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How To Rebuild a 1965-1969 Mustang Bench Seat
Build a better bench seat for those long Mustang drives
Vintage Mustang bucket seats are notoriously uncomfortable. Good for the short day drive to a car show or cruise-in, and that's about it. They can be hard on the posterior if you're going any distance several days away, which keeps our vintage Mustangs in the garage instead of on the road where they should be. One nice Mustang option was the bench/bucket seat from 1965-'69, though very few were produced. The Mustang bench seat has it all over the standard bucket for comfort. It simply feels better, though it tends to take the “sporty” out of a classic Mustang.
We went to Distinctive Industries and California Mustang for a complete '67 Mustang bench seat upholstery kit, seat buns, and trim items. We've been working with Lancaster Auto Interiors for years, where we've learned a few important tricks of the trade from Robert Rough and his associate, Robert Collier, who have shown us with great expertise how to make a classic Mustang bucket seat more comfortable. Today they will shows us how to do the same for the rarer, yet more comfortable, Mustang bench seat option.
01. Most classic Mustang seats are well past their expiration dates with deteriorated foam, listings, and burlap. When you buy burlap, opt for the heaviest you can find for durability. Listing wire is available from any upholstery or fabric supply house. Avoid the use of coat hanger wire, which isn’t sturdy enough to use as listing. Lancaster Auto Interiors uses a heavy fabric instead of burlap with excellent results.
02. Lancaster Auto Interiors wraps the listing wire with fabric, much as the factory did. This fabric makes the seat quieter because you don’t experience metal-to-metal contact. It also muffles seat function noise.
03. In case you don’t know what listing wire does, it gives you structure to hog ring upholstery to. Robert is reusing our existing listing wire, which is in good condition.
04. Robert fits the seatback frame with new foam and then finds the seatback’s dead center. A simple hash mark with a marker on the foam will help.
05. Upholstery will usually have a centering “tick mark” or line on it. Use this to center the upholstery with the seatback frame and foam. Robert then secures the new upholstery accordingly using new hog rings.
06. Upholstery is secured using hog rings around the inside perimeter as shown.
07. If ever you’ve redone your own seats, you understand how tough this step can be, hauling new vinyl over the corners. Robert Rough of Lancaster Auto Interiors places plastic between the vinyl and foam for an easier pullover. Some shops use silicone spray as an anti-friction agent. Lubrication reduces risk of tearing.
08. Material is pulled tight and hog-ringed around the inside perimeter as shown. Steam heat is used as necessary for flexibility.
09. The seatback covers can be very frustrating, which is why you must be very patient here. Clips are installed in cover slots as shown with the clip toward the rounded end of the slot. All clips are aligned with holes one at a time and gently pressed into place. Never pound clips, which will damage the cover.
10. Mustang bench seats were structured differently for obvious reasons. No one is reproducing foam for these limited-production seats. However, you know you can modify new bucket seat foam bottoms as shown and get the benefit of nice new fluffy bench bottoms carefully using a razor knife?
11. Distinctive Industries vinyl is test-fit first on both sides, then pulled tight. If it is wrinkled, foam must be added to the bench to fill the upholstery out.
12. New listing wires are used for improved durability. A lot of upholsters use coat hanger wire, however, it is not thick enough for the task. Listing wire purpose made for upholstery work is of a thick enough gauge to withstand a lot of punishment.
13. You’re going to need help when you secure new vinyl over new seat foam. Reproduction seat foam is firmer than what the factory used a half century ago. You’re going to need help and a lot of patience.
14. Use a slipper plastic between the vinyl and foam for easier installation. This plastic acts as a bearing or lubricant between the tough vinyl and stubborn foam and makes the job easier.
15. Professional upholsterers use steam to soften vinyl for flexibility as needed. Steam heat also removes wrinkles. If you have a home steam cleaner with attachments you can perform the same actions in your home shop.
16. Once the seat bottom vinyl is in place and smooth and free of wrinkles, the seat bottom vinyl can now be pulled tight and secured around the perimeter underside using hog rings.
17. Mustang bench seats differ in the middle where the vinyl needs to be secured. There are these “shark’s teeth” in the seat bottom frame. They are pointed out as shown during the removal of the old vinyl, then the new vinyl is pushed down over the teeth and the teeth flattened with a tack hammer to secure the vinyl in this area.
18. Bench seat adjustable seat tracks work the same way as buckets, only with a longer cable. Adjust the cable with the turnbuckle until the seat tracks release properly with a light touch. Lube mechanicals with white grease.
19. The bench seat armrest is easy to recover. Steam heat is used to expel the wrinkles during assembly, while the vinyl is secured at the stainless trim.
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