Been Reading Issue 7

Automotive Upholstery & Interior Restoration

I know some guys who are amazing at car building. They can make anything out of anything: can turn sheet steel into engineering art, can rebuild engines blindfolded, and could weld wet tripe to a wooden spoon if needs be. However, you suggest that they try their hand at trimming and you’ll get a slightly panicked look and a flat refusal.

It’s not a black art, though, and this title gives you a glimpse into the murky world of interior restoration. Note: restoration. This is more about the concours than the custom, and the author seems to concentrate mostly on Fifties Cadillacs and the like. Naturally, he opens with restoring the bench seat; not just reupholstering it, but restoring it from the springs upwards. Then he goes on to the door cards, armrests, carpets, sun visors, headlinings (shudder) and finally, convertible tops.

There are two sorts of people who will read this book. There are those who will read, digest, learn and use this knowledge to create a magnificent interior. Then there are others who will struggle through the book, realise that they have no aptitude for trimming whatsoever, and go and look for Chris Vining’s phone number. I fall into the latter group.

The last time I attempted anything even remotely like trimming was about 30 years ago when I sat on the sofa and sewed an Iron Maiden backpatch onto my denim jacket. When I finished, I realised that I had not only sewn it on crooked, I’d also sewed both patch and jacket to my trousers. That concluded my first and last experiment with anything related to soft furnishings.

Look at it this way – in order to even attempt a full interior resto, you are going to need a fair old kit of tools, plus a lot of rather expensive raw materials. Buy this book first. If you’re one of the first group of people, it’ll prove invaluable. If you’re with me in the second group, then you’ll have spent 20-odd quid to find that you probably shouldn’t bother wasting hundreds on kit and materials. I’d say that was a worthwhile investment either way.

Automotive Upholstery & Interior Restoration, by Fred Mattson, is published in softback by CarTech, with a RRP of £25.99.