Interior Upgrade - Saddle Up!
High School Hauler's interior gets a freshening with an eye toward support and safety
From the November, 2012 issue of Modified Mustangs & Fords
By Mark Houlahan
Photography by Mark Houlahan
A stock interior is just that--stock, and that just won't do for us when we have the word "modified" in the title of our magazine. Stock interiors are fine if you have a concours show Mustang, but those of us who like to hit the track or road course, or even just enjoy a nice off-ramp on the way home from work know that those basic Mustang seats and single lap belts don't do much in the way of support. If you're holding onto the steering wheel for dear life, you're not controlling your Mustang; it's controlling you.
Our '70 Mustang coupe is not only stock between the doorsills, but is in some need of some serious TLC. While the seats may be in good shape--without any damage/tears, or frame breakage--they offer little to no support for spirited driving. Although the '70 does come with three-point belts from the factory, the belt webbing is literally turning to fibrous dust and the two-part belt setup (where the lap and shoulder are buckled separately) causes confusion for passengers. Lastly, the dash gauges are largely unreadable due to 40 years of sun fading, scratches, and yellowing, not to mention the cracked steering wheel, lack of any audio system, and carpet that is threadbare.
Our plan of attack is simple, yank it all out to the bare floor/dash and add fresh carpet along with recovering the seats in something a little "grippier" for our back sides, adding modern style three-point belts, and some basic audio that will let the owner enjoy the drive to and from the dragstrip a bit more. But we're not just going back in with the stock blue interior either. Future plans call for a repaint with some sort of black-out hood or possibly black stripes. To play into the black and blue exterior theme, we're going to two-tone the interior. We'll do this by keeping the steel door shells, dash pad, quarter trim, and headliner the original blue, while adding black carpet, black seats, and black seatbelts. Our friends at TMI Products promised us a touch of blue accenting in the seats, so we're anxious to see what they look like, but that'll have to wait until next month. Due to deadlines and the turnaround time on custom upholstery, we're only going to have time to recondition the main cabin and we'll tackle the seat covers and reinstalling the seats and door panels in the next issue.
1 Our Mustang's interior...
1 Our Mustang's interior has certainly seen better days. You'll easily notice the faded and torn carpet, hazed over gauge lenses, cracked steering wheel, and lack of any audio system, but what you don't see is the dash lights not working, the wiper switch busted, locked up seat belts, and more.
2 We have plans for upgraded...
2 We have plans for upgraded seats and door panels, but it all has to be removed for now to be able to repaint all of the metal surfaces. The standard door panels require removal of the upper door trim, window crank, and the armrest before the door panel itself can be removed.
3 The original center stack...
3 The original center stack bezel had been modified for a nitrous gauge and aftermarket switches at one time, but the nitrous is long gone and the owner is looking for some tunes now, so we'll be upgrading to a new bezel and adding a classic-looking stereo.
4 The steering wheel is the...
4 The steering wheel is the original base two-spoke model, which is too "passenger car" looking in our opinion. We'll be adding a nice three-spoke wheel with a sporty look befitting the Mustang.
5 The '70 Mustang came with...
5 The '70 Mustang came with three-point belts standard, but they are technically a separate lap and shoulder belt that are attached together using a special buckle. The retractors were locked up and the owner never used the shoulder belts because of the extra effort to hook them up. The stockers are getting the heave-ho for a true modern three-point belt setup.
6 The front seats unbolt...
6 The front seats unbolt from the floor via these access holes under the car. Do yourself a favor and replace the rubber floor plugs if any are missing too, as they do a great job of protecting the threads of the seat track bolts, allowing easy removal of the retaining nuts when needed later down the road.
7 The seats will be getting...
7 The seats will be getting new foam and covers to go with our black and blue two-tone theme, but for now they're in the way of working on the dash and getting the carpet out of the car. We'll set them aside so we can recover them for Part 2 of our story next month.
8 To extricate the carpet,...
8 To extricate the carpet, the rear seat bottom, the doorsill plates, the shifter bezel (and console if equipped), and the kick panels all need to come out. The carpet can then be folded up and removed.
9 As we mentioned earlier,...
9 As we mentioned earlier, the gauge lenses were severely scratched and cloudy from age and we knew replacing them would make a huge improvement on our interior. To extricate the gauge cluster on the '69-'70 Mustang the whole dashpad requires removal. The four dashpad extensions are removed first, and then the pad's retaining screws, and finally the gauge cluster itself.
10 Part of our interior parts...
10 Part of our interior parts order from National Parts Depot included a couple of cans of the original blue color for the door shell and rear quarter trim panels, as well as the correct black for the lower dash and steering column areas. The lacquer is very forgiving and easy to spray, but be sure to clean and prep all metal surfaces before spraying.
11 The owner asked us to...
11 The owner asked us to minimize the chrome in the interior. Since you can't get a black ignition switch tumbler (like a late-model Mustang) we carefully scuffed the chrome on the tumbler and the turn signal lever and sprayed them black along with the dash and column.
