Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
June 1, 2000

Step By Step

View Photo Gallery
Our 1966 hardtop’s interior is fresh and ready for another 30 years of comfortable and enjoyable driving experiences, thanks to Distinctive Industries’ seat covers and an Auto Custom Carpet loop-pile carpet set provided by Dallas Mustang Parts. The extra padding used by Mr. Autocraft really made our seats feel more modern and luxurious.
The front seats were quickly removed with a 1/2-inch deep socket and an air ratchet. Usually, you don’t have to even raise the car to reach the mounting holes for the seats. Just make sure you don’t lose a nut inside the floorpan.
With the front seats removed, the seatback cover was pried off and the old hog rings were cut away to allow removal of the old upholstery.
The side trim of the seats, commonly known as hockey sticks were removed to access the retaining pins. Remove the retaining pins with a pair of needle-nose pliers, then carefully separate the seatback from the seat base.
Flip the seatback over and carefully remove the seat-track assemblies. Remove the seat covers by cutting away all old hog rings. Remove the listing wires, as they will be reused in our new covers.
Next, remove the rear seatback and base from the Mustang, then the seat upholstery from the two seat assemblies by cutting the hog rings away.
The front seat foam, which is available in reproduction, looked OK, but the rear seats, which use cotton batting for a cushion, had deteriorated in several areas. We will repair these areas before the new covers are hog-ringed into place.
The craftsmen at Mr. Autocraft went ahead and added an extra layer of foam over our original seat foam. Though our seat foam was OK, the additional layer will give the seats a better feel and look when completed.
After the foam had been cut to the proper dimensions, upholstery glue was sprayed from a commercial gun to both the new foam and the original-seat foam for application. An aerosol can of trim glue will work for those following along at home.
The new seat covers, which had been set out in the sun to warm up for easier installation, were laid out and the original listing wires were installed into the new covers. One front seatback cover in our kit was missing the listing wire sleeve. Dallas Mustang wouldn’t have caught this minor oversight by the manufacturer because the upholstery kits aren’t opened for inspection upon arrival. Since we were at an upholstery shop, the folks there simply placed the cover into the sewing machine and sewed on a listing sleeve in a few seconds. If you have damaged or missing listing wires, new ones can be made from wire coat hangers.
While we used two technicians for photographic purposes, the typical Mustang enthusiast should be able to complete the upholstery work alone. Work slowly and stretch the covers over the seatback and base. Start your hog rings in the center or top and work your way around, checking the front of the seat for proper positioning every few inches.
We learned a few more tricks by visiting Mr. Autocraft this time. For one, when it is time to make an opening for the seatback pivot stud, don’t cut an "X" with a razor knife because you run the possibility of slicing the material from one end to the other if your hand slips. Instead, position the cover where you want it and tap on the top of the pivot stud with a small hammer or other flat tool. This will cause the stud to cut through the material, leaving a clean hole that is directly at the base of the pivot stud.
Trick number two is just as interesting. For small mounting screws that have to go through the material, such as the screws that retain the seatback adjuster stop, leave the screws in the frame and install the cover directly over them. When it is time to install the part, find the screws and carefully cut around them to expose the heads. No more digging through the mate-rial making numerous holes.
When it comes to the seatback covers for the front seats, many people will cover the entire seat and search for the holes afterward. The guys at Mr. Autocraft suggest locating the holes for the seatback cover retaining clips one at a time as you hog-ring the cover on. This way, you can get a finger or two under the seat upholstery to find the holes.
To finish the front seats, all that remained was the seatback covers. Don’t wail away at the retaining clips to try and install the covers, as you will damage them. Carefully snap each clip into place, using needle-nose pliers if needed, to squeeze the clip closed. New mounting clips, as well as hog rings, hog-ring pliers, seat tracks, mounting bolts, side trim, and more are available through Dallas Mustang Parts as well. You can install the side trim and seat tracks now or wait until the seats are ready to go back into your Mustang.
Moving on to the back seats, we found some water damage at the right lower seatback and bottom. The seatback was the lesser of the two that were damaged and only required a small section of foam and a layer of loose cotton to bring the area up to the height of the remaining seat cushion.
