Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
June 1, 2001

Step By Step

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Our headliner couldn’t look any better than if we had gone back in time and had the assembly line install it for us!
Before you start, lay your new headliner out in direct sunlight to remove any shipping creases and to soften the material for installation. Our original headliner has long since been removed, but when you remove yours, make sure you note the bow locations and transfer them to the new headliner.
Although we ordered a headliner insulation kit from Virginia Classic Mustang, we went one step further by applying adhesive-backed Dynamat from The Eastwood Company to the roof panel to further “deaden” the roof panel for sound-frequency absorption. The Dynamat doesn’t have to cover the complete roof; a single square will work for several square feet of sheetmetal.
Installation of the Virginia Classic Mustang insulation kit requires a brush-on or spray-on adhesive. We applied several layers of 3M Trim Glue to both the roof panel and the insulation, allowed them to tack up, then pressed the insulation into place.
The shredded insulation found on the rear pillar areas was long gone when we pulled our old headliner out. We used The Insulator™ insulation kit from The Eastwood Company to replace the insulation in these areas. The insulation is foil-backed, making it a great choice for floors and firewalls as well.
Before placing the new headliner and bows into the retaining holes found in the roof panel, do yourself a favor and reinstall any screws removed during the removal of the old headliner, such as for the visors and the rearview mirror. Trying to find a screw head under the headliner is much easier than trying to find a small hole.
Place the headliner bows back into their original holes, then check the centering line on the headliner with the centering notch on the roof panel. If the headliner needs to move to one side, carefully slide the headliner in that direction. Often times, you will need to carefully slit the bow material to allow the headliner to slide enough.
Two retainers at the rear of the hardtop headliner prevent the rear-most bow from being pulled too far forward. Don’t lose these retainers because they are not reproduced. We lost ours during the course of the restoration and had to call Metro Mustang’s used parts gurus to bail us out of yet another minor setback during our hardtop’s restoration.
With your headliner centered and the rear bow retainers in place, you can hook the retainers to the rear bow. Make sure the hook end of the retainer passes around only the bow and through the bow listing—NOT the headliner material. Pull the headliner forward, rotating the bows up toward the roof panel. Glue the leading edge of the headliner to the windshield lip. Secure the glued area with clamps or sections of old windlace until the glue dries.
Spray-on glue can get messy with headliner installations, so we recommend brushing on the glue. The sides of the headliner are carefully stretched and glued into place a few inches at a time. Periodically check your work and adjust the headliner as needed. You have a few minutes to adjust the fit before the glue dries permanently.
The tricky part begins once you get to the rear of the headliner. Pull the headliner back firmly and glue it to the center of the rear window opening. Work your way toward the outer edges, checking for straightness and wrinkles. When you get to the corners, you will have to carefully trim the area for a smooth fit. Make small cuts and trial-fit, then cut more if necessary.
After you have tackled the upper corner of the rear of the headliner, you can carefully pull the rear pillar section of the headliner into place and secure it with more glue.
Smooth out the pillar section of the headliner and pull the headliner down and onto the headliner retaining barbs at the bottom of the pillar. Often times, these are bent up from removal, so be sure they are angled downward to secure the headliner.
Directly behind the retaining barbs are these sections of dense cardboard that retain the rear-most section of the headliner. Simply place the sections of cardboard over the headliner and bend the tabs back down to hold it in place. If your cardboard retainers are missing or are unusable, you can easily make more from a thick cardboard box or from scraps of plywood.
Make one final check of the fit of the headliner, ensuring that the headliner is positioned straight and that there are no major wrinkles (small ones can be steamed out). Once the headliner fit is to your satisfaction, carefully trim all excess headliner material from the roof openings.
With the headliner installed, the front and rear glass should be reinstalled with new gaskets as soon as possible to help hold the headliner. Before installing the glass, make sure all windshield molding clips are in place because they can be difficult to access with the glass installed.
We ordered a new Carlite windshield for our hardtop through Mr. Autocraft, a local trim and glass shop we’ve used in the past. The hardtop was trailered to its Bartow, Florida, shop where employees Phillip Black and Dreama Whitaker installed our windshield with a new gasket from CJ Pony Parts.
While Black works the gasket into place, Whitaker applies pressure to the outside of the glass to help the gasket over the windshield opening lip.
Once the gasket has been seated, Black slaps the glass with an open palm to help center the glass in the gasket channel. While some people prefer to apply gasket sealer to the gasket before installing the glass, Black uses a fine-tipped cartridge gun to apply the sealer after the glass is in place to minimize any mess.
The Carlite logo hasn’t changed since the original ’66 glass was made for our hardtop. The only thing missing is our ’66 date code. Except for an original or N.O.S. windshield, this is about as close to correct as you can get.
The rear backlight is installed with a new gasket from CJ Pony Parts. The hardtop backlight is as easy to install as the windshield, except for the lower corners—which can be made less painful by applying some silicone spray lubricant and using a blunt tool to help the gasket into place.
Although we’ve never seen this factory-applied, we thought some type of blackout was needed between the edge of the headliner and the glass-run retainers. It could have simply been painted, but we chose to apply a length of vinyl tape.
Our black pinch-on windlace was cut to the proper lengths and pushed into place to secure the headliner and give it a finished look.
Our glass-run retainers were cleaned and a new layer of vinyl tape was applied to the backsides before they were reattached to the body with the correct Phillips head screws.
The glass-run weatherstrips, also from CJ Pony Parts, were pressed into the retainers and secured at the front by a single retaining screw. Normally, these weatherstrips don’t require any adhesive to be retained, but it isn’t unusual to use a bit of adhesive in troublesome places, such as the front and rear corners.
All that’s left now is finding our mounting screws under our headliner for our interior items. Carefully feel out the area for the screw-head bumps, then make a small slit or an X across the bump—just large enough for the head of the screw to come through. Do this for both visors, the rearview mirror bracket, and the dome light (’67-’68 models).
The rearview mirror bracket and the day/night mirror are from Virginia Classic Mustang; they attach with three screws. We also obtained a concours interior screw kit from Virginia Classic Mustang to attach these items and to help with our Deluxe interior conversion.
The visor brackets also attach with three screws; the brackets have an excellent finish. We ordered visor brackets, visors, and visor tips from Virginia Classic Mustang, since we were changing interior colors and the original chrome was beyond service.
The only items we couldn’t preinstall a screw for was the coat hooks. The length of the coat- hook screws interfered with the stretching and gluing of the headliner, so we had to carefully locate the mounting holes with a small pin, then make an incision to install the screw and the coat hook assembly. The assembly of the dash and the installation of our Custom Autosound stereo is next for the interior.

