Jeff Ford
April 1, 2000
Contributers: Jeff Ford

Step By Step

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The completed headliner. Note the beautifully restored seat belts that Ssnake-Oyl Products did for us.
First things first. You’ll want to lay the liner out in the sun for a while to get the vinyl soft and workable. If you are doing this in cold weather, set it in the house for an hour or so. Transfer your bows over to the new headliner one at a time, working from front to back.
We scrounged some foam from our friends at Mr. Autocraft in Bartow, Florida, to replace the batting material that Ford used as a sound deadener above the headliner. We glued the roof and the foam, and then let them tack up. Then we found the center of the roof and set the right then left sides. You’ll need two pieces of foam that are 1/4 inch thick and 32x40 inches wide.
After the foam was set and cut, we installed the dome lamp. Of course, this won’t be a problem if you are not doing a ground-up car, as the light will still be in. Note the three mounting holes (arrow) for the headliner. Ford gave the assembly-line worker three choices for variances in the chassis, but recommended the top-most hole on the driver side to provide maximum headroom.
Most folks will only get a look at these headliner retention brackets and will not have to remove them as we did. We did not want them to be damaged by the dipping process, so off they came. Note that we wrote their location and function on them.
Several things to look at here. Note that we cut our insulation a little big and tucked it into the inner bracing. Also note that we have installed the visor screws. We left out the coat-hook screws to allow for a good, tight fit close to the edge of the headliner.
We always start at the back and pull the headliner in “dry” to check for fit. This gives us a good idea of what we’ll need to do elsewhere. We did not have access to our favorite black binder clips so clothespins pinch-hit for us. After we determined that the fit was good, we applied 3M 08001 weatherstrip adhesive to both the window seam and the headliner in sections, allowed dry time, and then set them and pulled them tight. Make sure that the back window area is set and firm before you proceed.
When the back section was dry enough, we moved forward panel by panel. Note how the headliner is held in position by the teeth on the inner bracing. Pull out as much of the wrinkling as you can with these at the back.
It might be a little hard to discern what we are doing here, but sometimes in order to get a good stretch, you have to cut the channel that the bow rides in. Cut as little as you can and stretch the headliner into position. If you need to cut more, then do so. Remember to measure twice and cut once.
We used a high-tack spray adhesive to set the sides, working from side to side on each panel. We like the 3M adhesive PN 08090 because it sets slow enough to allow for readjustments and tightening of the headliner to remove any wrinkles. Also note that our interior is basically devoid of any other interior components. If you use the spray glue, cover your interior to avoid ruin- ing your carpet or seats.
We were fairly sure by the front of the car how much material we would need, so the excess was cut from the liner. We tensioned the headliner over the screws, and then sawed holes in it to get them to poke through. On the front panel, after our glue had gone tacky, we started at the center and moved to the edges, pulling tight enough to remove wrinkles but not too tight as to create them.
Next up on the agenda was the sail panels. These panels are unique to the ’69-’73 Mustang and are applied differently from the plastic ones on the early cars. Note the U-shaped hole in the panel. This is for the wire that runs the heated backlight. We transferred this over to the new panel and used a utility knife to create the hole. We say hole because the original panel had—at one time—a square hole rather than a U-shaped slot.
The sail panels will need to be glued along the edge that runs from the backlight to the quarter windows. We cut out pie-shaped sections (arrow) to make the edge lay over more easily.
Ford used these clips to tightly set the sail panel into position. We decided to forgo these after we test-fitted our fold-down panels and rear seat panels.
We used our old sound deadener to make a pattern for our new sound deadener that we made from batting material that is close to what Ford originally used. This shot gives you a measurement and was shot from directly overhead, allowing you to make your own, just in case yours are missing. These may be different for nonfold-down cars.
We glued the sound deadener into position using the high-tack spray trim adhesive. Note the gray wire that is curling out of the deadener. This is the power lead for the heated backlight.
We tried unsuccessfully to apply glue to the sail panel backside as well as the clip bracket so as to achieve a good, tight fit. The glue was not powerful enough, so we removed the bracket.
Once again, we used clothespins to set the sail panel . The sail panel glue was not over the edge as one might think but, in fact, glued to the underside of the window ledge.
You’ll also want to install the black trim panel across the back window area since the sail panels slide into a channel on the black trim piece. This was a lesson we learned the hard way.
In lieu of installing the quarter window trim to hold our sail panels in, we used another clothespin. Luckily, we have a dryer and do not rely on a clothesline for dry clothes. Note that the coat-hook is now installed. We used a fine-point probe to locate both holes, and then stabbed the white portion of the hook into position.
After the panels were installed, we applied our trim items. These were cleaned and painted to match the headliner. Be extra careful and use the correct bit size so as to not perforate your headliner.
After the trim was installed, we put new tips on our visors and readied them for their rightful place. Our visors were in excellent condition, so we reused them. If yours are in poor condition, CJ Pony Parts carries a good stock of the correct style.
After all was almost said and done, we test-fitted our fold-down panels and found that the driver-side sail panel was pulling away from the trim piece. We solved this by adding some sound deadener behind the sail panel to bring it out to meet the trim panel.
The crowning touch. The original starting instructions for the Lazarus Project. Now all we need is carpet, the dash, seats…

When it comes to restoration, the headliner is an area that many folks shy away from. We can’t say we blame you. The headliner is a critical area of the car and is the one thing you can’t hide with floor mats and an air freshener. It is always overhead, always in view, and is always an annoyance when it isn’t right.

But we also know that you all are quite a handy bunch, and we are willing to bet that if we help you out here, the next time your SportsRoof needs a new ceiling, you’ll be able to tackle it as we did.

When the subject of our headliner came up, we were a little perplexed at what to do. We wanted to use the original but were afraid that time had robbed the string of its supple nature, and that the moment we applied pressure, or the wind hit it, it would unravel like a cheap suit. This fear prompted us to call CJ Pony Parts for a new headliner and all the associated parts that go into making this kind of installation work. We highly recommend that you get new sail panels when ordering your headliner, as this will make the job more uniform and give the interior that new feel when you are done.