12 Replacement of the gauge...
12 Replacement of the gauge lenses requires disassembly of the cluster itself. Remove the hex-head self-tapping screws that retain the cluster pods to the bezel and carefully separate the bezel.
13 With the bezel separated,...
13 With the bezel separated, it was scuffed lightly and then painted with our aerosol can of black interior paint, hiding the worn away chrome strip areas of the gauge pods in the process (what the owner wanted). With the bezel dry, the new lenses were carefully laid in place. You can see the difference in the old and new lenses in this comparison photo.
14 The reassembled gauge...
14 The reassembled gauge cluster looks like the day it came off the assembly line and all we did was blow the dust out and add new lenses. A major improvement wouldn't you say?
15a The assembled gauge cluster...
15a The assembled gauge cluster is reinstalled using the original hardware.
15b We've also reinstalled...
15b We've also reinstalled all of the dash knobs at this point as well, including replacing our wiper switch and repairing a broken wire on our headlight switch.
16 We lucked out with our...
16 We lucked out with our High School Hauler when we looked skyward. The headliner was in perfect shape with nary a nick or broken thread. All our '70 coupe needed was a new dome light lens and bezel and to replace the missing dome light bulb, all of which came from NPD.
17a For tunes, we ordered...
17a For tunes, we ordered a RetroSound stereo from NPD, along with 6x9 speakers for the rear package tray, and some speaker pod kick panels as well.
17b The RetroSound unit uses...
17b The RetroSound unit uses adjustable knob assemblies to fit any dash. Simply bend/cut the mounting bracket as needed, tighten down the knob assembly and then plug it into the side of the stereo. The finished fit of the RetroSound unit is perfect!
18 The RetroSound radio simply...
18 The RetroSound radio simply needs three connections (not including speakers) for power, ground, and memory. For speaker wiring, a 50-foot spool of speaker wire, obtained locally, got the job done for us. When routing speaker wiring, be sure to mark which run is for the left speaker and which is for the right.
19 The wired stereo in its...
19 The wired stereo in its new center stack bezel is now ready to be secured in the dash. You'll notice there are no heater controls, as the owner removed the majority of the system years ago. We simply transferred his block off plate that he made years ago to our new bezel.
20 NPD only offers '69-'70...
20 NPD only offers '69-'70 Mustang kick panel speaker pods without speakers, so we'll have to pick up some 5-1/4-inch speakers locally. For now, we installed the kick panels, painted in the correct blue, and left sufficient speaker wire length tucked inside so we could cut the openings and install our speakers when they arrive. Note that the parking brake pedal interferes with this style of kick panel, but being an automatic the owner doesn't use it anyway.
21 Our new carpet set from...
21 Our new carpet set from NPD was set in the sun for a few hours to soften it up and make it more pliable, and we were rewarded with a carpet that dropped right in place. Once the carpet's position was verified it was trimmed for the shifter opening and kick panel areas, and the seat belt and seat track mounting holes were located and opened with a soldering iron. The nylon carpet easily melts and cauterizes around the opening, preventing the carpet from unraveling.
22 New doorsill plates finish...
22 New doorsill plates finish off the carpet and help retain it as well. Be sure to order the doorsill emblems for your application as well, since they are sold separately.
23 While the original speaker...
23 While the original speaker opening in the coupe's package tray fits a 4x10 speaker, there already were mounting holes for a standard 6x9 speaker pattern from an old installation many years ago (there was still one 6x9 hanging loose!). A set of three-way 6x9s from NPD got the nod as replacements. We did have to source our own hardware due to the under-deck mounting configuration, as the supplied screws were not long enough.
24 The new package tray and...
24 The new package tray and speakers from NPD finish off the rear of the cabin nicely. Note the package tray's rear lip would normally fit under the rear window seal, but the seal was hard as a rock and we didn't dare touch it. Fitting the package tray up against the seal was, we felt, a viable alternative mounting solution.
25 The three-point belt kit...
25 The three-point belt kit from NPD comes with a stack of hardware mounting options and instructions for '65-'73 Mustang fitments. The '70, having a pseudo-three point setup from the factory, means our B-pillar mounting point can be reused for the new belts. We did, however, have to remove the metric bolt provided in the D-ring for the original T-50 Torx bolt that Ford used.
26 The belt retractor mechanism...
26 The belt retractor mechanism and the belt's end bracket are mounted using the new hardware provided in the original location. Ensure that you keep the belt routing straight from the D-ring to the retractor for easy movement of the belt. The inboard buckle portion of the kit bolts into the stock location with new hardware as well.
27 If you look at our before...
27 If you look at our before photo you'll see the original two-spoke wheel had seen better days. The horn pad was cracked and warped, while the wheel itself was also cracked. NPD's woodgrain three-spoke wheel from Grant makes a perfect choice for replacement and even comes with a Mustang logo horn button. We'll have the new upholstery soon, so stay tuned for Part 2 where we'll recover our seats and install them with matching custom door panels.
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1376 Walter St. #1
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2435 S. Haggerty Rd.
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