With our '66 hardtop now covered from end to end in Anniversary Gold, it's the exhilarating part of the restoration process that begins with the reassembly of the project. Up to this point, the majority of the restoration work entailed the really grungy jobs of disassembly, organizing and cleaning parts, rust repair, sanding, and so forth. During this time of "dirty work," we compiled our new soft trim, chrome, and other goodies that will be installed onto our project shortly.

Once the paint has cured, there are several places to start: engine compartment detailing, trunk detailing, suspension and steering rebuilds, and so on. But there's nothing more gratifying than installing a fresh interior into your restoration project, and that's where we're going to start: with the installation of a new headliner from Virginia Classic Mustang on our '66 hardtop.

Our hardtop wasn't even painted when we called Virginia Classic Mustang for a black moonskin headliner, a headliner insulation kit, sunvisors, visor hardware, a day/night rearview mirror and bracket, pinch-on windlace, and coat hooks. These goodies waited patiently on our "new parts" shelf until after our hardtop was painted.

When we finally had a free weekend to install our headliner, we enlisted the help of the folks at Classic Creations of Central Florida since they told us how difficult it is to install a hardtop headliner (that'll teach 'em to tell us how hard a job is). Installing a headliner definitely entails the use of at least four hands, so make sure you have a helper that can stay the entire day and give you plenty of support. Don't hesitate to walk away and take a break from the installation occasionally when you become frustrated, because this is a job that requires patience; you've been warned.

Our hardtop, since it was recently painted, was a bare shell. Thus this article doesn't have any removal steps. The use of a shop manual is strongly recommended to aid in the removal of the front and rear glass and trim, the glass-run weatherstrips and weatherstrip channels, and the rear seat/package tray areas.