Once the repair was made, a piece of cloth (discolored, but still useful, headliner material) was glued over the original cushion for added comfort.
The seat base was a bit worse than the seatback, so it was decided to cut out the bad material and insert a completely new section of foam.
A double layer of 1-inch foam took care of our damaged area. We covered the complete seat base with another layer of foam as well.
The rear seatback material, which also had been baking in the sun, slipped over the additional foam we added with no problems. Make sure you work from the center and spread the material out to minimize wrinkles.
The seatback is probably the easiest of all the seat assemblies to recover, as it is relatively flat with no compound corners. Start installing your hog rings at the top of the seatback and work toward the bottom by evenly hog-ringing both sides. Don’t forget to check the front of the seat every few inches to make sure the seams and character lines are straight.
The rear-seat base is a bit harder than the rest of the seats to cover, as you have several strange angles and curves to work with, so take your time. The upholstery was a tight fit, but went on smoothly with patience.
For the rear-seat base, start your hog rings in the transmission hump relief at the center of the seat and work your way around, checking your work every few inches, just as before.
With the upholstery work completed, we set all our seats out in the sun to heat-fit. The carpet was the last item to replace. We removed the doorsill plates, seatbelts, and windlace first.
If you have a console, the complete console assembly will need to be removed as well. Otherwise, simply remove the shifter bezel. The kick panels also must be removed at this time.
If your Mustang has underdash air conditioning, chances are you will have to unbolt it from the dash to completely remove the front half of the carpet set. The guys at Mr. Autocraft have been doing this for a long time and were able to carefully snake the front carpet from under the air handler.
The new carpet fell right into place with no problems. A small cut or two for optional items (A/C drain, seatbelts) were all that was necessary.
With the carpet laid into place, the new windlace was cut and installed. The original doorsill plates and kick panels were installed as well to hold the carpet in place. Mr. Autocraft suggests not making any holes in the carpet set until all the trim has been installed and the carpet secured.
For the larger holes, such as seat mounting, seatbelts, and A/C drain hose, the hole was first found with a punch and the hole in the carpet was enlarged with a pair of shears.
A common error is making the carpet hole for the seatbelt mounting bolts too large; thereby causing a visual problem that isn’t easily fixed. Be extra careful when making the openings for the seatbelt mounting holes. Reinstall the console (if you have one) at this time as well.
With the carpet installation complete, we could reassemble the rest of our interior and be on our way. The rear seatback and seat bottom cushions were installed first. If the seat bottom doesn’t lock into place, check the cushion frame for damage and bend the retainer back into place as needed.
The freshly upholstered front seats were placed into their mounting holes, and the retaining nuts were hand-started before taking the air ratchet to them.
With everything back in place, the interior was vacuumed out and the seats wiped down with a conditioner to help promote long vinyl life. Now, if we can just persuade Donald to get rid of those cats.

Arrggh! It's enough to make you swear off pets of all kinds. No sooner had we installed our new seat tracks in Mustang Monthly Group Editor Donald Farr's '66 GT hardtop, than someone left a side window down in the garage of the Farr homestead. This invitation to destruction allowed one of the family cats to hop inside the '66 and promptly use the passenger front seat as a scratching post.

By the time morning reared its head, the cat had stealthily slipped away, leaving behind puncture wounds and gashes in our black standard interior. The rear seat was original, but the front seats, which sustained all of the damage, were replaced about five years ago.

After we got Donald to stop roaming his house with a butcher knife chanting, "Here, kitty, kitty. Come on out, nice kitty," we sat down and discussed our options. It was decided to go ahead and replace the complete upholstery set, front and rear, to keep everything matching. We also figured since all the seats would be out, we would lay down new carpeting and windlace. All our high-quality interior items were quickly delivered to our door with one phone call to Dallas Mustang Parts. Though we have upholstered numerous seats, Editor Ford suggested we let a pro handle the work so we could garnish some tips (we aren't know-it-alls!) for our next mega-tips story. Thus, we headed over to see Gary Powell and his craftsmen at Mr. Autocraft in nearby Bartow, Florida, for some assistance.