the seat so the material doesn't show when the seat's installed. The plastic bolt pads will conceal the trimmed area.
Use bucket seat to locate your inboard seat bolt holes and carefully trim, leaving U shaped flap to conceal bolts afterwards.
Now you cut holes for the inboard seat belt bolts. You can find the bolt holes using a screwdriver. Use a sharp Exacto knife to cut a hole and install the bolt using your Torx screwdriver. The shoulder belt anchors just require a careful notch of the carpet to tuck under the plastic guards. Once your holes are placed, the seats can be reinstalled. We started with the rear seat buns, added the passenger bucket set, then the console and driver side bucket. You can tuck the carpet edges under the kick panels and a couple of holes drilled into the carpet will hold it under the sill plates.
Tuck front section of carpet under kick panels. Older cars will need a dimmer switch hole added. The bezel is supplied.